The tracks of our fears
In the late 1930s, Otto Eisenschiml, a chemistry professor and Civil War buff with ancestral connections to the Lincoln administration, gained access to the long-buried War Department files on the assassination and surprise, surprise, uncovered evidence of a coverup! After much research, his suspicions centered on Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton and he published a book, Why Was Lincoln Murdered?
Did you know that three days before the assassination, Lincoln began having nightly dreams of seeing himself in a coffin with mourners all around? Lincoln requested additional protection the night he was killed. He’d been expecting General Grant and his retinue to accompany him to Ford’s theater, but Stanton ordered Grant elsewhere and then refused additional protection beyond one bodyguard, who suspiciously left his post as soon as the play began. The President was left unprotected and the only person who could have engineered that was Stanton.
Stanton rounded up a nest of Confederate spies instantly who’d plotted to kidnap Lincoln back in March so he could be traded for Confederate prisoners of war. John W. Booth was the ringleader, and John Surratt, one of the most important couriers for the Confederate Secret Service, was also involved. This crew was penetrated by an informer inside the War Department named Louis Weichmann.
The abduction plot was foiled by a sudden shift in Lincoln’s itinerary, but that sort of thing happened with numerous Confederate Secret Service operations and it was almost impossible to conceal any significant plot because of all the double agents and informers, some of whom worked for political causes and others who worked for money to the highest bidder.
Stanton engineered a position in the War Department, and launched a plot that eliminated his boss, clearing his way to take charge. Allen Pinkerton was in charge of the Union Secret Service, and reported directly to Lincoln through Secretary of State Seward, but Stanton had that operation moved to the War Department, and quickly replaced Pinkerton with Lafayette Baker, who would soon gain the reputation as the most corrupt and ruthless official in Washington D.C.
In reality there was no benefit for the South to kill Lincoln, and although he was despised by some as a tyrant responsible for many unnecessary deaths, his murder resulted in greater exploitation of the South, which had already lost 258,000 men and trillions in assets.
Even more suspicious, when John Surratt was captured in Egypt and brought back for a civil trial, he could not be convicted and hanged like his mother, but set free. Jefferson Davis was not subjected to a trial at all, even though a third of Stanton’s military tribunal had been devoted to exposing his evil plots. Stanton never found a shred of evidence, however, linking Davis with the assassination, except the evidence he manufactured through his double agents.
Some major players on Wall Street at the time would have been Fernando Wood, August Belmont, John Jacob Astor, Jay Gould and Archibald Gracie.
Stanton was a high-ranking Freemason and close with the leader of the Copperheads, the Northern movement against Lincoln who were working hand-in-glove with the Confederate Secret Service. In fact, Stanton owed his political career to the head of the Copperheads.
In terms of experience and expertise in law, Stanton was ahead of Lincoln and considered Lincoln an uncivilized “ape,” and inferior in everything but telling crude stories laced in profanities. In Spielberg’s film, Stanton shouts, “I can’t bear to hear another of your stories,” before storming out of the room, a scene that really happened. Stanton and Lincoln clashed constantly and Lincoln always had to go to the War Department because Stanton seldom came to the White House.
But the most suspicious thing is the landslide of books raining down on Eisenschiml, all filled with cheap shots and personal attacks. Eisneschiml’s book broke important ground, but was painted as a total fraud by many who must have known better.
When a sustained and well-funded attack on a legitimate conspiracy theory appears that contains cheap shots and personal insults, I immediately suspect someone’s propaganda at stake, which is not to say these historians are bought-and-paid for, only that the ones who hold suspicions against the powers-that-be may not be getting any of the fat book deals.
The message is clear: join the status quo or break your rice bowl.