Edwin Stanton, Ben Green, and The Peoples Weekly

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

It seems that there have been some people, even back in the 1860s, that felt that Edwin Stanton was involved with the Lincoln assassination. Only problem is that getting a line on some of them is almost next to impossible in our day.

Otto Eisenschiml, in his book O. E. Historian Without an Armchair  has noted one particular case I felt was worth commenting on. A lot of what I write here will be Mr. Eisenschiml’s as he has had more to say about this particular situation than anyone else I have been able to come up with, and I have done some other looking.

In commenting about Stanton’s involvement Eisenschiml observed, starting on page 172, and following, that: “My earlier belief that the reporters of 1865 harbored no suspicion about Stanton proved unfounded…three years later convincing proof that not all contemporary journalists agreed with the official version of the assassination came to light and in a most fantastic manner. Early in 1948, Jesse E. Wilson, a resident of Baltimore, made a queer find. While he was walking through the living room of an old building on West St. Paul Street, a mirror fell apart, and behind it, hidden in a hollow space, he spied a pocket gun. Under it lay a magazine, brittle with age and partly torn, but still uncut. Its presence puzzled him. Had it been placed there to protect the pistol, or had the pistol been used to weight down the paper? Since the magazine had not been cut, the owner apparently had valued the pistol more highly; but to one historically inclined, the paper was much more exciting. It proved to be the May 2, 1868, issue of a periodical called The People’s Weekly. Mr. Wilson, fortunately, is historically inclined, and turned the paper over to Carroll Dulaney, conductor of a column in the Baltimore American; later he sent it to me as a present. Mr. Dulaney’s eyebrows must have gone up in astonishment when he looked over the pages. Titled That Wicked Old Man, the leading editorial stated bluntly that ‘the real instigators of the assassination of Lincoln’ were Edwin Stanton and two of his intimates, Joseph Holt, head of the Bureau of Military Justice, and Lafayette C. Baker, chief of the government’s Secret Service. Well, there it was.

Someone, a long time ago, had positively accused Stanton of having murdered Lincoln by proxy. That someone was a man named Ben Green, who had recently acquired The People’s Weekly. His belief in Stanton’s guilt had not come easily. He related that, in 1865, at the time of the assassination trial, he had been in Washington, but was too much occupied with getting his parole to give much attention to anything else.” Yes, he was getting a parole because he was an ex-Confederate. While the War had gone on he had operated a munitions plant for the Confederate government, so he had to be paroled when hostilities ceased.

However, as Eisenschiml noted: “His interest in the trial had been sparked by a stenographic reporter who had called on him shortly after the court session had been concluded and asserted that he had taken down the testimony in the case. In his opinion the evidence pointed to Stanton and his two cohorts as the real assassins.” Green had been incredulous at first and really didn’t buy it. But upon some reflection “the seed of suspicion had germinated in his mind. The more Green studied the evidence and what he called ‘subsequent developments’, the more certain he became that what at first he had thought a wild vagary had solid substance behind it, and he was ready to lay his findings before the American public.”

“What Green disclosed in his editorial can be condensed into two excerpts from it. ‘We are now thoroughly convinced that THE REAL INSTIGATORS OF THE ASSASSINATION OF LINCOLN were Edwin M. Stanton, Joseph Holt and Lafayette C. Baker; and Thad Stevens wicked vindictiveness warmed into life the brutal instincts of Stanton, Holt, and Baker, to have Lincoln assassinated; that they might have freer scope in hanging rebels and appropriating to themselves their property; to which they feared Lincoln’s good nature and desire for conciliation would be an obstacle. We have not time or space in this number to continue this subject; but our belief is, that Stanton, after forcing the well-meaning, but too yielding, Lincoln to recall an order which would have recognized the Virginia Legislature, determined to get rid of him, as an obstacle to his game of rebel hanging and plundering; and that he accomplished his purpose through that infamous adjunct of the War Department, the Bureau of Military Injustice. We will explain the process in our next.”

Eisenschiml wondered exactly how much dependence could be placed on what Green had written. Ben Green was the son of Duff Green, who I have been able to find a limited amount of material about on the internet–and it has been a limited amount, which I will go into later in this article.

