Oh my goodness gracious, what a fascinating read!! But before I go on to tell you how much I loved this book
and all the intriguing information I learned from it, I want to point out a couple things. First, there is another book, a novel by the same name
that is based on the same subject, but with a mix of fictional and non-fictional characters, so do not confuse it with this one, which is an
historical, non-fictional book, based on volumes and volumes and hours and hours of research, digging up documents and letters and diaries and all kinds
of previously unpublished materials pertaining to President Lincoln's assassination. It contains sixteen pages of footnotes, citing these sources. It
is by two authors, David Balsiger, and Charles E. Sellier. The one thing about it in which I have mixed feelings is that it reads like a novel, including
conversations between the people, although many of those conversations came from or were suggested by documented sources. This made reading so much more
enjoyable, rather than a dry history book, but to many people, it has diminished its credibility. I dunno, I found it pretty convincing.
It was published in 1977 by Schick Sunn Classic Books, and a movie was made then, too, also by Schick Sunn Classic Productions, Inc.. The book contains 32 pages of photos, plus two pages listing the major characters and their role or position, to which I referred all the way through the book. I was delighted to find that someone had posted the entire movie on YouTube, which you may watch for free, and I highly recommend it after you read the book. The movie is very condensed, covering only a basic outline of the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination. So it may not be easy or entertaining to follow unless you have an understanding of the contents of the book, which is complicated, but gets much easier as you progress. I was amazed that I could recognize most of the characters in the movie by the pictures of the original people in the book. It is all very good and very thorough.
Well. So, you would think that a book/movie venture such as this would have made history, and have tons of reviews and a great Wikipedia article about it, but you would be wrong. I was perplexed. Wikipedia's page consists of seven paragraphs, ending with "Cold reception by historians." Of course, I was not surprised that Wikipedia brushed it off because if it is not mainstream accepted "facts," to them, it is "conspiracy theory." They believe climate engineering is a conspiracy theory, too, so, I don't put much faith in their opinion except for really basic stuff, like bibliographies and biographical information of famous people. Sort of.
So I started digging elsewhere, and still came up with little, except for a few comments here and there, a couple in particular, that suggested the government hushed up both the book and movie because they were afraid people might start thinking about Kennedy's assassination and if what we have been told is true. Supposedly, the Kennedy papers were released several years ago. Remember that? Do you believe the whole investigation was made public by the release of those papers? Neither do I. Do I believe the government was behind his assassination, also? Is the Pope Catholic? OF COURSE the government was behind it. Little by little all the corruption and lies will be exposed, and I believe the truth about Kennedy's death will be part of it. And the truth about 9/11, but I digress.
The thing is, our government has been corrupt from the get-go. It was planned that way. How can anyone possibly trust a government that slaughtered, used, abused and lied to the RIGHTFUL OWNERS of this country who had their land STOLEN FROM THEM? That is why I found this book absolutely believable, because what we are witnessing now in the government is such in-your-face corruption, greed and lies, (without them even trying to hide it), that anyone with sense and a brain should be able to see that this has been long-term and deep rooted. Even so, I still found much of what I read shocking, yet totally believable.
So, why would the government want Lincoln gone, (but not necessarily dead, because the original plan was to kidnap him)? Lincoln is my favorite president, but he still played the political game. However, there was something in him that demanded peace and reconciliation, unity and trust when the war ended. I think he was probably one of the few presidents who was a good person, and there to serve his country. He wanted an end to slavery because he knew it was wrong, and that was a brave goal that made him hated in the South. His Reconstruction plan after the war made him hated in the North, where people thought the Southerners should be treated as political prisoners and under military control. Lincoln was right and everyone else was wrong, as we can clearly see now. I have an even more immense respect for him than I did before.
And now onto the contents of the book. As mentioned above, the events leading up to Lincoln's assassination were very complicated. I will try to supply a summary that presents the scope of events without getting too detailed. First of all, the government was corrupt, period, and Lincoln really had very few, if any trustworthy people on his side. The two most important people behind this tragedy were Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and Lafayette C. Baker, Chief of the National Detective Police, which isn't even covered by Wikipedia, but was a secret service operation. Neither of these men were to be trusted. Even Lincoln's "best friend," Ward H. Lamon, U.S. Marshal, did dealings behind Lincoln's back, mostly involving smuggling and speculation.
There were actually four groups who wanted Lincoln gone, but assassination was not the goal. It was kidnapping, so that he could be used to negotiate various needs, depending on the group. For instance, the South obviously wanted release of their people who had been captured. Remember, the blockades caused a great deal of financial woes to both the North and South. One could understand the South wanting Lincoln out, because their very survival depended on it. But the Northern Speculators were in it solely for their own greed. Then there were the Maryland Planters, who, like the Confederacy Leaders, were just trying to keep from starving, to survive. The last group was the Radical Republicans, yes, those in Washington who did not want to waste tax dollars to rebuild the South, and wanted severe punishment for the rebels. They also wanted the South to be basically like a foreign country which had been captured and was now under their rule.
John Wilkes Booth was a very well known stage actor, and loyalist to the South. Really, you cannot hate him for what he did because he was doing it for what he thought was the good of the people. Morals become a fine line in wartime. In any case, he found himself approached by all four groups to kidnap Lincoln. Eventually the Northern Speculators dropped him, but Booth loathed that group because they cared for no one but themselves and their wealth. Anyways, Baker and Stanton were openly involved in the kidnap plan, and Baker, well, he managed to flit between sides to reach his goal. I believe we would call that a traitor.
