Posts Tagged With: Mudd

More about Oswell Swann

My recent walking tour from Dr. Mudd’s house forced me to do some research on the man who was hired by John Wilkes Booth and David E. Herold to guide them across the swamp, Oswell S. Swann. As I mentioned in one of the videos, his name varies greatly in different texts and records: Oswell, Oswald, Ausy, Aussie, Oscar, Osborn, Ozzy, etc. He was born in Maryland in about 1835 and was a Wesort. A Wesort is a member of a group of people with tri-racial ancestry; Native American, Caucasian, and African American. Director of the Surratt House Museum, Laurie Verge, gives a good history of the Wesorts here.

According to Oswell Swann’s statement, he had heard about the murder of the President when Booth and Herold arrived at his house.  However, he had no way of knowing that the two strangers before him were the parties responsible. It was around 9:00 pm on April 15th when Booth and Herold came up to Swann who was on foot. They asked him the way to Mr. [William] Burtles place, “Hogan’s Folly”. Burtles was a known Confederate sympathizer and his farm was used on occasion to shelter Confederate agents. Burtles’ home was only about two miles from Swann’s and the pair offered Swann $2 to guide them there. Before leaving Swann’s house, the pair asked Swann if he had any whiskey. As corroborated by David Herold in his account, Swann gave them whiskey and bread before mounting his own horse to leave. On route to Burtles’, the pair changed their minds. “They asked me if I could take them to Capt. Cox, if so they would give me $5 more.” Swann agreed to this and proceeded to take them, via Centerville Rd. (modern Route 6), across the swamp to Samuel Cox’s home of Rich Hill.

Swann to Rich Hill

While on route, the small man, David Herold, did the talking. Noticing the crutch with the other man (Booth), “The small man said that the other man broke his leg.” Unlike the bragging the pair had done about their deed to John Lloyd at Surrattsville, it is extremely unlikely that Booth and Herold told Swann, a descendent of slaves, that the former had assassinated the Great Emancipator. If they had, the best case would have been that Swann would flee, leaving them again lost and without a necessary guide. For their own benefit, they would keep quiet to Swann about what Booth had done.

Just before reaching Cox’s house, however, Davy Herold made a threatening remark to Swann, perhaps hoping to keep him from telling anyone about this little nighttime sojourn. “Don’t you say anything. If you tell that you saw anybody you will not live long.” This was probably Swann’s first hint that there was something nefarious about these men. But Swann was a modest tobacco farmer with a wife and eight children. With so many mouths to feed he needed the money that these two men offered him for the simple job of taking them from one place to another, even if they did threaten him.

Booth, Herold and Swann got to Rich Hill around midnight and Swann states the pair were welcomed in by Samuel Cox and stayed inside for 3 or 4 hours. Swann waited patiently by the horses during this time, not because of any devotion to the men, but because he had yet to be paid! When Booth and Herold emerged from the house hours later, they put on a masterful charade for Swann’s benefit. The pair acted disgruntled as if they had been turned away. One of the men said, “I thought Cox was a man of Southern feeling.” Swann helped Booth mount his horse again and then managed to get the money owed to him. Perhaps hoping to undo their earlier threat and eliminate Swann’s suspicion of them, Booth and Herold paid Swann $12 for his help, $5 more than what they had agreed to on route. Once he had his money, Swann departed, leaving Booth and Herold mounted but still in Cox’s yard. Booth and Herold were subsequently escorted by Samuel Cox, Jr. to the nearby pine thicket where they awaited Thomas Jones. Swann returned home, seemingly unaware that he had just aided the assassins of the President.

Such unawareness could not have lasted long, however. As troops poured into Bryantown over the next few days, Swann must have thought about the two suspicious men who called upon him. But still, one of the men had a broken leg and neither of the suspects to that point were described as lame. It wasn’t until the 18th that detectives first looked into the report of two suspicious men had called upon Dr. Mudd to treat a broken leg. They returned to further question Mudd on the 21st and during this visit found the boot Mudd had removed from the injured man and noticed the name J. Wilkes inscribed on it. This was the first direct piece of proof that the man with the broken leg at Dr. Mudd’s was the assassin, John Wilkes Booth.

