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The FReeper Foxhole Profiles The Assassination of Lincoln and the Accused - October 5th, 2003
educational resources listed ^

Posted on 10/05/2003 3:49:54 AM PDT by snippy_about_it


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Assassination of President Lincoln

And the Accused

On the evening of April 14, 1865, while attending a special performance of the comedy, "Our American Cousin," President Abraham Lincoln was shot. Accompanying him at Ford's Theater that night were his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, a twenty-eight year-old officer named Major Henry R. Rathbone, and Rathbone's fiancee, Clara Harris. After the play was in progress, a figure with a drawn derringer pistol stepped into the presidential box, aimed, and fired. The president slumped forward.

The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, dropped the pistol and waved a dagger. Rathbone lunged at him, and though slashed in the arm, forced the killer to the railing. Booth leapt from the balcony and caught the spur of his left boot on a flag draped over the rail, and shattered a bone in his leg on landing. Though injured, he rushed out the back door, and disappeared into the night on horseback.

A doctor in the audience immediately went upstairs to the box. The bullet had entered through Lincoln's left ear and lodged behind his right eye. He was paralyzed and barely breathing. He was carried across Tenth Street, to a boarding-house opposite the theater, but the doctors' best efforts failed. Nine hours later, at 7:22 AM on April 15th, Lincoln died.

At almost the same moment Booth fired the fatal shot, his accomplice, Lewis Paine, attacked Lincoln's Secretary of State, William Henry Seward. Seward lay in bed, recovering from a carriage accident. Paine entered the mansion, claiming to have a delivery of medicine from the Secretary's doctor. Seward's son, Frederick, was brutally beaten while trying to keep Paine from his father's door. Paine slashed the Secretary's throat twice, then fought his way past Seward's son Augustus, an attending hospital corps veteran, and a State Department messenger.

Paine escaped into the night, believing his deed complete. However, a metal surgical collar saved Seward from certain death. The Secretary lived another seven years, during which he retained his seat with the Johnson administration, and purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867.

There were at least four conspirators in addition to Booth involved in the mayhem. Booth was shot and captured while hiding in a barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, and died later the same day, April 26, 1865. Four co-conspirators, Paine, George Atzerodt, David Herold, and Mary Surratt, were hanged at the gallows of the Old Penitentiary, on the site of present-day Fort McNair, on July 7, 1865.


John Wilkes Booth, born May 10, 1838, was an actor who performed throughout the country in many plays. He was the lead in some of William Shakespeare's most famous works. Additionally, he was a racist and Southern sympathizer during the Civil War. He hated Abraham Lincoln who represented everything Booth was against. Booth blamed Lincoln for all the South's ills. He wanted revenge.

In late summer of 1864 Booth began developing plans to kidnap Lincoln, take him to Richmond (the Confederate capital), and hold him in return for Confederate prisoners of war. By January, 1865, Booth had organized a group of co-conspirators that included Samuel Arnold, Michael O'Laughlen, John Surratt, Lewis Powell (also called Lewis Paine or Payne), George Atzerodt, and David Herold. Additionally, Booth met with Dr. Samuel Mudd both in Maryland (where Mudd lived) and Washington, and he began using Mary Surratt's boardinghouse to meet with his co-conspirators.

On March 17, 1865, the group planned to capture Lincoln who was scheduled to attend a play at a hospital located on the outskirts of Washington. However, the President changed plans and remained in the capital. Thus, Booth's plot to kidnap Lincoln failed.

On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Two days later Lincoln spoke from the White House to a crowd gathered outside. Booth was present as Lincoln suggested in his speech that voting rights be granted to certain blacks. Infuriated, Booth's plans now turned in the direction of assassination.

