If a person does an Internet search, asking how many books have been written about President Abraham Lincoln, the answer comes back at about 16,000. Is there really room for one more?
Theater historian Thomas A. Bogar answers with a resounding “yes” and has written a book about the assassination from a unique perspective: a view from the backstage of Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C.
His book, “Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination” establishes for the first time that Ford’s Theater was a hotbed of secessionist thought and simmering conflict, ready to explode.
Confederate veterans worked alongside Union veterans, some who had lost brothers or sons fighting for opposing sides.
Bogar has found evidence suggesting that more than a few people backstage had advance knowledge of the plot but were never implicated, and that the Union War Department planted spies backstage to keep an eye on disloyal characters.
This book establishes for the first time where each person backstage was at the moment of the shot, what each was doing, and how each person's life was irrevocably changed from that moment on.
The research reflected in this book was meticulous, utilizing previously unpublished letters and photos of these forty-six people, as well as the latest digital search engines to uncover new links to Union and Confederate Army records, pension and census data and previously undiscovered interviews.
In anticipation of the 149th anniversary of the Lincoln assassination, Bogar will speak at 7 p.m. in the Black Box Theater at Ocean County College Thursday April 10. A book signing will follow his lecture.
The program, sponsored by the Ocean County Library, is free and open to the public but registration is required. Telephone the library operator at 732-349-6200 or 609-971-0514 to register or go to the library website www.theoceancountylibrary.org, click on the “Events and News” menu then click the “Calendar of Events” icon.
Bogar has taught theatre history, dramatic literature, and theatrical production for forty years, most recently at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland, and directed over seventy theatrical productions. He holds a Ph.D. in theatre history/literature/criticism from Louisiana State University, an M.A. in play directing, and a B.A. in educational theatre, both from the University of Maryland.
In addition to “Backstage at the Lincoln Assassination” (Regnery History 2013), he is the author of “American Presidents Attend the Theatre” (McFarland, 2006) and a biography of 19th-century actor-manager John E. Owens (McFarland, 2002). His writing has appeared in Washington History, Maryland Historical Magazine, Teaching Theatre, and Music Educators Journal.He is the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships and served as a judge for Washington's Helen Hayes Theatre Awards. He lives in Silver Spring, Maryland.