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BookClubEditor
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Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost

Is Thomas Jones, the rebel river ghost, to be admired for his code of honor or condemned for his relationship to Booth?


Reply to this message to discuss any of these topics. Or start your own new topic by clicking "New Message."

Note: This topic refers to events through Chapter Seven. Some readers of this thread may not have finished the book. If you are referring to events that occur after Chapter Seven, please use "Spoiler Warning" in the subject line of your post. Thanks!

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maxcat
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost

I think Jones definitely played a part in the turn of events with Booth. He made crucial mistakes that cost Booth his life in the end. He kept them waiting too long to keep the Union soldiers from searching the woods where they were camped out and he had to make sure the Potomac was just right in that the water was tolerable to cross.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Donti
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Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost

I think Thomas Jones is to be condemned for harboring and aiding two fugitives.
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Librarian
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost-POSSIBLE SPOILER

I have mixed feelings about Thomas Jones. He did not act like a criminal but like a soldier on the opposite side during a war. As I read that part of the book, I start to like his character but I certainly don't believe in violence. It must be the power of the writing. A couple of things puzzle me. He is considered an honorable person and would not sell out for reward money. How does someone with those scruples accept slavery? Yes, there were kind masters but there were also dire conditions and all those human beings having their lives sold out for profit----whether it was the successful operation of a Southern plantation or a profitable venture by a Northern businessman. It was also interesting that when his role was revealed by the journalist for a newspaper eighteen years later, there was no retroactive prosecution. They must not have considered "cold cases" in those days.
Also when Booth noticed his compass was pointing Northwest instead of Southwest, why didn't he and David change direction on the Potomac? Thomas Jones started them off in the correct direction.
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maxcat
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost-POSSIBLE SPOILER

I found it interesting that 20 years after the fact, people were calling Thomas Jones a hero. I don't think so unless they were Confederate sympathizers. Also, Thomas didn't want to cross the river with the two men as he was looking out for his own safety. I think things start going downhill after Booth discovers they are going in the wrong direction. Herold knew where they were after a while and he was tired as they had been out on the river some five hours. So, he knew to pull into a place he was familiar with and knew the family that lived closeby.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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katknit
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost-POSSIBLE SPOILER



Librarian wrote:
I have mixed feelings about Thomas Jones. He did not act like a criminal but like a soldier on the opposite side during a war. As I read that part of the book, I start to like his character but I certainly don't believe in violence. It must be the power of the writing. A couple of things puzzle me. He is considered an honorable person and would not sell out for reward money. How does someone with those scruples accept slavery? Yes, there were kind masters but there were also dire conditions and all those human beings having their lives sold out for profit--

Regarding slavery:
I work at a museum in CT at a house at which the family owned slaves. We often do programs on this topic. One thing I've learned is that it is very difficult for us to comprehend the way slavery was regarded by people alive at that time. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, for example, both knew in their hearts that slavery was wrong but never freed their own slaves. There had never been a time when slavery wasn't condoned somewhere in the world. For that matter, today some Africans are still enslaving other Africans in their own country. Honor and slavery had nothing to do with one another in the life of a gentleman. Lincoln himself used abolition as a means to weaken the South. He said himself that if he could save the Union by freeing no slaves, he would do that.

This is a big topic. Hope this helps a bit.
No two persons ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]
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katknit
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost-POSSIBLE SPOILER


Librarian wrote:
I have mixed feelings about Thomas Jones. He did not act like a criminal but like a soldier on the opposite side during a war. As I read that part of the book, I start to like his character but I certainly don't believe in violence. It must be the power of the writing. A couple of things puzzle me. He is considered an honorable person and would not sell out for reward money. How does someone with those scruples accept slavery? Yes, there were kind masters but there were also dire conditions and all those human beings having their lives sold out for profit--

Regarding slavery:
I work at a museum in CT at a house at which the family owned slaves. We often do programs on this topic. One thing I've learned is that it is very difficult for us to comprehend the way slavery was regarded by people alive at that time. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, for example, both knew in their hearts that slavery was wrong but never freed their own slaves. There had never been a time when slavery wasn't condoned somewhere in the world. For that matter, today some Africans are still enslaving other Africans in their own country. Honor and slavery had nothing to do with one another in the life of a gentleman. Lincoln himself used abolition as a means to weaken the South. He said himself that if he could save the Union by freeing no slaves, he would do that.

