|John Bingham offered the government's reply to the arguments of defense attorneys on behalf of the eight persons charged with conspiracy in connection with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The first third of Bingham's argument answers the defense's arguments concerning the jurisdiction of the Military Commission to decide the case. That section of Bingham's argument is omitted here.|
|What is the evidence, direct and
that the accused, or either of them, together with John H.
Wilkes Booth, Jefferson Davis, George N. Sanders, Beverley
Thompson, William C. Cleary, Clement C. Clay, George
Harper and George
Young, did combine, confederate, and conspire, in aid of
as charged, to kill and murder, within the military
and within the fortified and intrenebed lines thereof,
late, and, at the time of the said combining,
President of the United States of America, and
army and navy thereof; Andrew Johnson, Vice-President of
William H. Seward, Secretary of State of the United
States; and Ulysses
S. Grant, Lieutenant-General of the armies thereof, and
under the direction of the President?
The time, as laid in the charge and specification, when this conspiracy was entered into, is immaterial, so that it appear by the evidence that the criminal combination and agreement were formed before the commission of the acts alleged. That Jefferson Davis, one of the conspirators named, was the acknowledged chief and leader of the existing rebellion against the Government of the United States, and that Jacob Thompson, George N. Sanders, Clement C. Clay, Beverley Tucker, and others named in the specification, were his duly accredited and authorized agents, to act; in the interests of said rebellion, are facts established by the testimony in this case beyond all question. That Davis, as the leader of said rebellion, gave to those agents, then in Canada, commissions in blank, bearing the official signature of his war minister, James A. Seddon, to be by them filled up and delivered to such agents as they might employ to act in the interests of the rebellion within the United States, and intended to be a cover and protection for any crimes they might therein commit in the service of the rebellion, is also a fact established here, and which no man can gainsay. Who doubts that Kennedy, whose confession, made in view of immediate death, as proved here, was commissioned by those accredited agents of Davis to burn the city of New York? That he was to have attempted it on the night of the Presidential election, and that he did, in combination with his confederates, set fire to four hotels in the city of New York on the night of the 25th of November last? Who doubts that, in like manner, in the interests of the rebellion, and by the authority of Davis, these, his agents, also commissioned Bennett H. Young to commit arson, robbery and the murder of unarmed citizens in St. Albans, Vermont? Who doubts, upon the testimony shown, that Davis, by his agents, deliberately adopted the system of starvation for the murder of our captive soldiers in his hands, or that, as shown by the testimony, he sanctioned the burning of hospitals and steamboats, the property of private persons, and paid therefore, from his stolen treasure, the thirty-five thousand dollars in gold? By the evidence of Godfrey Joseph Hyams it proved that Thompson--the agent of Jefferson Davis--paid him money for the service he rendered in the infamous and fiendish project of importing pestilence into our camps and cities, to destroy file lives of citizens and soldiers alike, and into the house of the President for the purpose of destroying his life. It may be said, and doubtless will be said, by the pensioned advocates of this rebellion, that Hyams, being infamous, is not to be believed. It is admitted that he is infamous, as it must be conceded that any man is infamous who either participates in such a crime or at tempts in anywise to extenuate it. But it will be observed that Hyams is supported by the testimony of Mr. Sanford Conover, who heard Blackburn and the other rebel agents in Canada speak of this infernal project, and by the testimony of Mr. Wall, the well-known auctioneer of this city, whose character is unquestioned, that he received this importation of pestilence (of course without any knowledge of the purpose), and that Hyams consigned the goods to him in the name of J. W. Harris, a fact in itself an acknowledgment of guilt; and that he received, afterward, a letter front Harris, dated Toronto, Canada West, December 1, 1864, wherein Harris stated that he had not been able to come to the States since his return to Canada, and asked for an account of the sale. He identifies the Godfrey Joseph Hyams, who testified in court as the J. W. Harris who imported the pestilence. The very transaction shows that Hyams' statement is truthful. He gives the names of the parties connected with this infamy (Clement C. Clay; Dr. Blackburn, Rev. Dr. Stuart Robinson, J. C. Holcombe, all refugees from the Confederacy in Canada) and states that he gave Thompson a receipt for the fifty dollars paid to him, and that he was by occupation a shoemaker; in none of which facts is there an attempt to discredit him. It is not probable that a man in his position in life would be able to buy five trunks of clothing, ship them all the way from Halifax to Washington, and then order them to be sold at auction, without regard to price, solely upon his own account. It its a matter of notoriety that a part of his statement is verified by the results at Newbern, North Carolina, to which points he says, a portion of the infected goods were shipped, through a sutler, the result of which was that nearly two thousand citizens and soldiers died there, about that time, with the yellow fever.
That the rebel chief, Jefferson Davis, sanctioned these crimes, committed and attempted through the instrumentality of his accredited agents in Canada--Thompson, Clay, Tucker, Sanders, Cleary, etc--upon the persons and property of the people of the North, there is positive proof on your record. The letter brought from Richmond, and taken from the archives of his late pretended Government there, dated February 11, 1865, and addressed to him by a late rebel Senator from Texas, W. S. Oldliam, contains the following significant words:
No one can doubt, from the tenor of this letter, that the rebel Davis only wanted to be satisfied that this system of arson and murder could be carried on by his agents in the North successfully and without detection. With him it was not a crime to do these acts, but only a crime to be detected in them. But Davis, by his endorsement on this letter, I dated the 20th of February, 1865, bears witness to his own complicity and his own infamy in this proposed work of destruction and crime for the future, as well as to his complicity in what had before been attempted without complete success. Kennedy, with his confederates, had failed to burn the city of New York. "The combustibles" which Kennedy had employed were, it seems, defective. This was another "difficulty to be overcome." Neither had he been able to consummate the dreadful work without subjecting himself to detection. This was another “difficulty to be overcome." Davis, on the 20th of February, 1865, indorsed upon this letter these words: "Secretary of State, at his convenience, see General Harris, and learn what plan he has for overcoming the difficulties heretofore experienced. J. D."
This endorsement is unquestionably proved to be the handwriting of Jefferson Davis, and it bears witness on its face that the monstrous, proposition met his approval, and that he desired his rebel Secretary of State, Benjamin, to see General Harris and learn how to overcome the difficulty heretofore experienced, to wit: the inefficiency of "the combustible materials" that had been employed, and the liability of its agents to detection. After this, who will doubt that he had endeavored, by the hand of incendiaries, to destroy by fire the property and lives of the people of the North, and thereby "fill them with terror and consternation;” that he knew his agents had been unsuccessful; that he knew his agents had been detected in their villainy and punished for their crime. That he desired, through a more perfect "chemical preparation," by the science and skill of Professor McCulloch, to accomplish successfully what had before been unsuccessfully attempted?
The intercepted letter of his agent, Clement C. Clay, dated St. Catharine's, Canada West November 1, 1864, is an acknowledgment and confession of what they had attempted, and a suggestion made through J. P. Benjamin, rebel Secretary of State, of what remained to be done, in order to make the "chemical preparations" efficient. Speaking of this Bennett H. Young, he says: "You have doubtless learned through the press of the United States, of the, raid on St. Alban's by about twenty-five Confederate soldiers, led by Lieutenant Bennett H, Young; of their attempt and failure to burn the town; of their robbery of three bank at here of the aggregate amount of about two hundred thousand dollars; of their arrest in Canada by United States forces; of their commitment and the pending preliminary trial." He makes application, in aid of Young and his associates, for additional documents, showing that they acted upon the authority of the Confederate States Government, taking care to say, however, that he held such authority at the time, but that it ought to be more explicit so far to regards the particular sets complained of. He states that he met Young at Halifax in May, 1864, who developed his plans for retaliation on the enemy; that he, Clay, recommended him to the rebel Secretary of war; that after this "Young was sent back by the Secretary of War with a commission an Second Lieutenant to execute his plans and purposes, but to report to Hon.--- and myself." Young afterward “proposed passing through New England, burning same towns and robbing them of whatever he could convert to the use of the Confederate Government. This I approved as justifiable retaliation. He attempted to burn the town of St. Alban's, Vermont, and would have succeeded but for the failure of the chemical preparation with which he was armed. He then robbed the banks of funds amounting to over two hundred thousand dollars. That he was not prompted by selfish or mercenary motives, I am as well satisfied as I am that he is an honest man he assured me before going that his effort would be to destroy towns and farmhouses, but not to plunder or rob; but he said if after firing a town, he saw he could take funds from a bank or any house, and thereby might inflict injury upon the enemy and benefit his own Government, he would do so. He added most emphatically, that whatever he took should be turned over to the Government or its representatives in foreign lands. My instructions to him were, to destroy whatever was valuable; not to stop to rob, but if, after firing town, he could seize and carry off money or treasury or bank notes, he might do so upon condition that they were delivered to the proper authorities of the Confederate States"--that is, to Clay himself.
When he wrote this letter, it seems that this accredited agent of Jefferson Davis was strongly impressed with the usurpation and despotism of Mr. Lincoln's administration as some of the of as advocates of his aiders and abettors seem to be at this day; and he indulges in the following statement: "All that a large portion of the Northern people, especially in the Northwest, want to resist the oppressions of the despotism at Washington, is a leader. They are ripe for resistance, and it may come soon after the Presidential election. At all events, it must come, if our armies are not overcome, or destroyed, or dispersed. No people of the Anglo-Saxon blood can long endure the usurpations and tyrannies of Lincoln." Clay does not sign the dispatch, but indorses the bearer of it as a person who can identify him and give his name. The bearer of that letter was the witness, Richard Montgomery, who saw Clay write a portion of the letter, and received it from his hands, and subsequently delivered it to the Assistant Secretary of War of the United States, Mr. Dana. That the letter is in Clay's handwriting is clearly proved by those familiar with it. Mr. Montgomery testifies that he was instructed by Clay to deliver this letter to Benjamin, the Rebel Secretary of State, if he could get through to Richmond, and to tell him what names to put in the blanks.
This letter leaves no doubt, if any before existed in the mind of any one who had read the letter of Oldham, and Davis' endorsement thereon, that "the chemical preparations" and "combustible materials" had been tried and had failed, and it had become a matter of great moment and concern that they should be so prepared as, in the words of Davis, "to overcome the difficulties heretofore experienced;" that is to say, complete the work of destruction, and secure the perpetrators against personal injury or detection in the performance of it.
It only remains to be seen whether Davis, the procurer of arson and of the indiscriminate murder of the innocent and unoffending, necessarily resultant therefrom, was capable also of endeavoring to procure, and in fact did procure the murder, by direct assassination, of the President of the United States and others charged with the duty of maintaining the Government of the United States, and of suppressing the rebellion in which this arch-traitor and conspirator was engaged.
The official papers of Davis, captured under the guns of our victorious army in his rebel capital, identified beyond question or shadow of doubt, and placed upon your record, together with the declarations and acts of his co-conspirators and agents, proclaim to all the world that he was capable of attempting to accomplish his treasonable procuration of the murder of the late President, and other chief officers of the United States, by the hands of hired assassins.
In the fall of 1864, Lieutenant W. Alston addresses to
a letter, now before the Court, which contains the
“I now offer you my services, and if you will favor me in my designs, I will proceed, as soon as my health will permit, to rid my country of some of her deadliest enemies, by striking at the very hearts' blood of those who seek to enchain her in slavery. I consider nothing dishonorable having such a tendency. All I ask of you is, to favor me by granting me the necessary papers, etc., to travel on. * * * I am perfectly familiar with the North, and feel confident that I can execute anything I undertake. I was in the raid last June in Kentucky, under General John H. Morgan; * * * was taken prisoner; *** escaped from them by dressing myself in the garb of a citizen. *** I went through to the Canadas, from whence, by the assistance of Colonel J. F. Holcomb, I succeeded in working my way around and through the blockade. * * * I should like to have a personal interview with you in order to perfect the arrangements before starting."
Is there any room to doubt that this was a proposition to assassinate, by the band of this man and his associates, such persons in the North as he deemed the "deadliest enemies" of the rebellion? The weakness of the man who for a moment can doubt that such was the proposition of the writer of this letter, is certainly an object of commiseration. What had Jefferson Davis to say to this proposed assassination of the "deadliest enemies" in the North of his great treason? Did the atrocious suggestion kindle in him indignation against the villain who offered, with his own hand, to strike the blow? Not at all. On the contrary, he ordered his private secretary, on the 29th of November, 1864, to indorse upon the letter these words: "Lieutenant W. Alston; accompanied raid into Kentucky, and was captured, but escaped into Canada from whence he found his way back. Now offers his services to rid the country of some of its deadliest enemies; asks for papers, etc. Respectfully referred, by direction of the President, to the honorable Secretary of War." It is also indorsed for attention, "By order. (Signed) J. A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War."
Note the fact in this connection, that Jefferson Davis himself, as well as his subordinates, had, before the date of this endorsement, concluded that Abraham Lincoln was "the deadliest enemy " of the rebellion. You hear it in the rebel camp in Virginia in 1868, declared by Booth, then and there present, and assented to by rebel officers, that "Abraham Lincoln must be killed." You hear it in that slaughter pen in Georgia, Andersonville, proclaimed among rebel officers, who, by the slow torture of starvation, inflicted cruel and untimely death on ten thousand of your defenders, captives in their hands--whispering, like demons, their horrid purpose, "Abraham Lincoln must be killed." And in Canada, the accredited agents of Jefferson Davis, as early as October, 1864, and afterward, declared that "Abraham Lincoln must be killed " if his re-election could not be prevented. These agents in Canada, on the 13th of October, 1864, delivered, in cipher, to be transmitted to Richmond by Richard Montgomery, the witness, whose reputation is unchallenged, the following communication:
"OCTOBER 13, 1864.
We again urge the immense necessity of our gaining immediate advantages. Strain every nerve for victory. We now look upon I the re-election of Lincoln in November as almost certain, and we need to whip his hirelings to prevent it. Besides, with Lincoln re-elected, and his armies victorious, we need not hope even for recognition, much less the help mentioned in our last.. Holcomb will explain this. Those figures of the Yankee armies are correct to a tin it. Our friends shall be immediately set to work as you direct."
To which an official reply, in cipher, was delivered to
an agent of the state department in Richmond, dated
October 19, 1864,
“Your letter of the 13th instant is at hand. There is yet time enough to colonize many voters before November. A blow will shortly be stricken here. It is not quite time. General Longstreet is to attack Sheridan without delay, and then move north as far as practicable toward unprotected points. This will be made instead of movement before mentioned. He will endeavor to assist the Republicans in collecting their ballots. Be watchful and assist him."
On the very day of the date of this Richmond dispatch Sheridan was attacked, with what success history will declare. The Court will not fail to notice that the re-election of Mr. Lincoln is to be prevented if possible, by any and every means. Nor will they fail to notice that Holcomb is to "explain this "--the same person who, in Canada, was the friend and advisor of Alston, who proposed to Davis the assassination of the "deadliest enemies" of the rebellion.
In the dispatch of the 13th of October, which was borne by Montgomery, and transmitted to Richmond in October last, you will find these words: "Our friends shall be immediately set to work as you direct." Mr. Lincoln is the subject of that dispatch. Davis is therein notified that his agents in Canada look upon the reelection of Mr. Lincoln in November as almost certain. In this connection he is assured by those agents, that the friends of their cause are to be set to work as Davis had directed. The conversations, which are proved by witnesses whose character stands unimpeached, disclose what "work " the "friends " were to do under the direction of Davis himself. Who were these "friends," and what was "the work " which his agents, Thompson, Clay, Tucker and Sanders had been directed to set them at? Let Thompson answer for himself. In a conversation with Richard Montgomery in the summer of 1864, Thompson said that he had his friends, confederates, all over the Northern States, who were ready and willing to go any lengths for the good of the cause of the South, and be could at any time have the tyrant Lincoln, or any other of his advisers that he chose, put out of his way; that they would not consider it a crime when done for the cause of the Confederacy." This conversation was repeated by the witness in the summer of 1864 to Clement C. Clay, who immediately stated: "That is so; we are all devoted to our cause and ready to go any length--do anything under the sun."
At and about the time that these declarations of Clay and Thompson were made, Alston, who made the proposition, as we have seen, to Davis, to be furnished with papers to go North and rid the Confederacy of some of its "deadliest enemies," was in Canada. He was doubtless one of the "friends " referred to. As appears by the testimony of Montgomery, Payne, the prisoner at your bar, was about that time in Canada, and was seen standing by Thompson's door, engaged in a conversation with Clay, between whom and the witness some words were interchanged, when Clay stated he (Payne) was one of their friends--“we trust him." It is proved beyond a shadow of doubt that in October last John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of the President, was also in Canada, and upon intimate terms with Thompson, Clay, Sanders, and other rebel agents. Who can doubt in the light of the events which have transpired, that he was one of the "friends" to be "set to work," as Davis had already directed--not, perhaps, as yet to assassinate the President, but to do that other work which is suggested in the letter of Oldham, indorsed by Davis in his own hand, and spread upon your record--the work of the secret incendiary, which was to "fill the people of the North with terror and consternation." The other "work" spoken of by Thompson--putting the tyrant Lincoln and any of his advisers out of the way, was work doubtless to be commenced only after the election of Mr. Lincoln, which they had already declared in their dispatch to their employer, Davis, was with them a foregone conclusion. At all events, it was not until after the Presidential election in November that Alston proposed to Davis to go North on the work of assassination; nor was it until after that election that Booth was found in possession of the letter which is in evidence, and which discloses the purpose to assassinate the President. Being assured, however, when Booth was with them in Canada, as they had already declared in their dispatch, that the re-election of Mr. Lincoln was certain, in which event there would be no hope for the Confederacy, they doubtless entered into the arrangement with Booth as one of their “ friends " that as soon as that fact was determined he should go "to work," and as soon as might be “rid the Confederacy of the tyrant Lincoln and of his advisers."
