The Trial

The Trial: The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators

Edited by Edward Steers
TERRY ALFORD
BURRUS CARNAHAN
JOAN L. CHACONAS
PERCY MARTIN
BETTY OWNSBEY
EDWARD STEERS
THOMAS R. TURNER
LAURIE VERGE
Copyright Date: 2003
Pages: 552
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt2jcw78
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  • Book Info
    The Trial
    Book Description:

    On the night of April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth assassinated President Abraham Lincoln in what he envisioned part of a scheme to plunge the federal government into chaos and gain a reprieve for the struggling Confederacy. The plan failed. By April 26, Booth was killed resisting capture and eight of the nine conspirators eventually charged in Lincoln's murder were in custody. Their trial would become one of the most famous and most controversial in U.S. history.

    New president Andrew Johnson's executive order on May 1 directed that persons charged with Lincoln's murder stand trial before a military tribunal. The trial lasted more than fifty days, and 366 witnesses gave testimony. Benn Pitman, a recognized expert in phonography, an early form of shorthand, was awarded the government contract to produce a transcription of each day's testimony. Pitman made these transcripts available to the prosecution and the defense, as well as to select members of the press.

    Although three versions of the trial testimony were published, Pitman's edited collection was the most accessible. He skillfully winnowed the 4,300 pages of transcription into one volume, collated the testimony by defendant, indexed the testimony by name and date, and added summaries of the testimony.

    In The Trial, assassination scholars guide readers through all 421 pages of testimony, illuminating Pitman's record. By drawing together the evidence that resulted in the conspirators' convictions, The Trial leaves no doubt as to the events surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, making this book a fascinating account of the trial as well as an essential resource.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-2724-8
    Subjects: History, Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. I-IV)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. V-VI)
  3. PREFACE
    (pp. VII-IX)
  4. [Illustration]
    (pp. X-X)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. XI-XX)
    Edward Steers Jr.

    On the night of April 14, 1865, the famous American actor John Wilkes Booth paid one last visit to the stage. It was at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., where Booth had delighted thousands of fans, visited with fellow thespians, picked up his mail, and enjoyed the friendship of the theater’s entrepreneurs: John, James, and Harry Ford. The Ford brothers knew Booth to be a bright and personable character who was admired by nearly everyone who knew him, and the affable young actor was always a welcome visitor. On his April 14 visit, however, Booth was not interested in social...

  6. The Military Trial
    (pp. XXI-XXVIII)
    Thomas Reed Turner

    One of the major issues surrounding the assassination of Abraham Lincoln has been that the trial of the conspirators took place before a military court. A degree of sympathy has been generated for Booth’s alleged accomplices, four of whom were hanged, under the assumption that whether the defendants were guilty or innocent, they did not receive a fair trial. Some historians have even speculated that Booth, himself, might have lost a degree of his villainy had he lived to stand trial before a military commission. Indeed, this debate over the legality of military trials for civilians has been one of...

  7. General Conspiracy
    (pp. XXIX-XXXVII)
    Edward Steers Jr.

    To most Americans in 1865, Abraham Lincoln was a casualty of the Civil War. His assassination was the direct result of his role as president and commander-in-chief of the military, and the Confederate leaders in Richmond had engineered his murder.¹ Even those in responsible government positions held this view. Arriving at Lincoln’s bedside, Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles proclaimed, “Damn the Rebels, this was their work.”² Meeting with Confederate general Joseph E. Johnston to discuss surrender terms, Union general William T. Sherman told Johnston that he did not believe that any Confederate army officers were involved in the assassination....

  8. Testimony Relating to John Wilkes Booth, and Circumstances Attending the Assassination
    (pp. XXXVIII-XLVI)
    Terry Alford

    John Wilkes Booth was born on his family’s farm near Bel Air in Harford County, Maryland, on May 10, 1838. His father was Junius Brutus Booth Sr., an English-born actor. His mother was Mary Ann Holmes, daughter of a London seed merchant. Immigrating to the United States in 1821, they settled in Maryland where they raised a family. (They were unable to wed until Junius obtained a divorce in 1851 from a first wife whom he had left behind in Europe.) Ten children were born to Junius and Mary Ann. Six survived to adulthood. John, as he was known in...

