Sunday, July 7, 2013

They smelled a Surratt

A blow was struck for equality on this day in 1865. Mary Surratt became the first woman executed by hanging by the federal government. She was the proprietress of a boarding house in Washington, D. C. Her son was a friend of the actor John Wilkes Booth. Those two and some other conspirators met in the house to plot the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, which was carried out on April 14, 1865. Mary Surratt was arrested and tried for conspiracy, and sentenced to death by a military commission. Whether she was guilty is still is a controversy. She and four others were hanged on July 7. Her son, who had fled,  was found and later brought to trial, but released when the government failed to bring an indictment.

The story is the subject of an excellent 2010 movie called "The Conspirator." Robin Wright (shown in picture), the former Mrs. Sean Penn, played Mary Surratt.  

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