The inside of Booth's boot.  it is inscribed, "Henry Luz, Maker, 445 Broadway, J. Wilkes"

The inside of Booth’s boot. It is inscribed, “Henry Luz, Maker, 445 Broadway, J. Wilkes”

The news undoubtedly spread like wildfire and increased their patrols around Bryantown and the surrounding area looking for the fugitives. It was in the evening of April 23rd that Oswell Swann, now fully aware of the identity of the men he aided, went to a friend in Bryantown by the name of Joseph Padgett, so that he may help him alert the authorities of the information he possessed. No threat of retribution on Herold’s part or an extra $5 from Booth would keep him silent. He went to Colonel Wells in Bryantown and told him how he unknowingly led the fugitives to Samuel Cox’s house. At about midnight on the 23rd, the troops, led by Oswell Swann, departed Bryantown for Rich Hill. They arrived there at about daybreak and arrested Samuel Cox. Cox and his servant girl Mary Swann (no relation to Oswell) denied that Booth and Herold were ever permitted entry into the house. History would prove that they both lied and that Oswell told the truth. Nevertheless, like several others who unknowingly aided the conspirators, Swann was arrested and held in Bryantown until the 27th when he was forwarded up to Washington and held in the Old Capitol Prison. He was finally released on May 18th and returned home.

After the trial was over, and the government opened up applications for those feeling they deserved a portion of generous reward money, an anonymous letter was sent to the War Department suggesting that Oswell Swann was deserving of some compensation:

“Bryantown, Md.
Sept. 1865

Respected Sir,

In awarding & making provision of the reward offered for the providing and giving information relative to the assassins of the late beloved President Lincoln Is not Oswell Swann entitled to a portion; the moment he was aware that Booth & Herold past his house and pressed him in there service he gave information to the proper authorities that they had past the neighborhood of there place and crossed the Potomac which accelerated & hasten there arrest. Oswell Swann is an honest, correct man and deserves well.”

Perhaps this letter was commissioned by Swann himself to get a share of the reward money. Or maybe his friend Joseph Padgett, who had helped Swann give his information to the authorities, felt compelled to write on his behalf after seeing the misfortune and imprisonment that befell the, “honest, correct man.” Swann did not receive any reward money, but it is nice to think that some anonymous neighbor in Bryantown thought him deserving of some.

The location of Oswell Swann's house at the corner of Cracklingtown Road and Burnt Store Road near Hughesville, MD

The location of Oswell Swann’s house at the corner of Cracklingtown Road and Burnt Store Road near Hughesville, MD

Oswell Swann died on May 2nd, 1890 at the age of 55. According to the death certificate he had been living in D.C. for the past ten years, residing off of Pomeroy Rd. in Anacostia. It took me forever to decipher the cause of death which ended up being the Greek word for tuberculosis. In a bit of serendipitous luck for me, as I was working on all of this, I got a call from Jim Garrett. Jim Garrett and his co-author Rich Smyth (both of whom are big supporters and commenters here on BoothieBarn) wrote the book, The Lincoln Assassination: Where Are They Now?, which documents the burial places of people associated with Lincoln’s death. Jim was out and about in DC when he called me, and I told him that I was looking at the death certificate for Oswell Swann which stated he was buried at Mt. Olivet cemetery. Mt. Olivet is the final resting place of Mary Surratt and John Lloyd among others. Jim was kind enough to stop by Mt. Olivet to check out the lead that Oswell Swann may be there. Jim and a cemetery employee had to go into the old, old books but, with the date of burial I provided him, they managed to find that Oswell is indeed buried in Mt. Olivet.  It will take further digging to find out which specific section of the cemetery he is in.  Oswell must have been close to destitute when he died as his grave is marked as a “free grave site” in the record books.  Due to this, Oswell Swann’s grave will have no marker or headstone on it.

In 1869, a correspondent to the Cincinnati Commercial newspaper visited the country that I walked through a few days ago.  There he spoke with, “an intelligent gentleman, living in the neighborhood of Doctor Mudd.”  This correspondent’s unnamed informant recounted,  with only limited accuracy, the story of Oswell Swann.  Part of his narrative, however, correctly summarizes Swann and his role in Booth and Heorld’s escape.  Of the terrain the fugitives found themselves in, the man stated, “Any one who has seen the country and appreciated its wild network of roads, can understand the demand [for a guide].”  Booth and Herold had become lost, disorientated and needed help from anyone they could find to get them across the Zekiah Swamp.  It was this need and sheer bad luck that brought Booth and Herold to Oswell Swann’s door.  Enticed by an easy way to make some money, Oswell Swann agreed to take the two strangers where they wanted to go, “not knowing, of course, the sort of work he was contracting for.”  Oswell Swann made an anonymous deal with the Devil, as it were, and though Swann tried his best afterwards to help the soldiers track him down, he still spent about a month in prison for it.