  9. Edman Spangler
    (pp. XLVII-LI)
    Betty J. Ownsbey

    Like a gray specter lurking in the wings, Edman “Ned” Spangler¹ found his minute of immortality behind the backdrops and curtained scenes of Ford’s Theatre on the night of April 14, 1865. Born on August 10, 1825, to William and Anna Marie Spangler in York, Pennsylvania, he was the fourth son of a respectable family. Descended from one of York’s founding fathers, Edman’s father held the officious post of sheriff of York County for three years. His townhouse was just three doors east of the town square. Ned’s mother died shortly after his birth, and on October 3, 1830, his...

  10. Mary Elizabeth Surratt
    (pp. LII-LIX)
    Laurie Verge

    The only woman indicted in the Lincoln assassination case and the first woman to be executed by the Federal government, Mary Elizabeth Surratt continues to be a center of debate among historians. Only in the case of Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd is there as much controversy as to the guilt or innocence of one of the defendants. Lacking clear-cut evidence of her involvement, we must look to the background of Mrs. Surratt and the threads that tied her to John Wilkes Booth and to the Confederacy in order to understand her fate. We must also understand the court that tried...

  11. John H. Surratt Jr.
    (pp. LX-LXV)
    Joan L. Chaconas

    John Harrison Surratt Jr. is mentioned numerous times in the 1865 courtroom testimony of the Lincoln conspirators compiled by Benn Pitman, but he was not one of the defendants tried by the government at the time. Thought by the government to be a key participant in Booth’s plot against Abraham Lincoln, his photograph was prominently displayed on wanted posters and a $25,000 reward was offered for his arrest. But John had made his way to Canada on a mission for Confederate Secretary of State Judah P. Benjamin and managed to elude capture until 1867, when he was arrested in Alexandria,...

  12. George Atzerodt
    (pp. LXVI-LXXI)
    Edward Steers Jr.

    Born June 12, 1835, in Dorna, Kingdom of Prussia, George Andreas Atzerodt (alias Andrew Atwood) immigrated with his parents to the United States in June of 1844. The family settled on a small farm located near the village of Germantown in Montgomery County, Maryland, twenty miles northeast of the District of Columbia. The farm had been jointly purchased by George’s father, Johann, and a family by the name of Richter who were related to the Atzerodts. Johann sold his interest in the farm to the Richters and relocated his family to Westmoreland County, Virginia, a few years after purchasing the...

  13. Lewis Thornton Powell, alias Lewis Payne
    (pp. LXXII-LXXVII)
    Betty Ownsbey

    Lewis Thornton Powell was twenty-one years old when he was tried as a participant in John Wilkes Booth’s conspiracy for his knife-wielding assault of Secretary of State William H. Seward. Powell would die on the gallows for his part in the plot. Although Powell used the alias of “Lewis Paine,” he was recorded as “Lewis Payne” throughout the trial transcript.

    Powell has been described as a hulking brute; a slow-witted moron; a down and out drifter, and as J. Wilkes Booth’s trusted lackey. Upon closer examination, however, none of these appellations fit Powell. A Confederate soldier at the age of...

  14. Samuel Alexander Mudd
    (pp. LXXIX-LXXXVII)
    Edward Steers Jr.

    At the time of Abraham Lincoln’s death, Samuel Alexander Mudd was a thirty-two-year-old tobacco farmer and part-time physician who lived in southern Maryland’s Charles County with his wife and four young children. The Mudd family is one of the oldest families in Maryland, tracing its roots back to its American progenitor, Thomas Mudd, who arrived in Maryland in 1665.

    Samuel Mudd represented the seventh generation of American Mudds. He was born in 1833 on the family plantation, within a half-mile of where he would live his entire life. In 1847, at age fourteen, Mudd attended St. John’s College in Frederick,...

