Chapter 31 – Destiny defeats the laws of probability

Destiny defeats the laws of probability
What are the odds?

How many times have you witnessed or experienced events, that leave you speechless…

Sequence of events, that on paper, seem impossible. They seem that the odds of them happening is so small, negligible, that they should not occur.

But then, they do. Right in front of you, or maybe happening to you.

Here is an example, to get us going. Have you heard of John Wilkes Booth? He had a brother named Edwin, who was a very famous actor, in the theater. Have you heard of Robert Lincoln? He was Abraham Lincoln’s son.

This story, is real, you can research it yourself.

Robert Lincoln rescue

Edwin Booth saved Abraham Lincoln’s son,[12] Robert, from serious injury or even death. The incident occurred on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. The exact date of the incident is uncertain, but it is believed to have taken place in late 1864 or early 1865. Robert Lincoln recalled the incident in a 1909 letter to Richard Watson Gilder, editor of The Century Magazine.

The incident occurred while a group of passengers were late at night purchasing their sleeping car places from the conductor who stood on the station platform at the entrance of the car. The platform was about the height of the car floor, and there was of course a narrow space between the platform and the car body. There was some crowding, and I happened to be pressed by it against the car body while waiting my turn. In this situation the train began to move, and by the motion I was twisted off my feet, and had dropped somewhat, with feet downward, into the open space, and was personally helpless, when my coat collar was vigorously seized and I was quickly pulled up and out to a secure footing on the platform. Upon turning to thank my rescuer I saw it was Edwin Booth, whose face was of course well known to me, and I expressed my gratitude to him, and in doing so, called him by name.

Booth did not know the identity of the man whose life he had saved until some months later, when he received a letter from a friend, Colonel Adam Badeau, who was an officer on the staff of General Ulysses S. Grant. Badeau had heard the story from Robert Lincoln, who had since joined the Union Army and was also serving on Grant’s staff. In the letter, Badeau gave his compliments to Booth for the heroic deed. The fact that he had saved the life of Abraham Lincoln’s son was said to have been of some comfort to Edwin Booth following his brother’s assassination of the president.

What are the odds?

Its gets better.

Here is what happened the night of his assassination, and sometime before.

Before the Secret Service started protecting presidents in 1902, watching out for the commander-in-chief was a tricky issue, especially when it came to someone like Abraham Lincoln, who didn’t really care for bodyguards. Nevertheless, the US marshal of Washington DC, Ward Hill Lamon, insisted on following Lincoln around in public. Lamon was a big man who often carried a Bowie knife and a brace of pistols, and as he was Lincoln’s personal friend, he did his best to keep the president safe.

Of course, Lamon wasn’t Lincoln’s only defender. In November 1864, the DC police created a four-man team to keep the president safe. However, one of these officers was the worst cop in Washington. John Frederick Parker had a lengthy record of infractions, including sleeping, drinking, and visiting prostitutes on the job, and that guy was tasked with watching Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. However, instead of dutifully guarding the president, Parker left his post so he could get a better view of the play, Our American Cousin. Even worse, during intermission, Parker decided to wet his whistle at a nearby saloon.

Sadly, Ward Hill Lamon wasn’t at the theater that night, either — Lincoln had sent his bodyguard on a mission to Virginia the day before. So when John Wilkes Booth showed up, the president was totally exposed. And while Parker never owned up to his mistake, Lamon later lamented, “As God is my judge, I believe if I had been in the city, it would not have happened and had it, I know the assassin would not have escaped the town.”


You may say to yourself: Its just a coincidence, one president, one son, and assailant – its no big deal.

How about this, as another example.

On his popular podcast, Hardcore History, historian Dan Carlin claimed that Gavrilo Princip was the most important person of the 20th century. He wasn’t just being silly.

A Bosnian Serb, Princip was furious that his country was run by the Austro-Hungarian empire. Princip wasn’t the only guy who felt this way, as he was a member of a terrorist group that wanted to send the world a bloody message. So when Princip learned the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, was headed to the city of Sarajevo, he knew it was time to act. On June 28, 1914, Princip and several other assassins gathered along a Sarajevo street, waiting for Ferdinand to pass. When the royal motorcade appeared, one of Princip’s comrades lobbed a grenade at the archduke, but the bomb was deflected, and Ferdinand survived.

At first, it seemed like Princip had lost his chance. But in a bizarre twist of fate, as Ferdinand was traveling back through the city, his driver took a wrong turn … onto the street where Princip was standing. As the driver put the car in reverse, Princip shot both the archduke and his wife to death. Princip was arrested and spent the rest of his days in prison, before dying of tuberculosis in 1918. But Princip’s gunshots launched World War I, a devastating conflict that set up World War II, the atomic bomb, and the Holocaust. In turn, the Holocaust played a part in the rise of modern-day Israel. Plus, World War I sparked the Russian Revolution, which gave birth to the USSR and the Cold War. World War I also destroyed the Ottoman Empire, and reshaped the Middle East. Really, the list goes on and on. World War I truly altered the course of history, and it was all because one driver turned down the wrong street.

But let’s go back to Lincoln, shall we?

In September 1862, the American Civil War was raging, and the Confederate army was getting ready to make a gutsy move. General Robert E. Lee wanted to invade the North, with a plan that involved splitting his forces into four or five groups. These units, each separated by about eight miles, would press forward into Union territory and capture key Yankee cities. Lee’s battle plans were written down and handed out to his officers but, somehow, a general named Daniel Hill lost his orders, and it altered the course of the war.

A few days later, on September 13, a Union regiment rolled into a field near Frederick, Maryland. As the soldiers began searching the area, they found a piece of paper inside an envelope, along with a couple of cigars (Hill’s, most likely). After looking the paper over, they knew they had something big. The letter was passed up the ranks all the way to General George B. McClellan, who realized he had Special Orders No. 191, Lee’s invasion plans in his hands. For a military man, this was a dream come true.

Thanks to this miracle find, Union forces intercepted the Confederates near Antietam Creek in Maryland. The resulting Battle of Antietam was the single bloodiest day in US history — around 23,000 soldiers died in action. Antietam forced Robert E. Lee to retreat back into the South, and it also encouraged Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.

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References and Quotes:
“There are only two ways to live your life: as though nothing is a miracle, or as though everything is a miracle.”
– Albert Einstein

“In Israel, in order to be a realist you must believe in miracles.”
– David Ben Gurion

” Miracles, in the sense of phenomena we cannot explain, surround us on every hand: life itself is the miracle of miracles.”
– George Bernard Shaw

“Destiny defeats the laws of probability”
– Ori Eisen