It was observed by Eisenschiml that Green, as an ex-Confederate would not exactly have referred to Stanton with terms of endearment, yet Green would have had to exercise some caution as to what he wrote. Eisenschiml figured Green could not have said what he said without some sort of evidence. He said of Green that: “he must have known that to accuse without incontestable evidence a man of such prominence who, although practically on the way out of office, still had strong links with the party in power, was a risky affair..”

According to Eisenschiml, “Green probably came much nearer to the truth when he wrote that Stanton ‘feared Lincoln’s good nature and desire for conciliation.’ To Stanton and Holt it was important to block the reconciliation policy which Lincoln had advocated so earnestly, but which would have broken the hold of the Radicals on the government. This, however, is secondary to ‘the process’ for ‘getting rid’ of Lincoln, which Green had promised to explain in the next issue. What had Green unearthed that made him so certain of being able to prove his charge? And what were the ‘subsequent developments’ which he mentioned? It does need to be said here, that, whatever motives Lincoln may have had for what he did,  it was not because of his good nature. It was more probably a case of who was going to control political patronage, Lincoln or the Radicals.

This will all be continued in the next article, along with a few questions of my own.

Red Republicans Revisited–Via The Washington Post

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

Back in 2007, my friend, Donnie Kennedy and I had our book Red Republicans and Lincoln’s Marxists  published. It got quite a bit of attention and we were pooh-poohed for daring to suggest that the Republicans ever had anything to do with the communists. The fact that those who attacked us had probably never read any of the history was immaterial. In our insane day you don’t have to know the history or facts about anything. All you have to do is accuse someone of something and that is supposed to be enough. You don’t need no stinkin’ evidence, all you gotta do is say it and everyone is supposed to fall in line and believe it.

In 2011 the second edition of our book was published by another published and simply titled Lincoln’s Marxists. We were again castigated by many, some of them on the Left, for producing “propaganda” about how bad communism was.

The mainstream media in this country has shown a rare display of ramped up speed, especially the Washington Post. An article by Gillian Brockell appeared in the Post for July 27th which basically admitted that everything Donnie Kennedy and I said in our book about Lincoln and the Red Republican Party was true. And it only took them eight years to say what Donnie and I said in 2011. Is that media promptness or what? Or are they just trying to make the current Republican Party look bad before Trump’s 2020 run for the presidency? Not that the Republican Party doesn’t have major problems–it surely does, but compared to the current brand of Democratic Party Marxism (yes, I said Marxism) the Republicans look almost conservative–almost but not quite. There are some good conservative Republicans out there in different positions, but they are in the minority.

Ms. Brockell noted some things Lincoln said that sounded like they came from the mouth of Marx. And she duly noted that: “If you think that sounds like something Karl Marx would write, well, that might be because Lincoln was regularly reading Karl Marx.” Trump has expressed admiration for Lincoln and Brockell observed: ‘…the first Republican president, for whom Trump has expressed admiration, was surrounded by socialists and looked to them for counsel.” Brockell again noted: “But Lincoln and Marx–born only nine years apart–were contemporaries. They had many mutual friends, read each other’ work and, in 1865, exchanged letters.” She is admitting some of the same stuff Donnie and I were castigated for saying about Lincoln. Wonder if anyone will jump on her for saying what we said. Bet they won’t.

She even got into Horace Greeley, Lincoln’s friend and his newspaper the New York Tribune  which she said was largely responsible “for transmitting the ideals and ideas that formed the Republican Party in 1854. And what were those ideals and ideas? They were anti-slavery, pro-worker and sometimes overtly socialist, according to John Nichols, author of the book The ‘S’ Word: A Short History of an American Tradition…Socialism.”

She noted the 1848 revolts in Europe and that “Hundreds of thousands of German radicals immigrated to the United States in the same period” most of whom went to the North and joined anti-slavery groups (all the better to promote their socialism, my dear!

She noted Marx’s friendship with Charles A. Dana, and she frankly labeled him an American socialist. He became Edwin Stanton’s right hand man. So what does that tell you about both him and Stanton? More about the vaunted Mr. Stanton in future articles. If you have been reading my recent material you already have some idea as to where Stanton was coming from.

She also commented on Lincoln’s being a one-term congressman and a country lawyer. Hardly qualifications to run an entire country. When I read that I immediately thought of the individual that occupied the White House prior to Trump. Wasn’t he also a one-term congressman–and a community organizer of dubious quality. He was no more qualified to run the country than was Baalam’s ass! You have to realize that there is usually someone behind many of these characters that get into high offices and in most cases it’s their agenda that gets put into play, not what’s best for the American people.

