John Surratt is a clue to the Lincoln Assassination

640px-John_SurrattThe reason the history books don’t talk much about John Surratt is because his story sheds light on the real Lincoln assassination conspiracy. Surratt was John Wilkes Booth’s closest confident in a plot to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln and spirit him to Richmond to be held for ransom. This plan was supported and probably fomented by The Grey Ghost (Col. John Mosby), who controlled Northern Virgina and parts of Maryland during the Civil War. Large military operations like the kidnapping of a head-of-state run through chains-of-command, and captains like Booth report to colonels like Mosby who report to Supreme Commanders. The kidnap plan involved dozens of secret accomplices, as well as a large cavalry unit, which was massed near the border on the eve of its execution. But since Booth and Surratt were surrounded by double agents, the kidnapping was easily thwarted through a shift in the president’s itinerary. Yet instead of arresting the plotters as one might have expected, the War Department left them all in place.

Surratt fled the country when he learned the kidnap had suddenly turned to murder as he wanted no part of it. He hid first in Canada, then Ireland, then Italy, then Egypt, often seeking refuge inside Catholic churches. Initially, a large award had been issued for his capture and return dead-or-alive, but strangely, as soon as his trail was uncovered in Europe, Stanton rescinded the reward offer. Suddenly, the War Department seemed uninterested in Surratt, although his mother had been swiftly hanged. Eventually, Surratt was captured and brought back to Washington, where he was visited in jail by Charles Dunham posing as Sandford Conover, who offered him immunity if he committed perjury. Surratt declined the offer, went to trial, and the case ended with a hung jury.

Surratt never denied involvement in the kidnap plot, but despite employing every possible trick to convict him, the government was unable to connect Surratt with the murder. This was a civil trial, and not a military tribunal like the one his mother had faced and not so easily manipulated. After Surratt walked free, it opened some minds to the possibility of a cover-up, and some became angry learning that the first woman executed in American history might have been a patsy.

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Lincoln assassination Rabbit Holes

stanton_LOC4a40408r_medSecretary of War Edwin Stanton presided over a military tribunal investigating the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and the first third of that trial documented horrific crimes fomented by the Confederate Secret Service, crimes of mass extermination involving arson, poisoning of public wells and distribution of smallpox-tainted blankets. The press covered the trial, but all coverage was subject to editing and censorship by Stanton. The North was easily whipped into a frenzy of paranoia. After five years of the worst violence in American history, the nation was already rocked by PTSD, but Lincoln’s murder and trial tweaked the public to new heights of distress.

One problem. It was all lies. A propaganda expert named Charles Dunham paid and coached the parade of witnesses, all in an effort to help convict Jefferson Davis of killing Lincoln (Rabbit Hole #1). Few today realize that tribunal found Davis guilty. Or that it took a hundred years to uncover Dunham’s real name and the extent of his Civil War propaganda ops. During the trial, he’d been known as Sanford Conover, just one of many aliases he employed.

President Andrew Johnson had been a victim of the propaganda, and placed in a paranoid frenzy that left him easily manipulated. But after Mary Surratt was hanged, and Johnson discovered most of the tribunal had wanted her spared, he got angry with Stanton and eventually fired him.

Stanton barricaded himself in his office and refused to step down, while his cohorts in Congress (Ben Wade and Thaddeus Stevens) launched an impeachment trial against Johnson, during which they presented evidence Johnson had been the mastermind behind Lincoln’s assassination (Rabbit Hole #2).

AJRogersHad Johnson been impeached, Senator Ben Wade would have become president. But Johnson survived by one vote and a Congressional investigation was launched by the House Judiciary Committee to investigate the original trial. It had a predetermined outcome (think Warren Commission or the 9/11 Commission) and could have easily covered up all the perjuries of the initial tribunal if not for a lonely Democrat on the committee, an idealistic youngster named Andy Rogers (left), who amazingly broke down many of the witnesses in front of the press. The head judge on Stanton’s tribunal became so distressed he claimed Conover had been planted by the Confederates to discredit him, an absurd allegation that didn’t fly with the public, so he wrote a widely-distributed pamphlet blaming everything on the Pope, playing up widespread anti-Catholic sentiments in the North (Rabbit Hole #3).