References:
The Lincoln Assassination: The Evidence by William Edwards and Ed Steers
The Lincoln Assassination: The Reward Files by William Edwards
“Odd Letter” Cincinnati Commercial, May 3rd, 1869
James O. Hall Research Center
Jim Garrett
I’m sure Jim and Rich will add Oswell Swann to the next edition of their book, but why wait for that when you can just buy it now: http://www.amazon.com/The-Lincoln-Assassination-Individuals-Washington/dp/0983721386

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Following the Escape Route: Dr Mudd’s to Oswell Swann’s

John Wilkes Booth and David E. Herold left the home of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd between 4:00 and 5:00 pm on the evening of April 15th, 1865.  At about 9:00 pm they arrived at the home of Oswell Swann.  The pair hired Swann to take them across the Zekiah Swamp to Rich Hill, and home of Confederate sympathizer, Samuel Cox.  Today, I attempted to walk the route that Booth and Herold took after departing Mudd’s until they showed up at Oswell Swann’s.  What followers are videos and pictures of that trip.  I hope you all enjoy following me as I walk in the footsteps of the assassin.

There are a total of 17 videos that I made to document my walk.

Part 1: Dr. Mudd’s House

Mudd House from the Path

Part 2: The Path Behind the Mudd House

The Path from the Mudd House

Part 3: Walking the Path

Part 4: The Path goes into the Swamp

Down into the Swamp

Part 5: Back tracking on the Path

The Path to the Mudd House

Part 6: Walking Away from the Mudd House

Mudd House Road Sign

Part 7: A Possible Oak Hill

Barn a Distance from Mudd House

Part 8: The Probable Oak Hill

Part 9: Electus Thomas’ Account

Part 10: The Road to Bryantown

Bryantown Road

Part 11: Gallant Green Road

Gallant Green and Aquasco Road

Part 12: Joseph Cantor’s Place

Joseph Cantor's lot

Part 13: Cracklingtown Road

Cracklingtown Road

Part 14: Oswell Swann’s Place

Oswell Swann's lot

Part 15: With Swann as their Guide

Part 16: The Road to Rich Hill

St. Mary's Church

Part 17: The End

Epilogue:
So, two bottles of water, two granola bars, and two extra socks later, I completed the journey. In the end, my planned walk of 11.5 miles turned out to be about 13 miles or so. The following is a map showing my route with Point A being Dr. Mudd’s House, and Point B being St. Mary’s Church where I left my car.

Route 7-24-2013

The walk was fun but I have several giant blisters on my feet. I’m hobbling around the house now like an infirmed old man and I predict that may remain for a day or so. Next time, I’ll be sure to buy better shoes preferably with gel insoles.

As I said in the last video, I’m open to viewer ideas regarding my next trek. In the comment section below, feel free to give me your ideas for parts of the escape route I could recreate. Thank you all for your support and encouragement on my little walks. It really helps keep me motivated.

Dave Taylor
7/24/2013

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A Thank You from Spangler

Though sentenced to 6 years in prison (a relative slap on the wrist compared to the execution and life sentences conveyed on the other accused), alleged conspirator Edman Spangler was blessed with the support of a man who continued to fight for his freedom – John Thompson Ford. Ford always believed his employee was completely innocent of any wrong doing. John T. Ford fought valiantly to help Spangler secure his freedom and even put up his own money to publish his defense testimony. While imprisoned on the Dry Tortugas, Spangler wrote the following letter to Ford, which was accompanied with several boxes, to thank him for his continued help:

