In the last couple of weeks, I’ve read American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies and Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer
Between the two, and my previous knowledge of the assassination conspiracy, I’m convinced that the Mary Surratt verdict was not justice.
She had only the same knowledge of the conspiracy that Arnold and McLaghlen did: an intended kidnapping of Lincoln. (Mudd was an accessory after the fact (as were many others never tried; Cox and Jones, for instance) and probably a kidnapping conspirator, and Spangler was completely innocent.)
I do not believe that Mrs. Surratt had any more knowledge or support of Booth’s last-minute decision to assassinate Lincoln than any one else did except for Powell, Azerodt, and Herold.
Yes, but even given the hysteria, and the fact that the trials and executions took place less than three months after the assassination, Surratt was no more guilty than Arnold or Mudd, and her sentence should have been in line with theirs.
I went to the Dry Tortugas and saw the prison where Mudd did his hard time. It was a horrible place with no water and 6 foot stone walls. They had the floor rings in the cells where they chained the prisoners. It was a cruel and nasty place. It is 60 miles out in the ocean west of Key West.
Not believing in capital punishment, I say none of them should have hung. But based on the laws of the time, yes she was guilty. She certainly knew of the kidnap plot. She denied knowing Lewis Powell (aka Paine), yet he was a frequent visitor to her boarding house. If Lloyd’s and Weichmann’s testimonies are to be believed, she was in it up to her eyeballs. Then you have Atzerodt’s lost testimony, which if true, makes the case. http://home.att.net/~rjnorton/Lincoln82.html
Mudd was in it as well and he probably should have hung too. The only one that seemed to get screwed was Spangler.