And Brockell noted that “Greeley continued to urge Lincoln to take a harder line against slavery, to make the Civil War not just about preserving the Union but also about abolition. Marx did the same thing in the pages of the Tribune” which Dana had hired him to write for when he worked for Greeley, who was a utopian socialist.
I won’t get into anymore of this here. Most of my readers have probably read this several times, but now the Washington Post  has taken much of what Donnie Kennedy and I said in Lincoln’s Marxists  and made it “official.” And it only took them eight years after the second edition of our book came out! Is that media efficiency or what?

So Who is Responsible For the Conspiracy to Get Rid of Lincoln?

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

In going through all of these articles about the conspiracy to get rid of Lincoln, I should make one thing clear. Anyone who knows me or has followed my writings over the years knows that I am no fan of Abraham Lincoln. So these articles are not, in any way, to make Lincoln look “good” and those who murdered him look “bad.” Undoubtedly, those responsible for Lincoln’s assassination were not very nice people–but then, neither was Lincoln.

The book Donnie Kennedy and I wrote, Lincoln’s Marxists, dealing with Lincoln’s love affair with the political Leftists of his day is still available and will demonstrate where we stand on the sainted Mr. Lincoln.

However, when it is very obvious that anyone’s death is of questionable origin, it should be investigated. And what we have gotten from the Establishment regarding Lincoln’s assassination resembles nothing more than an 1860s version of the Warren Commission Report about the Kennedy assassination.

Otto Eisenschiml has written quite a bit about the Lincoln assassination. In 1937 his book Why Was Lincoln Murdered? came out. In 1942 his book In the Shadow of Lincoln’s Death  came out and in 1963 his book O.E. Historian Without an Armchair  came out. Eisenschiml has noted that he has felt that Edwin Stanton was implicated in Lincoln’s assassination. He felt that in 1937 and he still felt that way in 1963, although he has had to admit that the evidence is inconclusive.

Nonetheless it would appear the certain circumstances do tend to lend credence to Eisenschiml’s conclusion. Author John Chandler Griffin, who wrote the book Abraham Lincoln’s Execution  has argued that John Wilkes Booth was merely a tool in the hands of Andrew Johnson and Edwin Stanton. Griffin contends that Lincoln’s lenient reconstruction policies for the South resulted in a conspiracy by Stanton, Johnson, and high-ranking members of the radicals in Congress to plan his execution. They were motivated by a desire for power, but they also wanted to really stick it to the South because of the War. Griffin also contends that Booth did not die in Garrett’s tobacco barn, but escaped, thanks to his collaboration with Stanton and Johnson. This is the second book I have read about recently that has mentioned Stanton and Johnson teaming up to do in Lincoln. That hadn’t been a possibility I had looked into before, but maybe I should check into it. It would seem that others have.

Eisenschiml noted on page 170 that: “To this array of telling points against him may be added the fact that, as President, Johnson displayed a strange reluctance to remove Stanton from his cabinet, even after the war minister’s double-crossing intrigues against his Chief had become the subject of public wonderment.”

There was even an effort in the House of Representatives to connect Johnson with the crime and a special committee was appointed with the sole purpose of involving him, even to the point of accepting perjured testimony. (Sound familiar?) Ben Butler (the Beast) was the head of the committee, and even he could not establish a connection between Johnson and Booth, perjured testimony or no. Eisenschiml commented on a possible go-between between Stanton, Booth, and Johnson when he said: “Whoever acted as go-between must have met some severe specifications. Aside from having free access to both Stanton and Booth without arousing suspicion or even comments, he would have had to be a man of utmost discretion; he would have had to be unscrupulous, yet not likely to use his knowledge for blackmail. Therefore he should have been guilty of misdeeds known to Stanton. He would have to know that a sword was handing over his own head, but a rich purse in front of him, so long as he obeyed orders.”

Eisenschiml observed one man who came close to meeting these qualifications, and that was Lafayette Baker, “…the head of the Secret Service and one of Stanton’s creatures. Stanton had made him, and could unmake him at will. He could walk in on the Secretary of War at all times, and his many past crimes, moral and otherwise, were well known to the war minister. Baker could summon Booth to his headquarters without fear of adverse gossip, for he had all sorts of unwilling visitors, who were being brought before him for one reason or another, or for no reason at all.”

