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Video Courtesy of Joe Gleason
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Very Interesting website; but, WHAT is the significance of the two pictures you have referring to “Spangler’s ROPE”??? He was sentenced to “6 years at hard labor” ad was incarcerated in Dry Tortugas,Florida. Do you mean it was a rope he used while in prison???
After Spangler was arrested, Det. Charles Rosch and a couple other detectives went to the boarding house where Spangler stayed and had his meals. They searched his room, finding only a carpetbag there. Inside of the carpetbag was this 81 foot coil of rope, a shirt collar and some letter paper. At the conspiracy trial, the prosecution entered the rope as a piece of evidence against Spangler. It was very flimsy and they did not even do a good job of explaining how the rope was incriminating. Since they knew that rope and a monkey wrench had been left at the Surratt Tavern, they tired to play it off that Spangler’s rope was the backup one for whatever Booth had planned for the first one. Spangler’s defense attorney, Thomas Ewing, easily proved with witnesses that there was nothing sinister about the rope. Spangler liked crab fishing which used long rope, and this size rope was common to the ropes in the theatre where he worked. If anything, Ewing implied, Spangler was guilty of taking an old rope from Ford’s without asking: “It is easier to imagine him frugal enough to provide his home in Baltimore a clothesline or a bed-cord, than foolish enough to provide for the assassin’s scheme an article so unnecessary as an 80 foot rope.”
Thanks for reading!
Hey Dave. So glad you answered that one. I’ve never had the time to look into that rope issue. There were coils of rope leftover from building the scaffold which was probably grabbed by relic hunters even before the hangings took place. There is a great article I found from a 1903 National Tribune article that indicates a soldier and his buddies who were at the hangings took a piece of rope from the hangings, ran downtown and bought a healthy length of matching rope, cut it into 2″ pieces, labelled each with the names of a conspirator and sold them for $0.50 each. Too funny but likely true! Barry
I had a feeling that, like playbills, there are many fake pieces of rope out there said to be from the hanging. Ford’s Theatre has some on display at the New Center for Education and Leadership that look a little too skinny to me.
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