by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America
The previous article, with material taken from the book Confederate Courier about the trial of John Surratt Jr. almost reads like a playbook for much of what goes on in Washington in 2018. It’s truly amazing how little some things change. Or maybe you could say the more they change the more they stay the same.
The trial of John Surratt Jr. was never only about Surratt. He was the vehicle used by the Deep State of his day i.e. Edwin Stanton and the Radical Republicans, the Yankee Marxists.
On page 138 was noted a letter that said, in part, “Mr. Matchett then requested me to mention to Surratt there was a means by which he could save his neck, have the shackles struck from his arms, and have his mother’s name rescued from odium if he would give the name of someone high in position who might have prompted the assassination as he and his party were no doubt tools in the hands of more important personages and that he need not look to Andrew Johnson for pardon as he dare not do it.
Needless to say “The power behind these and other events that preceded Johnny’s trial was Edwin M. Stanton, Secretary of War, and leader of the radical faction of the Republican Party. He had been the power behind the military trial of the alleged conspirators , and his determination to convict the defendants had brought about Mrs. Surratt’s death…Stanton had a double interest now for unless John Surratt was found guilty, thus upholding the verdicts of the earlier trial, the whole radical faction might be destroyed politically.”
It was no secret in the right circles that Stanton really wanted to be president, i.e. dictator. Supposedly votes from the North and West could enable the radicals to hold onto power, but Southern votes had “to be reduced to a trickle. The strategy to accomplish this had been to disenfranchise Southern white men and bestow suffrage on the Freedmen, who would support their Northern liberators at the polls, thus preserving the radicals. But to their discomfiture the Radicals discovered that the new President, Andrew Johnson, would not follow blindly where they led. At first they threatened him with party power but when he continued to pardon Rebels and to revert to many of Lincoln’s conciliatory and personal vote-winning policies, they cast about for means of getting rid of him.” Any of this sound familiar today–a sitting president who goes his own way (and the way of those that elected him) instead of kowtowing to the Deep State and letting them call the shots, as they had for decades?
Campbell noted, on page 140, that shortly after Surratt’s arrest, Representative James H. Ashley from Ohio “had introduced before the House of Representatives a resolution to impeach President Andrew Johnson. The House Judiciary Committee thereupon had launched the necessary investigation. When the Committee began its search for evidence useful in removing President Johnson from office, it first of all requested the Secretary of War to supply copies of all information in his possession concerning persons accused of complicity in the murder of Lincoln. After the astounded committee read the Conover material, they immediately tried to locate the witnesses at the conspirators’ trial and bring them in for further questioning. The first of these, William Campbell, broke down under questioning. ‘This is all false,’ he cried miserably. ‘I must make a clean breast of it. I can’t stand this any longer.’ All the testimony by himself and the seven others had been manufactured, he confessed. Conover had written it out and coached the witnesses in delivering it.
His pupils had then traveled to Washington, made depositions at the War Department and, using their assumed names, had testified at the Conspirators’ Trial.” Do you realize what has just been said here? The Lincoln “conspirators” were convicted on false testimony!!! We have the identical situation going on right now in Washington–a Supreme Court Justice nominee is in the process of being convicted on false testimony–no evidence–just fake charges. However, in this sorry day and age you don’t even need a scintilla of evidence or proof–all you have to do is make the accusation and that’s enough–no evidence needed!
At least, in Surratt’s day, the promoter of perjury, Conover, was arrested and convicted of perjury, and sentenced to eight years in jail. Ironically, when John Surratt Jr entered the District Jail in February of 1867, Conover was there, in the cell across the hall opposite his, waiting to be transferred to the Federal Penitentiary in Albany, New York! Nowadays the perjurer wouldn’t be going to jail, he’d be going to Washington to receive an award from the Democratic National Committee.
To be continued