8:28 AM


Hello & Welcome back to my blog. Mary Surratt was hung for being a conspirator in the assassination of President Lincoln.
Calling all Civil War Reenactors, Living History Bluffs, National Park Service, Historians and Civil War Round Tables to a new movie coming out in April..
The Conspirator
AMERICAN FILM COMPANY


I was lucky to see a previewing of this film on January 8, 2011 at the 125th American Historical Conference in Boston.....and like the film people say, This is a must see....and moreover must be talked about. I sat in the front row with my husband Matthew and two attendees...one whom was a PH. D. Candidate at Arizona State and recently had lunch with  Congresswoman Giffords...yes that Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords- shot in the head on the very day we saw this movie!!!


I first heard about the shooting when I left the Trade show and was passing Star Bucks and saw CNN. I had a hard time finding the facts until my husband went on the Huffington Post and there I heard there were more victims to this tragedy.... The news mentioned there might be an accomplice and flashed a security photo on the screen of a man with shoulder length black hair, baseball cap and blue dress shirt- he turned out to be the taxi cab man who took the shooter as a fare. 


Below see the panel from the American Film Company which included the CEO, historians, Webster Stone, Executive Producer and screenwriter James Solomon- they wanted to hear what the historians had to say. 




Some people were emotional and a true historian is able to see all sides without getting drawn into judgement. The discussion was enlightening- Mary Surrat owned slaves and was Catholic. 


The staging was top drawer-  Being from the Washington DC area, I had been in Ford's Theater and saw Jesus Christ Superstar in the 1970s and went across the street and inside the townhouse Lincoln was carried....and I have been in the Mary Surratt's tavern in Clinton Maryland. And knew staff who think there is a ghost there on the second floor end of the hallway. Hopefully this movie will move you to visit these sites- I know the Ford Theater which is privately owned and not a National Park Site is in need for donations and recently my son & his wife attended a performance there.
However, the important outcome from seeing this movie made me reflect-
 I left wanting to know how this Jan 8th shooting would play out. Thus far, I can understand how citizens in April 1865 felt, looking for blame for President Lincoln's death. It was the mood of the country and it outweighed any rational facts in the case. This movie really brings us to 2011 & makes us question, are we all accountable for our actions...for our words....for our attitude?
The Round Table question here is, "What if....What if the jury could have allowed the facts to overcome their emotions & hated... would Mary Surrat still have been hung?"




I spoke in length to all of them and thanked Stone for his use of natural and artificial lighting and he credited Robert Redford who was the Director. (The man in the middle is Solomon's film professor from Harvard.) I found Solomon an excellent writer and interested in my feedback. There is minor corrections and those I privately shared with Solomon who gave my husband his email address.


During the evening, our new friend Pat was getting lots of tweets about the incident and to say again,  we were swept up in the same mindset as when President Lincoln was assassinated.






 Refresh your memory with the Library of Congress web site on the Lincoln Papers

(Home for LOC Lincoln Papers)


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.



President Lincoln's funeral procession in New York City.
From Harper's Weekly, May 13, 1865. (Library of Congress, Stern Collection, Rare Book and Special Collections Division. )

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.

The Time Line on the LOC site is helpful...but the movie continues after the hanging making a real conclusion about this incident


1865
March 17A plot hatched by John Wilkes Booth to kidnap President Lincoln is aborted when the President fails to make a scheduled trip to a soldiers' hospital. The possibility of political assassination increasingly enters the mind of the bitter and restless Booth.
April 14While attending an evening performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre, the President is shot by John Wilkes Booth . After a medical examination by Dr. Charles Leale, Lincoln's body is carried to a bedroom in the nearby Petersen House. Booth and his accomplice David Herold escape Washington into southern Maryland.Confined to a sickbed at his home on Lafayette Square, Secretary of State William Seward is nearly killed from a vicious knife attack administered by co-conspirator Lewis Paine. George Atzerodt fails to follow through on a plan to assassinate Vice President Johnson.
April 15President Lincoln dies at 7:22 a.m. At his bedside, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton remarks, "Now he belongs to the ages."
Having broken his right fibula while jumping to the stage at Ford's Theatre, Booth stops at the house of Dr. Samuel Mudd near Bryantown, Maryland, to have his leg splinted and bandaged.
April 21Lincoln's body departs Washington in a nine-car funeral train. The 1,700-mile trip back to Illinois would essentially be over the same tracks that carried the then President-elect east in 1861. Cities along the route that hold funeral processions include Philadelphia, New York City, Buffalo, Cleveland, and Chicago.
April 26Booth and Herold are apprehended in a tobacco barn near Bowling Green, Virginia, by a cavalry detachment under the command of Lieutenant Edward Doherty. After Herold gives himself up, Booth is shot and killed by Corporal Boston Corbett.
May 4Abraham Lincoln's body is finally laid to rest in a tomb at Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery.
May 10An army military commission is convened to try Mrs. Mary Surratt, David Herold, Lewis Paine, George Atzerodt, Edman Spangler, Michael O'Laughlin, Samuel Arnold, and Dr. Samuel Mudd for their parts in the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. Surratt, Herold, Paine, and Atzerodt will eventually be given the death penalty, while the remaining defendants are sentenced to imprisonment.
July 7George Atzerodt, David Herold, Lewis Paine, and Mary Surratt are executed by hanging at the Old Penitentiary in Washington, for their part in the assassination conspiracy.


Do see the movie and spread the word. Do visit the web site for the American Film Company and post on their blog......Do review the Lincoln Papers on the LOC site and buy the book. 


Let me close, that the Steamboat Arabia's story would make a great movie too...Its 1850s prior to the civil war...Smuggling guns into bleeding Kansas....Setting up Forts to protect emigrants...Homesteading & Gov Land grants.....Murder, Slave Lawsuits & a Catholic Colony that failed. Any Screenwriter's out there?