  15. Samuel Arnold and Michael O’Laughlen
    (pp. LXXXVIII-XCVI)
    Percy E. Martin

    On September 6, 1834, Samuel Bland Arnold was born at Georgetown in the District of Columbia. He was the second child of a baker named Benedict Arnold and the former Mary Jane Bland. Around 1840 the family moved to Baltimore and established a bakery and confectionery business on the corner of Fayette and Liberty Streets in the downtown area. The elder Arnold then obtained court permission to change his name to George William Arnold. After that, the G.W. Arnold bakery rose to become one of prominence.

    Sam was educated in sub-collegiate courses at Georgetown College (1844–1848), which he attended...

  16. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  17. General Order Number 100
    (pp. XCVII-C)
    Burrus Carnahan

    In American military parlance, a “general order” is a written command intended to apply to all members of a military organization. General orders are to be distinguished from “special orders,” which only apply to certain individuals or units specified in the order. Commanding officers often use general orders to establish general policies, procedures, or standards of conduct throughout their commands. Because it was issued by Headquarters, U.S. Army, and signed by President Lincoln as commander-in-chief, General Order Number 100 applied to all members of the Union Army after April 1863.

    General Order Number 100 was intended to restate, in a...

  18. Military Commission Exhibits in the case of U.S. vs. D.E. Herold, et al..
    (pp. CI-CIII)

    Following is a list of ninety-eight exhibits introduced at the trial. The list is part of the trial record and is found in the NARA, M-599, reel 15, frames 0066–557.

    1. Booth’s portrait

    2. Letters signed “Charles Selby” and “Leenea”

    3.

    4. Memorandum of dates—National Hotel

    5. Letter from Genl. Fry to Dr. J.B. Merritt

    6. Lt. Gen. U.S. Grant’s Commission

    7. Secret cypher found among Booth’s effects

    8. Herold’s photograph

    9. Black coat, Atzerodt’s room Kirkwood House

    10. Atzerodt’s pistol-Kirkwood House

    11. Booth’s bank book " "

    12. Map of Southern States " "

    13. White handkerchief (marked Mary R.E. Booth)

    14. White handkerchief (marked F.A. Nelson)

    15. White handkerchief (“H”...

  19. “Lost Confession” of George A. Atzerodt
    (pp. CIV-CVI)

    On May 1 while in custody aboard the monitorUSS Montauk,George Atzerodt gave a seven-page statement to Maryland Provost Marshal James L. McPhail that was recorded by McPhail’s assistant, John L. Smith. This statement is the “confession” referred to by McPhail during his testimony concerning Atzerodt (see McPhail, p. 148). The statement disappeared, only to surface in 1977 among the personal papers of William E. Doster, Atzerodt’s attorney. The handwritten statement was discovered by Joan L. Chaconas, a past president of the Surratt Society and Lincoln Group of the District of Columbia, during her research. Known as “The Lost...

  20. THE ASSASSINATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN AND THE TRIAL OF THE CONSPIRATORS
    • [Front Matter to the Original Edition]
      (pp. i-iii)
    • [Illustration]
      (pp. iv-iv)
    • [Contents to Original Edition]
      (pp. v-xii)
    • ALPHABETICAL INDEX OF WITNESSES
      (pp. xiii-xvi)
    • PROCEEDINGS OF A MILITARY COMMISSION
      (pp. 17-23)

      Whereas the Attorney-General of the United States hath given his opinion:

      That the persons implicated in the murder of the late President, Abraham Lincoln, and the attempted assassination of the Honorable William H. Seward, Secretary of State, and in an alleged conspiracy to assassinate other officers of the Federal Government at Washington City, and their aiders and abettors, are subject to the jurisdiction of, and lawfully triable before, a Military Commission;

      It isordered:1st. That the Assistant Adjutant-General detail nine competent military officers to serve as a Commission for the trial of said parties, and that the Judge Advocate...

