WHEN William G. Shepherd, in 1924, investigated for Harper's Magazine the story of John Wilkes Booth's alleged escape, he stated that he was not going to name a very high official who, it was whispered to him, appeared implicated in this mystery. "It is part of the . . . legend," he protested, "that a certain government official of great power and position planned the killing of Lincoln and helped Booth to escape. Let his name be Blank."1
There was really no necessity for Shepherd to be so secretive. Had he read nothing more sensational than the Congressional Globe for the year 1867, he would have known that Mr. Blank's name was then on many lips and that he was being publicly denounced as Lincoln's murderer. Mr. Blank was none other than Andrew Johnson, seventeenth President of the United States.
When Johnson became the Chief Executive of the nation, the Radicals began to have pleasurable visions of wholesale massacres and executions that would depopulate the South; for the new President had expressed his hatred of traitors in terms that were immoderate and unmistakable. Yet, week after week passed and, except for the hanging of the so-called conspirators and of Captain Wirz, the former commandant at Andersonville, no deed of violence took place. On the contrary, pardon followed pardon; and worse than that, the President undertook to re-establish state governments along the lines Lincoln had advocated. At first the____________________