That these persons named upon your record, Thompson, Sanders, Clay, Cleary and Tucker, were the agents of Jefferson Davis, is another fact established in this case beyond a doubt. They made affidavit of it themselves, of record here, upon the examination of their "friends," charged with the raid upon St. Albans, before Judge Smith, in Canada. It is in evidence, also, by the letter of Clay, before referred to.
The testimony, to which I have thus briefly referred, shows, by the letter of his agents, of the 13th of October, that Davis had before directed those agents to set his friends to work. By the letter of Clay it seems that his direction had been obeyed, and his friends had been set to work, in the burning and robbery and murder at St. Albans, in the attempt to burn the city of New York, and in the attempt to introduce pestilence into this capital and into the house of the President. It having appeared, by the letter of Alston, and the endorsement thereon, that Davis had in November entertained the proposition of sending agents, that is to say, “friends," to the North, to not only "spread terror and consternation among the people" by means of his "chemical preparations," but also, in the words of that letter, "to strike," by the hands of assassins, "at the heart's blood" of the deadliest enemies in the North to the confederacy of traitors; it has also appeared by the testimony of many respectable witnesses, among others the attorneys who represented the people of the United States and the State of Vermont, in the preliminary trial of the raiders in Canada, that Clay, Thompson, Tucker, Sanders and Cleary declared themselves the agents of the Confederacy. It also clearly appears by the correspondence referred to, and the letter of Clay, that they were holding, and at any time able to command, blank commissions from Jefferson Davis to authorize their friends to do whatever work they appointed them to do, in the interests of the rebellion, by the destruction of life and property in the North.
If a prima facie case justifies, as we have seen by the law of evidence it does, the introduction of all declarations and acts of any of the parties to a conspiracy, uttered or done in the prosecution of the common design, as evidence against all the rest, it results, that whatever was said or done in furtherance of the common design, after this month of October, 1864, by either of these agents in Canada, is evidence not only against themselves, but against Davis as well, of his complicity with them in the conspiracy.
Mr. Montgomery testifies that he met Jacob Thompson in January, at Montreal, when he said that "a proposition had been made to him to rid the world of the tyrant Lincoln, Stanton, Grant, and some others; that he knew the men who had made the proposition were bold, daring men, able to execute what they undertook; that he himself was in favor of the proposition, but had determined to defer his answer until he had consulted his government at Richmond; that he was then only awaiting their approval." This was about the middle of January, and consequently more than a mouth after Alston had made his proposition direct to Davis, in writing, to go North and rid their Confederacy of some of its "deadliest enemies." It was at the time of this conversation that Payne, the prisoner, was seen by the witness standing at Thompson's door in conversation with Clay. This witness also shows the intimacy between Thompson, Clay, Cleary, Tucker, and Sanders.
A few days after the assassination of the President, Beverley Tucker said to this witness "that President Lincoln deserved his death long ago; that it was a pity he didn't have it long ago, and it was too bad that the boys had not been allowed to act when they wanted to."
This remark undoubtedly had reference to the propositions made in the fall to Thompson, and also to Davis, to rid the South of its deadliest enemies by their assassination. Cleary, who was accredited by Thompson as his confidential agent, also stated to this witness that Booth was one of the party to whom Thompson had referred in the conversation in Jauuary, in which he said he knew the men who were ready to rid the world of the tyrant Lincoln, and of Stanton and Grant. Cleary also said, speaking of the assassination, "that it was a pity that the whole work had not been done," and added, "they had better look out-we are not done yet;" manifestly referring to the statement made by his employer, Thompson, before in the summer, that not only the tyrant Lincoln, but Stanton and Grant, and others of his advisers, should be put out of the way. Cleary also stated to this witness that Booth had visited Thompson twice in the winter, the last time in December, and had also been there in the summer.
Sanford Conover testified that he bad been for some time a clerk in the war department at Richmond; that in Canada he knew Thompson, Sanders, Cleary, Tucker, Clay, and other rebel agents; that he knew John H. Surratt and John Wilkes Booth: that he saw Booth there upon one occasion, and John H. Surratt upon several successive days; that he saw Surratt (whom he describes) in April last, in Thompson's room, and also in company with Sanders; that about the 6th or 7th of April Surratt delivered to Jacob Thompson a dispatch brought by him from Benjamin, at Richmond, enclosing one in cipher from Davis. Thompson had before this proposed to Conover to engage in a plot to assassinate President Lincoln and his cabinet, and on this occasion he laid his hand upon these dispatches and said, "This makes the thing all right," referring to the assent of the rebel authorities, and stated that the rebel authorities had consented to the plot to assassinate Lincoln, Johnson, the Secretary of War, Secretary of State, Judge Chase, and General Grant. Thompson remarked further that the assassination of these parties would leave the Government of the United States entirely without a head; that there was no provision in the Constitution of the United States by which they could elect another President, if these men were put out of the way.
In speaking of this assassination of the President and others, Thompson said that it was only removing them from office, that the killing of a tyrant was no murder. It seems that he had learned precisely the same lesson that Alston had learned in November, when he communicated with Davis, and said, speaking of the President's assassination, "he did not think anything dishonorable that would serve their cause." Thompson stated at the same time that he had conferred a commission on Booth, and that everybody engaged in the enterprise would be commissioned, and if it succeeded, or failed, and they escaped into Canada, they could not be reclaimed under the extradition treaty. The fact that Thompson and other rebel agents held blank commissions, as I have said, has been proved, and a copy of one of them is of record here.
This witness also testifies to a conversation with William C. Cleary, shortly after the surrender of Lee's army, and on the day before the President's assassination, at the St. Lawrence Hotel, Montreal, when, speaking of the rejoicing in the States over the capture of Richmond, Cleary said, "they would put the laugh on the other side of their mouth in a day or two." These parties knew that Conover was in the secret of the assassination, and talked with him about it as freely as they would speak of the weather. Before the assassination he had a conversation, also, with Sanders, who asked him if he knew Booth well, and expressed some apprehension that Booth would "make a failure of it; that he was desperate and reckless, and he was afraid the whole thing would prove a failure."
Dr. James B. Merritt testifies that George Young, one of the parties named in the record, declared in his presence, in Canada, last fall, that Lincoln should never be inaugurated; that they had friends in Washington, who, I suppose, were some of the same friends referred to in the dispatch of October 13, and whom Davis had directed them "to set to work." George N. Sanders also said to him "that Lincoln would keep himself mighty close if he did serve another term;" while Steele and other confederates declared that the tyrant never should serve another term. He heard the assassination discussed at a meeting of these rebel agents in Montreal in February last. "Sanders said they had plenty of money to accomplish the assassination, and named over a number of persons who were ready and willing to engage in undertaking to remove the President, Vice-President, the Cabinet, and some of the leading generals. At this meeting he read a letter, which he had received from Davis, which justified him in making any arrangements that he could to accomplish the object." This letter the witness heard read, and it, in substance, declared that if the people in Canada, and the Southerners in the States, were willing to submit to be governed by such a tyrant as Lincoln, he didn't wish to recognize them as friends. The letter was read openly; it was also handed to Colonel Steele, George Young, Hill and Scott to be read. This was about the middle of February last. At this meeting Sanders named over the persons who were willing to accomplish the assassination, and among the persons thus named was Booth, whom the witness had seen in Canada in October; also, George Harper, one of the conspirators named on the record, Caldwell, Randall, Harrison and Surratt.
The witness understood, from the reading of the letter, that if the President, Vice-President and Cabinet could be disposed of, it would satisfy the people of the North that the Southerners had friends in the North; that a peace could be obtained on better terms; that the rebels had endeavored to bring about a war between the United States and England, and that Mr. Seward, through his energy and sagacity, had thwarted all their efforts; that was given as a reason for removing him. On the 5th or 6th of last April this witness met George Harper, Caldwell, Randall, and others, who are spoken of in this meeting, at Montreal, as engaged to assassinate the President and Cabinet, when Harper said they were going to the States to make a row, such as had never been heard of, and added, that "if I (the witness) did not hear of the death of Old Abe, of the Vice. President and of General Dix in less than ten days, I might put him down as a fool. That was on the 6th of April. He mentioned that Booth was in Washington at that time he said they had plenty of friends in Washington and that some fifteen or twenty were going.
This witness ascertained, on the 8th of April, that Harper and others had left for the States. The proof is, that these parties could come through to Washington, from Montreal or Toronto, in thirty-six hours. They did come, and within the ten days named by Harper, the President was murdered! Some attempts have been made to discredit this witness (Dr. Merritt), not by the examination of witnesses in court, not by any apparent want of truth in the testimony, but by the experts statements of these rebel agents in Canada, and their hired advocates in the United States. There is a statement upon the record, verified by in official communication from the War Department which shows the truthfulness of this witness and that is, that, before the assassination, learning that Harper and his associates had started for the States, informed, as he was, of their purpose to assassinate the President, Cabinet and leading generals, Merritt deemed it his duty to call, and did call, on the 10th of April, upon a Justice of the Peace, in Canada, named Davidson, and gave him the information, that he might take steps to stop these proceedings. The correspondence on this subject with Davidson has been brought into Court. Dr. Merritt testifies, further, that after this meeting in Montreal he had a conversation with Clement C. Clay, in Toronto, about the letter from Jefferson Davis, which Sanders had exhibited, in which conversation Clay gave the witness to understand that he knew the nature of the letter perfectly, and remarked that he thought "the end would justify the means." The witness also testifies to the presence of Booth with Sanders in Montreal, last fall, and of Surratt in Toronto in February last.
The Court must be satisfied, by the manner of this and other witnesses to the transactions in Canada, as well as by the fact that they are wholly uncontradicted in any material matter that they state, that they speak the truth, and that the several parties named on your record (Davis, Thompson, Cleary, Tucker, Clay, Young, Harper, Booth and John H. Surratt), did combine and conspire together, in Canada, to kill and murder Abraham Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, William H. Seward and Ulysses S. Grant. That this agreement was substantially entered into by Booth and the agents of Davis in Canada as early as October there can not be any doubt. The language of Thompson at that time, and before, was that he was in favor of the assassination. His further language was, that he knew the men who were ready to do it; and Booth, it is shown, was there at that time, and, as Thompson's secretary says, was one of the men referred to by Thompson.
The fact that others, beside the parties named on the record, were, by the terms of the conspiracy, to be assassinated, in nowise affects the case now on trial. If it is true that these parties did conspire to murder other parties, so well as those named upon the record, the substance of the charge is proved.
It is also true that, if, in pursuance of that conspiracy, Booth confederated with Surratt and the accused, killed and murdered Abraham Lincoln, the charge and specification is proved literally, as stated on your record, although their conspiracy embraced other persons. In law the case stands, though it may appear that the conspiracy was to kill and murder the parties named in the record and others not named in the record. If the proof is that the accused, with Booth, Surratt, Davis, etc., conspired to kill and murder one or more of the persons named the charge of conspiracy is proved.
The declaration of Sanders, as proved, that there was plenty of money to carry out this assassination, is very strongly corroborated by the testimony of Mr. Campbell, cashier of the Ontario Bank, who states that Thompson, during the current year preceding the assassination, had upon deposit, in the Montreal Branch of the Ontario Bank, six hundred and forty nine thousand dollars, beside large sums to his credit in other banks in the province.
There is a further corroboration of the testimony of Conover as to the meeting of Thompson and Surratt in Montreal, and the delivery of the dispatches from Richmond, on the 6th or 7th of April, first, in the fact, which is shown by the testimony of Cheater, that in the winter, or spring, Booth said he himself, or some other party, must go to Richmond; and, second, by the letter of Arnold, dated 27th of March last, that he preferred Booth's first query, that he would first go to Richmond and see how they would take it, manifestly alluding to the proposed assassination of the President. It does not follow, because Davis had written a letter in February, which, in substance, approved the general object, that the parties were fully satisfied with it; because it is clear there was to be some arrangement made about the funds; and it is also clear that Davis had not before as distinctly approved and sanctioned this act " his agents, either in Canada or here, desired Booth said to Chester, "We must have money; there in money in this business, and, if you will enter into it, I will place three thousand dollars at the disposal of your family; but I have no money myself, and must go to Richmond," or one of the parties must go, "to get money to carry out the enterprise." This was one of the arrangements that was to be "made right in Canada." The funds at Thompson's disposal, as the banker testifies, were exclusively raised by drafts of the Secretary of the Treasury of the Confederate States upon London, deposited in their bank to the credit of Thompson.
Accordingly, about the 27th of March, Surratt did go to Richmond. On the 3d of April he returned to Washington, and the same day left for Canada. Before leaving, he stated to Weichmann that when in Richmond he had had a conversation with Davis and with Benjamin. The fact in this connection is not to be overlooked, that on or about the day Surratt arrived in Montreal, April 6th, Jacob Thompson, as the cashier of the Ontario Bank states, drew of these Confederate funds the sum of one hundred and eighty thousand dollars in the form of certificates, which, as the bank officer testifies, "might be used anywhere."
What more is wanting? Surely no word further need be spoken to show that John Wilkes Booth was in this conspiracy; that John H. Surratt was in this conspiracy; and that Jefferson Davis and his several agents names in Canada, were in this conspiracy. If any additional evidence is wanting to show the complicity of Davis in it, let the paper found in the possession of his hired assassin, Booth, come to bear witness against him. That paper contained the secret cipher which Davis used in his State Department at Richmond, which he employed in communicating with his agents in Canada, and which they employed in the letter of October 13th, notifying him that " their friends would be set to work as he had directed." The letter in cipher found in Booth's possession, is translated here by the use of the cipher machine now in Court, which, as the testimony of Mr. Dans shows, he brought from the rooms of Davis' State Department in Richmond. Who gave Booth this secret cipher ? Of what use was it to him if he was not in confederation with Davis?
But there is one other item of testimony that ought, among honest and intelligent people at all conversant with this evidence, to end all further inquiry as to whether Jefrerson Davis was one of the parties, with Booth, as charged upon this record, in the conspiracy to assassinate the President and others. That is, that on the fifth day after the "assassination, in the city of Charlotte, North Carolina, a telegraphic dispatch was received by him, at the house of Mr. Bates, from John C. Breckinridge, his rebel Secretary of War, which dispatch is produced here, identified by the telegraph agent, and placed upon your record in the words following:
April 19, 1865.
At the time this dispatch was handed to him, Davis was addressing a meeting from the steps of Mr. Bates' house, and after reading the dispatch to the people, he said; "If it were to be done, it were better it were well done." Shortly afterward, in the house of the witness, in the same city, Breckinridge, having come to see Davis, stated his regret that the occurrence had happened, because he deemed it unfortunate for the people of the South at that time. Davis replied, referring to the assassination, "Well, General, I don't know; if it were to be done at all, it were better that it were well done; and if the same had been done to Andy Johnson, the beast, and to Secretary Stanton, the job would then be complete."
Accomplished as this man was in all the arts of a conspirator, he was not equal to the task- as happily, in the good providence of God, no mortal man is- of concealing, by any form of words, any great crime which he may have meditated or perpetrated either against his Government or his fellow-men. It was doubtless furthest from Jefferson Davis' purpose to make confession. His guilt demanded utterance; that demand he could not resist; therefore his words proclaimed his guilt, in spite of his purpose to conceal it. He said, "If it were to be done, it were better it were well done." Would any man, ignorant of the conspiracy, be able to devise and fashion such a form of speech as that? Had not the President been murdered? Had he not reason to believe that the Secretary of State had been mortally wounded? Yet he was not satisfied, but was compelled to say, " it were better it were well done"? that is to say, all that had been agreed to be done had not been done. Two days afterward, in his conversation with Breckinridge, he not only repeats the; same form of expression?-if it were to be done it were better it were "-but adds these words: "And if the same had been done to Andy Johnson, the beast, and to Secretary Stanton, the job would then be complete." He would accept the assassination of the President, the Vice-President, of the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of War, as a complete execution of the "job" which he had given out: upon contract, and which he had "made all right," so far as the pay was concerned, by the dispatches he had sent to Thompson by Surratt, one of his hired assassins. Whatever may be the conviction of others, my own conviction is that Jefferson Davis is as clearly proven guilty of this conspiracy, as is John Wilkes Booth, by whose hand Jefferson Davis inflicted the mortal wound upon Abraham Lincoln. His words of intense hate, and rage, and disappointment, are not to be overlooked-that the assassins had not done their work well; that they had not succeeded in robbing the people altogether of their Constitutional Executive and his advisers; and hence he exclaims, “If they had killed Andy Johnson, the beast!" Neither can he conceal his chagrin and disappointment that the War Minister of the Republic, whose energy, incorruptible integrity, sleepless vigilance, and executive ability had organized day by day, month by month, and year by year, victory for our arms, had escaped the knife of the hired assassins. The job, says this procurer of assassination, was not well done; it had been better if it had been well done! Because Abraham Lincoln had been clear in his great office, and had saved the nation's life by enforcing the nation's laws, this traitor declares he must be murdered; because Mr. Seward, as the foreign Secretary of the country, had thwarted the purposes of treason to plunge his country into a war with England, he must be murdered; because, upon the murder of Mr. Lincoln, Andrew Johnson would succeed to the Presidency, and because he had been true to the Constitution and Government, faithful found among the faithless of his own State, clinging to the falling pillars of the Republic when others had fled, he must be murdered and because the Secretary of War had taken care by the faithful discharge of his duties, that the Republic should live and not die, he must be murdered. Inasmuch as these two faithful officers were not also assassinated, assuming that the Secretary of State was mortally wounded, Davis could not conceal his disappointment and chagrin that the work was not "well done," that the "job was not complete!"