    • TESTIMONY RELATING TO THE GENERAL CONSPIRACY
      (pp. 24-64)

      I visited Canada in the summer of 1864, and, excepting the time I have been going backward and forward, have remained there until about two weeks ago. I know George N. Sanders, Jacob Thompson, Clement C. Clay, Professor Holcomb, Beverly Tucker, W. C. Cleary, and Harrington. I have frequently met these persons, since the summer of 1864, at Niagara Falls, at Toronto, St. Catherines, and at Montreal. Thompson passed by several other names, one of which was Caraon. Clay passed by the name of Hope, also Tracy, and another was T. E. Lacy.

      In a conversation I had with Jacob...

    • DEFENSE
      (pp. 64-69)

      Mr. President: It is well known to me, and to very many of the officers of the army, that Edward Johnson, the person who is now introduced as a witness, was educated at the National Military Academy at the Government expense, and that, since that time, for years he held a commission in the army of the United States. It is well known in the army that it is a condition precedent to receiving a commission, that the officer shall take the oath of allegiance and fidelity to the Government. In 1861 it became my duty as an officer to...

    • TESTIMONY RELATING TO JOHN WILKES BOOTH, AND CIRCUMSTANCES ATTENDING THE ASSASSINATION
      (pp. 70-83)

      I am a clerk at the Kirkwood House in this city. The leaf exhibited to the Commission is from the register of the Kirkwood House. It contains the Dame of G. A. Atzerodt, Charles County.

      [The leaf from the hotel register was offered in evidence.]

      It appears from the register that Atzerodt took room No. 126 on the morning of the 14th of April last, I think before 8 o’clock in the morning. I was not present when his name was registered, and did not see him until between 12 and 1 in the day. I recognize Atzerodt among the...

    • PURSUIT AND CAPTURE OF BOOTH AND HEROLD
      (pp. 83-95)

      David E. Herold came to our stable, in company with the prisoner, Atzerodt, about a quarter to 1 o’clock, on the 14th of April, and engaged a horse, which he told me to keep for him, and he would call for it at 4 o’clock. At a quarter past 4 he came and asked me how much I would charge him for the hire of the horse. I told him five dollars. He wanted it for four. I told him he could not have it for that. He knew the horse, and inquired for that particular one. I went down...

    • DEFENSE OF DAVID E. HEROLD
      (pp. 96-97)

      I know David E. Herold, one of the prisoners; I saw him at his home in Washington on the 20th and 21st of February. I am positive in my recollection of it.

      I reside in Washington, on Eighth Street, east. I have known the prisoner, David E. Herold, since he was a boy; have known him intimately since October, 1863. I am a druggist, and employed Herold as a clerk eleven months. During this time, he lived in my house, and I knew of nothing. objectionable in his character. He was light and trifling in a great many things, more...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING EDWARD SPANGLER
      (pp. 97-98)

      I know the prisoner, Edward Spangler. He boarded where I did, at Mrs. Scott’s, on the corner of Seventh and G Streets. He had no room in the house; he took his meals there, and slept at the theater. He used to keep his valise at the house, and when the detectives came and asked if Spangler had any thing there, I gave it to them. He had no clothes there, nothing but that valise; I do not know what it contained. I am commonly called Jake about the theater.

      I was a carpenter in Ford’s Theater down to the...

    • DEFENSE OF EDWARD SPANGLER
      (pp. 99-112)

      I am manager of Grover’s Theater, and I have been in the habit of seeing John Wilkes Booth very frequently. On the day before the assassination he came into the office during the afternoon, interrupting me and the prompter of the theater in reading a manuscript. He seated himself in a chair, and entered into a conversation on the general illlummation of the city that night. He asked me if I intended to illuminate. I said yes, I should, to a certain extent; but that the next night would be my great night of the illumination, that being the celebration...

    • TESTIMONY RELATING TO MRS. MARY E. SURRATT
      (pp. 113-124)

      I have been clerk in the office of General Hoffman, Commissary-General of prisoners, since January 9, 1864.

      My acquaintance with John H. Surratt commenced in the fall of 1859, at St. Charles College, Maryland. We left college together in the summer of 1862, and I renewed my acquaintance with him in January, 1863, in this city. On the 1st of November, 1864, I went to board at the honse of his mother, Mrs. Surratt, the prisoner, No. 541 H Street, between Sixth and Seventh, and boarded there up to the time of the assassination.

