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John Wilkes Booth is nearly a polar opposite of Harriet Jacobs. He grew up in a wealth well-known white family. His father was an actor and the main source of the family’s income. Booth then grew up to make a name for himself in the acting business as well. Privileged and prideful, Booth cared for nothing but fame. Booth committed the murder of Abraham Lincoln only to ensure that he would remain famous long after his death.
Despite the differences in Harriet and Booth there are some well-concealed similarities. For instance, they both wanted something strongly enough they were willing to leave everything they knew and change their lives drastically. And they both had to run from their home to get what they wanted. Harriet ran to the north to achieve freedom while Booth ran to the south to get away from those who sought to prosecute him.
Harriet Jacobs was born as a slave in North Carolina. She had a naturally defiant spirit and loved her family dearly. Her mother died when she was very young leaving her and her younger brother to be raised by their father and grandmother. At first Harriet was a hard-working obedient slave for she believed there was no way she would go free and because her mistress was not a horrible person. But later in life she began to yearn for freedom as her loved ones gained it and many others died. She was brave, determined, and loved with all her heart.
Harriet Jacobs is extremely different from John Wilkes Booth. She grew up as a poor, mistreated slave girl. Humble in more ways than one. Harriet was not well-known throughout the world but was famous in the eyes of all those who knew her. The former slave is not remembered for partaking in a major event that shocked the entire country, but for staying true to herself and protecting her loved ones no matter the cost.
Even though these differences seem too numerous for there to be any similarities, there are some, however small. For example, as they were escaping their respective circumstances, they both had a group of people trying to capture them and bring them back. Another similarity is that they both lived during the Civil War period. Harriet as a slave and Booth as a wealthy actor whose family had owned slaves when he was younger.
John Wilkes Booth was born the second youngest of 10 children. He also had a well-known actor as a father. This caused Booth to strive for attention, setting him up for a life of trying to become famous and attempting to outshine the rest of his family. This probably is one of the reasons he wanted to be the one to kill President Lincoln. He wanted so desperately to be remembered that he resorted to murder.
When Harriet was a young girl, she lost her mother to sickness. A little while later, she lost her owner, who was like a mother figure to her. Harriet also suffered the deaths of many other loved ones including her father. These deaths shaped Harriet by making her experience grief. The feeling of grief broke her down, but later allowed her to be built back up again, stronger than ever.
Booth’s father, while also a famous actor, was an alcoholic. Also, many people recognized Booth’s father for his offbeat and quirky personality. Along with this, Booth’s father had neglected to divorce his first wife before marrying his second, causing a scandal for the whole family. These misadventures left a lasting effect on young Booth, who was very proud of his family’s name. This may have been another reason Booth wanted so badly to be remembered. He hoped to shine brightly enough so that no one would remember all the things his father did to cast a dark light on the family.
In addition to the loss of friends and family members that Harriet suffered, many of her loved ones escaped to the north to live out their lives as free people. This gave Harriet the hope she needed to make the journey herself. She aspired to join them and to give her two children a better life than she had endured. Harriet loved her children dearly and would do anything to ensure their happiness. Watching as the people around her left and got the chance to start anew gave Harriet the strength to stop thinking about all the things that could go wrong and start thinking about the things that could go right.
As a child, John Wilkes Booth lived on his family’s farm which was run by slave labor. Booth grew up relying on slave labor. This is probably one of the reasons Booth supported the south during the Civil War. He found it hard to comprehend a world without the slave labor he was so accustomed to. Booth grew up privileged and spoiled and couldn’t stand the mere idea of losing the thing that made his life easier even if it meant having many innocent people spending their entire lives to attend to his every need. In addition to making sure he would be remembered, Booth killed Lincoln because he thought it would give the South an edge in the war.
Throughout her life, Harriet was betrayed by white people many times. Her owner had promised to free Harriet in her will but neglected to do so. The white father and owner of her two children promised to free them many times but did not do so. Things like this continued to happen for the majority of Harriet’s life. These experiences made Harriet question the motives of those around her. She learned not to trust someone when they say they will help or free her and her family. This did not however affect the fact that Harriet had to trust many strangers and white people to get her to the safety of the north. These people restored her trust in some of the others who betrayed her.
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