Thus it appears by the testimony that the proposition
was to kill and murder the deadliest enemies of the
kidnap them, as is now pretended here; that by the
Tucker, Thompson, Clay, Cleary, Harper, and Young, the
Canada, the agreement and combination among them was to
kill and murder
Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward, Andrew Johnson,
Ulysses S. Grant,
M. Stanton, and others of his advisors, and not to
kidnap them; it
from every utterance of John Wilkes Booth, as well as
from the Charles
Selby letter, of which mention will presently be made,
that, as early
November, the proposition with him was to kill and
Since the first examination of Conover, who testified, as the Court will remember, to many important facts against these conspirators and agents of Davis in Canada, among other the terrible and fiendish plot, disclosed by Thompson, Pallen, and others, that they had ascertained the volume of water in the reservoir supplying New York city, estimated the quantity of poison required to render it deadly, and intended thus to poison a whole city, Conover returned to Canada, by direction of this Court, for the purpose of obtaining certain documentary evidence. There, about the 9th of June, he met Beverley Tucker, Sanders, and other conspirators, and conversed with them. Tucker declared that Secretary Stanton, whom he denounced as "a scoundrel," and Judge Holt, whom he called "a bloodthirsty villain," could protect themselves, as long as they remained in office, by a guard, but that would not always be the case, and, by the Eternal! he had a large account to settle with them." After this, the evidence of Conover here having been published, these parties called upon him, and asked him whether he bad been to Washington and had testified before this Court. Conover denied it; they insisted, and took him to a room, where, with drawn pistols, they compelled him to consent to make an affidavit that he had been falsely personated here by another, and that he would make that affidavit before a Mr. Kerr, who would witness it. They then called in Mr. Kerr to certify to the public that Conover had made such a denial. They also compelled this witness to furnish, for publication, an advertisement, offering a reward of five hundred dollars for the arrest of the "infamous and perjured scoundrel" who had recently personated James W. Wallace under the name of Sanford Conover, and testified to a tissue of falsehoods before the Military Commission at Washington which advertisement was published in the papers.
To these facts Mr. Conover now testifies, and also discloses the fact that these same men published, in the report of the proceedings before Judge Smith, an affidavit purporting to be his, but which he never made. The affidavit which he in fact made, and which was published in a newspaper at that time, produced here, is set out substantially upon your record, and agrees with the testimony upon the same point given by him in this Court.
To suppose that Conover ever made such an affidavit, voluntarily, as the one wrung from him as stated, is impossible. Would he advertise for his own arrest, and charge himself with falsely personating himself? But the fact can not evade observation, that, when these guilty conspirators saw Conover's testimony before this Court in the public prints, revealing to the world the atrocious plots of these felon conspirators, conscious of the truthfulness of his statements, they cast about at once for some defense before the public, and devised the foolish and stupid invention of compelling him to make an affidavit that he was not Sanford Conover, was not in this Court, never gave this testimony, but was a practicing lawyer in Montreal! This infamous proceeding, coupled with the evidence before detailed, stamps these ruffian plotters with the guilt of this conspiracy.
John Wilkes Booth having entered into this conspiracy in Canada, as has been shown, as early as October, he is next found in the city of New York, on the 11th day, as I claim, of November, in disguise, in conversation with another, the conversation disclosing to the witness, Mrs. Hudspeth, that they had some matter of personal interest between them; that upon one of them the lot had fallen to go to Washington; upon the other to go to Newbern. This witness, upon being shown the photograph of Booth, swears "that the face is the same " as that of one of those men, who, she says, was a young man of education and culture, as disappeared by his conversation, and who had a sear, like a bite, near the jaw-bone. It is a fact proved here by the Surgeon-General, that Booth had such a scar on the side of his neck. Mrs. Hudspeth heard him say he would leave for Washington the day after to-morrow. His companion appeared angry because it had not fallen on him to go to Washington. This took place after the Presidential election in November. She can not fix the precise date, but says she was told that General Butler left New York on that day. The testimony discloses that General Butler's army was, on the 11th of November, leaving New York. The register of the National Hotel shows that Booth left Washington on the early morning train, November 11, and that he returned to this city on the l4th. Chester testifies positively to Booth's presence in New York early in November. This testimony shows most conclusively that Booth was in New York on the 11th of November. The early morning train on which he left Washington would reach New York early in the afternoon of that day. Chester saw him there early in November, and Mrs. Hudspeth not only identifies his picture, but describes his person. The sear upon his neck, near his jaw, was peculiar, and is well described by the witness as like a bite. On that day Booth had a letter in his possession which he accidentally dropped in the street car in the presence of Mrs. Hudspeth, the witness, who delivered it to Major-General Dix the same day, and by whom, as his letter on file before this Court shows, the same was transmitted to the War Department, November 17, 1864. That letter contains these words :
"DEAR LOUIS: The time has at last come that we have all so wished for, and upon you every thing depends. As it was decided, before you left, we were to cast lots; we accordingly did so, and you tire to be the Charlotte Corday of the 19th century. When you remember the fearful, solemn vow that was taken bv us, you will feel there is no drawback. Abe must die, and now. You can choose your weapons-the cup, the knife, the bullet. The cup failed us once, and might again. Johnson, who will give this, has been like an enraged demon since the meeting, because it has not fallen upon him to rid the world of the monster. * * * You know where to find your friends. Your disguises are so perfect and complete, that, without one knew your face, no police telegraphic dispatch would catch you. The English gentleman, Harcourt, must not act hastily. Remember he has ten days. Strike for your home, strike for your country; bide your time,but strike sure. Get introduced; congratulate him; listen to his stories (no, many more will the brute tell to earthly friends); do anything but fail, and meet us at the appointed place within the fortnight. You will probably bear from me in Washington. 'Sanders is doing us no good in Canada. "CHAS. SELBY."
The learned gentleman (Mr. Cox), in his very able and carefully considered argument in defense of O'Laughlen and Arnold, attached importance to this letter, and, doubtless, very clearly saw its bearing upon the case, and, therefore, undertook to show that the witness, Mrs. Hudspeth, must be mistaken as to the person of Booth. The gentleman assumes that the letter of General Dix, of the 17th of November last, transmitting this letter to the War Department, reads that the party who dropped the letter was heard to say that he would start to Washington on Friday night next, although the word "next" is not in the letter; neither is it in the quotation which the gentleman makes, for he quotes it fairly; yet he concludes that this would be the l8th of November.
Now, the fact is, the 11th of November last was Friday, and the register of the National Hotel bears witness that Mrs. Hudspeth is not mistaken; because her language is, that Booth said he would leave for Washington day after to-morrow, which would be Sunday, the 13th, and if in the evening, would bring him to Washington on Monday, the l4th of November, the day on which, the register shows, he did return to the National Hotel. As to the improbability which the gentleman raises, on the conversation happening in a streetcar, crowded with people, there was nothing that transpired. Although the conversation was earnest, which enabled the witness, or could have enabled any one, in the absence of this letter, or of the subsequent conduct of Booth, to form the least; idea of the subject-matter of their conversation. The gentleman does not deal altogether fairly in his remarks touching the letter of General Dix ; because, upon a careful examination of the letter, it will be found that he did not form any such judgment as that it was a hoax for the Sunday Mercury, but he took care to forward it to the Department, and asked attention to it; when, as appears by the testimony of the Assistant Secretary of War, Mr., Dana, the letter was delivered to Mr. Lincoln, who considered it important enough to indorse it with the word "Assassination," and file it in his office, where it was found after the commission of this crime, and brought into this Court to bear witness against his assassins.
Although this letter would imply that the assassination spoken of was to take place speedily, yet the party was to bide his time. Though be had entered into the preliminary arrangements in Canada; although conspirators had doubtless agreed to co-operate with him in the commission of the crime, and lots had been cast for the chief part in the bloody drama, yet it remained for him, as the leader and principal of the hired assassins, by whose hand their employers were to strike the murderous blow, to collect about him and bring to Washington such persons as would be willing to lend them selves for a price to the horrid crime, and likely to give the necessary aid and support in its consummation. The letter declares that Abraham Lincoln must die, and now, meaning as soon as the agents can be employed, and the work done. To that end you will bide your time. But says the gentleman, it could not have been the same conspiracy charged here to which this letter refers. Why not? It is charged here that Booth with the accused and: others conspired to kill and murder Abraham Lincoln-that is precisely the conspiracy disclosed in the letter. Granted that the parties on trial had not then entered into the combination; if they at any time afterward entered into it they became parties to it, and the conspiracy was still the same. But, says the gentleman, the words of the letter imply that the conspiracy was to be executed within the fort- night. Booth is directed, by the name of Louis, to meet the writer within the fortnight. It by no means follows that he was to strike within the fortnight, because he was to meet his co-conspirator within that time, and any such conclusion is excluded by the words, "Bide your time." Even if the conspiracy was to be executed within the fortnight, and was not so executed, and the same party, Booth afterwards by concert and agreement with the accused and others, did execute it by “striking sure” and killing the President, that act, whenever done, would be but the execution of the same conspiracy. The letter is conclusive evidence of so much of this conspiracy as relates to the murder of President Lincoln. As Booth was to do anything but fail, he immediately thereafter sought out the agents to enable him to strike sure, and execute all that he had agreed with Davis and his co-confederates in Canada to do -to murder the President, the Secretary of State, the Vice-President, General Grant, and Secretary Stanton.
Even Booth's co-conspirator, Payne, now on his trial,
admits all this, and says Booth had just been to Canada,
" was filled
a mighty scheme, and was lying in wait for agents."
Booth asked the
of the prisoner, Payne, and said: "I will give you as
much money as you
want; but first you must swear to stick by me. It is in
This, you are told by the accused was early in March
last. Thus guilt
witness against itself.
We find Booth in New York in November, December and January, urging Cheater to enter into this combination, assuring him that there was money in it; that they had "friends on the other side;" that if he would only participate in it he would never want for money while he lived, and all that was asked of him was to stand at and open the back door of Ford’s theater. Booth, in his interviews with Chester, confesses that he is without money himself, and allows Chester to reimburse him the $50 which he (Booth) had transmitted to him in a letter for the purpose of paying his expenses to Washington as one of the parties to this conspiracy. Booth told him, although he himself was penniless, "there is money in this-we have friends on the other side;" and if you will but engage, I will have three thousand dollars deposited at once for the use of your family.
Failing to secure the services of Chester, because his soul recoiled with abhorrence from the foul work of assassination and murder, he found more willing instruments in others whom he gathered about him. Men to commit the assassinations, horses to secure speedy and certain escape, were to be provided, and to this end Booth, with an energy worthy of a better cause, applies himself. For this latter purpose he told Chester he had already expended $5,000. In the latter part of November, 1864, he visits Charles county, Maryland, and is in company with one of the prisoners, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, with whom he lodged over night, and through whom he procures of Gardner one of the several horses which were at his disposal, and used by him and his co-conspirators in Washington on the night of the assassination.
Some time in January last, it is in testimony, that the prisoner, Mudd, introduced Booth to John H. Surratt and the witness, Weichmann; that Booth invited them to the National Hotel; that when there, in the room to which Booth took them, Mudd went out into the passage, called Booth out and had a private conversation with him, leaving the witness and Surratt in the room. Upon their return to the room, Booth went out with Surratt, and upon their coming in, all three, Booth, Surratt, and Samuel A. Mudd, went out together and had a conversation in the passage, leaving the witness alone. Up to the time of this interview, it seems that neither the witness nor Surratt had any knowledge of Booth, as they were then introduced to him by Dr. Mudd. Whether Surratt had in fact previously known Booth, it is not important to inquire. Mudd deemed it necessary, perhaps a wise precaution, to introduce Surratt to Booth; he also deemed it necessary to have a private conversation with Booth shortly afterward, and directly upon that to have a conversation together with Booth and Surratt alone. Had this conversation, no part of which was heard by the witness, been perfectly innocent, it is not to be presumed that Dr. Mudd, who was an entire stranger to Weichmann, would have deemed it necessary to hold the conversation secretly, nor to have volunteered to tell the witness, or rather pretend to tell him, what the conversation was; yet he did say to the witness, upon their return to the room, by way of apology, I suppose, for the privacy of the conversation, that Booth had some private business with him and wished to purchase his farm. This silly device, as is often the case in attempts at deception, failed in the execution; for it remains to be shown how the fact that Mudd had private business with Booth, and that Booth wished to purchase his farm, made it at all necessary or even proper that they should both volunteer to call out Surratt, who up to that moment was a stranger to Booth. What had Surratt to do with Booth's purchase of Mudd's farm? And if it was necessary to withdraw and talk by themselves secretly about the sale of the farm, why should they disclose the fact to the very man from whom they had concealed it ?
Upon the return of these three parties to the room, they seated themselves at a table, and upon the back of an envelope Booth traced lines with a pencil, indicating, as the witness states, the direction of roads. Why was this done ? As Booth had been previously in that section of country, as the prisoner in his defense has taken great pains to show, it was certainly not necessary to anything connected with the purchase of Mudd's farm that at that time he should be indicating the direction of roads to or from it nor is it made to appear, by anything in this testimony, how it comes that Surratt, as the witness testifies, seemed to be as much interested in the marking out of these roads as Mudd or Booth. It does not appear that Surratt was in anywise connected with or interested in the sale of Mudd's farm. From all that has transpired at this meeting at the hotel, it would seem that this plotting the roads was intended, not so much to show the road to Mudd's farm, as to point out the shortest and safest route for flight from the capital, by the houses of all the parties to this conspiracy, to their "friends on the other side."
But, says the learned gentleman (Mr. Ewing), in his very able argument in defense of this prisoner, why should Booth determine that his flight should be through Charles county? The answer must be obvious, upon a moment’s reflection, to every man, and could not possibly have escaped the notice of the counsel himself, but for the reason that his teal for his client constrained him to overlook it. It was absolutely essential that this murderer should have his co-conspirators at convenient points along his route, and it does not appear in evidence that by the route to his friends, who had then fled from Richmond, which the gentlemen (Mr. Ewing) indicates as the more direct, but of which there is not the slightest evidence whatever, Booth had co-conspirators at an equal distance from Washington. The testimony discloses, further, that on the route selected by him for his flight there is a large population that would be most likely to favor and aid him in the execution of his wicked purpose, find in making his escape. But it is a sufficient answer to the gentleman's question, that Booth's co-conspirator Mudd lived in Charles county.
To return to the meeting at the hotel. In the light of other facts in this case, it must become clear to the Court that this secret meeting between Booth, Surratt, and Mudd was a conference looking to the execution of this conspiracy. It so impressed the prisoner-it so impressed his counsel, that they deemed it necessary and absolutely essential to their defense to attempt to destroy the credibility of the witness Weichmann.
I may say here, in passing, that they have not attempted to impeach his general reputation for truth by the testimony of a single witness nor have they impeached his testimony by calling a single witness to discredit one material fact to which he has testified in this issue. Failing to find a breath of suspicion against Weichmann's character, or to contradict a single fact to which he testified, the accused had to fly to the last resort, an alibi, and very earnestly did the learned counsel devote himself to the task.
It is not material whether this meeting in the hotel took place on the 23d of December or in January. But, says the counsel, it was after the commencement or close of the Congressional holiday. That is not material; but the concurrent resolution of Congress shows that the holiday commenced on the 22d December, the day before the accused spent the evening in Washington. The witness is not certain about the date of this meeting. The material fact is, did this meeting take place-either on the 28d of December or in January last? Where the private interviews there held, and was the apology made, as detailed, by Mudd and Booth, after the secret conference, to the witness? That the meeting did take place, and that Mudd did explain that these secret interviews, with Booth first, and with Booth and Surratt directly afterward, had relation to the sale of his farm, is confessedly admitted by the endeavor of the prisoner, through his counsel, to show that negotiations had been going on between Booth and Mudd for the sale of Mudd's farm. If no such meeting was held, if no such explanation was made by Mudd to Weichmann, can any man for a moment believe that a witness would have been called here to give any testimony about Booth having negotiated for Mudd's farm? What conceivable connection has it with this case, except to show that Mudd's explanation to Weichmann for his extraordinary conduct was in exact accordance with the fact ? Or was this testimony about the negotiations for Mudd's farm intended to show so close an intimacy and intercourse with Booth that Mudd could not fail to recognize him when he came flying for aid to his house from the work of assassination? It would be injustice to the able counsel to suppose that.
