The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy Trial
Was assassination the goal? The general agreement is that the first goal of the conspirators had been to kidnap the President. A few attempts to kidnap Lincoln fell through, and then the Confederacy surrendered to the North. Booth's thoughts turned to killing the President. Up until recent times, there was a great deal of theory as to the existence of an abduction plot. Some people felt it might be used to excuse the hanged conspirators. Even the judge advocates feared talk of an abduction plot might lead to an innocent verdict for some if not all of the conspirators. They are believed to have suppressed important evidence such as John Wilkes Booth's diary. (Hanchett, The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies, 107) On the other side, some people argued for the existence of a kidnapping plot because it connected Booth with a larger conspiracy masterminded by the Confederacy. With the abduction plot established, the question remains: Who was actually involved in and behind the assassination of the President? The simple conspiracy in its most basic form states that Booth and a small group of friends at first planned to kidnap the president. This eventually resulted in assassination. In fact, the conspirators were to also assassinate Vice-President Johnson and Secretary of State Seward at the same time dealing a major blow to the government of the United States. Their goal was to give the South a chance to rise again. Booth saw himself as a hero. In his diary, John Wilkes Booth claimed that Abraham Lincoln was a tyrant and that Booth should be praised just as Brutus was for killing Julius Caesar. (Hanchett, 246) When Abraham Lincoln Secretaries Nicolay and Hay wrote their ten-volume biography of Lincoln in 1890 they "presented the assassination as a simple conspiracy." (Hanchett, 102) Even though personal Secretaries of Lincoln presented the simple conspiracy as the most likely scenario, they acknowledged that Booth and his...
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