Likely guilty as charged
Speaking of Lincoln, it’s often noted that more words have been written about “Honest Abe,” and more books published about him, than any other American.
Much of that Lincoln library has been inspired by his murder by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, just a few days after Robert E. Lee’s surrender ended the Civil War. Ever since, there’s been a lively debate about Booth’s co-conspirators, particularly how active Mary Surratt and Dr. Samuel Mudd were in the plot. The movie “The Conspirator” provided a sympathetic portrait of Surratt, while Mudd’s descendants have tried to clear his name for the last 148 years.
A new book edited by Ed Steers dives into the debate. Steers, as you may know, is a Lincoln expert who lives in Berkeley Springs. His new one — The Trial: The Assassination of President Lincoln & the Trial of the Conspirators — was published by the University Press of Kentucky.
Beginning with essays by Steers and other Lincoln scholars about Booth and the eight people arrested as part of the conspiracy, most of the book consists of testimony and legal arguments from the trial transcript. Far from a slipshod investigation, the case looks pretty strong against those accused, with witnesses testifying to their associations.
Fascinating stuff for history buffs.