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The Conspirators and Their Trial and Execution

At about 10 p. m. on April 14, 1865, at almost the same time that Booth assassinated President Lincoln, Lewis Paine entered the residence of Secretary of State William H. Seward, Madison Place, Lafayette Square, on the pretext of delivering medicine to Seward, who had been injured in a carriage accident. Paine fractured the skull of Frederick Seward, a son of the Secretary, with his revolver, slashed a male nurse, and stabbed Seward twice in the face. Only the fact that he was wearing a steel brace around his neck and broken jaw saved Seward's life.

The conspirators were quickly rounded up following Lincoln's assassination. Atzerodt, who had been assigned to kill Vice President Johnson, lacked the courage to carry out the plan, and was captured 6 days afterwards. Arnold and O'Laughlin were apprehended 3 days after the murder. On April 17, Mrs. Surratt was arrested at her boarding house, along with Paine who had walked in while the police were there. Dr. Mudd was arrested on April 21.

The military tribunal established to try the conspirators did not distinguish between the plan for abduction and the assassination. Paine, Herold, Atzerodt, and Mrs. Surratt were hanged. Dr. Mudd, Arnold, and O'Laughlin were sentenced to life imprisonment at Fort Jefferson on the Dry Tortugas, Florida. Dr. Mudd and Arnold were pardoned by President Johnson in 1869, and O'Laughlin died of yellow fever in 1867. Spangler, charged with aiding in Booth's escape, was sentenced to 6 years' imprisonment but was pardoned with the others. John Surratt, who had fled to Europe, was captured at Alexandria, Egypt, and tried in Washington by a civil court in 1867. He was freed when the jury disagreed.


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