However, Baker soon soured on Booth, not believing he was up to the job. Indeed, Booth had failed at six attempts, then tried to hijack the president on the road, and shots were actually fired. There was another man, a Confederate spy named James William Boyd, who was imprisoned under terrible conditions and continually wrote to people for his transfer or release. Please note that not only were his initials the same as Booth, but they looked alike. Below, Booth is pictured on the left, and Boyd on the right. This is extremely important.
So now, Baker visits Boyd in prison, offering him his freedom as a Union spy. Boyd
reluctantly agrees, saying he knows the South is done, and, like many others, just wants to see the end of the war and Lincoln gone.
Well, the war does end, and now many are desperate, fearing Lincoln's Reconstruction plans. Word is, and has been, out in the open that Lincoln's life is in danger, along with Vice-President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Lincoln doesn't take it all too seriously. However, he and a group of friends and colleagues are supposed to attend the play American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on Good Friday, April 14, 1865. Lincoln's wife, Mary, who was a jealous bossy bitch, had made the arrangements, and it was announced at the theatre, so even though Lincoln does not feel well, he is determined to attend. He suffered from chronic ill health. And to make matters worse, he had had a premonition, a dream of being killed, supposedly. Most of the other people who had been invited sent their regrets that they could not attend. That was one of the suspicious points. And even worse yet, Lincoln's body guard was absolutely incompetent, so the President was basically on his own.
Boyd was to use this opportunity (set up by Baker) to kidnap the president. But Booth, now on his own, decides to kill the president instead. Lewis Payne is to kill Seward, who is at home recovering from an accident, and George Atzerodt, a carriage maker, is to kill Andrew Johnson. He will not participate in killing, and Booth now has no other allies.
Lincoln, in his box at the theatre, is left unattended, while his body guard goes out drinking. Boyd, seeing that Booth has screwed up his plans, takes off. Booth easily sneaks into Lincoln's box and shoots him in the neck. He breaks his leg near his ankle as he jumps, but still escapes with a friend, a fellow smuggler named Edwin Henson. I forgot to mention that Booth was a smuggler, too. At the same time Payne botches his murder attempt, killing and injuring a number of other people in the Seward household. Seward survives.
So Booth and Henson work their way out of Washington, toward the South. They stop at a house belonging to Dr. Samuel Mudd, who makes a makeshift cast for Booth's leg, not knowing who these two men are. Meanwhile, Booth's friend and co-conspirator, David E. Herold, a drug store clerk, had been captured. He is now promised his life, and protection to go find Booth. (That is a lie, of course. He is eventually hung.) But on the way, he finds Boyd instead and both are captured. They manage to escape, and make it to Garrett's farm. A couple other strange notes, here. Herold and Henson, like Booth and Boyd, look remarkably alike. On the left is Herold, the right, Henson. Kinda creepy, huh?
And there were a couple other suspicious things to happen on this night, too. All roads had been
blockaded, except the one on which Booth escaped, and the telegraph lines suddenly went down, then just as suddenly came back to life.
Anyways, a mentally unstable soldier, Sgt. Boston Corbett, finds Herold and Boyd at Garrett's farm, hiding in the barn. Thinking it is Booth, even though the orders are to bring him back alive, he sets fire to the barn then kills Boyd. Meanwhile, Booth, has lost his incriminating diary, and it is found and sent back to Washington, which points the finger at Stanton, the Radical Republicans, and others.
"Booth's" body is returned and everyone who knows about this disaster, also knows it is Boyd's body and Booth is still at large. A doctor is made to lie and swear it is the body of Booth. The American public is told that Booth has been captured, end of story. Eight people, mostly innocent are imprisoned, tortured, and treated in the most cruel and inhumane manner possible, including sensory deprivation, wearing hoods that blocked all sound and vision, a method still being used by our government today. Yeah, really.
They were also deprived of visitors and counsel, and eventually tried by military tribunal which was illegal because the war was over, instead of a civil court with a jury. In addition, three known criminals were coached to lie under oath, to further incriminate them. Perhaps the absolutely most horrifying fact of all about the treatment of these poor people was that one was a woman, Mary Surratt, a boarding house owner, who was not only innocent, but going through menopause and hemorrhaging while in prison. She was hung, the first woman in the U.S. to suffer that punishment, along with Lewis Payne, David Herold, and George Atzerodt. Four others, including Dr. Mudd, were given life in prison. The government's goal, of course, was to shut these people up because they also knew the contents of Booth's diary.
Incidentally, it is believed that Booth and Henson escaped and lived regular lives. It is believed they travelled to England, then India, and probably back to the U.S. under different names.
All war is terrible, but the Civil War was particularly bad. Lincoln was determined to do his part in freeing the slaves and keeping the country as a Union. He was truly one of the greatest men to have lived and he gave his life for what was right, with no ulterior motives for his own gain, a rare case, wouldn't you say?
And we think Trump is corrupt. He is, of course, but he has a long, long line of predecessors. "Make America Great Again" is a joke. America has never been great. It has been run by greedy white men from the beginning. It was built on corruption and now we are collapsing under a mountain of lies. After all these centuries, do you believe the truth will prevail, and the American people will finally awaken? Many are, and, yes, I do believe disclosure, about everything, will finally happen.
Reading this book is an absolute must for every American, then watch to movie, too. Even if you keep up with the increasingly obvious criminal activity of the wealthy and powerful, this is an eye-opener—absorbing and illuminating. Very highly recommended!
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