John Wilkes Booth Abraham Lincoln's Assassin Part 3

About the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, history of the murder at Ford's theater by John Wilkes Booth.


The Victim: ABRAHAM LINCOLN, 16th president of the U. S., who led the Union to victory in the Civil War after freeing the slaves.

Some 2,000 people were arrested in connection with the Lincoln assassination. Most were quickly released, but eight accused conspirators were hastily brought to trial before a military court. They included: Paine; Atzerodt; Edward Spangler, a stagehand at the Ford Theater; David Herold, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O'Laughlin, all known companions of Booth; Dr. Samuel Mudd, a physician who aided Booth after his escape from the theater; and Mary Surratt, the owner of the Washington boardinghouse where the plot was allegedly hatched. A ninth accused conspirator, John Surratt, son of Mary Surratt, was still at large and was not tried. All of the defendants were convicted and, on July 6, sentenced. Dr. Mudd, Arnold, and O'Laughlin got life terms. President of the Confederacy Jefferson Davis, tried in absentia as a coconspirator, was to remain in prison. Herold, Paine, Atzerodt, and Mrs. Surratt were to hang. The sentence was carried out the next day at 1:26 P.M. Mary Surratt became the first woman in U. S. history to be hanged.

O'Laughlin died of yellow fever in 1867 while still imprisoned. Jefferson Davis was released in 1868 and went on a tour of Europe. Dr. Mudd and Arnold were pardoned in 1869. Major Rathbone, Lincoln's defender, married Miss Harris, went mad, and murdered her. He died in an asylum. Sgt. Boston Corbett, the man who claimed that God had told him to shoot the man he thought was Booth, castrated himself so that he might better "resist sin." He later fired two pistols into the crowded Kansas legislature, was sent to a mental institution, escaped, and was never heard of again. Mary Lincoln returned to Springfield, Ill., also went mad, and died in obscurity in 1882.

Criticism of the government's handling of the assassination investigation began not long after the trial was concluded and has continued to the present. In 1866 Congressman Andrew J. Rogers of New Jersey, a member of the House select committee on the assassination of Lincoln, filed a minority report in which he accused the government of falsifying evidence and testimony at the trial. In 1867 Col. Lafayette C. Baker, former head of the secret service, revealed that he had handed over a diary kept by Booth to Secretary Stanton, who hid it. When the diary was subsequently found, in a War Dept. file, 18 pages of it were mysteriously missing. Over a century later, in 1977, David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr., claimed to have discovered the missing 18 pages and other documents that prove highly placed government officials not only conspired to kidnap Lincoln, but covered up many details of the assassination in order to keep their plot from being discovered.

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