The Lincoln Assassination Blog
A friend linked me to a great article
in the New York Times, about boarding houses in the nineteenth century!
It mostly seems to be a book report about what looks like a pretty good read from the 1850s:
In 1857, foreseeing that the phenomenon might not last forever, Thomas Butler Gunn undertook to record it for posterity in The Physiology of New York Boarding Houses.... “I wonder what they were!” Gunn imagines a future researcher asking, and for an answer, he provides chapters on the Hand-to-Mouth Boardinghouse, the Fashionable Boardinghouse Where You Don’t Get Enough to Eat and the Boardinghouse Where the Landlady Drinks, among other representative types.
Although the author of the article claims that "the unceasing drama of boardinghouse life — the flirtations, drunkenness, mutual irritation, backbiting, whining, eccentricity, conspiracy, chiseling and deceit — may come as a surprise," those of you who have spent any time with the Surratt family will not be surprised at all.
(P. S., Kara just found proof in the LAS that the story about Anna smacking Weichmann for wearing blue pants is true!)
recently i posted
about a project i brought home involving the experimental restoration of 14 volumes of Harper's Monthly Magazine
. As I have been working on the books, I've been perusing some of the contents. In June of 1881 an article appeared about Edwin Booth. This opening is the sort of film-worthy anecdote that makes the Booths so irresistible, so I thought I would share it.
p.s. the article respectfully makes no mention of that other
x-posted to my own journal (sorry flist!).
The Surratt Society Conference was excellent this year, Bungo and I had quite a lot of fun. What a wonderful field!
My mother was very sweet and purchased a copy of The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence
for my thesis next year. As I was originally somewhat nervous about this volume, I thought I would review it.
It's a typed up, printed book containing all the documents from the LAS (M599, the documents assembled by Burnett before/during the trial) that aren't the Trial transcript or the newspaper articles at the end. William C. Edwards put the impressive work into transcribing them; Edward Steers Jr. wrote the annotations. It's a huge thing, of course, neatly printed in a heavy but attractive single volume, and sells for around $100. The pages are a pure joy to turn -- soft and smooth and satisfying!The real deal on the goods:
Spelling errors have been fixed, except where the document is extremely poorly written or when a name is used. This makes it more readable, but less accurate.
It has (as can be expected in a work of this size in it's first printing) some index problems (see Atzerodt) such as the mentioned name not being on a page, or the document being on the page following. The index is of names and places, and respects differed spellings. This is the highlight of the printed volume -- you can flip back and forth between documents and the index with ease, looking up all those pesky characters.
grateful for this book, as Edwards did a great job judging every word and deciphering (figuratively!) sentences we have been puzzling over for a long time. However, probably due to the sheer number of documents, there are some mistakes and some licenses taken. The one letter that we analyzed thoroughly had a few of mistakes, some in spots key to the meaning, so if you are doing an indepth study of a document, I still recommend you go back to the original. I do not agree with all of the choices made, including on the transcription of some abbreviations. This book will same me many, many hours.
The annotations are quite brief but on almost every page They usually relate who a person is if their name is spelled slightly differently, or explain about a location mentioned. There is little speculation, indepth anlalysis, or reference to scholarship, but it's helpful nonetheless.
I got my copy signed by the two authors. It was my first time meeting Ed Steers, and I was, of course, somewhat curious. "I know everything there is to know about the Lincoln assassination," he said, and I laughed accordingly, thinking he was joking. He continued, to my horror quite serious, "but I'm interested to see what happens now that people have access to the original sources." Or that was approximately what he said, immediately after I had thanked him for publishing this book, since it would save me countless hours on the microfilm machine (which I love, but still). Perhaps he had not heard why
I was so interested in this book, but I would like to note that should someone pick up pretty much any
of the scholarship to come out of the field, they will find it has been based on...original sources.
This is a fantastic book, a valuable if expensive investment, and I have been having a jolly good time flipping through it, sometimes just for the feel. But I am a dork. I retract most of my previous concerns over it -- the reel and frame number are included for every source!! Thanks, Edwards & Steers.