Of course, when publishing their report, the Committee found no problem with the tribunal, and now that trial is considered gospel even though the official story is rife with fabrications. Historians base most research on newspaper articles, not realizing how manipulated the press was. It’s like relying on Pravda to tell you what was going on inside the Soviet Union before it fell. Most modern debate on Lincoln’s assassination has been centered on the relatively inconsequential level of involvement of Dr. Samuel Mudd and Mary Surratt, both of whom were certainly aware of the kidnapping plot, but neither of whom were involved in the murder. It wasn’t until 1938 that an outsider was allowed access to the War Department records and even though the records were purged many times over the decades to remove incriminating evidence, there’s still more than enough to crack the case. And over the years, new information continues to come to light thanks to the army of citizen researchers.

Yet new rabbit holes continue to appear with amazing frequency obviously designed to misdirect and confuse the researchers. And don’t you know, these rabbit holes often appear immediately after some new revelation? But if you avoid falling into the traps, and just deal with the primary documents of the period (most of which are available free online), it becomes clear Stanton, Wade and Stevens plotted Lincoln’s murder and then covered up their involvement.

Stanton and Sherman

The_Peacemakers_1868On March 28, 1865, Generals Grant and Sherman invited President Abraham Lincoln to a meeting on the River Queen steamer to discuss the coming end of the Civil War. George Healy produced a painting of that conference (shown left) and titled it The Peacemakers. During this meeting, Lincoln undoubtedly expressed a desire for Southern forgiveness as he planned to allow rebels to return to their seats in Congress provided they signed the loyalty oath. Lincoln wanted to heal the nation from years of bloody war and he knew this mission required kindness and an end to brutality. But this attitude was in opposition to his leaders in Congress, Ben Wade and Thaddeus Stevens, who wanted to punish and pillage the South. Lincoln had just been elected to a second term and was making plans with his generals in the field, circumventing Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who’d been ushered into his seat of power four years earlier through his friendship with Senator Wade.

In two weeks Lincoln was assassinated and Stanton took control of the nation through martial law, immediately issuing a blizzard of telegrams and orders, including one to General Sherman: “I FIND EVIDENCE THAT AN ASSASSIN IS ALSO ON YOUR TRACK, AND I BESEECH YOU TO BE MORE HEEDFUL THAN MR. LINCOLN WAS OF SUCH KNOWLEDGE.”

This telegram confirms Stanton’s awareness that a letter written by F. H. Morse of the London Consulate dated March 17th, 1865, had recently been brought to his attention by Secretary of State W. Seward.

“I herewith enclose for your perusal two private letters received this week from “B,” my secret agent in France….He is a business agent of the rebels.” These letters claimed two fully-funded assassins had been dispatched from France, one to kill Seward and the other to kill Sherman.

Shortly after delivering these letters to the War Department, Seward was nearly killed in a carriage accident and gravely injured. He was bed-ridden when the actual assassination attempt was made nine days later. Despite clear warnings of danger, neither Lincoln nor Seward had been protected, and Seward only survived because Lewis Powell’s gun misfired and his knife failed to penetrate the metal brace that had been installed on Seward’s cheek and neck to hold his shattered jaw together. Don’t you find it odd Stanton never shared any knowledge of these letters with Lincoln? And that he lied to Sherman in his telegram, claiming Lincoln had ignored these warnings, when it was Stanton who had actually ignored them?

The night of the assassination, Lincoln had gone to the War Department requesting additional protection as he was having nightmares of his imminent death. Both Stanton and his primary aide Major Eckert are on record refusing to accompany Lincoln to Ford’s theater that night, as both claimed they had late work to do, although both seem to have gone home at their usual hour. Stanton should have been posting armed guards around Lincoln and Seward, but he didn’t.

On April 18, three days after Lincoln’s assassination, General Sherman accepted the surrender of General J.E. Johnston and his terms included a recognition of rights of rebel soldiers as soon as they deposited their arms in a Federal armory and signed the Union loyalty oath. In this matter, Sherman was following the wishes of the slain President. However, Stanton went into a rage when he learned of Sherman’s terms of surrender, and immediately planted stories in Northern papers accusing Sherman of treason. When these papers arrived at Sherman’s camp in North Carolina, his soldiers made a display of burning all copies. Anger among his rank and file was such that a few began to wonder if Sherman might not march to Washington and seize power from Stanton, who was defacto President as he dominated the weak-willed Andrew Johnson. It would take months before Johnson worked up the courage to fire Stanton, and when he finally did, Stanton barricaded himself in his office and launched an impeachment trial against Johnson in a bid to save his status.