I have said that it was wholly immaterial whether this conversation took place on the 23d of December or in January; it is in evidence that in both those months Booth was at the National Hotel; that he occupied a room there; that he arrived there on the 22d and was there on the 23d of December last, and also on the 12th day of January. The testimony of the witness is, that Booth said he had just come in. Suppose this conversation took place in December, on the evening of the 23d, the time when it is proved by J. T. Mudd, the witness for the accused, that he, in company with Samuel A. Mudd, spent the night in Washington City. Is there anything in the testimony of that or any other witness to show that the accused did not have and could not have had an interview with Booth on that evening? J. T. Mudd testifies that he separated from the prisoner, Samuel A. Mudd, at the National Hotel early in the evening of that day, and did not meet him again until the accused came in for the night at the Pennsylvania House, where he stopped. Where was Dr. Samuel A. Mudd during this interval? What does his witness know about him during that time? How can he say that Dr. Mudd did not go up on Seventh street in company with Booth, then at the National; that he did not on Seventh street meet Surratt and Weichmann; that he did not return to the National Hotel; that he did not have this interview, and afterward meet him, the witness, as he testifies, at the Pennsylvania House? Who knows that the Congressional holiday had not in fact commenced on that day? What witness has been called to prove that Booth did not on either of those occasions occupy the room that had formerly been occupied by a member of Congress, who had temporarily vacated it, leaving his books there? Weichmann, I repeat, is not positive as to the date, he is only positive as to the fact; and he disclosed voluntarily, to this Court, that the date could probably be fixed by a reference to the register of the Pennsylvania House; that register can not of course, be conclusive of whether Mudd was there in January or not, for the very good reason that the proprietor admits that he did not know Samuel A Mudd, therefore Mudd might have registered by any other name. Weichmann does not pretend to know that Mudd had registered at all. If Mudd was here in January, as a party to this conspiracy, it is not at all unlikely that, if he did register at that time in the presence of a man to whom he was wholly unknown, his kinsman not then being with him, he would register by a false name. But if the interview took place in December, the testimony of Weichmann hears as strongly against the accused as if it had happened in January. Weichmann says he does not know what time was occupied in this interview at the National Hotel; that it probably lasted twenty minutes; that, after the private interviews between Mudd and Surratt and Booth, which were not of very long duration, had terminated, the parties went to the Pennsylvania House, where Dr. Mudd had rooms, and after sitting together in the common sitting-room of the hotel, they left Dr, Mudd there about 10 o'clock, P.M., who remained during the night. Weichmann's testimony leaves no doubt that this meeting on Seventh, street and interview at the National took place, after dark, and terminated before 10 o’clock , P. M. His own witness, J. T. Mudd, after stating that he separated from the accused at the National Hotel, says after he had got through a conversation with a gentleman of his acquaintance, he walked down the Avenue, went to several clothing stores, and “after a while” walked round to the Pennsylvania House, and "very soon after" he got there Dr. Mudd came in, and they went to bed shortly afterward. What time be spent in his "walk alone" on the Avenue, looking at clothing; what period he embraces in the terms "after a while," when he returned to the Pennsylvania House, and "soon after" which Dr. Mudd got there, the witness does not disclose. Neither does he intimate, much less testify, that he saw Dr. Mudd when he first entered the Pennsylvania House on that night after their separation How does he know that Booth and Surratt and Weichmann did not accompany Samuel A. Mudd to that house that evening? How does he know that the prisoner and those persons did not converse together some time in the sitting-room of the Pennsylvania Hotel? Jeremiah Mudd has not testified that he met Doctor Mudd in that room, or that he was in it himself. He has, however, sworn to the fact, which is disproved by no one, that the prisoner was separated from him long enough that evening to have had the meeting with Booth, Surratt, and Weichmann, and the interviews in the National Hotel, and at the Pennsylvania in House, to which Weichmann has testified? Who is there to disprove it? Of what importance is it whether it was on the 23d day of December or in January? How does that affect the credibility of Weichmann? He is a man, as I have before said, against whose reputation for truth and good conduct they have not been able to bring one witness. If this meeting did by possibility take place that night, is there anything to render it improbable that Booth, and Mudd, and Surratt did have the conversation at the National Hotel to which Weichmann testifies? Of what avail, therefore, is the attempt to prove that Mudd was not here during January, if it was clear that he was here on the 23d of December, 1864, and had this conversation with Booth? That this attempt to prove an alibi during January has failed, is quite as clear as is the proof of the fact that the prisoner was here on the evening of the 23d of December, and present in the National Hotel, where Booth stopped. The fact that the prisoner, Samuel A. Mudd, went with J. T. Mudd on that evening to the National Hotel, and there separated from him, is proved by his own witness, J. T. Mudd; and that he did not rejoin him until they had retired to bed in the Pennsylvania House is proved by the same witness, and contradicted by nobody. Does any one suppose there would have been such assiduous care to prove that the prisoner was with his kinsman all the time on the 23d of December in Washington, if they had not known that Booth was then at the National Hotel, and that a meeting of the prisoner with Booth, Surratt, and Weichmann on that day would corroborate Weichmann's testimony in every material statement he made concerning that meeting?
The accused having signally failed to account for his absence after he separated from his witness, J. T. Mudd, early in the evening of the 23d of December, at the National Hotel, until they had again met at the Pennsylvania House, when they retired to rest, he now attempts to prove an alibi as to the month of January. In this he has failed, as he failed in the attempt to show that he could not have met Booth, Surratt and Weichmann on the 23d of December.
For this purpose the accused calls Betty Washington. She had been at Mudd's house every night since the Monday after Christmas last, except when here at court, and says that the prisoner, Mudd, has only been away from home three nights during that time. This witness forgets that Mudd has not been at home any night or day since this Court assembled. Neither does she account for the three nights in which she swears to his absence from home. First, she says he went to Gardner's party; second, he went to Giesboro, then to Washington. She does not know in what month he was away, the second time, all night. She only knows where he went, from what he and his wife said, which is not evidence; but she does testify that when he left home and was absent over night, the second time, it was about two or three weeks after she came to his house, which would, if it were three weeks, make it just about the 15th of January, 1865; because she swears she came to his house on the first Monday after Christmas last, which was the 26th day of December; so that the 16th of January would be three weeks, less one day, from that time; and it might have been a week earlier according to her testimony, as, also, it might have been a week earlier, or more, by Weichmann's testimony, for he is not positive as to the time. What I have said of the register of the Pennsylvania House, the headquarters of Mudd and Atzerodt, I need not here repeat. That record proves nothing, save that Dr. Mudd was there on the 23d of December, which, as we have seen, is a fact, along with others, to show that the meeting at the National then took place. I have also called the attention of the Court to the fact that if Mudd was at that house again in January, and did not register his name, that fact proves nothing; or, if he did, the register only proves that he registered falsely; either of which facts might have happened without the knowledge of the witness called by the accused from that house, who does not know Samuel A. Mudd personally.
The testimony of Henry L. Mudd, his brother, in support of this alibi, is, that the prisoner as in Washington on the 23d of March, and on the 10th of April, four days before the murder but he does not account for the absent night in January, about which Betty Washington testifies. Thomas Davis was called for the same purpose, but stated that he was himself absent one night in January, after the 9th of that month, and he could not say whether Mudd was there on that night or not. He does testify to Mudd's absence over night three times and fixes one occasion on the night of the 26th of January. In consequence of his own absence one night in January, this witness can not account for the absence of Mudd on the night referred to by Betty Washington.
This matter is entitled to no further attention. It can satisfy no one, and the burden of proof is upon the prisoner to prove that he was not in Washington in January last. How can such testimony convince any rational man that Mudd was not here in January, against the evidence of an unimpeached witness, who swears that Samuel A. Mudd was in Washington in the month of January? Who that has been examined here as a witness knows that he was not?
The Rev. Mr. Evans swears that he saw him in Washington last winter, and that at the same time he saw Jarboe, the one coming out of, and the other going into, a house on H street, which he was informed on inquiry, was the house of Mrs. Surratt. Jarboe is the only witness called to contradict Mr. Evans, and he leaves it in extreme doubt whether he does not corroborate him, as he swears that he was here himself last winter or fall, but can not state exactly the time. Jarboe's silence on questions touching his own credibility leaves no room for any one to say that his testimony could impeach Mr. Evans, whatever he might swear.
Miss Anna H. Surratt is also called for the purpose of impeaching Mr. Evans. It is sufficient to say of her testimony on that point that she swears negatively only--that she did not see either of the persons named at her mother's house. This testimony neither disproves, nor does it even tend to disprove, the fact put in issue by Mr. Evans. No one will pretend, whatever the form of her expression in giving her testimony, that she could say more than I that she did not know the fact, as it was impossible that she could know who was, or who was not, at her mother's house, casually, at a period so remote. It is not my purpose, neither is it needful here, to question in any way the integrity of this young woman.
It is further in testimony that Samuel A. Mudd was here on the 3d day of March last, the day preceding the inauguration, when Booth was to strike the traitorous blow, and it was, doubtless, only by the interposition of that God who stands within the shadow and keeps watch above his own, that the victim of this conspiracy was spared that day from the assassin's hand that he might complete his work and see the salvation of his country, in the fall of Richmond and the surrender of its great army. Dr. Mudd was here on that day (the 3d of March) to abet, to encourage, to nerve his co-conspirator for the commission of this great crime. He was carried away by the awful purpose which possessed him, and rushed into the room of Mr. Norton at the National Hotel in search of Booth, exclaiming excitedly: "I'm mistaken; I thought this was Mr. Booth's room." He is told Mr. Booth is above, on the next floor. He is followed by Mr. Norton because of his rude and excited behavior, and being followed, conscious of his guilty errand, he turns away, afraid of himself and afraid to be found in concert with his fellow-confederate. Mr. Norton identifies the prisoner, and has no doubt that Samuel A. Mudd is the man.
The Rev. Mr. Evans also swears that, after the 1st and before the 4th day of March last; he in certain that within that time, and on the 2d or 3d of March, he saw Dr. Mudd drive into Washington city. The endeavor is made by the accused, in order to break down this witness, by proving another alibi. The sister of the accused, Miss Fanny Mudd, is called. She testifies that she saw the prisoner at breakfast in her father's house, on the 2d of March, about 6 o'clock in the morning, and not again until the 3d of March at noon. Mrs. Emily Mudd swears substantially to the same statement. Betty Washington, called for the accused, swears that he was at home all day at work with her on the 2d of March, and took breakfast at home. Frank Washington swears that Mudd was at home all day; that he saw him when he first came out in the morning about sunrise from his own house, and knows that he was there all day with them. Which is correct, the testimony of his sisters, or the testimony of his servants? The sisters say that he was at their father's house for breakfast on the morning of the 2d of March; the servants say he was at home for breakfast with them on that day. If this testimony is followed, it proves one alibi too much. It is impossible, in the nature of things, that the testimony of all these four witnesses can be true.
Seeing this weakness in the testimony brought to prove this second alibi, the endeavor is next made to discredit Mr. Norton for truth; and two witnesses, not more, are called, who testify that his reputation for truth has suffered by contested litigation between one of the impeaching witness and others. Four witnesses are called, who testify that Mr. Norton's reputation for truth is very good; that he is a man of high character for truth, and entitled to be believed whether he speaks under the obligation of an oath or not. The late Postmaster General, Hon. Horatio King, not only sustains Mr. Norton as a man of good reputation for truth, but expressly corroborates his testimony by stating that in March last, about the 4th of March, Mr. Norton told him the same fact to which he swears here: that a man came into his room under excitement, alarmed his sister, was followed out by himself, and went down stairs instead of going up; and that Mr. Norton told him this before the assassination, and about the time of the inauguration. What motive had Mr. Norton at that time to fabricate his statement? It detracts nothing from his testimony that he did not at that time mention the name of this man to his friend, Mr. King; because it appears from his testimony--and there is none to question the truthfulness of his statement--that at that time he did not know his name. Neither does it take from the force of this testimony, that Mr. Norton did not, in communicating this matter to Mr. King, make mention of Booth's name; because there was nothing in the transaction at the time, he being ignorant of the name of Mudd, and equally ignorant of the conspiracy between Mudd and Booth, to give the least occasion for any mention of Booth or of the transaction further than as he detailed it. With such corroboration, who can doubt the fact that Mudd did enter the room of Mr. Norton, and was followed by him, on the 3d of March last? Can he be mistaken in the man? Whoever looks at the prisoner carefully once will be sure to recognize him again.
For the present, I pass from the consideration of the testimony showing Dr. Mudd's connection with Booth in this conspiracy, with the remark that it is in evidence, and, I think, established, both by the testimony adduced by the prosecution and that by the prisoner, that since the commencement of this rebellion, John H. Surratt visited the prisoner's house; that he concealed Surratt, and other rebels and traitor in the woods near his house, where, for several days, he furnished them with food and bedding; that the shelter of the woods, by night and by day, was the only shelter that the prisoner dare furnish these friends of his; that, in November, Booth visited him, and remained over night that he accompanied Booth, at that time, to Gardner's, from whom he purchased one of the horses used on the night of the assassination, to aid the escape of one of his confederates that the prisoner had secret interviews with; Booth and Surratt, as sworn to by the witness, Weichmann, in the National Hotel, whether on the 23d of December or in January is a matter of entire indifference; that he rushed into Mr. Norton's room, on the 3d of March, in search of Booth; and that he was here again on the 10th of April, four days before the murder of the President. Of his conduct after the assassination of the President, which is confirmatory of all this--his conspiring with Booth, and his sheltering, concealing and aiding the flight of his co-conspirator, this felon assassin--I shall speak hereafter, leaving him, for the present with the remark that the attempt to prove his character has resulted in showing him in sympathy with the rebellion, so cruel that he shot one of his slaves, and declared his purpose to send several of them to work on the rebel batteries in Richmond.
What others, beside Samuel A. Mudd, and John H. Surratt, and Lewis Payne, did Booth, after his return from Canada, induce to join him in this conspiracy to murder the President the Vice-President, the Secretary of State, and the Lieutenant-General, with the intent thereby to aid the rebellion, and overthrow the Government and laws of the United States?
On the 10th of February the prisoners, Arnold and O'Laughlen, came to Washington and took rooms in the house of Mrs. Vantyne; were armed; were there visited frequently by John Wilkes Booth, and alone; were occasionally absent when Booth called, who seemed anxious for their return; would sometimes leave notes for them, and sometimes a request that when they came in they should be told to come to the stable. On the 18th of March last,: when Booth played in "The Apostate," the witness, Mrs. Vantyne, received from O'Laughlen complimentary tickets. These persons remained there until the 20th of March. They were visited, so far as the witness knows, during their stay at her house, only by Booth, save that on a single occasion an unknown man came to see them, and remained with them over night. They told the witness they were in the "oil business." With Mudd, the guilty purpose was sought to be concealed by declaring that he was in the "land business;" with O'Laughlen and Arnold it was attempted to be concealed by the pretence that they were in the "oil business." Booth, it is proved, had closed up all connection with the oil business last September. There is not a word of testimony to show that the accused, O'Laughlen and Arnold, ever invested, or sought to invest, in any way, or to any amount, in the oil business; their silly words betray them ; they forgot, when they uttered that false statement, that truth is strong, next to the Almighty, and that their crime must find them out was the irrevocable and irresistible law of nature and of nature's God '
One of their co-conspirators, known as yet only to the guilty parties to this damnable plot and to. the Infinite, who will unmask and avenge all blood-guiltiness, comes to bear witness, unwittingly, against them. This unknown conspirator, who dates his letter at South Branch Bridge, April 6, 1865, mailed and Postmarked Cumberland, Maryland, and addressed to John Wilkes Booth, by his initials, “J . W. B.," National Hotel, Washington, D. C., was also in the," oil speculation." In that letter he says:
That this letter is not a fabrication is made apparent by the testimony of Purdy, whose name occurs in the letter. He testified that he had been a detective in the Government service, and that he had been falsely accused, as the 1etter recites, and put under arrest; that there was a noted rebel by the name of Green living at Thornton Gap; that there was a servant who drank, known as ,Tom, in the neighborhood of South Branch Bridge; that there is an obscure route through the Gap, and as described in the letter; and that a man commonly called "Lon " lives at South Branch Bridge. If the Court are satisfied--and it is for them to judge--that this letter was written before the assassination, as it purports to have been, and on the day of its date, there can be no question, with any one who reads it, that the writer was in the conspiracy, and knew that the time of its execution drew nigh. If a conspirator, every word of its contents is evidence against every other party, to this conspiracy.
Who can fail to understand this letter? His words, “go deep enough," “don't fail," “everything depends on you and your helpers," “if you can't get through on your trip after you strike oil, strike through Thornton Gap, etc.. and "I can keep you safe from all hardships for a year," necessarily imply that when he "strikes oil" there will be an occasion for a flight; that a trip, or route, has already been determined upon; that he may not be able to go through by that route, in which event he is to strike for Thornton Gap, and across by Capon and Romney, and down the branch, for the shelter which his co-conspirator offers him. "I am clear of all surveillance now;" does any one doubt that the man who wrote those words wished to assure Booth that he was no longer watched, and that Booth could safely hide with him from his pursuers? Does anyone doubt, from the further expression in this letter, "Jake will be at Green's with the funds," that this was a part of the price of blood, or that the eight thousand dollars subscribed by others, and the one thousand additional, subscribed by the writer, were also a part of the price to be paid?
