Saturday, July 7, 2007

Hanging the Lincoln Assassination Conspirators

Today we feature a photograph of the hanging of the Lincoln Conspirators. They were hung on this day (July 7) in 1865.

John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, but he was part of a much larger conspiracy to kill government officials. Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer was part of a conspiracy that had also planned the attack on William H. Seward. They hoped to overthrow the government by killing Lincoln, Secretary Seward, and Vice President Johnson. Booth succeeded in killing Lincoln, but the larger plot failed. Seward would recover from his wounds, and Johnson's assigned assassin simply left Washington when it was learned Johnson was not home.
Eight of Booth's co-conspirators were tried by a military tribunal after his death. The trial lasted for about seven weeks. The verdict was given on July 5. All of the defendants were found guilty. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt were sentenced to death by hanging. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O'Laughlen were given life in prison. Edmund Spangler was sentenced to imprisonment for six years.
Surratt, Powell, Herold, and Atzerodt were hanged in the Old Arsenal Penitentiary on July 7. Mary Surratt was the first woman to be hanged by the U.S. government.

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