On the morning of Friday, April 14, Booth dropped by Ford's Theatre and learned that the President and General Grant were planning to attend the evening performance of Our American Cousin. He held one final meeting with his co-conspirators. He said he would kill Lincoln at the theatre (he had since learned that Grant had left town). Atzerodt was to kill Vice-President Andrew Johnson at the Kirkwood House where Johnson resided. Powell was assigned to kill Secretary of State William Seward. Herold would accompany Powell. All attacks were to take place simultaneously at approximately 10:15 P.M. that night. Booth hoped the resulting chaos and weakness in the government would lead to a comeback for the South.

This is the knife used by Booth to stab Major Henry Rathbone. The knife has a 7 1/4 inch blade and was razor sharp.

The Presidential party arrived at Ford's at about 8:30 P.M. Armed with a single shot derringer and a hunting knife, Booth arrived at Ford's at about 9:30 P.M. Joseph Burroughs, a boy who worked at the theatre, held his horse in the rear alley. Booth went next door to a saloon for a drink. He entered the front of Ford's Theatre around 10:07 P.M. Slowly he made his way toward the State Box where the Lincolns were sitting with Clara Harris and Henry Rathbone. Lincoln's bodyguard, John Parker of the Metropolitan Police Force, had left his post. At about 10:15 P.M. Booth opened the door to the State Box, shot Lincoln in the back of the head at near point-blank range, and struggled with Rathbone.

This is the black walnut rocking chair Abraham Lincoln was sitting in when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth. It was the president's favorite and was brought from John T. Ford's personal apartment in the theatre. There was a dark stain on the red upholstery of the back of the chair due to soiling from the hair pomade that was fashionable for men at the time. At one time this was thought to be the president's blood, but it is not.

Booth stabbed Rathbone in the arm and jumped approximately 11 feet to the stage below. When he hit the floor he snapped the fibula bone in his left leg just above the ankle. Many in the theatre thought he yelled "Sic Semper Tyrannis" (Latin for "As Always to Tyrants"). Mrs. Lincoln screamed, Booth flashed his knife at the audience, and he made his way across the stage in front of more than 1,000 people. Everything happened so fast no one had time to stop him. Booth went out the back door, climbed on his horse, and escaped from the city using the Navy Yard Bridge.

John Wilkes Booth shot President Lincoln in the back of the head near the left ear with this single-shot derringer. It was manufactured by Henry Deringer of Philadelphia and so marked. It is about 6 inches long with a 2 1/2 inch barrel. Its weight is only eight ounces. It fired a large ball that was .44 caliber. The trigger and mountings were made of German silver, and there was a small box in the butt of the gun for an extra percussion cap. The derringer was found on the floor of the State Box at Ford's Theatre by William T. Kent after the assassination. Today it's in the museum in the basement of Ford's Theatre.

Military Commission

Within days Booth's co-conspirators were arrested by the government. They were tried by a military tribunal, and all were found guilty. Mrs. Surratt, Powell, Atzerodt, and Herold were all hanged on July 7, 1865. Dr. Mudd, O'Laughlen, and Arnold were given life terms in prison. Edman "Ned" Spangler, a Ford's stagehand who was convicted of helping Booth escape from the theatre, received a sentence of 6 years in prison. The convictions of Mary Surratt and Dr. Mudd have been hotly debated throughout the years. John Surratt escaped to Canada and then to Europe. He was captured abroad and was tried in 1867 in a civil court. The trial ended with a deadlocked jury, and Surratt went free. O'Laughlen died in prison (Ft. Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas near Key West) in 1867. Dr. Mudd, Arnold, and Spangler were all pardoned by President Andrew Johnson early in 1869.

Atzerodt made no attempt to kill Johnson, and Powell stabbed Seward but failed to kill him. Herold escaped from the capital using the same bridge as Booth. The two met in Maryland and stopped briefly around midnight at Mary Surratt's leased tavern in Surrattsville where Mrs. Surratt had earlier left the message to have supplies ready and had dropped off a wrapped package that contained Booth's field glasses. About 4:00 A.M. Booth and Herold arrived at Dr. Mudd's home where Mudd set and splinted Booth's broken leg. Back in Washington Lincoln never regained consciousness and passed away at 7:22 A.M. on the morning of April 15 at the Petersen House (across the street from the theatre).

