Abraham Lincoln's Bodyguard Chooses Booze Over Protecting Him
John Frederick Parker was a 19th-century D.C. police officer, and by all accounts a fairly terrible one. He was frequently reprimanded for berating civilians, cursing, being drunk on the job, and sleeping in a streetcar when he was supposed to be walking his beat. That last one wasn't his fault, though -- he'd heard ducks inside the trolley and gone in to investigate, and you know how exhausting duck work can be.
So when it came time to form the first permanent presidential security detail, Parker was a shoo-in. Every group needs some comic relief, right? Just as long as you don't give him anything serious to do, like replace Abraham Lincoln's usual bodyguard when he calls in sick ...
Library of Congress"Dammit, Parker! If I get killed one more time, you're fired."
On the night of April 14, 1865, Parker saw the president and his wife to their fancy box seats in Ford's Theatre, then sat down in the hallway. But there was a problem: He couldn't see the play from there. So he decided to abandon his post and go downstairs. But alas, even with a better seat, Our American Cousin wasn't to his liking, so Parker ran off to the bar next door at intermission to get a drink with Lincoln's carriage driver. At the bar, it's possible Parker even got to see a celebrity; actor John Wilkes Booth happened to be there too. Talk about a magical night!
Booth eventually left the bar, but it's unclear whether Parker did. For all we know, he found out the president was dead while nursing a hangover the next morning.
Library of Congress
"That guy was the PRESIDENT?!"