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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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Today, 12:54 PM
Post: #29
RE: Judicial Murder of Mrs. Surratt
(10-15-2017 07:21 PM)L Verge Wrote:  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.

I believe the origin of the Booth-Beall story was in an 1899 article in the The New Voice, a NY newspaper. Terry Alford debunks the story in Fortune's Fool, see pp. 219-221.

A pdf. of the 1899 article may be found at:
https://ia601309.us.archive.org/23/items...00stcl.pdf

And in an effort to avoid complaints of eye-strain, I have also posted the text of the article below:

THE NEW VOICE

VOI. XVI., NO. 23
Price 5 cts: Per Year, $1.50


NEW YORK, JUNE 10, 1899.

Copyright 1899 by the Funk & Wagnalls Company


Why Booth Shot President Lincoln

New Light Thrown on That Great Tragedy by the Personal Papers of a Surgeon In North Carolina

By D. Y. St. Clair

THE exclamation — “Sic semper tyrannis!” — uttered by John Wilkes Booth, on the stage of Ford’s Theater, just after shooting President Lincoln, has always been taken to indicate, as the motive for the deed, resentment over the failure of the Confederate cause. Booth, it was known, was strongly in sympathy with the South, and the collapse of the Confederacy was supposed to have worked him into a frenzy. This view of his motive also helped to aggravate and prolong the bitterness of the war and the passions of the reconstruction period, for the claim was made at the time and widely believed that well-known Southern leaders had encouraged Booth to the murder.

It now transpires that Booth had another and a more personal motive inciting him to the deed. The story is told in the papers of the late Dr. George A. Foote, a well-known surgeon of North Carolina, who died recently in Warrenton, of that state. From Mr. George A. Foote, Jr., I get the facts disclosed in those papers, and have every reason, because of Dr. Foote’s high character, to place implicit reliance upon the statements therein made.

Dr. Foote was a surgeon in the Confederate army, and some time in the latter part
of 1864 was captured and imprisoned in Fort Columbus, on Governors Island, N. Y. In the adjoining cell was incarcerated Capt. John Young Beall, a well-educated young Virginian of an excellent family. Beall’s execution as a guerrilla and a spy on the fifth of February, 1865, on Governors Island is said to have been the cause of
Booth's shooting the President. It is therefore well to recall some of the facts of
Beall’s history.

In 1862 Beall joined the Confederate navy, and was appointed acting commander in 1863. That year he went to Canada and joined the Confederates, waging a border and guerrilla war upon the United States under the leadership of Jacob Thompson and Clement C. Clay, Jr. Beall and his followers operated in citizen’s clothing, and in this way managed often to make raids into New York state and escape without being detected. On Sept. 19, 1864, he and his men boarded the Lake Erie steamer Philo Parsons in the character of passengers. At a signal they all produced arms, and, acting under the orders of Beall, they seized the boat, driving all hands below as prisoners. They then captured and subsequently sank another boat, the Island Queen. On the night of Dec. 15, 1864, Beall and his men attempted to wreck a train near Buffalo. On the next day the whole force was arrested at Suspension Bridge, N. Y., and brought to Governors Island. These guerrillas had terrorized the northern part of the state, and it was determined to make an example of them in short order. But Captain Beall claimed that he was acting under the authority of the Confederate government and was entitled to the rights of a prisoner of war. He was allowed to correspond with the authorities at Richmond, by virtue of the proclamation of Jefferson Davis, under date of Dec.24, 1864, certifying that the Confederate government assumed “the responsibility of answering for the conduct and acts of any of its officers engaged in said expedition,” namely, that in which Beall was concerned.

A military commission with Brig.-Gen. Fitzhenry Warren as president and Maj. John A. Balls as judge advocate-general was convened at Fort Lafayette for the trial of
Beall. He was ably defended by James T. Brady, a lawyer who made his reputation
defending Confederate prisoners in New York during the war. The trial settled adversely Beall's claims to the rights of a prisoner of war, for it was clearly proven that he acted not only as a guerrilla in civilian clothing, but that he had done
the work of a spy. His execution was deemed to be a pressing necessity, both from a military and a civil point of view, and he was sentenced to be hanged on Feb. 5,
1865.