“Mr. John T. Ford
Baltimore City
Md.
Sir.
I have again sent a box to your care, containing articles to be distributed to my and my roomates friends, which please deliver as directed. You will find a box marked for yourself, also a Cribbage board for yourself, Harry and Dick, each bearing labeled the name to whom they are for. I also send a box for my sister which please forward as directed thereon. Please notify O Laughlins and Arnolds family of the articles for them, which are a small box, directed to each of their familys, and also Cribbage boards apiece for each. Dr. Mudd sends a Cribbage Board which please deliver to his friend Mr. Dyer. Upon the receipt of the box please notify me of it. I trust you will be pleased with the things as I have endeavored to my utmost to make them so. The gift tis true is not much, but a heart of gratitude prompts the bearing of the gift.
We are all well with the exception of Arnold who looks very badly, but receives every kindness both from the officers and soldiers of the Command, which he is grateful for, and which we appreciate. I trust something soon will turn up, for my good and the good of all of us. I see by the papers the prosecution against Surratt are looking for a woman in N.Y. as a witness in his trial – perhaps it is Mrs. Hudspeth, whom Arnold has mentioned to me to write you of, as you know something in regard to her former testimony as told him by his and O Laughlins counsel. Please forward me the National Intelligencer as we are devoid of any paper matter. I have never received the Baltimore Sun since here, and as O Laughlin has that sent, I would be thankful if you would send me the above named paper. I am making a portable ladies writing desk and wish to know the initials of the name you wish placed on it, as the desk is intended for you. Trusting you will still remember me, and this will find you well, I close awaiting your reply.
Yours, etc.
Edman Spangler”

20130717-124814.jpg

Though the exact date of this letter is not given, it is assumedly written in mid 1867, before or during John Surratt’s trial but before Michael O’Laughlen’s death from Yellow Fever in September.

This letter provides us with a good view of the boredom that must have permeated the daily lives of the imprisoned conspirators at Fort Jefferson. With nothing else to do, Spangler was a veritable factory of cribbage boards and other carpentry items, spending his days keeping himself busy and purposeful. The desire for newspapers was strong and it appears each issue of the Baltimore Sun provided by the O’Laughlens was a treasured commodity to all the men. It was this desire for news that led Michael O’Laughlen to disobey Dr. Mudd’s advice when the former was suffering from Yellow Fever. As Dr. Mudd wrote of O’Laughlen’s illness:

“He had passed the first stage of the disease and was apparently convalescent, but, contrary to my earnest advice, he got out of bed a short time after I left in the morning, and was walking about the room looking over some periodicals the greater part of the day. In the evening, about five o’clock, a sudden collapse of the vital powers took place, which in thirty-six hours after terminated his life. He seemed all at once conscious of his impending fate, and the first warning I had of his condition was his exclamation, “Doctor, Doctor, you must tell my mother all!” He called then Edward Spangler, who was present, and extending his hand he said, “Good-by, Ned.” These were his last words of consciousness.”

Due to the continued persistence of people like John T. Ford and the Mudd family, the three remaining Lincoln assassination conspirators, Dr. Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Edman Spangler, would secure their pardons in the final days of Andrew Johnson’s presidency in 1869.

20130717-124927.jpg

References:
John Thompson Ford Papers at the Library of Congress
Robert Summers’ Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Research site
The Art Loux Archive

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New Gallery – Dr. Mudd House

In November of 1857, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd married his childhood sweetheart Sarah Frances Dyer. Shortly after their union, Dr. Mudd and his new wife were given 218 acres of prime farmland called St. Catherine’s by Dr. Mudd’s father, Henry Lowe Mudd.  Henry Mudd went on to commission the building of a house on the property for the new couple to live in.  It took two years to construct the house but by 1859 the Mudds arrived in their new home.  From that time up to the present, the Mudd family has maintained possession of the house.  Today, the Mudd house is a private museum dedicated to Dr. Mudd and his descendants.  The Dr. Samuel A. Mudd House Museum is open seasonally from early spring to late fall.  Go here to visit the museum’s new website for more information.

The newest Picture Gallery here on BoothieBarn revolves around this historic house.  Click the picture to visit the new Dr. Mudd House Picture Gallery!

