Chasing Lincoln’s Killer


James L. Swanson

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer: Chapter 13 Summary & Analysis

Stanton put eight defendants on trial: Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, Edman Spangler and Samuel Mudd. Mudd was the only person who helped Booth during his escape to stand trial. Captain Cox and Thomas Jones were never punished for the aid they gave the president’s killer.
Several accomplices from the earlier conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln were tried for Lincoln’s death, despite having killed no one, while those who were most instrumental to Booth and Herold went unpunished.
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Hundreds of manhunters sought to claim a piece of the reward money. In the end, sums ranging from $500 to $15,000 were awarded to Conger, Doherty, Lafayette Baker, Luther Baker, and to the noncommissioned officers at the barn, including Boston Corbett, and to Colonel Wells and other interrogators. Nineteen other men received smaller awards for their help capturing George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell. Richard Garrett made a claim against the government for compensation for his burned barn, which was rejected. Boston Corbett was never punished for killing Booth. He enjoyed a period of fame, then went insane and disappeared.
Some of the manhunters may have been more interested in receiving the reward money for capturing Lincoln’s killers than in defending the principles Lincoln stood for. For soldiers like these, who had been through four long years of war, this money would help them to build new lives and provide for their families. This desire was one that Booth might have disdained as being lacking in principle, but the loving father and husband Abraham Lincoln would certainly have understood.
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