      On the 2d of April, Mrs....

    • DEFENSE OF MRS. MARY E. SURRATT
      (pp. 124-138)

      I am special officer on Major O’Beirne’s force, and was engaged in making arrests after the assassination. After the arrest of John M. Lloyd by my partner, Joshua A. Lloyd, be was placed in my charge at Roby’s Post-office, Surrattsville. For two days after his arrest Mr. Lloyd denied knowing any thing about the assassination. I told him that I was perfectly satisfied he knbw about it, and had a heavy load on his mind, and that the sooner he got rid of it the better. He then said to me, “O, my God, if I was to make a...

    • TESTIMONY IN REBUTTAL
      (pp. 138-143)

      I have known Louis J. Weichman about a year, not perhaps intimately, but he has been quite friendly and communicative in his conversation with me. As far as my knowledge goes, he has always borne a good character as a moral young man, and I know nothmg against his character for truth. I do not believe he would tell a falsehood, and I would believe him whether under oath or not.

      As regards his loyalty, I only remember one conversation that distinctly bore on that question, and from that conversation my impression was that he rejoiced at the restoration of...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING GEORGE A. ATZERODT
      (pp. 144-150)

      I am a clerk at the Kirkwood House in this city. The leaf exhibited to the Commission is from the register of the Kirkwood House. It contains the name of G. A. Atzerodt, Charles County. It appears from the register that Atzerodt took room No. 126 on the morning of the 14th of April last, I think before 8 o’clock in the morning. I was not present when his name was registered, and did not see him until between 12 and 1 in the day. I recognize Atzerodt among the accused. That is the man, I think.

      [The witness here...

    • DEFENSE OF GEORGE A. ATZERODT
      (pp. 150-153)

      I had the custody of the prisoner at the bar on board the monitors Saugus and Montauk.

      Mr. Doster. Before going further with the examination of the witness, I wish to submit an application of the prisoner in writing.

      [The paper was handed to the Judge Advocate, who, having read it, said:]

      This is a proposal on the part of the prisoner, Atzerodt, that his confessions made to the witness shall be heard by this Court as testimony in his favor—confessions in regard to which no evidence whatever has been introduced by the Government. I can not understand on...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING LEWIS PAYNE
      (pp. 154-160)

      My husband keeps the Herndon House, corner of Ninth and F Streets, opposite the Patent Office, cat-a-cornered. The only one of the prisoners I recognize as having seen before is that man, [pointing to the accused, Lewis Payne.] I think I have seen him; his features are familiar to me, but I would not say for certain. He was two weeks in our house, and he left on the Friday, the day of the assassination. He left on the 14th day, about 4 o’clock. We have dinner at half-past 4, and this gentleman came into the sitting-room and said he...

    • DEFENSE OF LEWIS PAYNE
      (pp. 160-167)

      I live at No. 16 North Eutaw Street, Baltimore. I first met the prisoner, Payne, at Gettysburg; immediately after the battle there. I was a volunteer nurse, and he was in my ward. He was very kind to the sick and wounded. I do not know that he was a nurse, nor do I know that he was a soldier. As nearly as I remember, he wore blue pants, no coat, and a dark slouch hat. He went there by the name of Powell, and by the name of Doctor. The hospital contained both Confederate and Union soldiers. I was...

    • TESTIMONY IN REBUTTAL
      (pp. 167-168)

      In association with Dr. Hall and Surgeon Norris, I have made an examination this morning of the prisoner, Payne, and find no evidence of insanity—none whatever.

      The evidences of sanity which struck me as preAent in his case are his narrative of himself, of the places he has been at, of his occupation, the coherence of his story, and, the most important evidence, his reiteration of his statements of yesterday and of his first examination this morning. That is considered a very severe test. It is called the Shakspearian test, and is one of the severest.