This is just one of the dozens of damning threads of information that point to an inside job in Lincoln’s murder, so why is there a cottage industry of so-called experts refusing to allow any hint of Stanton’s involvement in this crime? I suspect it may be because if America realized the truth of Lincoln’s murder, they might also begin to question the murders of JFK, RFK and MLK because those were also inside jobs, and they all have similar cottage industries putting out disinfo to muddy the investigative waters.

Despite the fact eight designated patsies were on trial, and Lincoln not yet buried, Stanton ordered Washington draped in patriotic bunting and requested the two largest armies parade through the city in a victory celebration. The Army of the Potomac marched first. The parade took seven hours and the cavalry alone stretched for seven miles. The next day it was Sherman’s turn. His soldiers were different. They did not have such splendid uniforms. Many were barefoot. They had not done any parading in months. Yet they far out-dazzled the Army of the Potomac with their discipline and energy, and Sherman became the hero of the parade. But when he arrived at the parade stand, where President Johnson and General Grant were seated, he dismounted and made a public display of refusing to shake hands with Stanton. There’s no doubt Sherman was aware of machinations going on at the trial, as his brother-in-law Tom Ewing had been appointed to defend Dr. Samuel Mudd and two others, and was doing a terrific job of shredding the government’s case against them. Ewing managed to save his clients from the gallows, and they all would soon be pardoned by President Johnson once Stanton was disgraced and the impeachment failed. Sherman refused all offers to become President as he considered Washington one of the most corrupt places on earth, and said given a choice between the White House or a prison cell, he’d choose the latter.

“The Big Parade” by Thomas Fleming is a riveting account of these events in a few thousand words, and you can read it here: http://54.201.12.217/content/big-parade

 

 

Warnings Against the Assassination

MTE5NDg0MDU1MzQ1MjAyNzAzWilliam Seward was the front-runner for the Presidency and had garnered many more votes than the relatively unknown Abraham Lincoln on the first ballot, but Lincoln ended up becoming the compromise candidate the newly formed Republican party settled on. Yet, after Lincoln won the nomination, he appointed Seward his Secretary of State and the two obviously had tremendous respect for each other, and Seward supported Lincoln’s second term. During the war, Seward managed a vast network of spies throughout Europe to thwart the South’s attempts to draw any foreign powers into the conflict on their side.

John Bigelow was one of Seward’s spies in France and in March he began sending Seward alarming letters involving an assassination plot against Seward, who many in Europe considered the real power in Washington and defacto President. Bigelow had penetrated the pro-slavery Sons of Liberty secret society and discovered a Texan named Johnston had been dispatched from France by steamer on an assassination mission. Seward took the warning letters to the War Department and showed them to Edwin Stanton. Lincoln was in Richmond at the time, which had just fallen, and dangerously walking the streets without protection. Seward wanted Stanton to alert Lincoln of the assassination plot and have him put under constant guard.

However, Seward was seriously injured in a carriage accident that next afternoon, and Stanton never shared the warnings with Lincoln after the President returned from Richmond to check on Seward’s condition. Considering the amount of detail in Bigelow’s three letters, it seems inexplicable Seward and Lincoln were not put under round-the-clock protection. In a few days, Lincoln would be assassinated, and Seward would only survive thanks to a metal brace that had been installed to hold his shattered jaw in place.

The failure of the War Department to act on these very specific warnings is evidence Lincoln’s assassination was an inside job, sanctioned by Stanton, Wade and Stevens, who were resisting Lincoln and Seward’s plans to forgive the South. They wanted to allow the Confederates to retake their seats in Congress, something that would have pushed Wade and Stevens out of their perch of power.

 

The reason Booth shot Lincoln

twobooksSince I didn’t investigate this case until recently, I was surprised at how transparent the Lincoln assassination conspiracy has become over the years. Bill O’Reilly ignored every modern development to write a cover-up fantasy supporting the official story Booth was insane and the War Department had no idea what he was up to. In fact, Booth was surrounded by double agents, a list that included Louis Weichmann, James Donaldson and the beautiful Kate Brown, known as “The French Lady.”

