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On this day in 1860 in Montgomery, Alabama, the actor John Wilkes Booth played the title role in Shakespeare’s Richard III. The play tells the story of a despotic ruler who is overthrown and murdered in the final scene, and it was a strangely prescient part for Booth, who would go on to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln in 1865.
Adam Goodheart writes about this history as part of the New York Times series “Disunion,” which is tracking the events leading up to the Civil War. His upcoming book is “1861: The Civil War Awakening.”