Trial and Execution of Mary Surratt - 1865

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Mary Surratt Boardinghouse

Mrs. Mary Surratt house at 604 H St. N.W. Washington, D.C.
Photograph About 1890 Photograph from about 1890-1910 of Mrs. Mary Surratt house at 604 H St. N.W. Wash, D.C. Courtesy Library of Congress

Picture Gallery

Mary Surratt was tried and convicted and executed as a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Her son escaped conviction, and later admitted that he was part of the original plot to kidnap Lincoln and several others in government. Was Mary Surratt a co-conspirator, or merely a boardinghouse keeper who was supporting her son's friends without knowing what they planned? Historians disagree, but most agree that the military tribunal that tried Mary Surratt and three others had less stringent rules of evidence than a regular criminal court would have had.

Photograph of the Mary Surratt house at 604 H St. N.W. Washington, D.C., where John Wilkes Booth, John Surratt Jr., and others met frequently in late 1864 into 1865.

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John Surratt Jr.

John Surratt Jr., in his Canada jacket, about 1866
Son of Mary Surratt John Surratt Jr., in his Canada jacket, about 1866. Courtesy Library of Congress

Many have believed that the government prosecuted Mary Surratt as a co-conspirator in the plot to kidnap or kill President Abraham Lincoln in order to persuade John Surratt to leave Canada and turn himself in to prosecutors.

John Surratt publicly admitted in 1870 in a speech that he'd been part of the original plan to kidnap Lincoln.

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John Surratt Jr.

John Surratt Jr.
Escaped to Canada John Surratt Jr. Courtesy Library of Congress

When John Surratt Jr., on a trip as a Confederate courier to New York, heard of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, he escaped to Montreal, Canada.

John Surratt Jr. later returned to the United States, escaped, then again returned and was prosecuted for his part in the conspiracy. The trial resulted in a hung jury, and the charges were finally dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired on the crime with which he'd been charged. In 1870, he admitted publicly to being part of the plot to kidnap Lincoln, which had evolved into Booth's killing of Lincoln.

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Surratt Jury

Mary Surratt Jury
Members of the Jury that Convicted Mary Surratt Jury for the Trial of Mary Surratt. Courtesy Library of Congress. Original copyright (expired) by J. Orville Johnson.

This image depicts the jurors who convicted Mary Surratt of being a conspirator in the plot that led to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The jurors did not hear Mary Surratt testify that she was innocent, as testimony in felony cases by the accused was not permitted in federal trials (and in most state trials) at that time.

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Mary Surratt: the Death Warrant

Reading the Death Warrant
Gen. John F. Hartranft Reads Warrant Reading the Death Warrant, July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Washington, D.C. The four condemned conspirators, Mary Surratt and three others, on the scaffold as General John F. Hartranft reads the death warrant to them. Guards are on the wall, and onlookers are at the bottom left of the photograph.

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General John F. Hartranft Reading the Death Warrant

Reading the Death Warrant
Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, George Atzerodt Reading the Death Warrant, July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Closeup of the convicted conspirators and others on the scaffold as Gen. Hartranft read the death warrant, July 7, 1865.

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General John F. Hartranft Reading the Death Warrant

Reading the Death Warrant
Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, George Atzerodt Reading the Death Warrant, July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Gen. Hartranft read the death warrant for the four convicted of conspiracy, as they stood on the scaffold on July 7, 1865.

The four were Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and George Atzerodt; this detail from the photograph shows Mary Surratt at the left, under the umbrella.

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Mary Surratt and Others Executed for Conspiracy

Mary Surratt and Others Executed for Conspiracy
July 7, 1865 Mary Surratt and three men were executed for conspiracy in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Mary Surratt and three men were executed by hanging for conspiracy in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, July 7, 1865.

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Adjusting the Ropes

Adjusting the Ropes
Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt - July 7, 1865 Adjusting the Ropes - Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt - July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Adjusting the ropes before hanging the conspirators, July 7, 1865: Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt.

An official photograph of the execution.

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Adjusting the Ropes

Hanging the Conspirators
Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt - July 7, 1865 Hanging the Conspirators - Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt - July 7, 1865. Courtesy Library of Congress

Adjusting the ropes before hanging the conspirators, July 7, 1865: Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold, Georg Atzerodt.

Detail from an official photograph of the execution.

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Execution of Four Conspirators

execution of Mary Surratt and three others
Contemporary Illustration 1865 image of the execution of Mary Surratt and three others as conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Courtesy Library of Congress.

Newspapers of the time didn't generally print photographs, but rather illustrations. This illustration was used to show the execution of the four conspirators convicted of having a part in the plot that resulted in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

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Mary Surratt and Others Hanged for Conspiracy

Mary Surratt and Others Executed
July 7, 1865 Mary Surratt and Others Executed. Courtesy Library of Congress

Official photograph of the hanging of Mary Surratt, Lewis Payne, David Herold and Georg Atzerodt on July 7, 1865, convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln.

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Mary Surratt Grave

Mary Surratt Grave
Mount Olivet Cemetery Courtesy Library of Congress. Mary Surratt Grave

Mary Surratt's final resting place -- where her remains were moved years after her execution -- is at Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, DC.

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Mary Surratt Boardinghouse

Mary Surratt Boardinghouse (20th Century Photo)
20th Century Photograph Mary Surratt Boardinghouse (20th Century Photo). Courtesy Library of Congress

Now on the National Register of Historic Places, Mary Surratt's boardinghouse went through many other uses after its infamous role in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.

The house is still located at 604 H Street, N.W., Washington, D.C.

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Your Citation
Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Trial and Execution of Mary Surratt - 1865." ThoughtCo, Jan. 13, 2017, thoughtco.com/trial-and-execution-of-mary-surratt-4123228. Lewis, Jone Johnson. (2017, January 13). Trial and Execution of Mary Surratt - 1865. Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/trial-and-execution-of-mary-surratt-4123228 Lewis, Jone Johnson. "Trial and Execution of Mary Surratt - 1865." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/trial-and-execution-of-mary-surratt-4123228 (accessed November 25, 2017).