      I should consider...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING SAMUEL A. MUDD
      (pp. 168-177)

      During the week subsequent to the assassination, I had three interviews with Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, in each of which he made statements to me; the first and third verbal, the second in writing. He said that, about 4 o’clock on Saturday morning, the 15th of April, he was aroused by a loud knock at his door. Going to the window, he saw in his front yard a person holding two horses, on one of which a second person was sitting. The one who held the horses he described as a young man, very talkative and fluent of speech. The...

    • DEFENSE OF SAMUEL A. MUDD
      (pp. 178-217)

      I reside in Charles County, Maryland. I had a slight acquaintance with a man named Booth; I was introduced to him by Dr. Queen my father-in-law, about the latter part of October last, or perhaps in November. He was brought to Dr. Queen’s house by his son Joseph. None of the family, I believe, had ever seen or heard of him before; I know that I had not. He brought a letter of introduction to Dr. Queen from some one in Montreal, of the name of Martin, I think, who stated that this man Booth wanted to see the county....

    • TESTIMONY IN REBUTTAL
      (pp. 218-221)

      I live about two and a half or three miles from Dr. Mudd, the prisoner at the bar. On Saturday evening, the day after the assassination, just before sundown, I saw Dr. Mudd within a few hundred yards of my house. He said that there wail terrible news; that the President and Mr. Seward and his son had been assassinated the evening before. Something was said in that connection about Boyle (the man who is said to have killed Captain Watkins) assassinating Mr. Seward. I remember that Booth’s name was mentioned in the same connection, and I asked him if...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING MICHAEL O’LAUGHLIN
      (pp. 221-227)

      On the 17th of April, I arrested the prisoner, O’Laughlin, at the house of a family named Bailey, on High Street, Baltimore. This was not his boarding-house. I asked him why he was there instead of at his boarding-house; he said that when he arrived in town on Saturday he was told that the officers had been looking for him, and that he went away to a friend of his on Saturday and Sunday night. When he was arrested, he seemed to understand what it was for, and did not ask any questions about it.

      Q. Did the brother-in-law of...

    • DEFENSE OF MICHAEL O’LAUGHLIN
      (pp. 228-234)

      We left Baltimore on Thursday, the 13th of April, by the half-past 3 o’clock train, and arrived here about half-past 5. After leaving the cars, we went along, the avenue to a restaurant kept by Lichau, I think it is called Rullman’s Hotel. We remained there but a short time. Mr. Henderson went into the barber’s shop to get shaved; while he was in there, Mr. O’Laughlin asked me to walk down as far as the National Hotel with him. I did so; when there, he walked up to the desk and inquired for some person, and told me to...

    • TESTIMONY CONCERNING SAMUEL ARNOLD
      (pp. 234-239)

      On the morning of the 17th of April, Mr. Voltaire Randall and myself arrested the prisoner, Samuel Arnold, at Fortress Monroe. We took him in the back room of the store, where he slept. We there searched his person and his carpet-bag, in which we found a pistol, something like a Colt’s. He said be had left another pistol and a knife at his father’s, at Hookstown.

      Arnold made a statement verbally to us at Fortress Monroe. Before we left Baltimore, a letter was given to us by his father to give him when we should arrest him. We handed...

    • DEFENSE OF SAMUEL ARNOLD
      (pp. 240-242)

      I am brother to the prisoner, Samuel Arnold, and reside at Hookstown, Baltimore County, Md. From the 21st of March up to Saturday, the 25th, my brother was with me in the country, at Hookstown.

      We went into Baltimore on Saturday evening, the 25th, and returned to the country again on Sunday, the 26th. We came again into town either on Tuesday or Wednesday. I went to the country again, and. came in on Friday night. He went out with me on the 1st of April, and in the afternoon he went to Fortress Monroe.

      As I was coming into...

    • [Discussion and Items Offered in Evidence]
      (pp. 242-247)

      The President. One of the members of the Court has moved that the reading of the record be dispensed with, inasmuch as the counsel on the part of the prisoners are furnished with an official copy of the record, and have an opportunity of examining it during the intervals between the meetings of the Court, and can object to any thing that is incorrect, when they come into Court, if they find any inaccuracies.

      Colonel Tompkins. Besides, it is very accurately published in the morning papers.