Eisenschiml went on to state that there was “no factual evidence” that Stanton was involved or that he had any connection with Booth. He called it a conjecture, but then went on to note that this conjecture “has been somewhat strengthened by a recent article by Ray Neff in Civil War Times, who found an alleged confession by Baker in the form of a parable, in which he assumed the role of a spy, while Stanton, thinly disguised as Brutus, murdered Lincoln, who was assigned the part of Caesar.” Unfortunately what Neff found is based on the word of Lafayette Baker, an individual not exactly noted for telling the truth. Eisenschiml observed “Thus Baker’s unsavory character puts a question mark behind the results of Neff’s fine piece of historical research.”

Still more to come where we get into a strange media situation.

And the Photo of Lincoln’s Assassin is–Missing!

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

I really hate to quote Smithsonian.com for much of anything as they are so representative of the anti-South Establishment, but in this case, I felt a brief quote was permissible.

In the above mentioned publication, for May 5, 2011 was an article by Ashley Luthern called Documenting the Death of an Assassin. Under that heading was this question: “In 1865, a single photograph was taken during the autopsy of John Wilkes Booth. Where is it now?” Good question! I doubt if anyone around today knows the answer, but if they do they are not saying. Luthern’s article observed: “The administration, led by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, ordered that a single photograph be taken of Booth’s corpse, says Bob Zeller, president of the Center for Civil War Photography. On April 27, 1865, many experts agree, famed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner and his assistant Timothy O’Sullivan took the picture. It hasn’t been seen since and its whereabouts are unknown.” Surprise, surprise!

The two photographers were kept under surveillance while they took that one picture and made the print, and then both picture and negative (a glass plate) were taken back to the War Department and given to Col Lafayette Baker, chief of the Secret Service or to Edwin Stanton. Either way makes no difference–Stanton probably ended up with it and who knows what he did with it? This was definitely not for public consumption. A government detective said he doubted that a historian would be able to track down the picture. While we don’t know what Stanton did with it, one can make a pretty fair country guess, sort of like those missing pages from Booth’s diary! Destroyed evidence tells no tales–especially after 150 years!

But maybe if that photo had been available all the flap over who the dead man in the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid, Oklahoma in 1903 could have been avoided.
In The Web of Conspiracy  Theodore Roscoe reproduced an affidavit sworn out in Enid, Oklahoma Territory on January 23, 1903 by a Mrs. E. C. Harper, in which she said: “On the evening of January 13th I was startled and surprised by reading in the Enid Daily News  of the suicide of David E. George, of El Reno…I went to the morgue with Mr. Harper on the 15th and identified the corpse as the man who had confessed to me at El Reno (in 1900) that he was John Wilkes Booth, etc.”

At this point, Roscoe introduced us to Finis Bates, a lawyer from Memphis, Tennessee. He opined that Bates must have read about Mrs. Harper’s statements concerning Booth. He wanted to see the corpse of this man who had claimed to be Booth, so he headed for Enid.

Turned out, back in the late 1870s, Bates had been down in Granbury, Texas, and while there, he came to know a former saloonkeeper named John St. Helen. St. Helen, believing he was dying from asthma, called on Lawyer Bates to hear his “confession.” Some at that point in their lives call for a clergyman. St. Helen called for a lawyer. According to Bates, he told him: “I am dying. My name is John Wilkes Booth and I am the assassin of Abraham Lincoln. Get a picture of myself from under the pillow. I leave it with you for future identification. Notify my brother Edwin of New York City.”

St. Helen/George recovered at that point from his asthma and told Bates some interesting stuff. Roscoe told us “He said (according to Bates) that Andrew Johnson had instigated the President’s murder. That he had conferred with Johnson at the Kirkwood House for over an hour on the afternoon of April 14, 1865. That Andrew Johnson told him it had been arranged for General Grant to leave the capital. And that he (the assassin) would be permitted to escape from Washington.” Roscoe admitted it was interesting that Bates had recalled every word of St. Helen’s confession. And Bates must have believed some of it, because in 1900 he sent an inquiry to the Government, asking “if it would be of any importance to develop the fact to the War Department of the United States that John Wilkes Booth, the assassin of President Lincoln, had not been captured and shot by the Federal troops, as was supposed. He claimed that he had discovered conclusive evidence which proved Booth had escaped.” The Government couldn’t reply fast enough! Their official reply–an immediate (if not sooner) NO! Bates was informed that “…the matter is of no importance to the War Department.”