The Conference is over, I learned so much! Also, I finally got a chance to look at some of the stuff faynudibranch
got last year from the James O. Hall papers. There is some incredibly helpful stuff, but my favorite document has got to be an 1880s letter from Louis Weichmann to a reporter. The letter is written on Treasury Department stationary, in a Treasury Department envelope (I think this is where Weichmann was working at the time). The upper corner of the envelope looks like this (but with fancier type):Treasury Department
Custom House, Philadelphia, Collector's Office
Any person using this envelope without payment of
postage on private matters will be subject to
fine of Three Hundred Dollars!
Or, I think it says that--part of the message was obscured by the stamp that Weichmann very responsibly applied. Has anybody come across this kind of envelope before? (I imagine they must be pretty common!) Do you know what it actually says under the stamp?
Inside this spectacular envelope, Weichmann is spinning another one of his silly elaborations to the historical record--in this one, John Wilkes Booth gets mad over a statue of Lincoln. This fact has never been made public although I have -------- it to friends,
says Weichmann, It was not brought out or crossexamined at the conspiracy trial and probably did not occur to my mind then
Yeah, right. He's such a liar, but why?
Did he figure, since he was lying about everything else anyway, that he might as well completely
turn his life into a foreshadow-filled novel?
I'm just missing one word out of this literary gem--can any of you figure out Weichmann's chicken scratch?( Weichmann said WHAT? (A new game!)Collapse )
I know most of you live in inconvenient places for this, but faynudibranch
and I will be attending the 2009 Surratt Society Conference this month (March)! There will be a lot of smart people speaking about exciting topics like the American Bastille and Mary Lincoln and Catholics! If this sounds exciting to you and you don't already know about it, check out the Surratt Society webpage
to learn more. Early registration (cheaper) closes 10 March, so if you want to go move quickly! The conference itself is going to be held Saturday, 21 March.
And, while I'm advertising for them anyway, you should all definitely sign up for Surratt Society memberships! It costs only $7 for the whole year and they will send you a yellow newsletter every month full of good articles. I forgot to renew this year and missed about three of them, I regret it so much.
For those of you who will be in New York this summer, check out this play! I'm certainly going to!Generations collide as two of the greatest Shakespearean actors of all time take on their most challenging roles as father and son. Junius Booth, a gifted but tortured actor of the 19th century acclaimed throughout America for his vigorous performances of Shakespeare, discovers that his young son Edwin shares his passion for acting. Worried that Edwin will also inherit the emotional struggles that plague him, Junius takes Edwin under his wing to guide his career. This newly revised version of Austin Pendleton's family drama tracks the relationship between the father and son as they grapple with each other's passions and fears.
by Austin Pendleton
directed by Eric Parness
I was out of school today, and I spent most of my time on Flickr. (I know, how productive of me.)
Two of my more, um... Interesting finds: Here
My family and I are moving last week, and my wife and I went scorched-earth through the literally thousands of VHS tapes that were just as literally gathering dust. I am afraid we may have accidentally pitched a VHS tape of the Sandburg's Lincoln
miniseries that ran on NBC in the 1970s. It starred Hal Holbrook as Lincoln and Sada Thompson as Mary Todd Lincoln.
On the same cassette, more importantly, I had They've Killed President Lincoln
, narrated by Richard Basehart. None of these have been released on DVDs.
on this group have these? If so, please contact me privately. I will provide you with blank media (VHS tape, DVD) to make a copy for me. I pledge that I will not use them commercially--they will just be for my own personal viewing.
New member, and new to the whole knowledge of the conspiracy/Booth's escape/etc. (Don't shoot me, please!)
I came upon it in a really unspectacular way: I was casually watching The History Channel sometime last week, and The Hunt for John Wilkes Booth
came on. Prior to this show, all I knew about John Wilkes Booth was that he shot Lincoln on April 14th, 1865. The only thing Seward ever did was purchase Alaska.
I wish I had known about it before, and I really don't see why I didn't. Shouldn't something that major (and interesting) be mentioned in my AP US history class last year, at least...?