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Like father, like son

The Mudd home in 1915

The Mudd home in 1915

“Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, who, not knowing that the President had been shot, reduced the fracture of Booth’s ankle, which the murderer sustained in catching a spur in the flag which draped the President’s private box as he, Booth leaped from the murder box to the stage, was a physician known by everybody in the three rural counties below Washington City. He was a member of one of the most numerous families in that part of Maryland, and it is within reason to say that to-day thousands of his kin are living in the territory through which Booth and Herold fled. The name is a very common one in the southern counties of Maryland, and Sidney Mudd the elder, who long represented that district in Congress was a kinsman, and so of course is Sidney Mudd the younger, who was elected to Congress from that district last fall.
Dr. Mudd for his part in the tragedy was sentenced by military court to Dry Tortugas for life, but in 1869 was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson. Returning to his home, he practiced medicine till his death in 1882 [1883]. His widow died four years ago and the family house, in which Booth’s ankle was set, is dwelt in to-day by Dr. Mudd’s son and his wife and children.” – New York Tribune, April 4, 1915

Sam Mudd, Jr. and family 1915

Samuel Alexander Mudd, Jr. was the fourth child of Dr. Mudd and his wife, Sarah Frances Dyer Mudd. He was born on January 30th, 1864 and, in addition to the Mudd family home, he also inherited his father’s looks:

Sam Mudd Sr and Jr

References:
“Following Trial To-day of Lincoln’s Assassin” – New York Tribune, April 4, 1915

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The Case Against Dr. Mudd

While I take a sympathetic and pragmatic approach to Dr. Mudd when it comes to his knowledge of the assassination of Lincoln, from time to time I think it’s important to point out the fallacy of the “simple, country doctor” mystique that has crept up around him.  The following is an excerpt from Dr. Edward Steers, Jr.’s wonderful book, His Name is Still Mudd.  It succinctly states the evidence demonstrating Dr. Mudd’s involvement in John Wilkes Booth’s initial plot to abduct President Lincoln.  What follows after is an account written by George Alfred Townsend, GATH, in which the meeting between Dr. Mudd, Booth and Thomas Harbin is described.

dr-mudd-1-oldroyd

Mudd’s knowledge of, and acquaintance with John Wilkes Booth:

      1.  The meeting in November 1864, in which Booth is first introduced to Mudd at St. Mary’s Church in Bryantown.
          2.  The meeting at the Bryantown Tavern in mid-December 1864, (December 17-21) where Dr. Mudd introduced Booth to Thomas Harbin [see account of this meeting below], and when Booth spent the night at Mudd’s house and later purchased the one-eyed horse from his neighbor, George Gardiner

3.  The December 23, 1864 trip to Washington where Mudd meets Booth at the National Hotel and introduces him to Confederate agent John H. Surratt, Jr.

Whether Mudd knew that Booth murdered Lincoln, and when he knew it:

          1. Samuel Mudd’s statement that he heard of the assassination while in Bryantown on Saturday afternoon (April 15th)
          2. Francis R. Farrell’s testimony in which he states that Mudd told both himself, and John F. Hardy on Saturday afternoon that a man named Booth had murdered Lincoln.
          3. Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement that Mudd told him, in 1877, that while in Bryantown on Saturday afternoon, April 15th, Mudd had heard of the assassination of President Lincoln, and that John Wilkes Booth was the assassin.
          4. Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement that Mudd told him that when he learned Booth was the assassin he returned home and ordered Booth out of his house.
          5. Captain George W. Dutton’s affidavit that Mudd told him on July 22, 1865, that he knew it was Booth whose leg he had set at his home on Saturday, April 15th.

Evidence linking Mudd to Booth’s conspiracy to capture President Lincoln:

        1. Mudd’s introduction of Thomas Harbin to Booth.
        2. Mudd’s introduction of John H. Surratt, Jr. to Booth.
        3. Samuel Cox, Jr.’s statement which quotes Mudd as saying that he went into Bryantown on Saturday, April 15th, to mail contraband letters which he had received earlier.
        4. George Atzerodt’s “lost confession” in which Atzerodt states that Booth had sent provisions to Dr. Mudd’s house to be used for their flight to Virginia.
        5. Dr. Richard Stuart’s deposition which states that Herold had told him that Dr. Mudd had referred Booth and Herold to Dr. Stuart, implying that Booth would receive medical assistance.
        6. William Bryant’s statement that the two fugitives were referred to Dr. Stuart for medical assistance.”

 – Dr. Edward Steers, Jr. in His Name is Still Mudd

Thomas Harbin

Thomas Harbin

“After church that day Booth went into Bryantown, a mile or two distant, and in plain sight, and was introduced by Dr. Mudd at the village hotel to Mr. Thomas Harbin, the Marylander, who was the principal signal officer or spy with the lower Maryland counties.