As much as Bates was interested in setting the record straight, he was also interested in any reward money for Booth that might have still been out there.

Even though the War Department was not interested (after all, the “history” had been written and they were not about to change it) Bates continued to persist. In 1907 Bates published a book called The Escape and Suicide of John Wilkes Booth. Roscoe called the book “a mild sensation.” It sold 70,000 copies, so that wasn’t too unhealthy. He got more from book royalties, depending on how he published it, than ever he would from the War Department. Roscoe noted that Bates’ book contained “…a host of inaccuracies and glaring discrepancies.”

But he also observed: “Yet elements of Bates’ original story were worthy of official investigation. There is something hasty and peremptory in the way the authorities in Washington rejected the lawyer’s initial inquiry. Even before Bates entered a reward claim the War Department refused to concede the possibility of Booth’s escape. In summarily rejecting the alleged Booth body (the corpse of David E. George) the War Department made no effort to examine that specimen. An official inquest before the body became mummified might have settled the matter at the outset…Examiners in 1903 could have determined that the body was not Booth’s. A number of witnesses well acquainted with John Wilkes Booth were alive in 1903. Actors who had played with Booth were still living. John Matthews was still alive (he died in New York City in 1905). Sam Arnold was still alive (he died in Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 1906). John H. Surratt was living in Baltimore (he did not die until 1916). Friends of the Booth family could have gone to an inquest. Apparently these persons were not called upon to view the body on display in Memphis. The Government left the investigation up to magazine writers and journalists…” If the Government wanted no further questions asked about Booth’s body this was probably their way of doing it. If you don’t want “sleeping dogs” to wake up, you let them lie! Ignore it all long enough and it will all just go away.

Except, after 150 years, it hasn’t–and the questions are still there–unanswered!

Interestingly enough, the man who found George’s suicide in the Grand Avenue Hotel in Enid, happened to sign his affidavit “Lee Boyd” “Boyd–the name assumed by John Wilkes Booth in his flight through Maryland and Virginia.” And another strange coincidence, the man who supposedly shot Booth, an odd-ball kind of character named Boston Corbett, escaped from an asylum in Topeka, Kansas and headed for the “great open spaces.” According to Roscoe, he ended up making his home in Enid, Oklahoma.

Maybe next we should look at why historian Otto Eisenschiml thinks Edwin Stanton was involved.

John Wilkes Booth and David E. George–one and the same?

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

This is the question I started this entire series of articles out with back in early May of 2019. In the process of dealing with this I found that this subject opened up a can of hidden worms that I had not anticipated when I started out. I have come to the conclusion that none of us has ever really been told the whole truth about the Lincoln assassination and the reasons for it. All we have ever been told is a fairy tale geared to satisfy the lowest common denominator of our society. The same goes for the Kennedy assassination. The same principles were used to “report” both and in no way do they satisfy those who really want the truth. They satisfy those who do not have the sense to question anything and no one else!

You come away from the Lincoln assassination and the personalities involved with more questions than answers. I am convinced we have never been told anything remotely approaching the real truth and that is no accident.

David O. Stewart, in his book about Andrew Johnson, Impeached wrote about something I have alluded to in a previous article. He said, in his notes on page 357 that: “Also while on his deathbed, Bingham supposedly told his doctor that Mrs. Mary Surratt–one of the executed conspirators–had revealed to him and Secretary of War Stanton certain information ‘so shocking that its publication would threaten the Republic.’ Bingham and Stanton agreed it should not be disclosed, and Stanton on his own deathbed made Bingham swear to preserve the confidence.” Personally, I think that whatever Mrs. Surratt knew, it guaranteed that she would hang. Her knowledge, if these statements are accurate, was her death warrant.

I wonder if this has any reference to what Otto Eisenschliml wrote about in his book Historian Without an Armchair. He wrote, on page 189: “Whether Robert Lincoln, Lincoln’s only surviving son, became a thwarter of history by burning some of his father’s papers is a hotly debated question. My own opinion leans toward an affirmative answer. I am basing it on his statement that he had withheld their publication in order to protect the reputation of some persons, then still living, until their death would free him of this self-imposed inhibition. But now that the papers have been thrown open to the public, I have not found a single letter which contains anything derogatory to anybody.” Of course you haven’t! Robert Lincoln burned all those!