The biggest issue with solving this case is the amount of noise and disinfo that’s been manufactured to hold back realization it was an inside job. There’s a cottage industry of researchers who will attack any suggestion Edwin Stanton was involved, even though the evidence against Stanton is overwhelming.

Periodically, new documents have been produced to bolster one side or another, yet few discuss how many of these are forgeries. Often, when a breakthrough takes place, the scoop is tied to a nasty piece of disinfo, a commonly used counterintelligence booby-trap for discrediting real information. I find this technique in play not just with Lincoln, but with JFK and 9/11.

I often found Roger Norton’s forum a valuable source of research material over the past few months, and there are obviously a number of dedicated researchers contributing to that site. However, I also noticed organized resistance to any inference of an inside job, and that makes me suspicious to say the least.

The single most important document to surface in the last fifty years is the original confession of George Atzerodt. At first, I assumed this to be a forgery like so many other documents involving the case, and I did not study it closely for many months. Today, I accept it as a real document, which means we have the Surratt Society to thank for its exposure, even though the current director is a cheerleader against the inside job theory.

I promise if you look deeply into this case, the cover-up will become obvious, and reading my book Killing Lincoln: The Real Story is a good place to start the adventure. My book is a concise over-view of overlooked details, all of which point to an inside job. Strange how no established press has exposed this information yet.

It’s sad to consider the entire hoodwink could have easily been blown sky-high when Steven Spielberg produced his Lincoln film recently, and you can find clues in that film. But Lincoln’s final hours were glossed over, including his request for additional security that night and his premonitions of the assassination. Both Lincoln and his wife were highly psychic, and the immense powers of the presidency may have lifted those powers even higher.

Since Thaddeus Stevens played a major role in the plot against Lincoln, it’s tragic Spielberg held Stevens up for adoration (while only hinting at his corruption). Stevens believed the ends justify the means, and seeking vengeance against the South was high on his to-do list. In the film, Mary Todd dresses Stevens down, not realizing the plot to assassinate her husband is already in full swing.

The reason John W. Booth accepted the hit was because he knew the “New York crowd” was going to have Lincoln killed and it was only a matter of time. And he also knew this crew had agents embedded deep inside the corridors of power in Washington, people who would aid the assassination. I don’t know what he was offered, or whether he took the hit to avenge the recent hanging of a Confederate spy he knew well, and I don’t know who actually pitched the deal to him, but there can be no doubt he was merely a pawn in their game, and must have realized this toward the end of his life.

Which is why every attempt by Booth to leave a statement about what really happened was destroyed, just like every attempt by Lee H. Oswald to leave a written statement with the FBI and Dallas police was destroyed. So open your eyes and do some research. And when you’re done, spread the news from every mountain top: Lincoln’s murder was an inside job.

Killing Lincoln: the real story

9780805093070I conducted my own investigation into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln after viewing Robert Redford’s, The Conspirator, a film that documents how a kangaroo military court sent an innocent Mary Surratt to the gallows to cover up the real assassination plot. It’s obvious she was railroaded if you just read the transcripts of the trial, but why?

When I told some people what I was doing, many asked if I’d read Bill O’Reilly’s recent book on the subject. I had no idea he’d written the book, much less that it had become a huge bestseller and launched a franchise of similar historical assassination books.

But after a month of research using mostly original documents from the era, I had to check out Killing Lincoln. It took me about 20 minutes to speed read the book because this is territory I know quite well at this point, so I was skimming major points of evidence, looking for rabbit holes and wanting to see which crucial characters were addressed and which left out entirely.

Unfortunately, O’Reilly pretty much faithfully follows the official cover story Booth was a lunatic operating with a small band of conspirators. His book didn’t cover the trials, so he doesn’t reveal the government’s case was based on proven perjuries.

You can’t analyze the assassination with any degree of success unless you study the role of Sanford Conover (real name Charles Dunham), the double agent and newspaper reporter who groomed the witnesses for the original trial. Another important figure left out of most books is Simon Wolf, of B’nai B’rith, who was close to John Wilkes Booth and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. We know Wolf held a private meeting with Booth the day of the assassination at the National Hotel because many years later, Wolf wrote about this meeting in his memoirs, and seems to have told some lies while doing so, so what was Wolf covering up?