This is a big topic. Hope this helps a bit.
No two persons ever read the same book. [Edmund Wilson]
Inspired Correspondent
Librarian
Posts: 483
Registered: ‎01-27-2007
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost-POSSIBLE SPOILER



katknit wrote:

Librarian wrote:
I have mixed feelings about Thomas Jones. He did not act like a criminal but like a soldier on the opposite side during a war. As I read that part of the book, I start to like his character but I certainly don't believe in violence. It must be the power of the writing. A couple of things puzzle me. He is considered an honorable person and would not sell out for reward money. How does someone with those scruples accept slavery? Yes, there were kind masters but there were also dire conditions and all those human beings having their lives sold out for profit--

Regarding slavery:
I work at a museum in CT at a house at which the family owned slaves. We often do programs on this topic. One thing I've learned is that it is very difficult for us to comprehend the way slavery was regarded by people alive at that time. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, for example, both knew in their hearts that slavery was wrong but never freed their own slaves. There had never been a time when slavery wasn't condoned somewhere in the world. For that matter, today some Africans are still enslaving other Africans in their own country. Honor and slavery had nothing to do with one another in the life of a gentleman. Lincoln himself used abolition as a means to weaken the South. He said himself that if he could save the Union by freeing no slaves, he would do that.

This is a big topic. Hope this helps a
bit.




Katknit----Thank you for the interesting look into the attitudes toward slavery!
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vivico1
Posts: 3,456
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
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Re: Manhunt: The Rebel River Ghost

You know, in some ways this is a hard question to answer because there was a war going on. And because of that, I can see why 20 years later, he was treated differently and like a hero to the southern cause. He even met with Captain Williams who said, had he known all this "back then" he would surely arrested him and had him shot! So why not now? The war was over. People looked on both sides of the war and talked of heroes and it was acceptable. Its like when you see reunions of some of the very old WWII US soldiers and some of the Japanese ones, some they even knew as ones they fought. Many of these men have become friends and talk of the War in different ways now because its over. So yes, I can see how to the South, he was considered a hero later, but at the time, he most certainly would have been taken and hanged or shot. Is he in fact a hero? I guess that depends on if you see anyone in the confederacy as heroes. Or were they all traitors. This was not a war of two different countries but a war within one, brother against brother and if you see the south rising as against the US Government, then its treason and how can any be heroes.

If today for example, lets say (and dont get upset if you live there, its my old stomping grounds too :smileywink: ) if Southern California, Arizona and New Mexico, decided to break from the nation and form there own country, because maybe they wanted to keep the ability to have illegal aliens at slave wages (not that thats the only place of illegals or the only kind of illegals but you know what I mean and they are treated often as slave labor because they want to be here so badly), just as the south (and others but primarily there) wanted to keep their slaves and even tho thats not the origins of the war, lets use that as a comparison anyway. IF those states did that and killed ANY other US citizen, are they treasonous and therefore guilty of murder? What if one of them killed the President today? Would it be the actions of soldiers in a war or flat murder of the PRESIDENT of this nation's government and no matter how loyal that killers friends were to his cause or to him, no matter how he aided that killer because he was good at it and was trying to save his life and took no money , also put his own life in danger, would he in the end be a war hero or just the very well disciplined accomplice to treasonable murder?

I personally, find NO one who helped Booth in the least as heroes. They were coconspirators and nothing heroic about it. Thomas Jones was good at what he did and so he took no money and help at peril of his own life, big deal. WHY was he in peril for it? Because it was the act of treason and the act of murder and he harbored and abeted criminals. He wasnt in peril trying to save a just man , or hiding women and children from soldiers from either side when many were molested. He wasnt in peril for hiding negroes trying to run from slavery. He was in peril for hiding the man who killed the nations leader. Even Booth himself was surprised at the reaction from all the papers, he was a wanted hunted criminal that even the southern papers called him so, and he was baffled. His "audience" had not acted as he had thought. Jones, I believe, if had he been caught and hanged back when he had done it, would not have been seen as a hero even later, just another one of the actors in this act. But with the war 20 years in the past, and here was a man with a story, the one everyone had wondered about, still alive to tell it and old (by their recogning lol) was ready to tell it, thats what made him the folk hero I think, nothing more than someone to fill in the gaps of the story and quite a character at that. Heroic acts are not necessarily the same as being a Hero.

p.s. I do not think of the confederate soldiers as all murderers and I hope I didnt insinuate that. I think there were some heroic "real" soldiers of the south, but what made them heroic was not how many they killed, but how many they saved.
Vivian
~Those who do not read are no better off than those who can not.~ Chinese proverb
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