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An Explanation

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The Original Text

Sic Semper Tyrannis: Something About J.W. Booth

There is only calm, a quietness to the soul that makes one feel as though time has forgiven and forgotten our sins. Despite perpetrators of history and earth, no matter what the human calamity, the wind continues to blow, the rain to fall, and one ends up in a place, hallowed and sacred, without the concept of what had transpired on that spot.

My life has been spent upon a path that once ripped the fibers of a young nation, one that harbored and finally expelled a conspiracy of convictions, truths, and death. Where I have dined, laughed and cried, a man shot and killed a president, fled, hid, and died. This man, who has become an infamous villain, once lived, loved and breathed just like everyone else. He believed in a cause and had the passion to die for it. What kind of person is it that is willing to do the unthinkable for his convictions?

And when he did this most heinous crime, surviving afterwards as a hunted prey, wounded and discouraged by those he thought loyal, did he take a deep breath and the see the very fibers of nature change? Or did he just think the world would stop?

I never really thought much about all this until a friend of mine asked me to join her on a pilgrimage to explore John Wilkes Booth's escape route. I did my homework before we started and read his writings and various commentaries on the execution of President Lincoln. I began to see reason in this conspiracy. When we left at 5:00 a.m., a time that does not exist during any other day, it was dark. The sun never really rose and because of this or my lack of normal sleep, a dream quality covers my memories of that day. I can still taste the coffee and the wonderful warmth it created in the coldness of a winter morning.

Even though we traveled in a heated luxury bus, I could feel the urgency of survival that one might experience when recognizing that one has done something unspeakable, something unforgivable. And then I began to sympathize with the romanticism of the legend. To my astonishment, my friend seemed to feel the same.

It is hard to explain the emotions involved, much like a new relationship that feels so right, yet everyone says is so wrong. Places once so familiar and taken for granted became shrines to forgotten passions of someone else, someone I cannot quite fathom, yet I am compelled.

The images in this series are a visual diary of the places my friend and I journeyed in our pilgrimage. These are my emotions laid out, exposed and manipulated like my memories before and after the knowledge. Though the landscape has changed over the years, the wind is the same.

And maybe there is forgiveness.

L.S. King

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Reasons For This Series

History is the basis of everything, who we are and how we look at the present. These historic events are the roots that have made America interesting, strong, and colorful. Sic Semper Tyrannis is a story about time and place. It is a visual journal that explores the sites equated with the Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies and the backgrounds of the conspirators. Though not a travelogue, it depicts the current landscape and architectural features now in place. Each image tells its own story but completes the big picture. Time does not stop, not even for national tragedies. And like current earth shattering events, it is up to the individual to make sense of it all, to tell the story from his or her point of view with what information they possess.

Though the images presented here do include a brief explanation of place and history, it is by no means an inclusive history. This work is not about absolute fact, though much time has been spent researching the subject. It is about atmosphere and the darkness that is within us all. Hopefully, the work will inspire you to think about what has past, and to not just accept what history professors and books have told you to believe. The artwork neither condemns nor condones the conspirators of 1865. Come to your own conclusions.

Started in April 2000, this is an on-going project.

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