LincolncoverO’Reilly invents a lot of details and pretends to know people’s inner thoughts, but never figured out the alleged assassination attempts on Vice President Johnson, General Grant and Edwin Stanton were all invented for the trial, and there’s not a shred of evidence anyone was supposed to be killed that night except Lincoln and William Seward, which makes total sense since they were the only ones pushing for Southern forgiveness. Lincoln wanted to pardon the South and allow them back into Congress after the war, something that greatly upset the radical Republican cabal that had captured Congress and actually put Lincoln into power. But Lincoln was drifting off the course set by his party leaders, and that’s why he was murdered.

I just published my own book in time for the 150th anniversary: Killing Lincoln: The Real Story, because O’Reilly never gets close to the truth.

The key suspects in this case are Edwin Stanton, Thaddeus Stevens, Salmon Chase and Ben Wade, and I’ve uncovered forensic evidence from the period that links them to the plot. Funny how Stevens and Wade never get a mention in O’Reilly’s book, even though they held a meeting with other leaders of the radicals in Congress the day after the assassination during which Stevens referred to Lincoln’s death as a “godsend.”

Why wasn’t Booth arrested in March?

Mary_Surratt_house_-_Brady-HandyOn November 1, 1864, Louis Weichmann moved into widow Mary Surratt’s boarding house, 604 H Street NW, Washington DC. Surratt’s son John was an important courier for the Confederacy who kept his mother and sister in the dark about his activities in order to shield them from culpability. Weichmann was an old friend of the family, an elementary school chum of John’s and a fellow Catholic.

Weichmann worked as a clerk at the War Department of Prisons and sat next to Daniel H.L. Gleason. After arriving at the boarding house, he immediately began telling Gleason the house was a nest of illegal activities. Of course, the possibility exists Weichmann was placed in the house as a confidential informant from the beginning, the results are the same either way. That fall Weichmann began informing on Surratt and his friend John Wilkes Booth.

On April 18, 1865, four days after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Gleason testified Weichmann informed him in March that “he was well-acquainted with some blockade runners, young fellows, not secessionists, who were out for money and excitement, who were currently involved in a new project that aroused his suspicion.” This message wormed its way up the chain-of-command and it soon came back down Weichmann should join this project, whatever it was. But in 1911, Gleason unloaded his conscience and confessed the real story: the War Department was made aware of John Wilkes Booth’s plot to kidnap Lincoln weeks before the assassination.

Since Stanton controlled the secret police, the army, the telegraph and the entire Washington DC police force, his power was absolute and once he discovered this plot, Booth was obviously at his mercy. At any time, Stanton could have arrested Booth and hanged him for treason, standard treatment for a Confederate spook like Booth, although Booth represented a high-profile celebrity trophy catch, and as such might expect special treatment.

So why wasn’t Booth arrested in March?

Even stranger, Stanton suddenly demoted his chief detective, moving the head of the National Detective Police to Manhattan, leaving the NDP headless for the crucial few weeks the assassination plot unfolded.

I believe Stanton sent a message to Booth through an intermediary, someone like Simon Wolf, a close friend of Booth’s who could be relied on for confidentiality, and that message could have gone something like:

boothI know who you are and can have you arrested and hanged tomorrow. I can also hang your secret fiance Bessie Hale and your brother Edwin. On the other hand, you could take $10,000 and agree to assassinate Lincoln and Seward and tie this plot to Johnson. If you take the second option, I’ll insure you have time to escape. I’ll deny ever offering this deal.

Just a hint of the sort of buttons Stanton could have pushed and if he did push them, maybe you can see Booth in a different light? Booth’s entire famous family could have been implicated, not just his brother. And, of course, Booth would have done anything to protect Bessie from harm, being he was a true Southern gentleman. Stanton’s specialty was manufacturing evidence, and he had a entire crew led by Sanford Conover (real name Charles Dunham) for this purpose, so guilt or innocence never got in the way of his agenda.

This is the only scenario that makes any sense if you consider Booth claimed in his diary he could return to Washington and clear his name. Also, John Parker, the guard who deserted his post was never punished, went back to work inside the White House the next day. Knowing Stanton ripped-up most every Presidential pardon, this sudden overwhelming sense of forgiveness for both Parker and Boston Corbett was inexplicable, unless this is exactly what Stanton wanted to happen: and unguarded President and dead assassin to tell no tales.