Since watching the show, I've read Manhunt (Pretty much the only book available about it at my library... Yay little towns!), researched a lot online, and put countless books on my to-read list that I hope to purchase sometime.
Anyway, it's a pleasure to meet you all!
Happy 200th birthday Abraham Lincoln! All year long! February 12th, 1809, to be more precise. But who bothers with that?
Check out the events nearest you! Prepare for all the men dressed up as Lincoln! The new penny
with stiff depictions of scenes from his life! I love it!
From the helpful Surratt Society
website, Prisoner of Shark Island screening and Hartranft in the D.C. area.
Prisoner of Shark Island
, which minstrel_ivare
bought me, is a very old, terribly racist, and pretty much entirely inaccurate portrayal of Dr. Mudd's inprisonment on Dry Tortugas. It's hilarious and I highly recommend it. It's pretty absurd and offensive, I warn you.
Product Description Based on rare archival material, obscure trial manuscripts, and interviews with relatives of the conspirators and the manhunters, CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild twelve-day chase through the streets of Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia.
"This story is true. All the characters are real and were alive during the great manhunt of April 1865. Their words are authentic and come from original sources: letters, manuscripts, trial transcripts, newspapers, government reports, pamphlets, books and other documents. What happened in Washington, D.C., that spring, and in the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and Virginia during the next twelve days, is far too incredible to have been made up."
So begins this fast-paced thriller that tells the story of the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth and gives a day-by-day account of the wild chase to find this killer and his accomplices. Based on James Swanson's bestselling adult book MANHUNT: THE 12-DAY CHASE FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER, this young people's version is an accessible look at the assassination of a president, and shows readers Abraham Lincoln the man, the father, the husband, the friend, and how his death impacted those closest to him.
Interesting that in his attempt to re-write the same book he markets it as both more young-adult and more historically accurate.
Better news includes a copy of Chamlee for Christmas and successful team attempts to find Adam Badeau in group photographs :).
ROY Z. CHAMLEE'S BOOK IS GOING BACK IN PRINT!!!
In over-priced paperback! I am so excited.
Not-so-secretly I am a huge fan
of this book. Also am still looking for an address for the author. I know Steers (and others) trashed it for being behind the times, but Chamlee wrote this so independent of other scholarship that it's actually packed with thrilling and fascinating, if sometimes misinterpreted, anecdotes. One of my absolute favorites.
Just wanted to celebrate.
(ironically you can buy a used hardback for the same price as pre-ordering the new paperback. But in my world, the more Chamlees in circulation the better.)
First and most importantly, happy birthday Edwin Booth!
I posted one of Kitty's stories about him at my personal journal.
Second, I don't know how much free time the rest of you have, but I got a pretty great email from Ancestry.com this evening. They're asking for volunteers to transcribe old documents. This is the best reason for the Internet to exist, as far as I am concerned, so please help them out if you can. *( Play Your Part in Preserving HistoryCollapse )* I'm going to play the hypocrite and wait until winter break before I sign up...but you can all set a better example for me!
meghan mccain sporting this
you know you want one. get it at tarina tarantino
. they have a whole line of "patriotic" jewelry
haven't seen the likes of this kind of weird tacky since mourning jewelry went out of fashion in the gilded age.
Publication Number: M1674
Publication Title: Soundex Index to Petitions for Naturalizations Filed in Federal, State, and Local Courts in New York City, 1792-1906
See 'Former Nationality'. Bahahaha.
this was published in Harper's Weekly in the March 28th edition ~ in 1863
Just found your site and was wondering what everyone thought of a fifty year old Kevin Bacon cast as JWB in an upcoming Showtime special about the Booth brothers?
wanted this quote from George Alfred Townsend, so i figured i'd share it here with everyone in case other people had never seen it. I'm quoting it from the beautiful Gutman picture book John Wilkes Booth Himself
"His address was as winning as a girl's, rising in effect not from what he said, but from how he said it. It was magnetic, and I can describe it therefore by its effects alone. I seemed, when he had spoken, to lean toward this man. His attitude spoke to me; with as easy familiarity as I ever observed he drew near and conversed. The talk was on so trite things that it did not lie a second in the head, but when I left him it was with the feeling that a most agreeable fellow had passed by...
