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“Mary Surratt - Guilty, Innocent, or does it matter?”

Apr 20, 2011 at 9:41pm | Filed Under “The Conspirator

Mary Surratt - Guilty, Innocent, or does it matter?
Less than three months after her arrest at her boarding house on H Street in Washington City, Mary Surratt would be hanged for her role in John Wilkes Booth's murderous plot.
from The Conspirator 54 comments

“Brig. Gen. Joseph Holt - His Role as Chief Prosecutor in the Military Tribunal”

Mar 28, 2011 at 8:43pm | Filed Under “The Conspirator

Brig. Gen. Joseph Holt - His Role as Chief Prosecutor in the Military Tribunal
Joseph Holt, a Kentucky lawyer and staunch Unionist, was confirmed by the Congress as President Lincoln's Judge Advocate General on September 3, 1862. This made Holt the top lawyer in the Army, and the principal legal advisor to Lincoln on all military legal matters.
from The Conspirator 73 comments

“Frederick Aiken: A Rookie Defender”

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:53pm | Filed Under “The Conspirator

Frederick Aiken: A Rookie Defender
Historian Kate Larson suggests that Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) failed in his defense of Mary Surratt due to his general inexperience as a lawyer.
from The Conspirator 21 comments

“Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense”

Mar 14, 2011 at 9:41pm | Filed Under “The Conspirator

Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense
Historian Fred Borch argues that Frederick Aiken (James McAvoy) did all that he could and provided a proper defense for Mary Surratt.
from The Conspirator 23 comments

“The Private Life of Mary Surratt”

Feb 14, 2011 at 8:36pm | Filed Under “The Conspirator

The Private Life of Mary Surratt
When audiences first meet Mary Surratt in the film THE CONSPIRATOR, the only thing they will know about her is that she is the mother of John Surratt, Jr., a Booth cohort...
from The Conspirator 27 comments


  • kelle1979
    03/30/2011 at 3:53pm


    Such an interesting story--- I wonder how Lincoln would have reacted to the "fair" trial his close advisors took part in. Also, I think its interesting looking at the parallels between what is happening in current day war versus the attitudes and actions of those involved directly in the Civil War.

    from Brig. Gen. Joseph Holt - His Role as Chief Prosecutor in the Military Tribunal
  • North-South
    03/23/2011 at 9:19pm


    Lincoln was first and foremost a politician. Regarding any issue of his day and particularly slavery he said what was necessary to the audience he was addressing. If he could preserve the Union by abolishing slavery he was committed to doing it. By the same token, if preservation of the Union could be accomplished by maintaining that "peculiar institution", he was willing to do that as well.

    Called the Great Emancipator, Lincoln actually freed no one. The Emancipation Proclamation declared, "all persons held as slaves within any States, or designated part of the State, the people whereof shall be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free." Although he was the president of the United States (Union), he had no jurisdiction over the confederacy where slavery was part of the culture.

    Lincoln used every tool possible to restore the Union to the disdain of John Wilkes Booth. Booth did what he felt was necessary to save his county and felt he'd be welcomed as a hero for his actions. Unfortunately for him, the entire county (North & South) had suffered too long form the the effects of the war. The irony (in my opinion) of Booth's act of assassinating Lincoln come in his final words, "useless, useless".

    from Slavery, race, and the assassination
  • lizzybennett
    03/23/2011 at 6:19pm


    Booth's actions and personal feeling on the subject of race and the nation are complex at best as discussed in a great book God Judge Me : the writing of John Wilkes Booth by John Rhodehamel and Louise Taper and other works that touch on the same subject but are carefuly written , and yet we have grown alot as a nation in trying to appeal to the better angels of our nature as Lincoln put it . But each indivual has to decide how they feel every day in all kinds of situations and those really show are true character inside. As for me I try hard to see the person on the inside and get to know them better and show kindness and compassion and love.

    from Slavery, race, and the assassination
  • lookin4boaz
    03/23/2011 at 5:18pm


    I just read the post, so I'm considering the institution of slavery again... Sure the South didn't want slavery to end in the 1860's -- and according to some historians (Gore Vidal's Lincoln) Lincoln didn't really want it to end either. ...His concerns were mostly political not moral. Southerners instigated a war (bled and died) to fight for their enjoyment of free labor, secret interracial sex (many American black families have the white ancestors to prove it), along with the Socially strict caste system of that day.

    But lets fast-forward a hundred a fifty years, do you really think slavery could have survived all that time and exist today? No way. Slavery would have still been abolished before our parent's generation, especially considering the WORLDWIDE Human Rights and technical advances made over the last century and a half. America could have never risen to be the Super Power that she is while holding on to slavery. It had to go, so that we could be the nation we are today.

    from Slavery, race, and the assassination
  • Sitting_Bull
    03/16/2011 at 5:51pm


    It seems to me that at the end of the day this trail was one of moral and idealistic points rather than direct evidence. The fact that Mary was pious was not enough, given her denomination. Aiken should have attacked it in terms of her ideals, rights as a citizen, and a human being.
    The judge's purpose in hanging her along with the other conspirators was one of moral compromise. As Ivan stated to Alyosha in the Brothers Karmozov, "would you kill a child to rid the world of evil?" so did the judge ask himself when he sentenced her to hang. It was at the expense of the moral outrage of the country that the union was once again shattered by bloodshed that she went to the gallows. Had Aiken been able to shed light, not on her piousness, but her fortitude as a human being, I think he would have possibly gotten her off, as it is obvious that any evidence, regardless of how strong or weak it was, was viewed through a glass darkly by the bias of the court. Moreover, if the people of this country recognized her trial as an affront to the ideals for which America has once again been unified, more would have been sympathetic to her cause.

    from Frederick Aiken: A Rookie Defender
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