"The oil business," which was the declared business of O'Laughlen and Arnold, was the declared business of the infamous writer of this letter; was the declared business of John H. Surratt; was the declared business of Booth himself as explained to Chester and Payne; was "the business" referred to in his telegrams to O'Laughlen, and meant the murder of the President, of his Cabinet, and of General Grant. The first of these telegrams is dated, Washington, 18th March, and is addressed to M. O'Laughlen, No. 57 North Exeter street, Baltimore, Maryland, and is as follows: "Don't you fear to neglect your business; you had better come on at once. J. Booth." The telegraphic operator, Hoffman, who sent this dispatch from Washington, swears that John Wilkes Booth delivered it to him in person on the day of its date; and the handwriting of the original telegram is established beyond question to be that of Booth. The other telegram is dated Washington, March 27, addressed "Alt. O'Laughlen, Esq., 57 North Exeter street, Balt;more, Maryland, and is its follows: "Get word to Sam. Come on, with or without him, on Wednesday morning. We sell that day, sure; don't fail. J. Wilkes Booth." The original of this telegram is also proved to be in the handwriting of Booth. The sale referred to, in this last telegram, was doubtless the murder of the President, and others--the "oil speculation," in which the writer of the letter from South Branch Bridge, dated April 6, had taken a thousand dollars, and in which Booth said there was money, and Sanders said there was money, and Atzerodt said there was money. The words of this telegram, “get word to Sam," mean Samuel Arnold, his co-conspirator, who had been with him during all his stay in Washington, at Mrs. Vantyne's. These parties to this conspiracy, after they had gone to Baltimore, had additional correspondence with Booth, which the Court must infer had relation to carrying out the purposes of their confederation and agreement. The colored witness, Williams, testifies that John Wilkes Booth handed him a letter for Michael O'Laughlen, and another for Samuel Arnold, in Baltimore, some time in March last; one of which he delivered to O'Laughlen at the theater in Baltimore, and the other to a lady at the door where Arnold boarded in Baltimore.
Their agreement and co-operation common object having been thus established, the letter written to Booth by the prisoner Arnold, dated March 27, 1865, the handwriting of which is proved before the Court, and which was found in Booth's possession after the assassination, becomes testimony against O'Laughlen, as well as against the writer, Arnold, because it is an act done in, furtherance of their combination. That letter is an follows:
DEAR JOHN: Was business so important that you could not remain in Baltimore till I saw you? I came in as soon as I could, but found you had gone to Washington. I called also to see Mike, but learned from his mother he had gone out with you and had not returned. I concluded, therefore, he had gone with you. How inconsiderate you have been! When I left you, you stated that we would not meet in a month or so, and, therefore, I made application for employment, an answer to which I shall receive during the week. I told my parents I had ceased with you. Can I, then, under existing; circumstances, act as you request? You know full well that the Government suspicions something is going on there; therefore, the undertaking is becoming more complicated. Why not, for the present, desist, for various reasons, which, if you look into, you can readily see, without my making any mention thereof. You, nor any one, can censure me for my present course. You have been its cause, for how can I now come after telling them I had left you? Suspicion rests upon me now from my whole family, and even parties in the country. I will be compelled to leave home anyhow, and how soon I care not. None, no, not one, were more in favor of the enterprise than myself, and today would be there had you not done as you have. By this I mean manner of proceeding. I am, as you well know, in need. I am, as you may say, in rags; whereas, to-day, I ought to be well clothed. I do not feel right stalking about with means, and more from appearances a beggar. I feel my dependence. But even all this would have been, and was, forgotten, for I was one with you. Time more propitious will arrive yet. Do not act rashly or in haste. I would prefer your first query, 'Go and see how it will be taken in Richmond,' and, ere long, I shall be better prepared to again bewith you. I dislike writing. Would sooner verbally make known my views. Yet your now waiting causes me thus to proceed. Do not in anger peruse this. I weigh all I have said, and, as a rational man and a friend, you can not censure or upbraid my conduct. I sincerely trust this, nor aught else that shall or may occur, will ever be an obstacle to obliterate our former friendship and attachment. Write me to Baltimore, as I expect to be in about Wednesday or Thursday. or, if you can possibly come on, I will, Tuesday: meet you at Baltimore at B. “Ever, I subscribe myself, your friend, SAM."
Here is the confession of the prisoner Arnold, that he was one with Booth in this conspiracy, the further confession that they are suspected by the Government of their country, and the acknowledgment that since they parted Booth had communicated among other things, a suggestion which leads to the remark in this letter, "I would prefer your first query, 'Go and see how it will be taken at Richmond,' and ere long I shall be better prepared to again be with you." This is a declaration that affects Arnold, Booth, and O'Laughlen alike, if the Court are satisfied, and it is difficult to see how they can have doubt on the subject, that the matter to be referred to Richmond is the matter of the assassination of the President and others, to effect which these parties had previously agreed and conspired together. It is a matter in testimony, by the declaration of John H. Surratt, who is as clearly proved to have been in this conspiracy and murder as Booth himself, that about the very date of this letter, the 27th of March, upon the suggestion of Booth, and with his knowledge and consent, he went to Richmond, not only to see "how it would be taken there," but to get funds with which to carry out the enterprise, an Booth had already declared to Chester in one of his last interviews. when he said that he or "some one of the party" would be constrained to go to Richmond for funds to carry out the conspiracy. Surratt returned from Richmond, bringing with him some part of the money for which he went, and was then going to Canada, and, as the testimony discloses, bringing with him the dispatches from Jefferson Davis to his chief agents in Canada, which, as Thompson declared to Conover, made the proposed assassination "all right." Surratt, after seeing the parties here, left immediately for Canada, and delivered his dispatches to Jacob Thompson, the agent of Jefferson Davis. This was done by Surratt, upon the suggestion, or in exact accordance with the suggestion of Arnold, made on the 27th of March in his letter to Booth just read, and yet you are gravely told that four weeks before the 27th of March, Arnold had abandoned the conspiracy.
Surratt reached Canada with these dispatches as we have seen, about the 6th or 7th of April last, when the witness Conover saw them delivered to Jacob Thompson and heard their contents stated by Thompson, and the declaration from him that these dispatches made it "all right." That Surratt was at that time in Canada, is not only established by the testimony of Conover, but it is also in evidence that he told Weichmann on the 8d of April that he was going to Canada, and on that day left for Canada, and afterward, two letters addressed by Surratt, over the fictitious signature of John Harrison to his mother and to Miss Ward, dated at Montreal, were received by them on the 14th of April, as testified by Weichmann and by Miss Ward, a witness called for the defense. Thus it appears that the condition named by Arnold in his letter had been complied with. Booth had “gone to Richmond," in the person of Surratt, "to see how it would be taken." The rebel authorities at Richmond had approved it, the agent had returned, and Arnold was, in his own words, thereby better prepared to rejoin Booth in the prosecution of this conspiracy.
To this end Arnold went to Fortress Monroe. As his letter expressly declares, Booth said when they parted, " we would not meet in a month or so, and therefore I made application for employment--an answer to which I shall receive during the week." He did receive the answer that week from Fortress Monroe, and went there to await the "more propitious time," bearing with him the weapon of death which Booth had provided, and ready to obey his call, as the act had been approved at Richmond and been made "all right." Acting upon the same fact that the conspiracy had been approved in Richmond, and the funds provided, O'Laughlen came to Washington to identify General Grant, the person who was to become the victim of his violence in the final consummation of this crime--General Grant, whom, as is averred in the specification, it had become the part of O'Laughlen, by his agreement in this conspiracy, to kill and murder. On the evening preceding the assassination--the 13th of April-- by the testimony of three reputable witnesses, against whose truthfulness not one word is uttered here or elsewhere, O'Laughlen went into the house of the Secretary of War, where, General Grant then was, and placed himself in position in the hall where he could see him, having declared before he reached that point, to one of these witnesses, that he wished to see General Grant. The house was brilliantly illuminated at the time; two, at least, of the witnesses conversed with the accused, and the other stood very near to him, took special notice of his conduct, called attention to it, and suggested that he be put out of the house, and he was accordingly put out by one of the witnesses. These witnesses are confident, and have no doubt, and so swear upon their oaths, that 'Michael O'Laughlen is the man who was present on that occasion. There is no denial on the part of the accused that he was in Washington during the day and during the night of April 13th, and also during the day and during the night of the 14th; and yet, to get rid of this testimony, recourse is had to that common device--an alibi; a device never, I may say, more frequently resorted to than in the trial. But what an alibi! Nobody is called to prove it, save some men who, by their own testimony, were engaged in a drunken debauch through the evening. A reasonable man who reads their evidence can hardly be expected to allow it to outweigh the united testimony of three unimpeached and unimpeachable witnesses who were clear in their statements--who entertain no doubt of the truth of what they say --whose opportunities to know were full and complete, and who were constrained to take special notice of the prisoner by reason of his extraordinary conduct.
These witnesses describe accurately the appearance, stature, and complexion of the accused, but because they describe his clothing as dark or black, it is urged that as part of his clothing, although dark, was not black, the witnesses are mistaken. O'Laughlen and his drunken companions (one of whom swears that he drank ten times that evening) were strolling in the streets and in the direction of the house of the Secretary of War, up the Avenue; but you are asked to believe that these witnesses could not be mistaken in saying they were not off the Avenue above 7th street, or on K street. I venture to say that no man who reads their testimony can determine satisfactorily all the places that were visited by O'Laughlen and his drunken associates that evening from seven to eleven o'clock, P. M. All this time, from seven to eleven o'clock, P. M., must be accounted for satisfactorily before the alibi can be established. Loughran does not account for all the time, for he left O'Laughlen after seven o'clock, and rejoined him as he says, "I suppose about eight o'clock." Grillet did not meet him until half-past ten, and then only casually saw him in passing the hotel. May not Grillet have been mistaken as to the fact, although he did meet O'Laughlen after eleven o'clock the same evening, as he swears?
Purdy swears to seeing him in the bar with Grillet about half-past ten, but, as we have seen by Grillet's testimony, it must have been after eleven o'clock. Murphy contradicts, as to time, both Grillet and Purdy, for he says it was half-past eleven or twelve o'clock when he and O'Laughlen returned to Rullman's, from Platz's, and Early swears the accused went from Rullman's to 2d street, to a dance about a quarter past eleven o'clock, when O'Laughlen took the lead in the dance and stayed about one hour. I follow these witnesses no further. They contradict each other, and do not account for O'Laughlen all the time from seven to eleven o'clock. I repeat, that no man can read their testimony without finding contradictions most material as to time, and coming to the conviction that they utterly fail to account for O'Laughlen's whereabouts on that evening. To establish an alibi the witnesses must know the fact and testify to it. Loughran, Griller, Purdy, Murphy, and Early utterly fail to prove it, and only succeed in showing that they did not know where O'Laughlen was all this time and that some of them were grossly mistaken in what they testified, both as to time and place. The testimony of James B. Henderson is equally unsatisfactory. He is contradicted by other testimony of the accused as to place he says. O'Laughlen went up the Avenue, above 7th street, but that he did not go to 9th street. The other witnesses swear he went to 9th street. He swears he went to Canterbury about nine o'clock, after going back from 7th street to Rullinan's. Loughran swears that O'Laughlen was with him at the corner of the Avenue and 9th street at nine o'clock, and went from there to Canterbury, while Early swears that O'Laughlen went up as far as 7th street, and returned with him and took supper at Welcker's, about eight o'clock. If these witnesses prove an alibi, it is really against each other. It is folly to pretend that they prove facts which make it impossible that O'Laughlen could have been at the house of Secretary Stanton, as three witnesses swear he was, on the evening of the 13th of April, looking for General Grant.
Has it not, by the testimony thus reviewed, been established prima facie that in the months of February, March and April, O'Laughlen had combined, confederated, and agreed with John Wilkes Booth and Samuel Arnold to kill and murder Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward, Andrew Johnson, and Ulysses S. Grant? Is it not established, beyond a shadow of doubt, that Booth had so conspired with the rebel agents in Canada as early as October last: that he was in search of agents to do the work on pay, in the interests of the rebellion, and that in this speculation Arnold and O'Laughlen had joined as early as February; that then, and after, with Booth and Surratt, they were in the "oil business," which was the business of assassination by contract as a speculation ? If this conspiracy on the part of O'Laughlen with Arnold is established, even prima facie, the declarations and acts of Arnold and Booth, the other conspirators, in furtherance of the common design, is evidence against O'Laughlen as well as against Arnold himself, or the other parties. The rule of law is, that the act or declaration of one conspirator, done in pursuance or furtherance of the common design, is the act or declaration of all the conspirators. 1 Wharton, 706.
The letter, therefore, of his co-conspirator, Arnold, is evidence against O'Laughtin because it is an act in the prosecution of the common conspiracy, suggesting what should he done in order to make it effective, and which suggestion, as has been stated, was followed out. The defense has attempted to avoid the force of this letter by reciting the statement of Arnold, made to Horner at the time he was arrested, in which he declared, among other things, that the purpose was to abduct President Lincoln and take him South; that it was to be done at the theater by throwing the President out of the box upon the floor of the stage, when the accused was to catch him. The very announcement of this testimony excited derision that such a tragedy meant only to take the President and carry him gently away! This pigmy to catch the giant as the assassins hurled him to the floor from an elevation of twelve feet The Court has viewed the theater, and must be satisfied that Booth, in leaping from the President’s box, broke his limb. The Court can not fail to conclude that this statement of Arnold was but another silly device, like that of " the oil business," which, for the time being, he employed to hide from the knowledge of his captor the fact that the purpose was to murder the President. No man can, for a moment, believe that any one of these conspirators hoped or desired, by such a proceeding as that stated by the prisoner, to take the President alive in the presence of thousands assembled in the theater after he had been thus thrown upon the floor of the stage, much less to carry him through the city, through the lines of your army, and deliver him into the hands of the rebels. No such purpose was expressed or hinted by the conspirators in Canada. who commissioned Booth to let these assassinations on contract. I shall waste not a moment more in combating such an absurdity.
Arnold does confess that he was a conspirator with Booth in this proposed murder: that Booth had a letter of introduction to Dr. Mudd; that Booth, O'Laughlen, Atzerodt, Surratt, a man with an alias, “Mosby," and another whom he does not know, and himself, were parties to this conspiracy, and that Booth had furnished them all with arms. He concludes this remarkable statement to Horner with the declaration that at that time, to wit, the first week of March, or four weeks before he went to Fortress Monroe, he left the conspiracy, and that Booth told him to sell his arms if he chose. This is sufficiently answered by the fact that, four weeks afterward, he wrote his letter to Booth, which was found in Booth's possession after the assassination, suggesting to him what to do in order to make the conspiracy a success, and by the further fact that at the very moment he uttered these declarations, part of his arms were found upon his person, and the rest not disposed of, but at his father's house.
A party to a treasonable and murderous conspiracy against the government of his country can not be held to have abandoned it because he makes such a declaration as this, when he is in the bands of the officer of the law, arrested for his crime, and especially when his declaration is in conflict with and expressly contradicted by his written acts, and unsupported by any conduct of his which becomes a citizen and a man.
If he abandoned the conspiracy, why did he not make known the fact to Abraham Lincoln and his constitutional advisers that these men, armed with the weapons of assassination, were daily lying in wait for their lives? To pretend that a man who thus conducts himself for weeks after the pretended abandonment, volunteering advice for the successful prosecution of the conspiracy, the evidence of which is in writing, and about which there can be no mistake, has, in fact, abandoned it, is to insult the common understanding of men. O'Laughlen, having conspired with Arnold to do this murder, is, therefore, as much concluded by the letter of Arnold of the 27th of March as is Arnold himself. The further testimony touching O'Laughlen, that of Street, establishes the fact that about the last of April he saw him in confidential conversation with J. Wilkes Booth, in this city, on the Avenue. Another man, whom the witness does not. know, was in conversation., O'Laughlen called Streett to one side told him Booth was busily engaged with his friend--was talking privately to his friend. This remark of O'Laughlen is attempted to be accounted for, but the attempt failed; his counsel taking the pains to ask what induced O'Laughlen to make the remark, received the fit reply : “I did not see the interior of Mr. O'Laughlen's mind; I can not tell." It is the province of this Court to infer why that remark was made, and what it signified.
That John H. Surratt, George A. Atzerodt, Mary E. Surratt, David E. Herold, and Louis Payne, entered into this conspiracy with Booth, is so very clear upon the testimony, that little time need be occupied in bringing again before the Court the evidence which establishes it. By the testimony of Weichmann we find Atzerodt in February at the house of the prisoner, Mrs. Surratt. He inquired for her or for John when he came and remained over night. After this and before the assassination he visited there frequently, and at that house bore the name of “Port Tobacco," the name by which he was known in Canada among the conspirators there. The same witness testifies that he met him on the street, when he said he was going to visit Payne at the Herndon House, and also accompanied him, along with Herold and John H. Surratt, to the theater, in March, to hear Booth play in "The Apostate." At the Pennsylvania House, one or two weeks previous to the assassination, Atzerodt made the statement to Lieutenant Reim, when asking for his knife which he had left in his room, a knife corresponding in size with the one exhibited in Court, "I want that; if one fails I want the other," wearing at the same time his revolver at his belt. He also stated to Greenawalt, of the Pennsylvania House, in March, that he was nearly broke, but had friends enough to give him as much money as would see him through, adding, "I am going away some of these days, but will return with as much gold as will keep me all my lifetime." Mr. Greenawalt also says that Booth had frequent interviews with Atzerod4 sometimes in the room, and at other times Booth would walk in and immediately go out, Atzerodt following.
John M. Lloyd testifies that some six weeks before the assassination, Herold, Atzerodt, and John H. Surratt came to his house at Surrattsville, bringing with them two Spencer carbines with ammunition, also a rope and wrench. Surratt asked the witness to take care of them and to conceal the carbines. Surratt took him into a room in the house, it being his mother's house, and showed the witness where to put the carbines, between the joists on the second floor.. The carbines were put there according to his directions, and concealed. Marcus P. Norton saw Atzerodt in conversation with Booth at the National Hotel about the 2d or 3d of March; the conversation was confidential, and the witness accidentally heard them talking in regard to President Johnson, and say that "the class of witnesses would be of that character that there could be little proven by them." This conversation may throw some light on the fact that Atzerodt was found in possession of Booth's bank book!