Mistaken headline; Seward was not killed

Booth and Herold departed from Dr. Mudd's during the afternoon of April 15 and traveled south. Federal authorities caught up with them at Garrett's farm near Port Royal, Virginia, early in the morning of April 26. Hiding in a barn, Harold gave up. Booth refused, so the barn was set on fire. Booth still didn't come out and was shot to death by Sergeant Boston Corbett. Corbett had not been under orders to do this. Booth's body was searched, and a diary was among the things found. Booth's remains were returned to Washington where positive identification was made and an autopsy performed.

Booth planned to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, Vice-President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William Seward, and General Ulysses S. Grant. Booth was out for revenge, and he thought creating chaos in the federal government might lead to a comeback for the Confederacy. The Grants declined the Lincolns' theater invitation; thus Ulysses' life was spared. No attempt was made on Johnson's life. Seward was brutally attacked in his home, but he survived. Only Lincoln died. Booth, himself, never went to trial because he was killed while being captured.

After the assassination the government arrested several hundred people. Most were soon released due to lack of evidence. However, the government did charge 8 people with conspiracy. On May 1, 1865, President Andrew Johnson ordered the formation of a military commission to try the accused persons. The actual trial began on May 10th and lasted until June 30th. It took place on the 3rd floor of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary (nowadays on the grounds of Fort Lesley J. McNair). Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt of the United States Army presided. The defendants were allowed to have lawyers and witnesses, but they were not allowed to testify themselves.

Mary Surratt, 42, the first woman to be hanged by the U.S. Government, is the body hanging at the left. Virtually everyone expected her sentence to be commuted by President Andrew Johnson, but it was not. From the left, after Mary Surratt, hang the bodies of Lewis Paine, David Herold, and George Atzerodt. Roughly 1,000 people, viewing from windows, walls, the courtyard, and buildings, witnessed the affair.

Because such a large number of people wished to view the execution, tickets had been issued to limit the actual number in the courtyard.

At approximately 1:26 P.M., July 7, 1865, General John F. Hartranft clapped his hands together three times. After the third time two soldiers underneath the gallows knocked away the supporting posts with long poles and the trap doors snapped downward. The bodies of the four victims dropped about 5 to 6 feet and then came up with a sharp jerk at the end of each rope. After the hanging about 25 minutes elapsed, and the bodies were cut down.

They were then examined by doctors as they lay on top of their coffins (which were really just crude gun boxes). The bodies (with hanging-caps still on) were buried in shallow graves next to the gallows. Pieces of the gallows were soon distributed as souvenirs. Outside the prison a large crowd was celebrating with lemonade and cakes.

In 1867 the remains of Mary Surratt, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, and David Herold were removed from the shallow graves in the prison yard. They were placed in a storage building nearby. In February, 1869, President Andrew Johnson issued an order allowing the bodies to be released to their respective families. All bodies were claimed by family members except for Lewis Paine.

Lincoln's funeral procession

The FReeper Foxhole's Armed Forces Links

KEYWORDS: abrahamlincoln; fordstheatre; freeperfoxhole; johnwilkesbooth; michaeldobbs; samsdayoff; seward; surrat; veterans
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Clic on the individual pictures to visit one of the educational website chosen for some of today's lesson and learn more about each convicted conspirator

Left to right: Lewis Paine, David Herold, George Atzerodt


Left to right: Michael O'Laughlen, Samuel Arnold, Edman Spangler

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Mary Surratt Society Photograph

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Booth was killed while being captured and never went to trial.

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Today's Educational Sources and suggestions for further reading:
1 posted on 10/05/2003 3:49:55 AM PDT by snippy_about_it
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To: All

2 posted on 10/05/2003 3:51:31 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: mark502inf; bedolido; The Mayor; Prof Engineer; PsyOp; Samwise; comitatus; copperheadmike; ...
.......FALL IN to the FReeper Foxhole!