Toward the close of the war rigorous policing of the lower Maryland country was relaxed or dispensed with, as the enemy had been pushed south of the James River and seldom molested the Potomac paris.  Harbin, whom I talked to at great length just before he died, about 1885, gave me particulars concerning Booth, which would now be past discovering.  He told me that in Bryantown, at the tavern, Dr. Mudd introduced him to Booth, and said that Mr. Booth wanted some private conversation with Harbin; they took a room on the second floor, where Booth went through the thespian motions of pacing and watching the hallways and escapements.  He then outlined a scheme of seizing Abraham Lincoln and delivering him up the same evening in Virginia.  He said that he had come down to that country to invite co-operation and partners, and intimated that there was not only glory, but profit in the undertaking.

Harbin was a cool man who had seen many liars and rogues go to and fro on that illegal border and he sat down Booth as a crazy fellow, but at the same time said that he would give his co-operation.”

GATH dispatch, Cincinnati Enquirer, April 18th, 1892

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New Gallery – Dr. Mudd

Our newest Picture Gallery on BoothieBarn.com is of the conspirator, Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd.  When John Wilkes Booth arrived at this 31 year-old physician’s home in Charles County, MD during the morning hours of April 15th, 1865, it was his fourth face-to-face meeting with the good doctor that we know of.  On a previous meeting between Mudd and Booth in Washington, Dr. Mudd introduced the young actor to another man who would feature prominently in the conspiracy to abduct Lincoln, John H. Surratt, Jr.  After the assassination, Booth sought Dr. Mudd specifically to help set his broken leg.  Mudd did so, and Booth and Herold spent the daylight hours of April 15th on the Mudd property.  Dr. Mudd claimed ignorance of the wounded man’s identity and stated to investigators that he did not hear about the assassination of Lincoln until he made a trip into Bryantown that day.  According to Mudd, upon his return from Bryantown the two men were already departing from his house.

Though there has been considerable effort put forth, especially by his descendants, to portray Dr. Mudd as an innocent country doctor fulfilling his hippocratic oath, the truth is far more complicated and not as innocent.  Dr. Mudd’s involvement in Booth’s conspiracy is probably best stated by his own lawyer, Frederick Stone: “His prevarications were painful.  He had given his whole case away by not trusting even his counsel or neighbors or kinfolks.  It was a terrible thing to extricate him from the toils he had woven about himself.  He had denied knowing Booth when he knew him well.  He was undoubtedly accessory to the abduction plot, though he may have supposed it would never come to anything.  He denied knowing Booth when he came to his house when that was preposterous.  He had even been intimate with Booth.”

The Dr. Samuel Mudd photo gallery contains images relating to Dr. Mudd himself.  Additional galleries will come later to focus on specific places in Mudd’s life like the Mudd house and Fort Jefferson.  I hope you enjoy the new picture gallery about Dr. Mudd, and feel free to send any other pictures you might feel would be relevant to this gallery to boothiebarn (at) gmail (dot) com.

Special thanks to Robert Summers for sharing two pictures of Dr. and Mrs. Mudd for the gallery!

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OTD: Dr. Mudd receives a Pardon

On this date, February 8th, in 1869, President Andrew Johnson presented Mrs. Mudd with a pardon for her imprisoned husband.

Dr. Mudd 4

Mrs. Mudd, her friends, and neighbors had worked diligently trying to get Dr. Mudd released from Ft. Jefferson for years. According to Mrs. Mudd, during her several meetings with Johnson, “He conveyed to me always the idea that he wanted to release my husband, but said more than once ‘the pressure on me is too great.'” Now, with less than a month left in his presidency, Johnson called Mrs. Mudd to the White House and gave her a pardon for Dr. Mudd. A month later, on March 8th, Dr. Mudd was released from custody at Fort Jefferson.

Here is President Johnson’s pardon of Dr. Mudd in full, courtesy of Robert Summers’ impeccable Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Research Site:

“Andrew Johnson
President of the United States of America.

