The Trial Today: May 10

Here’s a sample of what occurred on this day in the Lincoln conspiracy trial:

  • Two of the military commissioners, one of whom was very vocal in his criticism of the commission, were replaced
  • The first court reporters were sworn in
  • The conspirators were officially arraigned on the charge and specification against them
  • The rules of the court were established

This date also marks the first appearance of artwork by historical illustrator and cartoonist, Jackie Roche. I’ve been a fan of Jackie’s work since we first “met” in 2014, following the publication of one of her comics that highlighted the experiences of the Petersen House boarder who lived in the room where Lincoln died, Willie Clark. Jackie is not only a talented artist but also a devoted historian. She thoroughly researches every topic she creates art for and includes footnotes in her comics. Jackie was kind enough to create six different images for this project demonstrating the six different seating arrangements the conspirators went through during the trial. Please visit her website to see more of her amazing work. Her comic on the forgotten people who lived at Arlington House, in what is now Arlington National Cemetery, is one of my favorite pieces.

The May 10, 1865 entry for the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators is now released and has more information. Please click here to access it. You can also access it through The Trial homepage.


Throughout May and June of 2020, I am publishing a day by day chronology of the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. This includes almost daily posts announcing the release of what happened at the conspiracy trial 155 years ago. For more information about the creation of this project please click here.

Categories: History | Tags: | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “The Trial Today: May 10

  1. Eileen M. Mulcahy

    May 10th is also John Wilkes Booth’s birthday and his parent’s wedding anniversary.

  2. t\\

    Thanks so much for your account of the trial and your other work. It is fascinating.

  3. Paul Hancq

    Jackie Roche’s comic on the forgotten people who lived at Arlington House is really good and meaningful!

  4. In the charge and specification, Holt originally named Stanton as an intended victim. For unknown reasons, he deleted Stanton’s name in a revision of the document. This may have been because Holt felt the prosecution could not make a case against the defendants for an attempt on Stanton or because Stanton ordered it, fearing revelation of embarrassing facts, such as his authorship of the Dahlgren orders.

    • You are correct, John. Yet it is interesting that the case against Michael O’Laughlen was almost entirely based on him supposedly lying in wait for Edwin Stanton and not, as the specification lays out, U. S. Grant. Seems like an oversight on Holt’s part to change the charge but not change the presented evidence. Of course we know that is because there wasn’t any evidence that O’Laughlen targeted Grant.

  5. Thank you for your response, Dave. The charge and specification could not possibly fit all the defendants and unindicted co-conspirators when so much was yet unknown. The charge against O’Laughlen is an example of that. Even if the Commissioners had accepted the eyewitness testimony that put him in the Stanton home the night of the 13th, where and when the Grants were guests (which, they didn’t; they believed his alibi witnesses), that hardly constituted “lying in wait” to murder anyone. It was other evidence that tied him to Booth’s conspiracy and that resulted in his conviction. In my opinion, there WAS an attempt on Grant, but not by O’Laughlen, but by the fellow who followed Grant on the train to Burlington, New Jersey, as attested to by Atzerodt and the anonymous letter Grant received a day or two later.

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