      Mr. Ewing. If the Court will allow me, I will state that the reporters...

    • [Findings and Sentences]
      (pp. 247-250)

      I have lived at Surrattsville about eleven years. I was formerly a slave of Mrs. Surratt. She always treated me kindly, and she was very good to all her servants. I remember the Government horses breaking away from Giesboro, and that seven of them came to Mrs. Surratt’s stable; they were there for a fortnight or more, and then the Government sent for them. I do not know that Mrs. Surratt had a receipt for them, but I know that she bought hay and grain to feed them with.

      I have never heard Mrs. Surratt talk in favor of the...

    • APPLICATION FOR WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS IN BEHALF OF MARY E. SURRATT
      (pp. 250-250)

      The petition of Mary E. Surratt, by her counsel, F. A. Aiken and John W. Clampitt, most respectfully represents unto your Honor, that. on or about the 17th day of April, A. D. 1865, your petitioner was arrested by the military authorities of the United States, under the charge of complicity with the murder of Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States, and has ever since that time been and is now confined on said charge, under and by virtue of the said military power of the United States, and is in the special custody of Major-General W. S....

    • ARGUMENT ON THE JURISDICTION OF THE MILITARY COMMISSION
      (pp. 251-263)
      REVERDY JOHNSON, FREDERICK A. AIKEN and JOHN W. CLAMPITT

      Has the Commission jurisdiction of the cases before it, is the question which I propose to discuss. Thut question, in all courts, civil, criminal, and military, must he considered and answered affirmatively before judgment can be pronounced. And it must be answered correctly, or the judgment pronounced is void. Ever an interesting and vital inquiry, it is of engrossing interest and of awful importance when error may lead to the unauthorized taking of human life. In such a case, the court called upon to render, and the officer who is to approve its judgment and have it executed, have a...

    • ARGUMENT ON THE PLEA TO THE JURISDICTION OF THE MILITARY COMMISSION
      (pp. 264-267)
      THOMAS EWING Jr.

      May it please the Court:The first great question—a question that meets us at the threshold—is, do you, gentlemen, constitute a court, and have you jurisdiction, as a court, of the persons accused, and the crimes with which they are charged? If you have sucb jurisdiction, it must have been conferred by the Constitution, or some law consistent with it, and carrying out its provisions.

      1. The 5th article of the Constitution declares:

      “That the judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in suchinferior courtsas Congress may, from time to...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF DAVID E. HEROLD
      (pp. 268-275)
      FREDERICK STONE and DAVID E. HAROLD

      At the earnest request of the widowed mother and estimable sisters of the accused, I have consented to act as his counsel in the case now before the Court.

      It is a source of some embarrassment to the counsel for the accused that the Judge Advocate General has seen fit not to open this case with a brief statement of the law upon which this prosecution is founded. It would have been a great, and, as he thinks, proper assistance to the accused and his counsel to have known with more accuracy than is set out in the charge, the...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF EDWARD SPANGLER
      (pp. 276-288)
      THOMAS EWING Jr. and EDWARD SPANGLER

      In presenting to you this morning the case of the accused, Edward Spangler, I shall confine myself to a discussion of the evidence, leaving whatever I may see fit to say on the question of jurisdiction, and on the character of the charges and specifications to the occasion when my argument in the case of Mudd is presented.

      Preliminary to a consideration of the specific items of testimony against Edward Spangler, I will briefly refer to and ask consideration of the evidence as to his character, his occupation, his relations to Booth, and Booth’s habits of resorting to the theater...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF MRS. MARY E. SURRATT
      (pp. 289-299)
      FREDERICK A. AIKEN, MARY E. SURRATT, REVERDY JOHNSON and JOHN W. CLAMPITT

      For the lawyer as well as the soldier, there is an equally pleasant duty—an equally imperative command. That duty is to shelter from injustice and wrong the innocent, to protect the weak from oppression, and to rally at all times and on all occasions, when necessity demands it, to the special defense of those whom nature, custom, or circumstance may have placed in dependence upon our strength, honor and cherishing regard. That command emanates and reaches each class from the Same authoritative and omnipotent source. It comes from a Superior, whose right to command none dare question, and none...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF GEORGE A. ATZERODT
      (pp. 300-307)
      W. E. DOSTER and George A. Atzerodt

