150 years today, some of the Lincoln conspirators were executed.

Today is the sesquicentennial of the hanging of four of the people who conspired to murder Abraham Lincoln and other high-ranking US government officials. They included Mary Surratt, the first woman ever executed by the federal government. The executions took place at Fort McNair, which occupies the grounds of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington, D.C. I understand that the building in which the accused were tried still stands and is called Grant Hall. I have not had the opportunity to visit this site but I did have the chance when I was down in the Washington area of going to Surrattsville, now called Clinton, Maryland. With a friend, I visited the Surratt House where one can buy John Wilkes Booth mementos and where the tour guide told us she believed Mary Surratt was innocent. There seems to be an ongoing effort to try to get this message out, helped along the way by people like Robert Redford (The Conspirator). This same effort seems to have been taking place to claim Samuel’s Mudd’s innocence. Serious historians have concluded that both she and Mudd were really guilty, as the evidence clearly shows they were and as I told the tour guide as we talked at the end of the tour, these futile efforts should be abandoned. She was a little taken aback to learn that I had written a book on the Lincoln assassination which the Surratt House library had purchased. Mary Surratt, devout Roman Catholic that she was, remains an embarrassment to the Church of Rome however so I believe we can expect further quixotic attempts to clear her and Mudd’s name. She got what she deserved but Samuel Mudd’s relatives should be grateful Mudd escaped death although he also was deserving of it and stop their attempts to revise history.

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