.......Good Sunday Morning Everyone!

If you would like added to our ping list let us know.
3 posted on 10/05/2003 3:52:28 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: All
We Replaced Patrick Leahy's Brains With Folger's Crystals. Let's See If Anyone Notices!

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4 posted on 10/05/2003 3:54:21 AM PDT by Support Free Republic (Your support keeps Free Republic going strong!)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning, Snippy and everyone here at the Freeper Foxhole.
5 posted on 10/05/2003 4:33:19 AM PDT by E.G.C.
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To: E.G.C.
Good morning EGC.
6 posted on 10/05/2003 4:47:43 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good morning snippy and Sam, everyone.
7 posted on 10/05/2003 5:14:26 AM PDT by Soaring Feather (~Poets' Know the Unknown~)
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To: snippy_about_it
Good Morning

8 posted on 10/05/2003 5:21:29 AM PDT by GailA (Millington Rally for America after action
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To: snippy_about_it
Another good read. I never knew that multiple assassinations were planned. I have also just figured out why I never liked history class. History was always taught to me as names and dates; my teachers never told me the story behind the headline fact. Memorization was all history class ever was. What a disservice that is. Perhaps history should be left to the story tellers. Thanks for your hard work.
9 posted on 10/05/2003 5:36:28 AM PDT by Samwise (There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.)
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To: bentfeather
Good morning feather. Still in MO?
10 posted on 10/05/2003 5:37:08 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: GailA
Good morning Gail.
11 posted on 10/05/2003 5:37:38 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: Samwise
You are so right. I remember trying to memorize dates and names for history classes. Seems that was all the tests were about.

My mother is an avid reader (even today at 79 with a magnifying glass and partially blind). She also has strong conservative values.

As a toddler, any free time was spent at the library and I was taught to look things up and to do independent research from the moment I could read. I only lived with my mother until about the age of eight but I was fortunate to have her instill reading, curiosity and daydreaming in me at a young age so it stuck! A gift to last a lifetime.

12 posted on 10/05/2003 5:48:40 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
Cheers to your mom!
13 posted on 10/05/2003 5:56:10 AM PDT by Samwise (There are other forces at work in this world, Frodo, besides the will of evil.)
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To: snippy_about_it

Today's classic warship, USS Massachusetts (BB-2)

Indiana class battleship
displacement. 10,288
length. 350'11"
beam. 69'3"
draft. 24'
speed. 16.21 k.
complement. 586
armament. 4 13", 8 8", 4 6", 2 3", 20 6-pdrs., 6 1-pdrs., 6 18" tt.

The USS Massachusetts (BB-2) was laid down by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia, Pa., 25 June 1891; launched 10 June 1893; sponsored by Miss Leila Herbert, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Hilary Herbert; and commissioned 10 June 1896, Capt. Frederick Rodgers In command.

Underway for shakedown 4 August 1896, Massachusetts conducted trials and maneuvers off the middle Atlantic coast until 30 November, when she entered New York Navy Yard for overhaul. Following a brief voyage to Charleston, S.C., 12 to 20 February 1897, the battleship departed New York 26 May for Boston, arriving 2 days later for a celebration in her honor, including the presentation of the Massachusetts Coat of Arms 16 June, and a gift of a statue of victory the next day. She departed Boston on the 19th to cruise to St. Johns, Newfoundland, arriving 23 June. Sailing on the 28th the warship operated off the Atlantic coast for the next 10 months, participating in training maneuvers with the North Atlantic Squadron off Florida, and making calls at major east coast ports. On 27 March 1898, she was ordered to Hampton Roads, Va., to join the "Flying Squadron" for the blockade of Cuba.