Eisenschiml also noted the comments of John P. Usher, Lincoln’s Secretary of the Interior. Usher said, to his own son, that “the ramifications (of the assassination) were so far-reaching that it was well that investigations had gone no further.” Eisenschiml wondered who Usher was protecting with such a statement and he asked the question–and it was a good one–“If Booth alone had been responsible, or Southern leaders had been involved in the crime, why was it ‘well that investigations had gone no further’?” I don’t believe anyone has ever addressed that question. I believe the Establishment would rather, even today, that it was forgotten.

Theodore Roscoe in The Web of Conspiracy  noted, on page 533 that: “Robert Todd Lincoln died in 1926. Some time before he died, he burned a great collection of his father’s letters and private papers. A friend, Mr. Young, stopping in on a visit to Mr. Lincoln’s home in Manchester, Vermont, was appalled to see these documents going up in flames.” He said “Mr. Young at once remonstrated…Mr. Lincoln replied he did not intend to continue his destruction–but the papers he was destroying contained the documentary evidence of the treason of a member of Lincoln’s Cabinet, and he thought it was best for all that such evidence be destroyed.” Was he afraid that this evidence would bring down the Republic? He needn’t have been. His father had destroyed the Republic during his first administration in all but name. All that was left at that point was “post-America.”

So the question still remains–Did John Wilkes Booth die in Garrett’s tobacco barn, or did he get away? Roscoe informed us that “Pro and con, informed historians and other interested parties have argued the question for nearly a century. Early in 1903 the question was treated to headlines in the national press.” Roscoe wrote in 1960. So actually, this question has been debated for 150 years now, and still no real resolution.

However, something happened in January of 1903 that brought it to the fore again. A drifter who called himself David E. George committed suicide in Enid, Oklahoma, in the Grand Avenue Hotel. It was reported in the local paper. Supposedly he killed himself with a dose of strychnine. Roscoe asked the question: “One wonders why the story made the local paper. There were many solitary nobodies drifting around the Cherokee Strip. Causes of death were usually more interesting–gunfire or perhaps a lynching. Nevertheless, this shabby suicide was reported in that evening’s edition of the Enid Daily Wave.

More to come.

Stanton the Federal Dictator

by Al Benson Jr.
Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

In scrounging around on the internet I came across a book I had never heard of before called They Wanted Lincoln Dead. It was written by a Troy Cowan. I’d not heard of him before either. But then, he’s probably never heard of me either. The book has kind of a light blue cover on it, with a picture of Edwin Stanton and Andrew Johnson. It’s available from Amazon and it’s a paperback for $12.99.

On a separate sort of a blog spot Mr. Cowan made some comments about his book. He said: “Edwin Stanton was the Secretary of War. Stanton planned Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s theater on April 14. He got away with the crime. The government has immense power to manipulate evidence. Everything we know about Lincoln’s killing comes from Stanton or his subordinates. You have to understand why Lincoln was assassinated. Lincoln was our first Republican president. The Radical Republicans were willing to do anything to stay in power, including murder. Edwin Stanton was a brilliant man. He was Lincoln’s Secretary of War and Stanton wanted the immensely evil south punished with a harsh, long-lasting hatred.” I pretty much agree with him–except the part about the “immensely evil south.” On that, we part company. The South was no more evil than was the North–in fact it was probably not as evil as the North. The South had resisted anti-Christian apostasy whereas the North had long ago caved in to it. So it depends on how you define evil, and Mr. Cowan and I don’t seem to quite do that the same way. If he was referring to the evil of slavery, well, the North shared in that particular evil also. It wasn’t particularly “Southern.” I know the cultural Marxists say it was, but they are known liars.

As I said, I have not read Mr. Cowan’s book, but it might be worth getting to see what he does have to say overall.

Theodore Roscoe’s book The Web of Conspiracy  which I have been going through again, takes note of how Stanton’s dictatorial proclivities come shining through.

In referring to the Lincoln conspirators, Roscoe notes, on page 266 that “The punishment dealt these prisoners stands as a classic example of what happens when raw dictatorship turns police work into an auto-da-f”e. All of the victims in this case were civilians. None of them had been tried. Not one as yet had been officially indicted. They had merely been accused and thrown into prison to await trial. But an auto-da-f’e punishes first and tries afterward.” In other words, these people are presumed guilty going in and treated accordingly. The “rule of law” is what Stanton says it is.

