Chasing Lincoln’s Killer


James L. Swanson

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Chasing Lincoln’s Killer: Chapter 14 Summary & Analysis

After a rapid trial in May and June, Mary Surratt, David Herold, George Atzerodt, and Lewis Powell received death warrants on July 6, 1865. They would be hung the next day. Since Booth was already dead, his co-conspirators were now the focus of the attention. They were paraded to the scaffold, with their arms bounds and their faces covered by hoods. Nooses were slipped over their necks and they were hung simultaneously at 1:26 PM on July 7.
During the months of the trial, the war was still slowly coming to an end. This made it all the more important that the authorities make an example of some, but show leniency to others. Samuel Mudd, who helped Booth, was not executed, while Mary Surratt was. The authorities may have wished to show the public that, because Mudd had eventually confessed, he was to be forgiven. Through this act of mercy, the authorities could suggest to Southerners that they would not punish them harshly for what had happened during the war.
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