...None of the printed pictures that I have seen do justice to Booth. Some of the cartes de visite get him very nearly."
Townsend (his journalist nom de plume
was "GAT" or "GATH") wrote some very interesting observations of the trial and execution. his novel Katy of Catoctin
was the first major fiction work using the backdrop of the Lincoln Assassination to hit the market. he paints an appalling portrait of Atzerodt in the book, but some of this other characterizations are rather interesting.
follow the fake lj cut
to some brief notes about some recent books and an interesting bit of ephemera from The Players.
i didn't want to junk up my flist with cross-postings.
also, if you can't see the post because it's f-locked, feel free to friend me and i will give you the keys to at least one small kingdom.
So even though Kara is busy outshining me with her awesome Creston Clarke photographs, voorishsign
wanted to know what Asia looked like.
I remember we found this Booth family tree website a couple years ago, but I didn't still have it bookmarked. I just found it again this morning:
Most members of the family have pictures in their entries. Asia's is here:
I also went through my paper file* and dug up a beautiful, slightly older picture of Asia that I photocopied last year from "The Unlocked Book:"
These are the only two pictures of Asia that I know of--has anybody ever seen others? (And, while I'm asking, does anybody have a copy of Rosalie's picture? I think it was in Archer's Theatrical Prometheus...
?)*See, I'm kind of organized. Never mind that the LAS photocopies are in five different piles upside down and folded and possibly didn't even all make it to my dormroom this year....
I meant to post the few tragic end of September event as they came along, but it looks like I missed them on their actual dates. Here they are, a little late, courtesy of the charming calendar Bungo gave me and the nail I just accidentally took out of the wall.
Actually, I'll just give you all of September. It's all retrospective anyhow.~ Sept 3 1833 John Clarke Sleeper is born.John "Sleepy" Clarke grew up with the Booth kids, becomes a noted comedic actor, and marries Asia, which is a bad call since he is an asshole. He and John Wilkes do not end up getting along at all. He & Asia go to Britain after the assassination, and stay there, and have cute kids like Creston*. He was so embaressed after John shot the president that he tried to divorce Asia during her pregnancy. Not a man I am fond of.
**( photo timeCollapse )
~ Sept. 16th 1883 Junius Brutus Booth, Jr. [dies]( bonus June photoCollapse )~ Sept. 21st 1906 Samuel Arnold dies. If you haven't, you should check out his account of his stay in the hellish island prison Dry Tortugas,
Memoirs of a Lincoln Conspirator. He's so reasonable he makes you trust and like him a great deal.~ Sept. 23rd 1867 Michael O'Laughlen dies of Yellow Fever in the Dry Tortugas.Very sad. The gov't was trying do this to them, it sounds like, but fortunately the others who were imprisoned survived.~ Sept. 24th 1899 John Sleeper Clarke dies.Rest in Peace, Sleepy.
*oh my gosh! I was looking for that really cute photo of Creston Clarke, and instead I found this page
of really cute Creston pictures! Click on them, they get bigger. http://digitalgallery.nypl.org/nypldigital_dev/dgkeysearchresult.cfm?parent_id=505118&word=
**Unrelatedly, seconds after I posted this Bungo was like "Why do we hate Sleeper Clarke again?" and now I would like to note that she is right in pointing out that the only viewpoint we really have on the matter is Asia's, and she is slightly crazy and obviously biased.
Glad to find this community online. A "Boothie" message board! Oh bliss. ;-)
King George VA
PS - getting ready to re-create the story again this weekend for PBS -- smouldering barn and all...