      The prisoner, George A. Atzerodt, is charged with the following specification: “And in further prosecution of said conspiracy, and its traitorous and murderous designs, the said George A. Atzerodt did, on the night of the 14th of April, A. D. 1865, and about the same hour of the night aforesaid, within the military department and military lines aforesaid, lie in wait for Andrew Johnson, then Vice-President of the United States aforesaid, with the intent, unlawfully and maliciously, to kill and murder him, the said Andrew Johnson.” In support of this specification the prosecution has submitted the following testimony: The testimony...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF LEWIS PAYNE
      (pp. 308-317)
      W. E. DOSTER and LEWIS PAYNE

      I. There are three things in the case of the prisoner, Payne, which are admitted beyond cavil or dispute:

      1. That he is the person who attempted to take the life of the Secretary of State.

      2. That he is not within the medical definition of insanity.

      3. That he believed what he did was right and justifiable.

      The question of his identity and the question of his sanity are, therefore, settled, and among the things of the past. The sole question that remains is, how far shall his convictions serve to mitigate his punishment? I use the word punishment deliberately, and with...

    • ARGUMENT ON THE LAW AND EVIDENCE IN THE CASE OF DR. SAM’L A. MUDD
      (pp. 318-332)
      THOMAS EWING Jr. and SAM’L A. MUDD

      May it please the Court:If it be determined to take jurisdiction here, it then becomes a question vitally important, to some of these parties—a question of life and death—whether you will punish only offenses created and declared bylaw, or whether you will make and declare the past acts of the accused to be crimes, which acts the law never heretofore declared criminal: attach to them the penalty of death, or such penalty as may seem meet to you; adapt the evidence to the crime and the crime to the evidence, and thus convict and punish. This,...

    • ARGUMENT IN DEFENSE OF MICHAEL O’LAUGHLIN AND SAM’L ARNOLD
      (pp. 333-350)
      WALTER S. COX, MICHAEL O’LAUGHLIN and SAMUEL ARNOLD

      I have appeared before you as the sole counsel of the prisoner, Michael O’Laughlin, and, in part, represent the accused, Samuel Arnold.

      I now rise to their defense, deeply impressed with the gravity of their situation, and the importance of the duty it imposes.

      For myself, I would say, that, born and nurtured under the ægis of the Federal Government, and schooled from childhood in that all-embracing patriotism which knows no section nor party when the interests or glory of my country is in question, I have been second to none, in attachment to the Federal Union, and in hostility...

    • ARGUMENT IN REPLY TO THE SEVERAL ARGUMENTS IN DEFENSE OF MARY E. SURRATT AND OTHERS, CHARGED WITH CONSPIRACY AND THE MURDER OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, LATE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, ETC.
      (pp. 351-402)
      JOHN A. BINGHAM

      The conspiracy here charged and specified, and the acts alleged to have been committed in pursuance thereof, and with the intent laid, constitute a crime the atrocity of which has sent a shudder through the civilized world. All that was agreed upon and attempted by the alleged inciters and instigators of this crime constitutes a combination of atrocities with scarcely a parallel in the annals of the human race. Whether the prisoners at your bar are guilty of the conspiracy and the acts alleged to have been done in pursuance thereof, as set forth in the charge and specification, is...

    • APPENDIX
      • OPINION ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL POWER OF THE MILITARY TO TRY AND EXECUTE THE ASSASSINS OF THE PRESIDENT
        (pp. 403-409)
        JAMES SPEED
      • INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE GOVERNMENT OF ARMIES OF THE UNITED STATES IN THE FIELD
        (pp. 410-419)
      • [Proclamation of the President, September 25, 1862]
        (pp. 419-419)
      • AFFIDAVITS OF LOUIS J. WEICHMANN AND CAPT. G. W. DUTTON
        (pp. 420-421)
    • [Illustrations]
      (pp. 422-423)