The tension between what people were willing to do for principles and what they would do for money is ever present in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. John Wilkes Booth and other Southern men believed that money should not motivate one’s actions, especially in matters of principle. On the other hand, at the end of the war, when the country was economically devastated, most could not be as cavalier about money as the wealthy actor Booth, who supported many of his co-conspirators financially. Similarly, while the manhunters were supposed to be motivated by a desire for justice, interest in the reward money that Seward offered may have been just as important.
Money Quotes in Chasing Lincoln’s Killer
When Jones went to the Confederate capital, Richmond, at the beginning of April 1865 to collect the money owed him by the Confederacy, he discovered that the army had evacuated the city and he went unpaid. He lost $2,300 owed to him for three years of service, along with all the money he had invested in Confederate bonds at the beginning of the war. All this meant Jones needed as much money as he could lay his hands on.
As Jones grabbed the stern of the boat and shoved it off, a grateful Booth thrust a fistful of Union greenbacks at Jones. Jones refused the gesture, saying that he had not helped him for money. Under protest, he agreed to accept just eighteen dollars, the price he had paid for the boat.
Young John Garrett, back from an errand at a neighboring farm, reported that the U.S. government was offering a $140,000 reward for Abraham Lincoln’s assassin. The family discussed the assassination with Booth, speculating on why the murderer did it. The actor, still masquerading as a Confederate soldier commented on his own crime and analyzed for the Garretts the motives of Lincoln’s killer!
Another hunt, the one for reward money, began before Booth's corpse had even cooled. With Booth dead, and his chief accomplices under arrest, awaiting trial, it was time to cash in. Hundreds of manhunters rushed to claim a portion of the $100,000 reward offered by the War Department. Tipsters with the slightest connection to the twelve-day search for Lincoln's killer tried to get their piece of the reward.