Stanton’s dictatorial mindset was perfectly displayed in the actions of Stanton’s chief henchman, Lafayette Curry Baker, Stanton’s chief of detectives. Roscoe observed: “He (Baker) dealt with every accused person in the same manner; with a reputable citizen as with a deserter or petty thief. He did not require the formality of a written charge; it was quite sufficient for any person to suggest to Baker that a citizen might be doing something that was against the law. He was immediately arrested, handcuffed, and brought to Baker’s office, at that time in the basement of the Treasury. There he was subjected to a brow-beating examination…Men were kept in his rooms for weeks, without warrant, affidavit or other semblance of authority…Hasty dockets were scribbled on these individuals. Preliminary charges ranged from ‘implicated in assassination’ and ‘accessory’ to ‘suspicious conduct,’ ‘Secession sympathizer’ and ‘disloyal utterances’. Terms were as loose as ashes, and the effort to sift these charges produced many meaningless clinkers that jammed the screen…If the accused took any measures for his own protection, he was hurried into the Old Capitol Prison, where he was beyond the reach of the civil authorities.” In other words, try to hire a lawyer to protect you legally and you got automatic jail time! And “disloyal utterances”? So much for the First Amendment! All it took to get you arrested was a letter or verbal complaint from someone who may have been ticked off at you for some reason and Baker’s stooges hauled you in! Justice in Amerika in 1865!

And Roscoe noted also that: “If Stanton did not promote the witch hunt for subversives, at least he gave it his blessing and backed it with the forces of the War Department. Baker’s Secret Service agents took a leading hand in the game. As has been noted, Baker’s initial move was to distribute a handbill which described a featureless and unidentifiable Booth who could have been almost any stranger on Main Street. And while the nation’s police agencies were set to arresting such nobodies, Baker launched a roundup of suspected disloyalists…This door-to-door search for ‘disloyalists’ touched off an epidemic of neighborhood spying and counter-spying unrivaled in the nation’s previous history.”

However, there were some people, then, as today, who were strangely exempt from all this. One of them was John Wilkes Booth’s mistress, Ella Turner. In fact Roscoe noted that “Nobody was sent to arrest Booth’s mistress.” Why not? They arrested all manner of women from the Surratt house, but Booth’s mistress, well, she didn’t have those problems. The investigating authorities somehow managed to avoid her. And that was even after someone complained about her! Roscoe noted, on page 323 that “One of the singular incongruities of the Lincoln murder case was the Government’s reluctance to lay a glove on a single one of Booth’s known inamoratas.”

Why was Stanton so reluctant to talk to any of these ladies? Was he afraid he or Baker would find out something they were not supposed to know. Or were they merely running a little cover for Booth so that too much was not learned about him too soon?

It seems that the more we learn about the Lincoln assassination the less we really “know.” Lots of stuff about this assassination that’s far from kosher and what we have been told is just enough to satisfy the ignorant and naive who will never ask any questions anyway.

Giving Booth a Head Start For Escape

by Al Benson Jr.

Member, Board of Directors, Confederate Society of America

Theodore Roscoe in The Web of Conspiracy  pointed out some interesting facts regarding the federal government’s pursuit of John Wilkes Booth after the Lincoln assassination.

It seems that a Major A. C. Richards, Superintendent of Washington’s Metropolitan Police Force had been in the audience at Ford’s Theater the night of Lincoln’s assassination. He had recognized Booth. Roscoe noted of Richards that “Major Richards was a capable officer, tough and exacting. He briefed the duty force on what had happened, dispatched messengers to summon the reserves, rushed detectives to Ford’s Theater to round up witnesses, and sent word of his emergency action to General Christopher C. Auger, commander of Army forces in charge of the national capital. Unquestionably, Richards gave Auger detailed information on the assassination and named John Wilkes Booth as the fugitive assassin.”

However, right after this heads-up about what Major Richards had done, Roscoe observed: “But now a fog of confusion settled on the nation’s military headquarters. This fog seemed to bind the Federal authorities with ropes of lethargy. It slowed the manhunt, obscured the assassin’s trail, and did everything to abet an escape.” Strong language? Wait until you’ve read a bit more.

