The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals

By George Fort Milton | Go to book overview

X. THE TRIAL OF MRS. SURRATT

DURING these intricate political machinations, the apprehension and trial of persons implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln had gotten under way. In the light of fact subsequently developed, the trial of the conspirators by military commission casts a baleful shadow on Andrew Johnson's ill-starred presidency.

Stanton and his assistants made frantic efforts to connect the leading civil officers of the Confederacy with the Booth conspiracy. The Secretary of War employed a shabby troop of self-confessed perjurers to retail venomous scandal to the commission to prove that Jefferson Davis and even General Lee instigated the plot of John Wilkes Booth. But within a brief two years, even while Radical passion was still hot, it became clear that such talk was utterly absurd. No single Confederate of rank was ever brought to trial on the assassination charge.

The truth about the conspiracy may be summed up thus: Assassin though he was, John Wilkes Booth was a very remarkable man. For many years he was remembered as a magnetic personality by the confraternity of the stage. Forty-four years after the tragedy, Sir Charles Wyndham, the noted English actor, described Booth as "one of the few to whom that ill-used term of genius might be applied with perfect truth. . . . Seldom has the stage seen a more impressive, or a more handsome, or a more impassioned actor. Picture to yourself Adonis, with high forehead, ascetic face, corrected by rather full lips, sweeping black hair, a figure of perfect youthful proportions, and the most wonderful black eyes in the world. . . . When his emotions were aroused, they were like living jewels. Flames shot from them."1

This ill-starred genius, born in Maryland of a famous actor family, went on the stage as a lad and quickly made a name for himself. Born in the South, surrounded by Southern influences, and as an actor immensely popular in the South, Booth became an impassioned Southern sympathizer during the war. As the Confederate hopes paled, his heart grew dark with anger and something must have snapped in that eërie brain of his. After

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The Age of Hate: Andrew Johnson and the Radicals
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations viii
  • Acknowledgment ix
  • I. War-Time Washington 1
  • Ii. Plot and Counterplot 16
  • III- the National Union Convention 37
  • Iv. the Bound Boy of Raleigh 59
  • V. the Tailor-Politician 74
  • Vt. "In the Furnace of Treason" 98
  • Vii. on the Ticket with Lincoln 120
  • Ix. President Andrew Johnson 160
  • X. the Trial of Mrs. Surratt 190
  • Xi. the Lull Before the Storm 213
  • Xii. Charles Sumner Declares War 236
  • Xiii. the Triumph of Caliban 262
  • Xiv. Victory at Any Price 293
  • Xv. a Marplot in the Cabinet 320
  • Xvi. the Swing Around the Circle 344
  • Xvii. Bayonet Rule by Act Of Congress 370
  • Xix. Johnson Crosses the Rubicon 426
  • Xx. General Grant Breaks His Word 457
  • Xxi. the Impeachment of The President 486
  • Xxii. Preparing for the Trial 515
  • Xxiii. Impartial Court Or Political Inquest? 541
  • Xxiv. Sound and Fury 566
  • Xxvii. Last Months in the White House 633
  • Xviii. the Tennessee Epilogue 654
  • Appendix - Authorities Consulted and Cited In This Volume 677
  • Notes 685
  • Index 755
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