Colonel Nevins testifies that on the 12th of April last he saw Atzerodt at the Kirkwood House; that Atzerodt there asked him, a stranger, if be knew where Vice-President Johnson was, and where Mr. Johnson's room was. Colonel Nevins showed him where the room of the Vice-President. was, and told him that the Vice-President was then at dinner. Atzerodt then. looked into the dining-room, where Vice-President Johnson was dining alone. Robert R. Jones, the clerk at the Kirkwood House, states that on the 14th, the day of the murder, two days after this, Atzerodt registered his name at the hotel, G. A. Atzerodt, and took No.126, retaining the room that day, and carrying away the key. In this room, after the assassination, were found the knife and revolver with which be intended to murder the Vice-President.
The testimony of all these witnesses leaves no doubt that the prisoner, George A. Atzerodt, entered into this conspiracy with Booth; that he expected to receive a large compensation for the service that he would reader in its execution; that he had undertaken the assassination of the Vice-President for a price; that he, with Surratt. and Herold, rendered the important service of depositing the arms and ammunition to be used by Booth and his confederates as a protection in their flight after the conspiracy had been executed ; and that he was careful to have his intended victim pointed out to him, and the room he occupied in the hotel, so that when he came to perform his horrid work he would know precisely where to go and whom to strike.
I take no further notice now of the preparation which this prisoner made for the successful execution of this part of the traitorous and murderous design. The question is, did he enter into this conspiracy? His language, overheard by Mr. Norton, excludes every other conclusion. Vice-President Johnson's name was mentioned in that secret conversation with Booth, and the very suggestive expression was made between them that " little could be proved by the witnesses." His confession in his defense is conclusive of his guilt.
That Payne was in this conspiracy is confessed in the defense made by his counsel, and is also evident from the facts proved, that when the conspiracy was being organized in Canada by Thompson, Sanders, Tucker, Cleary, and Clay, this man Payne stood at the door of Thompson; was recommended and indorsed by Clay with the words, "We trust him ; " that after coming hither he first reported himself at the house of Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, inquired for her and for John H. Surratt ; remained there for four days, having conversation with both of them; having provided himself with means of disguise, was also supplied with pistols and a knife, such as he afterward used, and spurs, preparatory to his flight; was seen with John H. Surratt, practicing with knives such as those employed in this deed of assassination, and now before the Court; was afterward provided with lodging at the Herodon House at the instance of Surratt; was visited there by Atzerodt, and attended Booth and Surratt to Ford's theater, occupying with those parties the box, as I believe and which we may readily infer, in which the president was afterward murdered.
If further testimony be wanting that he had entered into the conspiracy, it may be found in the fact sworn to by Weichmann, whose testimony no candid man will discredit, that about the 20th of March, Mrs.Surratt, in great excitement, and weeping, said that her son John had gone away not to return, when about three hours subsequently, in the afternoon of the same day, John H. Surratt re-appeared, came rushing in a state of frenzy into the room, in his mother's house, armed, declaring he would shoot whoever came into the room, and proclaiming that his prospects were blasted and his hopes gone; that soon Payne came into the same room, also armed and under great excitement, and was immediately followed by Booth, with his riding-whip in his hand, who walked rapidly across the floor from side to side, so much excited that for some time he did not notice the presence of the witness. Observing Weichmann, the parties then withdrew, upon a suggestion from Booth, to an upper room, and there had a private interview. From all that transpired on that occasion, it is apparent that when these parties left the house that day, it was with the full purpose of completing some act essential to the final execution of the work of assassination, in conformity with their previous confederation and agreement. They returned foiled-from what cause is unknown-dejected, angry, and covered with confusion.
It is almost imposing upon the patience of the Court to consume time in demonstrating the fact, which none conversant with the testimony of this case can for a moment doubt, that John H. Surratt and Mary E. Surratt were as surely in the conspiracy to murder the President as was John Wilkes Booth himself. You have the frequent interviews between John H. Surratt. and Booth, his intimate relations with Payne, his visits from Atzerodt and Herold, his deposit of the arms to cover their flight after the con spiracy should have been executed; his own' declared visit to Richmond to do what Booth himself said to Chester must be done, to wit, that he or some of the party must go to Richmond in order to get funds to carry out the! conspiracy; that he brought back with him gold, the price of blood, confessing himself that he was there; that he immediately went to Canada, delivered dispatches in cipher to Jacob Thompson from Jefferson Davis, which were interpreted and read by Thompson in the presence of the witness Conover, in which the conspiracy was approved, and, in the language of Thompson, the proposed assassination was "made all right."
One other fact, if any other fact be needed, and I have done with the evidence which proves that John H. Surratt entered into this combination; that is, that it appears by the testimony of the witness, the cashier of the Ontario, Bank, Montreal, that Jacob Thompson, about the day that these dispatches were delivered, and while Surratt was then present in Canada, drew from that bank of the rebel funds there on deposit the sum of' one hundred and eighty thousand dollars. This being done, Surratt finding it safer, doubtless, to go to Canada for the great bulk of funds which were to be distributed among these hired assassins than to attempt to carry it through our lines direct from Richmond, immediately returned to Washington and was present in this city, as is proven by the testimony of Mr. Reid, on the afternoon or the 14th of April, the day of the assassination booted and spurred, ready for flight whenever the fatal blow should have been struck. If he was not a conspirator and a party to this great crime, how comes it that from that hour to this no man has seen him in the capital, nor has he been reported anywhere outside of Canada, having arrived in Montreal, as the testimony shows, on the 18th of April, four days after the murder? Nothing but his conscious coward guilt could possibly induce him to absent himself from his mother, as he does, upon her trial. Being one of these conspirators, as charged, every act of his in the prosecution of this crime is evidence against the other parties to the conspiracy.
That Mary E. Surratt is as guilty as her son of having thus conspired, combined and confedated to do this murder, in aid of this rebellion, is clear. First, her house was the headquarters of Booth, John H. Surratt, Atzerodt, Payne and Herold. She is inquired for by Atzerodt; she is inquired for by Payne, and she is visited by Booth, and holds private conversations with him. His picture, together with that of the chief conspirator, Jefferson Davis, is found in her house. She sends to Booth for a carriage to take her, on the l1th of April, to Surrattsville, for the purpose of perfecting the arrangement deemed necessary to the successful execution of the conspiracy, and especially to facilitate and protect the conspirators in their escape from justice. On that occasion Booth, having disposed of his carriage, gives to the agent she employed ten dollars, with which to hire a conveyance for that purpose. And yet the pretence is made that Mrs. Surratt went on the 11th to Surrattsville exclusively upon her own private and lawful business. Can any one tell, if that be so, how it comes that she should apply to Booth for a conveyance, and how it comes that he, of his own accord, having no conveyance to furnish her, should send her ten dollars with which to procure it? There is not the slightest indication that Booth was under any obligation to her, or that she had any claim upon him, either for a conveyance or for the means with which to procure one, except that he was bound to contribute, being the agent of the conspirators in Canada and Richmond, whatever money might be necessary to the consummation of this infernal plot. On that day, the 11th of April, John H. Surratt had not returned from Canada with the funds furnished by Thompson!
Upon that journey of the 11th, the accused, Mary E. Surratt, met the witness, John M. Lloyd, at Uniontown. She called him; he got out of his carriage and came to her, and she whispered to him in so low a tone that her attendant could not hear her words, though Lloyd, to whom they were spoken, did distinctly hear them, and testifies that she told him he should have those "shooting-irons" ready, meaning the carbines which her son and Herold and Atzerodt had deposited with him, and added the reason, "for they would soon be called for." On the day of the assassination she again sent for Booth, had an interview with him in her own house, and immediately went again to Surrattsville, and then, at about six o'clock in the afternoon, she delivered to Lloyd a field glass and told him "to have two bottles of whisky and the carbines ready, as they would be called for that night." Having thus perfected the arrangement, she returned to Washington to her own house, at about half-past eight o'clock in the evening, to await the final result. How could this woman anticipate, on Friday afternoon, at six o'clock, that these arms would be called for and would be needed that night, unless she was in the conspiracy and knew the blow was to be struck, and the flight of the assassins attempted by that route? Was not the private conversation which Booth held with her in her parlor on the afternoon of the 14th of April, just before she left on this business, in relation to the orders she should give to have the arms ready?
An endeavor is made to impeach Lloyd. But the Court will observe that no witness has been called who contradicts Lloyd's statement in any material matter; neither has his general character for truth been assailed. How, then, is he impeached? Is it claimed that his testimony shows that he was a party to the conspiracy? Then it is conceded by those who set up any such pretence that there was a conspiracy. A conspiracy between whom? There can be no conspiracy without the co-operation or agreement of two or more persons. Who were the other parties to it? Was it Mary E. Surratt? Was it John H. Surratt, George A. Atzerodt, David E. Herold? Those are the only persons, so far as his own testimony or the testimony of any other witness discloses, with whom he had any communication whatever on any subject immediately or remotely touching this conspiracy before the assassination. His receipt and concealment of the arms are unexplained evidence that he was in the conspiracy.
The explanation is that he was dependent upon Mary E. Surratt; was her tenant; and his declaration, given in evidence by the accused herself, is that "she had ruined him, and brought this trouble upon him." But because he was weak enough, or wicked enough, to become the guilty depositary of these arms, and to deliver them on the order of Mary E. Surratt to the assassins, it does not follow that he is not to be believed on oath. It is said that he concealed the facts that the arms had been left and called for. He so testifies himself, but he gives the reason that he did it only from apprehension of danger to his life. If he were in the conspiracy, his general credit being unchallenged, his testimony being uncontradicted in any material matter, he is to be believed, and can not be disbelieved if his testimony is substantially corroborated by other reliable witnesses. Is he not corroborated touching the deposit of arms by the fact that the arms are produced in court, one of which was found upon the person of Booth at the time he was overtaken and slain and which is identified as the same which had been left with Lloyd by Herold, Surratt and Atzerodt? Is he not corroborated in the fact of the first interview with Mrs. Surratt by the joint testimony of Mrs. Offut and Louis J. Weichmann, each of whom testified (and they are contradicted by no one), that on Tuesday, the 11th day of April, at Uniontown, Mrs. Surratt called Mr. Lloyd to come to her, which he did, and she held a secret conversation with him? Is he not corroborated as to the last conversation on the 14th of April by the testimony of Mrs. Offut, who swears that upon the 14th of April she saw the prisoner, Mary E. Surratt, at Lloyd's house, approach and hold conversation with him? Is he not corroborated in the fact, to which he swears, that Mrs. Surratt delivered to him at that time the field-glass wrapped in paper, by the sworn statement of Weichmann, that Mrs. Surratt took with her on that occasion two packages, both of which were wrapped in paper, and one of which he describes as a small package about six inches in diameter? The attempt was made by calling Mrs. Offut to prove that no such package was delivered, but it failed; she merely states that Mrs. Surratt delivered a package wrapped in paper to her after her arrival there, and before Lloyd came in, which was laid down in the room. But whether it was the package about which Lloyd testifies, or the other package of the two about which Weichmann testifies, as havin g been carried there that day by Mrs. Surratt, does not appear. Neither does this witness pretend to say that Mrs. Surratt, after she had delivered it to her, and the witness had laid it down in the room, did not again take it up, if it were the same, and put it in the hands of Lloyd. She only knows that she did not see that done; but she did see Lloyd with a package like the one she received in the room before Mrs. Surratt left. How it came into his possession she is not able to state; nor what the package was that Mrs. Surratt first handed her; nor which of the packages it was she afterward saw in the hands of Lloyd.
But there is one other fact in this case that puts
question of the guilty participation of the prisoner,
Mrs. Surratt, in
this conspiracy and murder; and that is, that Payne, who
days in her house, who, during all that time, had sat at
her table, and
who had often conversed with her, when the guilt of his
great crime was
upon him, and he knew not where else he could so safely
go to find a
and he could trust none that was not, like himself,
guilty, with even
knowledge of his presence, under cover of darkness,
after wandering for
three days and nights, skulking before the pursuing
at the hour of midnight, found his way to the door of
the bell, was admitted, and upon being asked, "Whom do
you want to
replied, "Mrs. Surratt." He was then asked by the
officer, Morgan, what
he came at that time of night for, to which he replied,
"to dig a
in the morning; Mrs. Surratt had sent for him."
Afterward he said "Mrs.
Surratt knew he was a poor man and came to him."
where be last worked, he replied, "sometimes on '1'
street," and where
be boarded, he replied, " he had no boarding-house, and
was a poor man
who got his living with the pick " which he bore upon
stolen it from the intrenchment of the Capital. Upon
why he came there at that time of night to go to work,
he answered that
he simply called to see what time he should go to work
in the morning.
Upon being told by the officer, who, fortunately, had
preceded him to
house, that he would have to go to the Provost Marshal's
and did not answer, whereupon Mrs. Surratt was asked to
step into the
and state whether she knew this man. Raising her right
"Before God, sir, I have not seen that man before; I
have not hired
I do not know anything about him." The hall was
The testimony of Spangler's complicity is conclusive and brief. It was impossible to hope for escape after assassinating the President, and such others as might attend him in Ford's theater, without arrangements being first made to aid the flight of the assassin, and, to some extent, prevent immediate pursuit.
A stable was to be provided close to Ford's theater, in which the horses could be concealed, and kept ready for the assassin's use whenever the murderous blow was struck. Accordingly, Booth secretly, through Maddox, hired a stable in the rear of the theater, and connecting with it by an alley, as early as the 1st of January last, showing that at that time he had concluded, notwithstanding all that has been said to the contrary, to murder the President in Ford's theater, and provide the means for immediate and successful flight. Conscious of his guilt, he paid the rent for this stable through Maddox, mouth by month, giving him the money. He employed Spangler, doubtless for the reason that he could trust him with the secret, as a carpenter to fit up this shed, so that it would furnish room for two horses, and provided the door with lock and key. Spangler did this work for him. Then it was necessary that a carpenter, having access to the theater, should be employed by the assassin to provide a bar for the outer door of the passage leading to the President’s box, so that when he entered upon his work of assassination he would be secure from interruption from the rear. By the evidence it is shown that Spangler was in the box in which the President was murdered on the afternoon of the 14th of April, and when there damned the President and General Grant, and said the President ought to be cursed, he had got so many good men killed, showing not only his hostility to the President, but the cause of it, that he had been faithful to his oath and had resisted that great rebellion, in the interest of which his life was about to be sacrificed by this man and his co-conspirators. In performing the work, which had doubtless been intrusted to him by Booth, a mortise was cut in the wall. A wooden bar was prepared, one end of which could be readily inserted in the mortise and the other pressed against the edge of the door, on the inside, so as to prevent its being opened. Spangler had the skill and the opportunity to do that work and all the additional work which was done.
It is in evidence that the screws in "the keepers" to the locks on each of' the inner doors of the box occupied by the President were drawn. The attempt has been made, on behalf of the prisoner, to show that this was done some time before, accidentally, and with no bad design, and had not been repaired by reason of inadvertence; but that attempt has utterly failed, because the testimony adduced for that purpose relates exclusively to but one of the two inner doors, while the fact is that the screws were drawn in both, and the additional precaution taken to cut a small hole through one of these doors, through which the party approaching, and while in the private passage would be enabled to look into the box and examine the exact posture of the President before entering. It was also deemed essential, in the execution of this plot, that some one should watch at the outer door, in the rear of the theater, by which alone the assassin could hope for escape. It was for this work Booth sought to employ Chester in January, offering $3,000 down of the money of his employers, and the assurance that he should never want. What Chester refused to do, Spangler undertook and promised to do. When Booth brought his horse to the rear door of the theater, on the evening of the murder, he called for Spangler, who went to him, when Booth was heard to say to him, "Ned, you'll help me all you can, won't you?" To which Spangler replied, “Oh, yes."
When Booth made his escape, it is testified by Colonel Stewart, who pursued him across the stage and out through the same door, that, as he approached it, some one slammed it shut. Ritterspaugh, who was standing behind the scenes when Booth fired the pistol and fled, saw Booth run down the passage toward the back door, and pursued him; but Booth drew his knife upon him and passed out, slamming the door after him. Ritterspaugh opened it and went through, leaving it open behind him, leaving Spangler inside, and in a position from which he readily could have reached the door. Ritterspaugh also states that very quickly after he had passed through this door he was followed by a large man, the first who followed him, and who was, doubtless, Colonel Stewart. Stewart is very positive that he saw this door slammed; that he himself was constrained to open it, and had some difficulty in opening it. He also testifies that as he approached the door a man stood near enough to have thrown it to with his hand, and this man, the witness believes, was the prisoner Spangler. Ritterspaugh has sworn that he left the door open behind him when he went out, and that he was first followed by the large man, Colonel Stewart. Who slammed that door behind Ritterspaugh? It was not Ritterspaugh; it could not have been Booth, for Ritterspaugh swears that Booth was mounting his horse at the time; and Stewart swears that Booth was upon his horse when he came out. That it was Spangler who slammed the door after Ritterspaugh may not only be inferred from Stewart's testimony, but it is made very clear by his own conduct afterward, upon the return of Ritterspaugh to the stage. The door being then open, and Ritterspaugh being asked which way Booth went, had answered. Ritterspaugh says: "Then I came back on the stage, where I had left Edward Spangler; he hit me on the face with his hand, and said, 'Don't say which way he went.' I asked him what he meant by slapping me in the mouth. He said, 'For God's sake, shut up.'"