So the new Mary Surratt book has an awfully nice cover:
Does anybody know about this? Is it any good? Worth buying? Good footnotes?
this is kinda a nice little piece of writing from the p.o.v. of Boston Corbett. i'm rather impressed with the sensitivity of the language given the drama of the subject matter. Check it out:Shooting Booth: The Confession of Boston Corbett
by R. T. Smith
In the late 1840s a black man named William Freeman broke into the house of a prominent family of Auburn New York and slaughtered the residents in their sleep. He was imprisoned and tried for murder despite the fact that he was almost certainly insane. Nobody was willing to defend him in court because the town had been so deeply shocked and wanted vengeance, not justice--so Freeman's case was taken by W. H. Seward who defended him eloquently and valiantly. Sadly the jurors were all from Auburn, and they were as angered as the rest of the town. William Freeman was found guilty and died in prison while the case was being appealed.
I first read about the trial in an adorable, horribly biased book called Mr. Seward for the Defense
. It was the first book I ever read about Seward and although it is partly fictionalized with dialogue and Frances boiling chickens in the basement (pretty sure they had servants for stuff like that), it is still one of my favorite books. I've been hoping ever since that I might be able to find a transcript of the actual trial but I've never seen one even mentioned, anywhere. But, this morning when I saw Boots post about the 1865 trial transcripts I did another search and...here it is:
I'm so surprised and pleased, if you're looking for another court drama to read this one is definitely worth your time.
just thought i would announce that the three published trial transcripts are finally almost all available online at the archive.org
Pitman was up for a while, but they just added Peterson Bros. and the first two volumes of Poore last week.
so we're just short the third volume of Poore, but otherwise, the buffet is open!
p.s. if you're too lazy to look 'em up or don't know how, i can add links (i'm just in the rush this morning).
Happy Seward's Day, everyone!
I almost missed this holiday--good thing the last day of March just happened
to be also the last Monday of March, which is when Seward's Day is traditionally celebrated.
Seward's day is a holiday in Alaska, because as just about everybody knows (since it's all he's commonly remembered for) Mr. William Henry Seward bought Alaska. Only a little bit of fraud was involved.
I don't think buying Alaska is a good reason to celebrate Mr. Seward (since he did lots of other much more useful interesting things), but I'll take what I can get. Even though I do not live in Alaska, I am celebrating Seward's Day (or, the last hour of it) because he was a wonderful, interesting man and because I think it's fantastic he has a holiday named for him. Also, I was totally going to vote for him, but he was robbed
of the nomination at the Chicago Convention. My faith in politics still hasn't recovered. :(
Happy Birthday John Parker Hale!!!
(I'm writing all of this from memory, so it's mostly hearsay really--if anybody has any documented stuff about Mr. Hale please post it!)
Originally a senator from Maine, but then he moved to New Hampshire? I think? Wherever he's from, John Parker Hale is pretty awesome--one of the few early abolitionists in the national government, he was threatened with death by Hangman Foote
. His daughter Lucy fell in love with and was engaged to marry John Wilkes Booth, which Hale disapproved of not because of Booth's political/moral opinions, but because he was an actor. This seems unreasonable to me (shouldn't Hale have disapproved the profession AND the moral divide?) but seems quite possible that Booth could have toned down his political opinions when he was around his prospective father-in-law; on more than one occasion Booth fooled people into thinking he was at least neutral, or even pro-Union. (The two examples I can think of are Adam Badeau, whom he fooled completely, and didn't he make friends with a Union officer? I think the story is in "Right or Wrong God Judge Me".)
i promised i would share some of Weichmann's whining to Dr. Porter. I transcribed the most miserable examples, of course. they exchanged letters for a couple of years at the end of looie's life while he was writing his book and helping oldroyd with his. he sent Porter an early draft of the manuscript for comments, but seemed mildly paranoid about being criticized or having the information leaked, though he was confident it would be the best, truest history available, ever. it's hard to tell, but it seems in looie's chapter 16, he implicates j.h. surratt by saying he left the lawrence hotel on the 12th, then returned on the 18th. am i not reading that right? i thought looie said he thought j.h. was out of town during the assassination (memory is going fuzzy here).
anyway ~ enjoy!
You cannot realize what i have been compelled to endure because of my testimony, and especially from the people in the church in which I was raised. It has simply been infamous. I was twenty-three years in the service at the request of Stanton and Holt. Had it not been for the manner in which these men who with Burnett and Bingham stood by me, I would long ago have fallen by the wayside. (August 15, 1900)
like those guys had any choice? if they failed to stand by him, the whole testimony would have unraveled.
