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Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
10-10-2017, 02:16 PM
Post: #16
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
(10-10-2017 01:52 PM)Steve Wrote:  
(10-10-2017 01:40 PM)Veronica Wrote:  Time will tell...
Tell me now please, to an ordinary Dutch woman what, 'I wrapped-up with a plug' means?
Veronica

It means that he ended his talk with a mention, or "plug", of the Surratt House museum for promotional or publicity reasons.

Exactly. My apologies to our international friends for the use of idioms! Wink
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10-11-2017, 01:08 PM (This post was last modified: 10-11-2017 04:04 PM by wpbinzel.)
Post: #17
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
The views expressed herein are solely mine and do not reflect the thoughts or positions of any other entity or organization.

Two thumbs up for Rich Amada’s play, The Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt. It moves the story along, it keeps your attention, and it presents a plausible version of the events of 1865. When it comes to my scorecard for a play based on historical events: check, check and check.

The underlying premise is that the government put Mary Surratt on trial solely to pressure her to reveal where her son, John Surratt, Jr., could be found and captured so that the government could use his testimony to implicate Jefferson Davis in Lincoln’s assassination. In the final minutes of her life, Mrs. Surratt is offered a reprieve from the gallows in exchange for her son’s location, which she refuses. It is a plausible theory, although not one to which I subscribe. (While I think Mary knew that her son was in Montreal, I do not believe she knew where or who was hiding him. But, if she had known, just as resolute as Mr. Amada’s Mary is, I do not believe that the mother would have surrendered her son.)

In the courtroom scenes, Mr. Amada incorporates actual testimony into the play, and does so in an even-handed manner for the prosecution and the defense. The point–counterpoint arguments of the lawyers on the validity of the military tribunal is actual and brilliantly done.

To be sure, Mr. Amada takes some literary license, but it is generally done to move the story along or to introduce details that would otherwise require a much longer play. For example, the play’s premise required Mr. Amada to invent dialogue between Mrs. Surratt and her attorney, Fred Aiken, and Assistant Judge Advocate General, John Bingham. It tends to lead to sympathy for Mrs. Surratt, but other elements of the play make an effort to present events fairly and accurately.

Those who have tried to tell the assassination story can appreciate the need to provide a lot of detail and context in a 90-minute production. Many aspects, such as how the carbines came to be hidden in Surratt’s Tavern, while mentioned, may be lost on those who are not intimate with the history. But, as my wife pointed out: “It is a play, not an 8-part documentary.” Her point (and while I am well-advised to agree, I am not automatically obliged to) is well taken. There are so many details that we Lincoln-assassination nerds take for granted, Mr. Amada needed to incorporate them to the extent and as rapidly as possible. He succeeded.

I also want to salute the actors, Charlene Sloan (Mary Surratt), James Pearson (John Bingham), Mytheos Holt (Frederick Aiken), Emily Golden (Anna Surratt), Nicholas Barta (JW Booth and Louis Weichmann), and Michael Schwartz (John Lloyd and John Surratt); and the production crew lead by Eleanore Tapscott, Jayn Rife, and Marg Soroos for a marvelous production. I had never seen the use of a flashback in a live play before, but it, too, was brilliantly done.

The investigation into Lincoln’s assassination is on-going. Many of our questions will never be answered with any degree of certainty. Consequently, I have great respect for those who proffer a plausible version of events, especially in a compelling theatrical production. Rich Amada’s The Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt is certainly within those parameters. My hope is that the play will spark an interest in its audience to take a deeper look into history. If it accomplishes that, how can I not like it?
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10-13-2017, 03:12 AM
Post: #18
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
I would love to see (even more after such excellent review).
(I've quite often seen flashbacks in plays, especially lately.)
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10-13-2017, 10:07 AM (This post was last modified: 10-13-2017 10:08 AM by L Verge.)
Post: #19
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
This morning, I received this link from a student working on her Master's degree: https://www.nps.gov/anjo/learn/historycu...urratt.htm It hit me by surprise because, unless I am truly getting senile, I never remember seeing this. It is posted on a NPS site and was in a newspaper from 1923. Is anyone else familiar with it?
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10-13-2017, 12:35 PM
Post: #20
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
I'm no fan of Andy Johnson, but I doubt he would say that.

Let me get this clear Laurie, This was in a newspaper from 1923, and you don't remember seeing this?
Smile

So when is this "Old Enough To Know Better" supposed to kick in?
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10-13-2017, 01:21 PM
Post: #21
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
(10-13-2017 12:35 PM)Gene C Wrote:  I'm no fan of Andy Johnson, but I doubt he would say that.

Let me get this clear Laurie, This was in a newspaper from 1923, and you don't remember seeing this?
Smile

I could give you the old story of my family being too poor to afford newspapers in 1923, so I had a deprived childhood...

I did contact the NPS at the Johnson home, and their curator is checking into it. I would like to know who Mr. McElwee was (other than his industrial ties) and how he came to escort Andy back to Tennessee.