To all to Whom these Presents shall come. Greeting:

Whereas, on the twenty-ninth day of June in the year 1865, Dr. Samuel A. Mudd was by the judgment of a Military Commission, convened and holden at the City of Washington, in part convicted, and in part acquitted, of the specification wherein he was inculpated in the charge for the trial of which said Military Commission was so convened and held, and which specification in its principal allegation against him, was and is in the words and figures following, to wit:

And in further prosecution of said conspiracy, the said Samuel A. Mudd did, at Washington City and within the Military Department and military lines aforesaid, on or before the sixth day of March, A. D. 1865 and on divers other days and times between that day and the twentieth day of April A. D. 1865, advise, encourage, receive, entertain, harbor and conceal, aid and assist, the said John Wilkes Booth, David E. Herold, Lewis Payne, John H. Surratt, Michael O’Laughlen, George A. Atzerodt, Mary E. Surratt and Samuel Arnold and their confederates, with knowledge of the murderous and traitorous conspiracy aforesaid, and with intent to aid, abet, and assist them in the execution thereof, and in escaping from justice after the murder of the said Abraham Lincoln, in pursuance of said conspiracy in manner aforesaid:

And whereas, upon a consideration and examination of the record of said trial and conviction and of the evidence given at said trial, I am satisfied that the guilt found by the said judgment against the Samuel A. Mudd was of receiving, entertaining, harboring, and concealing John Wilkes Booth and David E. Herold, with the intent to aid, abet and assist them in escaping from justice after the assassination of the late President of the United States, and not of any other or greater participation or complicity in said abominable crime;

And whereas, it is represented to me by respectable and intelligent members of the medical profession, that the circumstances of the surgical aid to the escaping assassin and the imputed concealment of his flight are deserving of a lenient construction as within the obligations of professional duty, and thus inadequate evidence of a guilty sympathy with the crime or the criminal;

And whereas, in other respects the evidence, imputing such guilty sympathy or purpose of aid in defeat of justice, leaves room for uncertainty as to the true measure and nature of the complicity of the said Samuel A. Mudd in the attempted escape of said assassins;

And whereas, the sentence imposed by said Military Commission upon the said Samuel A. Mudd was that he be imprisoned at hard labor for life, and the confinement under such sentence was directed to be had in the military prison at Dry Tortugas, Florida, and the said prisoner has been hitherto, and now is, suffering the infliction of such sentence;

And whereas, upon occasion of the prevalence of the Yellow Fever at that military station, and the death by that pestilence of the medical officer of the Post, the said Samuel A. Mudd devoted himself to the care and cure of the sick, and interposed his courage and his skill to protect the garrison, otherwise without adequate medical aid, from peril and alarm, and thus, as the officers and men unite in testifying, saved many valuable lives and earned the admiration and the gratitude of all who observed or experienced his generous and faithful service to humanity;

And whereas, the surviving families and friends of the Surgeon and other officers who were the victims of the pestilence earnestly present their dying testimony to the conspicuous merit of Dr. Mudd’s conduct, and their own sense of obligation to him and Lieut. Zabriskie and two hundred and ninety nine noncommissioned officers and privates stationed at the Dry Tortugas have united in presenting to my attention the praiseworthy action of the prisoner and in petitioning for his pardon;

And whereas the Medical Society of Hartford County, Maryland, of which he was an associate, have petitioned for his pardon, and thirty nine members of the Senate and House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States have also requested his pardon;

Now, therefore be it known that I, Andrew Johnson, President of the United States of America, in consideration of the premises, divers other good and sufficient reasons me thereunto moving, do hereby grant to the said Dr. Samuel A. Mudd a full and unconditional pardon.

In testimony thereof, I have hereunto signed my name and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this Eighth day of February, A. D. (Seal) 1869, and the Independence of the United States the ninety third.

ANDREW JOHNSON, By the President”

Some recent advocates of Dr. Mudd have tried to use this pardon as proof that Dr. Mudd was wholly innocent of the crimes against him. However a pardon is not that same as being exonerated. Exoneration is when one is completely absolved from blame for a wrongdoing. A pardon is when one is forgiven for a wrongdoing. Dr. Mudd was offered and accepted a pardon. To accept a pardon is to accept the guilt of the wronging and to be forgiven for it.

In my eyes, Dr. Mudd earned his pardon due to his assistance during the Yellow Fever epidemic on the Fort.  He risked his life helping the soldiers and prisoners of the fort during their illnesses and subsequently paid for his involvement with John Wilkes Booth.

References:
Dr. Samuel A. Mudd Research Site

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