Massachusetts departed Norfolk 13 May for Cienfuegos, Cuba, where she took up blockade duties on the 22d. On the afternoon of 31 May In company with battleship Iowa (BB-4) and cruiser New Orleans, she bombarded the forts at the entrance to Santiago de Cuba, and exchanged fire with Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon, forcing the enemy ship to retire into the inner harbor of Santiago. The battleship remained on patrol off Santiago, intermittently bombarding Spanish fortifications, until 3 July, when she stood out to coal at Guantanamo Bag. Missing the Battle of Santiago, the battleship steamed back to her station on the 4th, arriving in time to help battleship Texas force cruiser Reina Mercedes to beach and surrender at midnight 6 July. Following duty in support of the American occupation of Puerto Rico, 21 July to 1 August, Massachusetts steamed for home, arriving New York 20 August.

During the next 7 years, Massachusetts cruised the Atlantic coast and eastern Caribbean as a member of the North Atlantic Squadron. From 27 May to 30 August 1904, the warship served as a training ship for Naval Academy midshipmen off New England and then entered New York Yard for overhaul. Departing New York 13 January 1905, the battlewagon then steamed for the Caribbean on training maneuvers, operating there until she returned north to cruise off New England in May. Putting into New York 12 November 1905, she underwent inactivation overhaul and then decommissioned 8 January 1906.

Massachusetts was placed in reduced commission 2 May 1910 to serve as a summer practice ship for Naval Academy midshipmen. During the next 4 years she made three midshipman cruises-twice to Western Europe before entering the Atlantic Reserve Fleet in September 1912. Following a brief voyage to New York 5 to 16 October for the Presidential Fleet Review, the warship returned to Philadelphia where she remained until decommissioning 23 May 1914.

Massachusetts recommissioned 9 June 1917 at Philadelphia. Sailing 9 October, she arrived at the Naval Training Station, Newport, R.I., on the 15th, where she embarked Naval Reserve guncrews for gunnery training in Block Island Sound. Continuing on this duty until 27 May 1918, the old battleship then underwent repairs at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Assigned to battle practice, "A" Division, Battleship Force 1, Atlantic Fleet, 9 June 1918, the veteran battlewagon steamed to Yorktown, Va., the same day, and for the remainder of World War I served as a heavy gun target practice ship in Chesapeake Bay and local Atlantic waters. Massachusetts returned to Philadelphia 16 February 1919. Redesignated Coast Battleship No. 2, 28 March, the warship decommissioned for the final time on the 31st. She was struck from the Navy list 22 November 1920 and loaned to the War Department as a target ship. Scuttled off Pensacola Bay, Fla., 6 January 1921, the hulk was bombarded by batteries from Fort Pickens for 4 years and then returned to the Navy 20 February 1925. Though offered for sale for scrap, no acceptable bids were received and finally, on 15 November 1956, the ship was declared the property of the state of Florida. Her hulk still rests under the waters off Pensacola today, a popular site for divers.

14 posted on 10/05/2003 6:19:37 AM PDT by aomagrat (IYAOYAS)
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To: snippy_about_it
Goin to Church, I'll be back ..
15 posted on 10/05/2003 6:19:39 AM PDT by The Mayor (He who waits on the Lord will not be crushed by the weights of adversity.)
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To: Samwise
16 posted on 10/05/2003 6:33:27 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: aomagrat; *all
aomagrat, your classics always make me want to read more. Today I found more than I think I ever have as far as photos. I'll share my finding with our Foxhole family.

U.S.S. Massachusetts, figure of victory between 1896 and 1901 by Edward H. Hart

U.S.S. Massachusetts, on the berth deck between 1896 and 1901 - by Edward H. Hart
Clic here for more great photos of this ship and crew

17 posted on 10/05/2003 6:47:09 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: The Mayor
Good morning, see you after church.
18 posted on 10/05/2003 6:47:33 AM PDT by snippy_about_it (Fall in --> The FReeper Foxhole. America's History. America's Soul.)
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To: snippy_about_it
What a sad, sad day for America
19 posted on 10/05/2003 7:19:54 AM PDT by apackof2 (Watch and pray till you see Him coming, no one knows the hour or the day)
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To: snippy_about_it
20 posted on 10/05/2003 7:20:40 AM PDT by manna
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