The testimony of Withers is adroitly handled, to throw doubt upon these facts. It can not avail, for Withers says he was knocked in the scene by Booth, and when he "come to" he got a side view of him. A man knocked down and senseless, on "coming to" might mistake anybody, by a side view, for Booth.
An attempt has been made by the defense to discredit this testimony of Ritterspaugh, by showing his contradictory statements to Gifford, Carlan and Lamb, neither of whom do, in fact, contradict him, but substantially sustain him. None but a guilty man would have met the witness with a blow for stating which way the assassin had gone. A like confession of guilt was made by Spangler when the witness Miles, the same evening, and directly after the assassination, came to the back door, where Spangler was standing, with others, and asked Spangler who it was that held the horse, to which, Spangler replied: "Hush; don't say anything about it." He confessed his guilt again when, he denied to Mary Anderson the fact, proved here beyond all question, that Booth had called him when he came to that door with his horse, using the emphatic words, "No; he did not; he did not call me." The rope comes to bear witness against him, as did the rope which Atzerodt, and Herold, and John H. Surratt, had carried to Surrattaville, and deposited there with the carbines.
It is only surprising that the ingenious counsel did not attempt to explain the deposit of the rope at Surrattsville by the same method that, he adopted in explanation of the deposit of the rope, some sixty feet long, found in the carpet-sack of Spangler, unaccounted for, save by some evidence which tends to show that he may have carried it away from the theater.
It is not needful to take time in the recapitulation of the evidence, which shows conclusively that David E. Herold was one of these conspirators. His continued association with, Booth, with Atzerodt, his visits to Mrs. Surratt's, his attendance at the theater with Payne, Surratt and Atzerodt, his connection with Atzerodt on the evening of the murder, riding with him on the street in the direction of, and near to, the theater at that hour appointed for the work of assassination, and his final flight and arrest, show that he, in common with all the other parties on trial, and all the parties named upon your record not upon trial, had combined and confederated to kill and murder in the interests of the rebellion, as charged and specified against them.
That this conspiracy was entered into by all these parties, both present and absent, is thus proved by the sets, meetings, declarations and correspondence of all the parties, beyond any doubt whatever. True, it is circumstantial evidence, but the Court will remember the rule before recited, that circumstances can not lie; that they are held sufficient in every court where justice is judicially administered to establish the fact of a conspiracy. I shall take no further notice of the remark made by the learned counsel who opened for the defense, and which has been followed by several of his associates, that, under the Constitution, it requires two witnesses to prove the overt act of high treason, than to say, this is not a charge of high treason, but of a treasonable conspiracy, in aid of a rebellion, with intent to kill and murder the Executive officer of the United States, and commander of its armies, and of the murder of the President, in pursuance of that conspiracy, and with the intent laid, etc. Neither by the Constitution, nor by the rules of the common law, is any fact connected with this allegation required to be established by the testimony of more than one witness. I might say, however, that every substantive averment against each of the parties named upon this record has been established by the testimony of more than one witness.
That the several accused did enter into this conspiracy with John Wilkes Booth and John H. Surratt, to murder the officers of this Government named upon the record, in pursuance of the wishes of their employers and instigators in Richmond and Canada, and with intent thereby to aid the existing rebellion and subvert the Constitution and laws of the United States, as alleged, is no longer an open question.
The intent as laid was expressly declared by Sanders in the meeting of the conspirators at Montreal in February last, by Booth in Virginia and New York, and by Thompson to Conover and Montgomery ; but if there were no testimony directly upon this point, the law would presume the intent, for the reason that such was the natural and necessary tendency and manifest design of the act itself.
The learned gentleman (Mr. Johnson) says the Government has survived the assassination of the President, and thereby would have you infer that this conspiracy was not entered into and attempted to be executed with the intent laid. With as much show of reason, it might be said that because the Government of the United States has survived this unmatched rebellion, it therefore results that the rebel conspirators waged war upon the Government with, no purpose or intent thereby to subvert it. By the law, we have seen that without any direct evidence of previous combination and agreement between these parties, the conspiracy might be established by evidence of the acts of the prisoners, or of any others with whom they co-operated, concurring in the execution of the common design. Roscoe, 416.
Was there co-operation between the several accused in the execution of this conspiracy? That there was, is as clearly established by the testimony as is the fact that Abraham Lincoln was killed and murdered by John Wilkes Booth. The evidence shows that all of the accused, save Mudd and Arnold, were in Washington on the 14th of April, the day of the assassination, together with John Wilkes Booth and John H. Surratt; that on that day Booth had a secret interview with the prisoner, Mary E. Surratt; that immediately thereafter she went to Surrattsville to perform her part of the preparation necessary to the successful execution of the conspiracy, and did make that preparation; that John H. Surratt had arrived here from Canada notifying the parties that the price to be paid for this great crime had been provided for, at least in part, by the deposit receipts of April 6th for $180,000, procured by Thompson, of the Ontario Bank, Montreal, Canada; that he was also prepared to keep watch, or strike a blow, and ready for the contemplated flight; that Atzerodt, on the afternoon of that day, was seeking to obtain a horse, the better to secure his own safety by flight, after he should have performed the task which he had voluntarily undertaken by contract in the conspiracy--the murder of Andrew Johnson, then Vice-President of the United States; that he did procure a horse for that purpose at Naylor's and was seen about nine o'clock in the evening to ride to the Kirkwood House, where the Vice-President then was, dismount, and enter. At a previous hour Booth was in the Kirkwood House, and left his card, now in evidence, doubtless intended to be sent to the room of the Vice-President, and which was in these words: "Don't wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth." Atzerodt, when he made application at Brooks' in the afternoon for the horse, said to Weichmann, who was there, he was going to ride in the country, and that "he was going to get a horse and send for Payne." 'He did get a horse for Payne, as well as for himself; for it is proven that on the 12th he was seen in Washington, riding the horse which had been procured by Booth, in company with Mudd, last November, from Gardner. A similar horse was tied before the door of Mr. Seward on the night of the murder, was captured after the flight of Payne, who was seen to ride away, and which horse is now identified as the Gardner horse. Booth also procured a horse on the same day, took it to his stable in the rear of the theater, where he had an interview with Spangler, and where he concealed it. Herold, too, obtained a horse in the afternoon, and was seen between nine and ten o'clock riding with Atzerodt down the Avenue from the Treasury, then up Fourteenth and down F street, passing close by Ford's theater.
O'Laughlen had come to Washington the day before, had sought out his victim, General Grant, at the house of the Secretary of War that he might be able with certainty to identify him, and at the very hour when these preparations were going on, was lying in wait at Rullman's, on the Avenue, keeping watch, and declaring, as he did, at about ten o'clock P. M. when told that the fatal blow had been struck by Booth, “I don't believe Booth did it." During the day, and the night before, he had been visiting Booth, and doubtless encouraging him and at that very hour was in position, at a convenient distance, to aid and protect him in his flight, as well as to execute his own part of the conspiracy by inflicting death upon General Grant, who happily was not at the theater nor in the city, having left the city that day. Who doubts that, Booth having ascertained in the course of the day, that General Grant would not be present at the theater, O’Langhlin, who was to murder General Grant, instead of entering the box with Booth, was detailed to lie in wait, and watch and support him.
His declarations of his reasons for changing his lodgings here and in Baltimore, after the murder, so ably and so ingeniously presented in the argument of his learned counsel (Mr. Cox), avail nothing before the blasting fact that he did change his lodgings, and declared "he knew nothing of the affair whatever." O'Laughlen, who lurked here conspiring daily with Booth and Arnold for six weeks to do this murder, declares "he knew nothing of the affair." O'Laughlen, who said he was " in the oil business," which Booth and Surratt, and Payne and Arnold, have all declared meant this conspiracy, says he "knew nothing of the affair." O'Laughlen, to whom Booth sent the dispatches of the 18th and 27th of March O'Laughlen, who is named in Arnold's letter to one of the conspirators, and who searched for General Grant on Thursday night, laid in wait for him on Friday, was defeated by that Providence "which shapes our ends," and laid in wait to aid Booth and Payne, declares "he knows nothing of the matter." Such a denial is as false and inexcusable as Peter's denial of our Lord.
Mrs. Surratt had arrived at home, from the completion of her part of the plot, about half-past eight o'clock in the evening. A few moments afterward she was called to the parlor, and there had a private interview with some one unseen, but whose retreating footsteps were heard by the witness Weichmann. This was doubtless the secret and last visit of John H. Surratt to his mother, who had instigated and encouraged him to strike this traitorous and murderous blow against his country.
While all these preparations were going on, Mudd was awaiting the execution of the plot, ready to faithfully perform his part in securing the safe escape of the murderers. Arnold was at his post at Fortress Monroe, awaiting the meeting referred to in his letter of March 27th, wherein he says they were not "to meet for a month or so," which month had more than expired on the day of the murder, for his letter and the testimony disclose that this month of suspension began to run from about the first week in March. He stood ready with the arms which Booth had furnished him to aid the escape of the murderers by that route, and secure their communication with their employers. He had given the assurance in that letter to Booth, that although the Government “suspicioned them," and the undertaking was "becoming complicated," yet "a time more propitious would arrive" for the consummation of this conspiracy in which he "was one" with Booth, and when he would "be better prepared to again be with him."
Such were the preparations. The horses were in readiness for the flight; the ropes were procured, doubtless, for the purpose of tying the horses at whatever point they might be constrained to delay, and to secure their boats to their moorings in making their way across the Potomac. The five murderous camp knives, the two carbines, the eight revolvers, the Derringer, in Court and identified, all were ready for the work of death. The part that each had played has already been in part stated in this argument, and needs no repetition.
Booth proceeded to the theater about nine o'clock in the evening, at the same time that Atzerodt, Payne and Herold were riding the streets, while Surratt, having parted with his mother at the brief interview in her parlor, from which his retreating steps were heard, was walking the avenue, booted and spurred, and doubtless consulting with O'Laughlen. When Booth reached the rear of the theater, he called Spangler to him (whose denial of that fact, when charged with it, as proven by three witnesses, is very significant, and received from Spangler his pledge to help him all he could, when with Booth he entered the theater by the stage door, doubtless to see that the way was clear from the box to the rear door of the theater, and look upon their victim, whose exact position they could study from the stage. After this view, Booth passes to the street, in front of the theater, where, on the pavement with other conspirators yet unknown, among them one described as a low-browed villain, he awaits the appointed moment. Booth himself, impatient, enters the vestibule of the theater from the front, and asks the time. He is referred to the clock, and returns. Presently, as the hour of ten approached, one of his guilty associates called the time; they wait; again, as the moments elapsed, this conspirator, upon watch called the time; again, as the appointed hour draws nigh, he calls the time; and finally, when the fatal moment arrives, he repeats in a louder tone, “Ten minutes past ten o’clock.” Ten minutes past ten o’clock The hour has come when the red right hand of these murderous conspirators should strike, and the dreadful deed of assassination be done.
Booth, at the appointed moment, entered the theater, ascended to the dress-circle, passed to the right, paused a moment, looking down, doubtless to see if Spangler was at his post, and approached the outer door of the close passage leading to the box occupied by the President, pressed it open, passed in, and closed the passage door behind him. Spangler's bar was in its place, and was readily adjusted by Booth in the mortise, and pressed against the inner side of the door, so that he was secure from interruption from without. He passes on to the next door, immediately behind the President,, and there stopping, looks through the aperture in the door into the President's box, and deliberately observes the precise position of his victim, seated in the chair which had been prepared by the conspirators as the altar for the sacrifice, looking calmly and quietly down upon the glad and grateful people whom by his fidelity he had saved from the peril which had threatened the destruction of their government, and all they held dear this side of the grave, and whom he had come upon invitation to greet with his presence, with the words still lingering upon his lips which he had uttered with uncovered head and uplifted hand before God and his country, when on the 4th of last March he took again the oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution, declaring that he entered upon the duties of his great office "with malice toward none--with charity for all." In a moment more, strengthened by the knowledge that his co-conspirators were all at their posts, seven at least of them present in the city, two of them, Mudd and Arnold, at their appointed places, watching for his coming, this hired assassin moves stealthily through the door, the fastenings of which had been removed to facilitate his entrance, fires upon his victim, and the martyr spirit of Abraham Lincoln ascends to God.
“Treason has done his
At the same hour, when these accused and their co-conspirators in Richmond and Canada, by the band of John Wilkes Booth, inflicted this mortal wound which deprived the republic of its defender, and filled this land from ocean to ocean with a strange, great sorrow, Payne, a very demon in human form, with the words of falsehood upon his lips, that he was the bearer of a message from the physician of the venerable Secretary of State, sweeps by his servant, encounters his son, who protests that the assassin shall not disturb his father, prostrate on a bed of sickness, and receives for answer the assassin's blow from the revolver in his hand, repeated again and again, rushes into the room, is encountered by Major Seward, inflicts wound after wound upon him with his murderous knife, is encountered by Hansell and Robinson, each of whom he also wounds, springs upon the defenseless and feeble Secretary of State, stabs first on one side of his throat, then on the other, again in the face, and is only prevented from literally hacking out his life by the persistence and courage of the attendant Robinson. He turns to flee, and his giant arm and murderous hand for a moment paralyzed by the consciousness of guilt, he drops his weapons of death, one in the house, the other at the door, where they were taken up, and are here now to bear witness against him. He attempts escape on the horse which Booth and Mudd had procured of Gardner--with what success has already been stated.
Atzerodt, near midnight, returns to of Naylor the horse which he had procured for this work of murder, having been interrupted in the execution of the part assigned him at the Kirkwood House, by the timely coming of citizens to the defense of the Vice-President, and creeps into the Pennsylvania House at two o'clock in the morning with another of the conspirators, yet unknown. There he remained until about five o'clock, when he left, found his way to Georgetown, pawned one of his revolvers, now in court, and fled northward into Maryland.
He is traced to Montgomery county, to the house of Mr. Metz, on the Sunday succeeding the murder, where, as is proved by the testimony of three witnesses, he said that if the man that was to follow Gen. Grant had followed him, it was likely that Grant was shot. To one of these witnesses (Mr. Leaman) he said he did not think Grant had been killed; or if he had been killed, he was killed by a man who got on the care at the same time that Grant did; thus disclosing most clearly that one of his co-conspirators was assigned the task of killing and murdering Gen. Grant, and that Atzerodt knew that Gen. Grant had left the city of Washington, a fact which is not disputed, on the Friday evening of the murder, by the evening train. Thus this intended victim of the conspiracy escaped, for that night, the knives and revolvers of Atzerodt, and O'Laughlen, and Payne, and Herold, and Booth, and John H. Surratt, and, perchance, Harper and Caldwell, and twenty others, who were then here lying in wait for his life.