There existed between John Wilkes Booth and Captain Beall the strongest sort of
personal attachment. They were together in school at Baltimore. The two young men were subsequently roommates at a college in Virginia, and Booth was a frequent visitor at Beall’s home. Beall had been a “promoter” for Booth in his stage career, helping him financially as well as in other ways. While Beall was under sentence, Governor Andrews, of Massachusetts, was doing all he could for the young officer’s release. Other very, influential persons went to see Mr. Lincoln in his behalf, but it was Booth who worked day and night for his friend.

Booth came often to Beall's cell, and Dr. Foote was taken into their confidence. On
one occasion Booth came in great glee to see his friend, and reported that he, had
just returned from Washington, where he was permitted to see the President. He had fallen on his knees before Mr. Lincoln, so he reported, and with tears in his eyes had pleaded for the life of his friend. He said that Mr. Lincoln had promised him that Beall should be saved.

When, however, it was seen that Beall was to be executed. Booth set about to effect an escape. Dr. Foote was a party to the plans. Two efforts were made, but in vain. A dark night and bribery of the keepers was relied upon. Booth had many wealthy friends in the city, and could command any amount of money at that time, for he was not only one of the most popular actors on the stage, but he had the confidence of all who knew him well. Nevertheless his efforts resulted in naught.

On Sunday, Feb. 6, the order was executed, and Beall was hanged within 30 yards of Dr. Foote’s window, inside Fort Columbus, and not at Johnson’s Island, as has been so often reported.

Booth came to New York on the morning of Beall’s execution, and, being so grievously disappointed at what had occurred, he became, according to Dr. Foote’s story, really an insane man. For what he termed the perfidy of President Lincoln toward himself and his friend Beall he at once swore to avenge his friend’s death by killing both Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, for the latter he held to be largely responsible for the President's course in this affair. Dr. Foote says he himself had no knowledge at the time of Booth’s purpose to murder the President. Booth confided this to only one man, and that only an hour before the assassination. The man to whom he thus confided his purpose begged him not to carry it out ; and finding that Booth was not to be turned from his revenge, left the city before the terrible tragedy occurred. Dr. Foote does not state who this confidant was nor how he (Dr. Foote) came to know about him. The probability is that Dr. Foote’s long silence has been due to apprehension that he himself, if the story were told, would be held to have been an accomplice in the crime.

(Concluded on page 15.)


June 10, 1899 THE NEW VOICE 15


Why Booth Shot President Lincoln

(Concluded from page 1.)

Booth, it is said, did not intend to shoot the President in the theater; but the
contemplated opportunity did not offer itself elsewhere. But for the fact, says Dr.
Foote, that Booth’s spur caught in the curtain that fatal night he would have escaped — at least for a time. The failure of the Confederate cause had nothing to do with the assassination of the President ; it was due simply to revenge engendered by Booth's love for his friend.

Whether this account is true or not, it may be added that the late Dr. Foote has not left a friend or acquaintance in his native state who would not readily vouch for his high character.

The above story by Dr. Foote corroborates statements made by the late Colonel
Forney less than a month after Lincoln’s assassination. Colonel Forney, in his paper, the Washington Chronicle (May 10, 1865), tells of Booth’s desperate efforts to save
the life of Beall. He interested McLean, of the Cincinnati Enquirer, at that time in Washington, and Senator Eugene Hale, of Maine, in his endeavors, and Colonel Forney himself was induced to write a letter to the President in Beall’s behalf. Finally, according to Forney, McLean, Hale, and Booth called on the President after midnight, and until 4 A.M. Booth pleaded for a pardon. The scene is described as a most pathetic one, and in the course of it Booth confessed that he and some of his friends had a short time before formed a conspiracy, meeting at the house of Mrs. Surratt, to kidnap the President and hold him as a hostage for the release of certain military prisoners.

The result of the interview, according to Forney, as according to Dr. Foote, was the President’s promise to save Beall's life. But when Seward was the next morning informed of the promise, he protested, finally threatening to leave the cabinet if the promise were fulfilled. So far Colonel Forney’s story tallies closely with Dr. Foote’s. The colonel, however, stated that Booth had several accomplices — Harold, Atzerodt, and others — who were to assassinate Seward. According to Dr. Foote, Booth had no accomplices. From the nature of the case it is improbable that either Colonel Forney or Dr. Foote speaks from any personal knowledge on that particular point.
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