Was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln orchestrated by John Wilkes Booth alone?
Or was it a plan orchestrated by Jefferson Davis and the Confederates?
Let’s start with what we know:
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated April 15th, 1865, at Ford’s Theatre while attending one of his favorite comedies, “Our American Cousin.”
John Wilkes Booth, a 26 year old actor, having a high amount of celebrity at Ford’s Theatre was the man that is “responsible” for the death of the beloved and hated president. It is said that after the assassination Booth fled the scene and was pursued for 12 days until he was finally cornered in a tobacco barn in rural Virginia. He refused to surrender and this resulted in somewhat of a shoot out where Booth was eventually shot and died 2 hours later.
Is this really all there is to this monumental event?
Did Booth act alone? Did he have confederate help?
What really went on during the months leading up to April 15th, 1865?
Historians such as, Edward Steers, believe that the assassination was a Confederate conspiracy. Steers also believes that the help that Booth received from the Confederate government and the Federal Secret Service in Canada was critical to the assassination. He also believed that the assassination conspiracy began as a kidnapping that took a not so pretty turn.
In 1862, Walker Taylor (Confederate officer), noticed that Lincoln always traveled alone and unguarded through out the city. When he confronted Jefferson Davis about his planned to kidnap the president in order to negotiate he was immediately turned down. Davis believed that this was not a gentlemanly act and did not want Lincoln’s murder on his head.
Jefferson Davis had a change of heart in 1864 after the Emancipation Proclamation. He believed that the proclamation was the most horrible act ever. There was a raid on the outskirts of Richmond, VA, the mission was to sack and burn the Capitol. The Confederate forces stepped in before they had any success. In the process Coronal Olgran was killed. On his bodied they found papers with details about killing Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. Davis immediately cam to the conclusion that Lincoln had order a hit on him.
April 1864, Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Secret Service were doing everything that could to wreck havoc in the north. They had plans to burn cities, poison water, and send diseases like yellow fever. All of these plans failed.
Davis believed Lincoln put a hit out on him? Why wouldn’t he do the same?
In the midst of all of this John Wilkes Booth was working on his own plan. Booth had an extreme amount of angry and hatred toward the President and believed he had to act alone in order to “get rid of him.” Booth’s plan also began as a kidnapping. He was going to capture him and take him into Montreal. However, Booth knew he could not pull of the kidnapping on his own.
October of 1864 Booth traveled to Montreal where he met with Patrick Charles Martin (Confederate Secret Service.) While meeting with Martin he was given a letter that disclosed information about the Confederates and served as an “initiation.” Backing the idea that Booth was in fact following Confederate orders. After the meeting in Montreal he traveled to Maryland where he met with Dr. Samuel A. Mud at St. Mary’s. Mud was a Confederate aid and St. Mary’s was believed to be a meeting place for Confederate agents. While in Maryland, Mud introduced Booth to other Confederate agents.
After the meeting in Maryland it is recorded that Booth was given $1500 in Confederate money. This money is believed to be what Booth used to complete his mission. Somewhere in all of the meetings and money Booth’s plans changed from kidnapping to assassination.
The new plan:
President Abraham Lincoln
Vice President Andrew Johnson
Secretary of State William H Seward
April 15th, 1864.
Things did not go as Booth planned. The agent lined up to kill VP Johnson got scared and drunk, not completing his part of the mission. The gun that was supposed to assassinate Sec. of State Seward misfired and the agent attempted to bludgeon him to death, he also failed. Booth was the only agent to successfully complete his mission.
Jefferson Davis and the other members of the Confederate Secret Service that were allegedly involved where never charged.
Many believe there is no way that Booth could have pulled of the assassination with out the help of the Confederate Secret Service.
What do you think really happened?
Leave it in the comments below.
Currier & Ives. The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Digital Image. Wikipedia. Wikipedia. 1865.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The_Assassination_of_President_Lincoln_-_Currier_and_Ives_2.png. Feb. 23, 2017.