In the meantime Booth and Herold taking the route before agreed upon, make directly after the assassination, for the Anacostia bridge. Booth crosses first, gives his name, passes the guard, and is speedily followed by Herold. They make their way directly to Surrattsville, where Herold calls to Lloyd, "Bring out those things," showing that there had been communication between them and Mrs. Surratt after her return. Both the carbines being in readiness, according to Mary E. Surratt's directions, both were brought out. They took but one. Booth declined to carry the other, saying that his limb was broken. They then declared that they had murdered the President and the Secretary of State. They then make their way directly to the house of the prisoner Mudd, assured of safety and security. They arrived early in the morning before day, and no man knows at what hour they left. Herold rode toward Bryantown with Mudd about three o'clock that afternoon, in the vicinity of which place he parted with him, remaining in the swamp, and was afterward seen returning the same afternoon in the direction of Mudd's house; about which time, a little before sundown, Mudd returned from Bryantown toward his home. This village, at the time Mudd was in it, was thronged with soldiers in pursuit of the murderers of the President, and although great care has been taken by the defense to deny that any one said in the presence of Dr. Mudd, either there or elsewhere on that day, who had committed this crime, yet it is in evidence by two witnesses, whose truthfulness no man questions, that upon Mudd's return to his own house, that afternoon, he stated that Booth was the murderer of the President and Boyle the murderer of Secretary Seward, but took care to make the further remark that Booth had brothers, and he did not know which of them had done the act. When did Dr. Mudd learn that Booth had brothers? And what is still more pertinent to this inquiry, from whom did he learn that either John Wilkes Booth or any of his brothers had murdered the President? It is clear that Booth remained in his house until some time in the afternoon of Saturday; that Herold left the house alone, as one of the witnesses states, being seen to pass the window; that he alone of those two assassins was in the company of Dr. Mudd on his way to Bryantown. It does not appear when Herold returned to Mudd's house. It is a confession of Dr. Mudd himself, proven by one of the witnesses, that Booth left his house on crutches, and went in the direction of the swamp. How long he remained there, and what became of the horses which Booth and Herold rode to his house, and which were put into his stable, are facts nowhere disclosed by the evidence. The owners testify that they have never seen the horses since. The accused give no explanation of the matter, and when Herold and Booth were captured they had not these horses in their possession. How comes it that, on Mudd's return from Bryantown, on the evening of Saturday, in his conversation with Mr. Hardy and Mr. Farrell, the witnesses referred to, he gave the name of Booth as the murderer of the President and that of Boyle as the murderer of Secretary Seward and his son, and carefully avoided intimating to either that Booth had come to his house early that day, and had remained there until the afternoon; that he left him in his house and had furnished him a razor with which Booth attempted to disguise himself by shaving off his mustache? How comes it, also, that, upon being asked by those two witnesses whether the Booth who killed the President was the one who had been there last fall, he answered that he did not know whether it was that man or one of his brothers, but he understood he had some brothers, and added, that if it was the Booth who was there last fall, he knew that one, but concealed the fact that this man had been at his house on that day, and was then at his house, and had attempted, in his presence, to disguise his person? He was sorry, very sorry, that the thing had occurred, but not so sorry as to be willing to give any evidence to these two neighbors, who were manifestly honest and upright men, that the murderer had been harbored in his house all day, and was probably at that moment, as his own subsequent confession shows, lying concealed in his house or near by, subject to his call. This is the man who undertakes to show by his own declaration, offered in evidence against my protest, of what he said afterward, on Sunday afternoon, the 16th, to his kinsman, Dr. George D. Mudd, to whom he then stated that the assassination of the President was a most damnable act--a conclusion in which most men will agree with him, and to establish which his testimony was not needed. But it is to be remarked that this accused did not intimate that the man whom he knew the evening before was the murderer had found refuge in his house, had disguised his person, and sought concealment in the swamp upon the crutches which he had provided for him. Why did he conceal this fact from his kinsman? After the church services were over, however, in another conversation on their way home, he did tell Dr. George Mudd that two suspicious persons had been at his house, who had come there a, little before daybreak on Saturday morning; that one of them had a broken leg, which he bandaged; that they got something to eat at his house; that they seemed to be laboring under more excitement than probably would result from the injury; that they said they came from Bryantown, and inquired the way to Carson Wilmer's; that while at his house one of them called for a razor and shaved himself. The witness says, "I do not remember whether he said that this party shaved off his whiskers or his mustache, but he altered somewhat, or probably materially, his features. Finally, the prisoner, Dr. Mudd, told this witness that he, in company with the younger of the two men, went down the road toward Bryantown in search of a vehicle to take the wounded man away from his house. How comes it that he concealed in this conversation the fact proved, that he went with Herold toward Bryan town and left Herold outside of the town? How comes it that in this second conversation, on Sunday, insisted upon herewith such pertinacity as evidence for the defense, but which had never been called for by the prosecution, he concealed from his kinsman the fact which he had disclosed the day before to Hardy and Farrell, that it was Booth who assassinated the President, and the fact which is now disclosed by his other confessions given in evidence for the prosecution, that it was Booth whom he had sheltered, concealed in his house, and aided to his hiding place in the swamps? He volunteers as evidence his further statement, however, to this witness, that on Sunday evening he requested the witness to state to the military authorities that two suspicious persons had been at his house, and see if anything could be made of it. He did not tell the witness what became of Herold, and where he parted with him on the way to Bryantown. How comes it, that when he was at Bryantown on the Saturday evening before, when he knew that Booth was then at his house and that Booth was the murderer of the President, he did not himself state it to the military authorities then in that village, as he well knew? It is difficult to see what kindled his suspicions on Sunday, if none were in his mind on Saturday, when he was in possession of the fact that Booth had murdered the President, and was then secreting and disguising himself in the prisoner's own house.
His conversation with Gardner on the same Sunday at the church is also introduced here to relieve him from the overwhelming evidences of his guilt. He communicates nothing to Gardner of the fact that Booth had been in his house; nothing of the fact that he knew the day before that Booth had murdered the President; nothing of the fact that Booth had disguised or attempted to disguise himself; nothing of the fact that he had gone with Booth's associate, Herold, in search of a vehicle, the more speedily to expedite their flight; nothing of the fact that Booth had found concealment in the woods and swamp near his house, upon the crutches which he had furnished him. He contents himself with merely stating “that we ought to raise immediately a home guard, to hunt up all suspicious persons passing through our section of country and arrest them, for there were two suspicious persons at my house yesterday morning."
It would have looked more like aiding justice and arresting felons if he had put in execution his project of a home guard on Saturday, and made it effective by the arrest of the man then in his house who had lodged with him last fall, with whom he had gone to purchase one of the very horses employed in his flight after the assassination, whom he, visited last winter in Washington, and to whom he had pointed out the very route by which he had escaped by way of his house, whom he had again visited on the 3d of last March, preparatory to the commission of this great crime, and who he knew, when he sheltered and concealed him in the woods on Saturday, was not merely a suspicious person, but was, in fact, the murderer and assassin of Abraham Lincoln. While I deem it my duty to say here, as I said before, when these declarations, uttered by the accused on Sunday, the 16th, to Gardner and George D. Mudd, were attempted to be offered on the part of the accused, that they are in no sense evidence, and by the law were wholly in-admissible, yet I state it as my conviction that, being upon the record upon motion of the accused himself, so far as these declarations to Gardner and George D. Mudd go, they are additional indications of the guilt of the accused, in this, that they are manifestly suppressions of the truth and suggestions of falsehood and deception ; they are but the utterances and confessions of guilt.
To Lieutenant Lovett, Joshua Lloyd, and Simon Gavacan, who, in pursuit of the murderer, visited his house on the l8th of April, the Tuesday after the murder, he denied positively, upon inquiry, that two men had passed his house, or had come to his house on the morning after the assassination. Two of these witnesses swear positively to his having made the denial, and the other says he hesitated to answer the question he put to him; all of them agree that he afterward admitted that two men had been there, one of whom had a broken limb, which he had set; and when asked by this witness who that man was, he said he did not know--that the man was a stranger to him, and that the two had been there but a short time. Lloyd asked him if he had ever seen any of the parties, Booth, Herold and Surratt, and he said he had never seen them; while it is positively proved that he was acquainted with John H. Surratt, who had been in his house: that he knew Booth and had introduced Boot to Surratt last winter. Afterward, on Friday, the 21st, he admitted to Lloyd that he had been introduced to Booth last fall, and that this man who came to his house on Saturday, the15th, remained there from about four o'clock in the morning until about four in the afternoon; that one of them left his house on horseback, and the other walking. In the first conversation he denied ever having seen these men.
Colonel Wells also testifies that, in his conversation with Dr. Mudd on Friday, the 21st, the prisoner said that he had gone to Bryantown, or near Bryantown, to see some friends on Saturday, and that as he came back to his own house he saw the person he afterward supposed to be Herold passing to the left of his house toward the barn, but that he did not see the other person at all after he left him in his own horse, about one o'clock. If this statement be true, how did Dr. Mudd see the same person leave his house on crutches? He further stated to this witness that he returned to his own house about four o'clock in the afternoon; that he did not know this wounded man; said he could not recognize him from the photograph which is of record here, but admitted that he had met Booth some time in November, when he had some conversation with him about lands and horses; that Booth had remained with him that night in November, and on the next day had purchased a horse. He said he had not again seen Booth from the time of the introduction in November up to his arrival at his house on the Saturday morning after the assassination. Is not this a confession that he did see John Wilkes Booth on that morning at his house, and knew it was Booth? If he did not know him, how come he to make this statement to the witness: that "he had not seen Booth after November prior to his arrival there on the Saturday morning?"
He had said before to the same witness, he did not know the wounded man, he said further to Colonel Wells, that when he went up stairs after their arrival, he noticed that the person he supposed to be Booth had shaved off his mustache. Is it not inferable from this declaration that he then supposed him to be Booth? Yet he declared the same afternoon, and while Booth was in his own house, that Booth was the murderer of the President. One of the most remarkable statements made to this witness by the prisoner was that he heard for the first time on Sunday morning, or late in the evening of Saturday, that the President had been murdered! From whom did he hear it? The witness (Colonel Wells) volunteers his “impression" that Dr. Mudd had said he heard it after the persons had left his house. If the “impression" of the witness thus volunteered is to be taken as evidence--and the counsel for the accused, judging from their manner, seem to think it ought to be--let this question be answered: how could Dr. Mudd have made that impression upon anybody truthfully, when it is proved by Farrell and Hardy that on his return from Bryantown, on Saturday afternoon, he not only stated that the President, Mr. Seward and his son had been assassinated, but that Boyle had assassinated Mr. Seward, and Booth had assassinated the President? Add to this the fact that he said to this witness that he left his own house at one o'clock, and when he returned the men were gone, yet it is in evidence, by his own declarations, that Booth left his house at four o'clock on crutches, and he must have been there to have seen it, or he could not have known the fact.
Mr. Williams testifies that he was at Mudd's house on Tuesday, the l8th of April, when he said that strangers had not been that way, and also declared that he heard, for the first time, of the assassination of the President on Sunday morning, at church. Afterward, on Friday, the 2lst, Mr. Williams asked him concerning the men who had been at his house, one of whom had a broken limb, and he confessed they had been there. Upon being asked if they were Booth and Herold, he said they were not--that he knew Booth I think it is fair to conclude that he did know Booth, when we consider the testimony of Weichmann, of Norton, of Evans, and all the testimony just referred to, wherein he declares, himself that he not only knew him, but that he had lodged with him, and that he had himself gone with him when he purchased his horse from Gardner last fall, for the very purpose of aiding the flight of himself, or some of his confederates.
All these circumstances taken together, which, as we have seen upon high authority, are stronger as evidences of guilt than even direct testimony, leave no further room for argument, and no rational doubt that Dr. Samuel A. Mudd was as certainly in this conspiracy as were Booth and Herold, whom he sheltered and entertained; receiving them under cover of darkness on the morning after the assassination, concealing them throughout that day from the hand of offended justice, and aiding them, by every endeavor, to pursue their way successfully to their co-conspirator, Arnold, at Fortress Monroe, and in which direction they fled until overtaken and Booth was slain.
We next find Herold and his confederate Booth, after their departure from the house of Mudd, across the Potomac, in the neighborhood of Port Conway, on Monday, the 24th of April, conveyed in a wagon. There Herold, in order to obtain the aid of Captain Jett, Ruggles and Bainbridge, of the Confederate army, said to Jett, "We are the assassinstors of the President;" that this was his brother with him, who, with himself, belonged to A. P. Hill's corps; that his brother had been wounded at Petersburg; that their names were Boyd. He requested Jett and his rebel companions to take them out of the lines. After this, Booth joined these parties, was placed on Ruggles' horse, and crossed the Rappahannock river. They then proceeded to the house of Garrett, in the neighborhood of Port Royal, and nearly midway between Washington city and Fortress Monroe, where they were to have joined Arnold. Before these rebel guides and guards parted with them-- Herold confessed that they were traveling under assumed names--that his own name was Herold, and that the name of the wounded man was John Wilkes Booth, "who had killed the President." The rebels left Booth at Garrett's, where Herold re-visited him from time to time, until they were captured. At two o'clock on Wednesday morning, the 26th, a party of United States officers and soldiers surrounded Garrett's barn, where Booth and Herold lay concealed, and demanded their surrender. Booth cursed Herold, calling him a coward, and bade him go, when Herold came out and surrendered himself, was taken into custody, and is now brought into Court. The barn was then set on fire, when Booth sprang to his feet, amid the flames that were kindling about him, carbine in band, and approached the door, seeking, by the flashing light of the fire, to find some new victim for his murderous band, when he was shot, as he deserved to be, by Sergeant Corbett, in order to save his comrades from wounds or death by the hands of this desperate assassin. Upon his person was found the following bill of exchange:
"No. 1492. The Ontario Bank, Montreal Branch. Exchange for L61 12s. 10d. Montreal, 27th October, 1864. Sixty days after sight of this first of exchange, second and third of the same tenor and date, pay to the order of J. Wilkes Booth L61 l2s. 10d. sterling, value received, and charge to the account of this office. H. Stanus, manager. To Messrs. Glynn, Mills & Co., London."
Thus fell, by the hands of one of the defenders of the republic, this hired assassin, who, for a price, murdered Abraham Lincoln, bearing upon his person, as this bill of exchange testifies, additional evidence of the fact that he had undertaken, in aid of the rebellion, this work of assassination by the hands of himself and his confederates, for such sum as the accredited agents of Jefferson Davis might pay him or them, out of the funds of the Confederacy, which, as is in evidence, they had in "any amount" in Canada for the purpose of rewarding conspirators, spies, poisoners and assassins, who might take service under their false commissions, and to do the work of the incendiary and the murderer upon the lawful representatives of the American people, to whom had been intrusted the care of the republic, the maintenance of the Constitution, and the execution of the laws.
The Court will remember that it is in the testimony of Merritt, and Montgomery, and Conover, that Thompson, and Sanders, and Clay, and Cleary, made their boasts that they had money in Canada for this very purpose. Nor is it to be overlooked or forgotten that the officers of the Ontario Bank, at Montreal, testify that during the current year of this conspiracy and assassination, Jacob Thompson had on deposit in that bank the sum of six hundred and forty-nine thousand dollars, and that these deposits to the credit of Jacob Thompson accrued from the negotiation of bills of exchange drawn by the Secretary of the Treasury of the so-called Confederate States on Frazier, Trenholm & Co., of Liverpool, who were known to be the financial agents of the Confederate States. With an undrawn deposit in this bank of four hundred and fifty-five dollars, which has remained to his credit since October last, and with an unpaid bill of exchange drawn by the same bank upon London, in his Possession, and found upon his person, Booth ends his guilty career in this work of conspiracy and blood in April, 1866, as he began it in October, 1864, in combination with Jefferson Davis, Jacob Thompson, George N. Sanders, Clement C. Clay, William C. Cleary, Beverley Tucker, and other co-conspirators, making use of the money of the rebel confederation to aid in the execution and in the flight, bearing, at the moment of his death, upon his person, their money, part of the price which they paid for his great crime, to aid him in its consummation, and secure him afterward from arrest, and the just penalty which, by the law of God and the law of man, is denounced against treasonable conspiracy and murder.
By all the testimony in the case, it is, in my
as any transaction can be shown by human testimony, that
and John H. Surratt, and the severed accused, David E.
Atzerodt, Lewis Payne, Michael O'Laughlen, Edward
Mary E. Surratt and Samuel A. Mudd, did, with intent to
rebellion, and to subvert the Constitution and laws of
in the month of October last, and thereafter, combine,
conspire with Jefferson Davis, George N. Sanders,
Thompson, William C. Cleary, Clement C. Clay, George
and others unknown, to kill and murder, within the
of Washington, and within the intrenched fortification
thereof, Abraham Lincoln, then President of the United
of the army and navy thereof; Andrew Johnson,
Vice-President of the
States; William H. Seward, Secretary of State, and
Ulysses S. Grant,
in command of the armies of the United States; and that
the chief of this rebellion, was the instigator and
accredited agents in Canada, of this treasonable
If this treasonable conspiracy has not been wholly executed; if the several executive officers of the United States and the commander of its armies, to kill and murder whom the said several accused thus confederated and conspired, have not each and all fallen by the hands of these conspirators, thereby leaving the people of the United States without a President or Vice-President, without a Secretary of State, who alone is clothed with authority by the law to call an election to fill the vacancy, should any arise, in the offices of President and Vice-President; and, without a lawful commander of the armies of the republic, it is only because the conspirators were deterred by the vigilance and fidelity of the executive officers, whose lives were mercifully protected, on that night of murder, by the care of the Infinite Being, who has, thus far, saved the Republic, and crowned its arms with victory.
If this conspiracy was thus entered into by the accused; if John Wilkes Booth did kill and murder Abraham Lincoln in pursuance thereof; if Lewis Payne did, in pursuance of said conspiracy, assault, with intent to kill and murder, William H. Seward, as stated, and if the several parties accused did commit the several sets alleged against them, in the prosecution of said conspiracy, then it is the law that all the parties to that conspiracy, whether present at the time of its execution or not, whether on trial before this Court or not, are like guilty of the several sets done by each in the execution of the common design. What these conspirators did in the execution of this conspiracy by the hand of one of their co-conspirators they did themselves; his act, done in the prosecution of the common design, was the act of all the parties to the treasonable combination, because done in execution and furtherance of their guilty and treasonable agreement.
As we have seen this is the rule, whether all the conspirators are indicted or not; whether they are all on trial or not. "It is not material what the nature of the indictment is, provided the offense involve a conspiracy. Upon indictment for murder, for instance, if it appear that others, together with the prisoner, conspired to perpetrate the crime, the set of one, done in pursuance of that intention, would be evidence against the rest." 1 Whar. 706. To the same effect are the words of Chief Justice Marshall, before cited, that whoever leagued in a general conspiracy, performed any part, however MINUTE, or however REMOTE, from the scene of action, are guilty as principals. In this treasonable conspiracy, to aid the existing armed rebellion by murdering the executive officers of the United States and the commander of its armies, all the parties to it must be held as principals, and the act of one, in the prosecution of the common design, the act of all.
I leave the decision of this dread issue with the Court, to which alone it belongs. It is for you to say, upon your oaths, whether the accused are guilty.
I am not conscious that in this argument I have made any erroneous statement of the evidence, or drawn any erroneous conclusions; yet I pray the Court, out of tender regard and jealous care for the rights of the accused, to see that no error of mine, if any there be, shall work them harm. The past services of the members of this honorable Court give assurance that, without fear, favor or affection, they will discharge with fidelity the duty enjoined upon them by their oaths. Whatever else may befall, I trust in God that in this, as in every other American court, the rights of the whole people will be respected, and that the Republic in this, its supreme hour of trial, will be true to itself and just to all, ready to protect the rights of the humblest, to redress every wrong, to avenge every crime, to vindicate the majesty of law, and to maintain inviolate the Constitution, whether assailed secretly or openly, by hosts armed with gold, or armed with steel.
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