I have a photograph which was taken in 1865, it is a very good picture of me as I looked at that time. Stanton told me to my face that I was a very comely young man; maybe when you see the picture you will agree with him, at the same time there are many things I would like to say to you in confidence and to which I cannot give utterance in a letter.
You are familiar with the long persecution which grew out of this case and which lasted so many years. I can assure you I had my share of it.
Have you seen Burnett lately? (December 4, 1900)
this refers to a different picture than the one we always see of looie (taken in '66). anybody ever seen another photo of him? ever? i'm curious!
also, the hint hint hint of "let's get together and talk about this" is so sad. not to mention the mealy Burnett reference.
I send you a clipping from the Phonographic Magazine of 1893 by Benn Pitman which may be of interest to you, also a letter showing the esteem in which he held me. (December 11, 1900)
because, you know, Benn Pitman is an important man and you should listen to what he says.
oh looie, the humanity!
i'm assuming that those who would be interested have already read the james o. hall article on sarah slater? in case, by some weird accident of oversight you have not read it, let me know. also, apparently there's a theory about her and josephine lovett brown noel possibly being the same person? or something of that ilk?
i know jack about sarah slater, but did she abscond with all the money or what? someone fill me in with some details if you have a chance.
also, i just picked up a signed copy of something or other that Hartranft wrote (who cares, really, what
it is ~ i just thought it would be cool to toss into my collection); i got it for a pittance (it's been a week of fabulous deals on trashy old books).
anyway, i just had to share (sooo geeky).
So now that I'm home and I have all my papers & books to refer to, I can make a few posts, as promised, about my other pet interests in history. Here are a few letters written by Chester A. Arthur I transcribed at the Library of Congress. (With pictures!)
Here are some excerpts (I don't have copies of these, just some notes) from some really sweet letters he wrote in his 20s to a friend, John Campbell Allen. Mostly Arthur just talks about the past and wanting to see Allen again. Many of the letters mentions Allen's illness, and eventually the letters just stop. I believe I read somewhere that Allen died of tuberculosis when he was pretty young.( Read more...Collapse )
Here is a letter a 27-year-old Arthur wrote his future wife, Ellen Lewis Herndon. It was her birthday and he was away, in Missouri. It's really, really beautiful.( Read more...Collapse )
And to provide a very tenuous connection to this community, here is an 1885 letter Arthur wrote Edwin Booth:( Read more...Collapse )
So I've still been too lazy/busy with classwork to actually write up anything on Mr. Badeau, but this morning I found out that some of his correspondence with James Harrison Wilson had been published in 1966 as an article in Civil War History.
I still don't know much about "Harry" except that he and Badeau were intimate, that he fought for the Union, and that he was the clever fellow responsible for tracking down and capturing Confederate President Jefferson Davis on (of all dates) 10 May 1865.
I met Harry through Charles Shattuck's The Hamlet of Edwin Booth,
which is a great read if you ignore all of Shattuck's personal opinions. (Uhh by which I mean, I'm just bitter that he was so mean to Ad.) At the beginning of the War, in one of his letters to Edwin, Badeau wrote that he had "found 'real and exquisite happiness' in conferring his 'profound and tender and anxious love' upon a young soldier"--James Harrison Wilson, presumably.
My tiny amateur historian brain hasn't yet evolved far enough to deal with military tactics, so I'm sure when I'm all grown up I will appreciate most of the 1966 article quite a bit more. But on the whole it was very endearing: Wilson consistently begins with "My Dear Ad" and usually signs himself "Your Left Arm," gossips a bit about his superior officers, and sends (and asks for) quite a bit of war news--and on 13 May writes a gorgeously
interesting letter about (among other things) the capture of Jefferson Davis.( Click to read about Jeff in a dress!Collapse ) ( Jeff Davis and Sherman are crazy; Sheridan is a horseCollapse )
Jones, James P., ed. "'Your Left Arm': James H. Wilson's Letters to Adam Badeau." Civil War History
12 (September 1966) 230-44.