Roscoe continued: “Booth had fired the deadly shot about 10:30 p.m. Within fifteen minutes of his flight from the theater alley, witnesses were blurting his name to the police. By 11:00 p.m., the blotter at Washington police headquarters contained the names of seventeen witnesses. They were listed under the following notation: At this hour the melancholy intelligence of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln, President of the United States, at Ford’s Theater was brought to this office, and the information obtained...goes to show that the assassin is a man named John Wilkes Booth. 

So there was no doubt about who the assassin was by 11:00 p.m. The police were quick on the scene and were doing their job. What about the military? Well, that was a horse of a different color. The military didn’t send out any alarm about Booth. No one was sent to his hotel to check out his room and the best the military could come up with was a couple cavalry patrols that were told to scout the city streets. Did they even know who they were looking for? Up until midnight, any detective work that was done was done by the city police. As far as doing much more, it has been argued that General Auger was awaiting orders “from higher up–from the War Department, from Stanton.” Anyone smell a rat here?

Roscoe referred to “Auger’s fuddlement.” And he noted “By midnight the nation’s military leaders seemed in doubt concerning the assassin’s identity. Although scores of people had recognized John Wilkes Booth, the War Department cautiously withheld the killer’s name from official dispatches.” So it would appear that the Army was not about to take the police’s word about who the assassin was. Do you wonder why???

An Associated Press reporter, Mr. L. A. Gobright, heard about the shooting and hurried to the theater. After that he charged to the nearest telegraph office and sent this wire: The President was shot at Ford’s Theater tonight and perhaps mortally wounded.  This wire was sent to New York. Back at the theater, Gobright went into the President’s box. He even found Booth’s derringer there and he must have talked to eyewitnesses, so you have to wonder what happened to make him do what he did next. Shortly after his second trip to the theater he sent a second telegram, the headline of which appeared in the morning edition of the New York Tribune: “our Washington agent orders the dispatch about the President ‘stopped.’ Nothing is said about the truth or falsity of that dispatch.”

Roscoe noted that: “Gobright’s extraordinary reticence won mention at the subsequent conspiracy trial, but no explanation. He merely stated he was ‘satisfied’ the assassin was John Wilkes Booth, but, ‘I did not so telegraph that night’.” Why not? You were satisfied Booth was the assassin, but you just didn’t tell anybody! One paper in New York stated: “J. Wilkes Booth suspected.” And, Roscoe observed that “Washington papers named the assassin, but the great Associated Press Syndicate delayed the story. From the distance of the present one can only surmise that someone in top authority in the War Department held Gobright’s hand. For a guess, War Secretary Stanton?” I’d say that was a pretty fair country guess. Add to this the fact that, about fifteen minutes after Gobright sent his first wire, the commercial lines out of Washington went dead, and they didn’t get them back until around one the next morning. Roscoe noted that official records just didn’t bother to mention any of this. “It was censored from contemporary reports. Major Eckert, Stanton’s telegraph chief, was queried on the matter by a House investigating committee in 1867. Eckert admitted the commercial lines had been scotched. He said he thought they had been short-circuited by grounding…Again it would seem that extraordinary efforts were made by someone in Washington command to keep Booth’s name under wraps.

Years later, Colonel Henry L. Burnett, who served as assistant judge advocate at the conspiracy trial stated: ‘When I entered upon the duty of assisting in the investigation of the murder of the President, on the 19th of April…it was not positively known who had assassinated the President…That the War Department Judge Advocate’s Office could not positively name Lincoln’s assassin five days after the murder strikes us as more than astounding!”

And then there was the Navy Yard Bridge that was guarded by a sergeant and a couple of men under him. On the night of the assassination the sergeant let both Booth and Herold pass over into Maryland. He was never taken to task for this glaring omission. Under normal circumstances had he committed such a blunder he would at least have lost his stripes, at the very least. But such did not happen. You have to wonder if he’d even been informed about the assassination. It would appear that General Auger did not rush anyone to the bridge to check on how many people had crossed over into Maryland that night.

Roscoe also observed that: “The records of history contain many ‘holes.’ John Wilkes Booth rode through one of them on the night he killed Abraham Lincoln.”

It’s worth noting that Roscoe is not the only one to come up with some of the material noted here. Eisenschiml also did and so did the two men who wrote The Lincoln Conspiracy  in the 1970s.