Frankly, if Johnson actually said such things, it makes it sound like he was doomed for elimination if he had sided with Mrs. Surratt!
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10-13-2017, 03:29 PM
Post: #22
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
I am another one who has never heard of this before. Does anyone have the ability to post the entire text of that newspaper article from 1923?
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10-13-2017, 05:52 PM
Post: #23
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
Unfortunately, I can't find a digitized version of the newspaper in any of the online resources I checked. McElwee was Capt. William Eblin McElwee, a Tennessee Confederate veteran who had an interest in history. According to the citation of this book, McElwee's account was only written down a month before it appeared in The Greeneville-Democrat-Sun:

https://books.google.com/books?id=rG5q7k...22&f=false

Here's a link about McElwee:

http://www.roanetnheritage.com/research/.../index.htm

Note that the page says that "his stories must be taken with a grain of salt". I don't know if that applies to his personal recollections or not.

Here's a couple of links to books that give more context to McElwee's account of his conversation with Johnson:

https://archive.org/stream/presidencyofa...ch/McElwee

and:

https://books.google.com/books?id=rG5q7k...22&f=false
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10-13-2017, 07:15 PM
Post: #24
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
Thanks for your help once again, Steve. If I find anything additional from the Johnson Home curator, I will pass it on.

I noted in the first link that Johnson supposedly mentioned that Stanton committed suicide by cutting his throat. This has bounced around for years. I wonder if Johnson was the sole source of this unsubstantiated rumor?
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10-15-2017, 03:05 PM (This post was last modified: 10-15-2017 03:06 PM by wpbinzel.)
Post: #25
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
The subject of Johnson's view of Mrs. Surratt's innocence (but not Stanton's "suicide") is also referenced in Trefousse's biography of Andrew Johnson, citing "William Eblin McElwee Memorandum, May 1, 1923, Johnson Papers, [Tennessee State Library and Archives, Nashville, TN]:

"Johnson started to discourse about his years at the White House. Most of the political troubles after the war, he believed, were the fault of Secrertary Stanton, whom he called 'the Marat of American politics' and a 'very bitter, uncompromising, and self-assertive man.' He even said that he had heard that Stanton was indirectly responsible for Booth's crime, because the secretary had allegedly stopped Lincoln from comuting the death sentence of one of the assassin's friends. . . . As for Mrs. Surratt, he believed her to have been entirely innocent but to have been done in by Stanton." -- Hans L. Trefousse, Andrew Johnson (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1989), p. 376.

(McElwee's memo purports to detail a chance meeting and converstion he had with Johnson on a train on July 28, 1875, mere hours before the former-president suffered a stroke, from which he would die three days later. Personally, I do not consider McElwee's account to be all that credible, especially as something written nearly 50 years after the fact.)
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10-15-2017, 04:52 PM
Post: #26
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
(10-15-2017 03:05 PM)wpbinzel Wrote:  He even said that he had heard that Stanton was indirectly responsible for Booth's crime, because the secretary had allegedly stopped Lincoln from comuting the death sentence of one of the assassin's friends.

Bill, I do not know if this is a reference to John Yates Beall, but it sounds like it might be. Long ago, and I cannot recall the book, I believe I read that Beall and Booth were not really friends and that it was Seward as well as Stanton who influenced Lincoln's decision not to commute the sentence. I stand corrected if anyone has the right information on this. I know the story of Booth going to the White House, meeting Lincoln and pleading for Beall's life, is spurious. (As I recall, this totally bogus story has Seward as the main influence on Lincoln's decision regarding Beall, and thus Booth targeted Seward, as well as Lincoln, on April 14th.)
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10-15-2017, 05:58 PM
Post: #27
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
(10-15-2017 04:52 PM)RJNorton Wrote:  
(10-15-2017 03:05 PM)wpbinzel Wrote:  He even said that he had heard that Stanton was indirectly responsible for Booth's crime, because the secretary had allegedly stopped Lincoln from comuting the death sentence of one of the assassin's friends.

Bill, I do not know if this is a reference to John Yates Beall, but it sounds like it might be. Long ago, and I cannot recall the book, I believe I read that Beall and Booth were not really friends and that it was Seward as well as Stanton who influenced Lincoln's decision not to commute the sentence. I stand corrected if anyone has the right information on this. I know the story of Booth going to the White House, meeting Lincoln and pleading for Beall's life, is spurious. (As I recall, this totally bogus story has Seward as the main influence on Lincoln's decision regarding Beall, and thus Booth targeted Seward, as well as Lincoln, on April 14th.)

I agree with you, Roger. I assume that it is a reference to Beall. However, I do not think the Booth-Beall story is credible (from either the relationship perspective or Booth pleading for Beall's life), nor do I think it had anything to do with Booth's motivation. I have read McElwee's account (and think that I have the text somewhere in my files, but cannot immediately put my hands on it). If I can find it, I will post it.
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10-15-2017, 07:21 PM
Post: #28
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
I know that Dr. Richard Mudd generally cited the Beall story as truth in his many decades of trying to exonerate Dr. Sam from any part in the plot, but I thought that legitimate historians had disproved the ties with Booth a long time ago. I did see some reference not long ago to Booth having known Beall's sister - can't remember the source, however. I should have made note of it because it was the first time I had ever seen mention of Beall having a sister.
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