24 Events During the Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth
24 Events During the Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth

24 Events During the Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth

Larry Holzwarth - December 12, 2019

24 Events During the Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth
The War Department confiscated Ford’s Theater after the assassination. National Archives

23. Ford’s Theater became another of Booth’s victims

Immediately following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Ford’s Theater, which had opened in 1863, was seized by the federal government. Congress eventually paid owner John T. Ford compensation for the building and ordered that the site never again be used for public entertainment. The War Department assumed control of the building, and it was used for records storage, with offices maintained on the second floor by the Surgeon General’s office. In 1887 the entire building was used as office space for War Department clerks.

The front façade collapsed in 1893, killing 22 government workers, and the building was repaired and continued to be used as a records storage facility. In 1911 the building was abandoned. Eventually, after having passed between several government bureaucracies it became part of the National Park Service. Along with the Petersen House across the street, it is part of the Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site.

24 Events During the Manhunt for John Wilkes Booth
Not until John Dillinger would a larger manhunt be conducted in the United States. Wikimedia

24. The manhunt for Booth was the largest in American history until 1933

The search for the killer of Abraham Lincoln remained the largest in the history of the United States until John Dillinger escaped from custody in 1933 and was eventually killed in 1934. Well over 1,000 federal troops, provost marshals, hired detectives, and the Washington police took part in finding Booth and his accomplices, and hundreds were swept up in dragnets in the District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia. Eventually, it reached into Egypt, where John Surratt, son of the hanged Mary, was finally arrested and extradited to America.

Surratt was tried in a civilian court, rather than before a military tribunal, and was released after a mistrial in 1867 (hung jury) He was never retried. His was the final trial resulting from the Lincoln assassination and the only one conducted in a court of law. In 1869, President Johnson pardoned the other three surviving Lincoln conspirators, Dr. Mudd, Spangler, and Sam Arnold.

 

Where do we find this stuff? Here are our sources:

“American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies”. Michael Kauffman. 2004

“The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies”. William Hanchett. 1983

“Manhunt: The 12 Day Chase for Lincoln’s Killer”. James L. Swanson. 2006

“The Flight of John Wilkes Booth”. Marjie Riordan, Bay Weekly. Online

“The Escape Route of John Wilkes Booth”. Maryland Office of Tourism. Online

“John Wilkes Booth Original Plan to Save the South”. Video, Smithsonian.com. Online

“The Booth Obsession”. Gene Smith, American Heritage Magazine. September, 1992

“Lincoln’s Assassination”. Interactive article, Ford’s Theater. Online

“Route of John Wilkes Booth”. Potomac River Guide. Online

“Material Evidence: John Wilkes Booth”. Article, Lincoln’s Assassination. Ford’s Theater. Online

“In hot pursuit: The escape route of John Wilkes Booth”. News Interactive, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Online

“The Final Hours of John Wilkes Booth”. James L. Swanson, Smithsonian Magazine. April 8, 2015

“American Characters: Boston Corbett”. Richard F. Snow, American Heritage Magazine. June/July, 1980

“End of a Manhunt”. Richard B. Garrett, American Heritage Magazine. June, 1966

“Assassination!” Philip B. Kunhardt Jr, American Heritage Magazine. April, 1965

“Documenting the Death of An Assassin”. Ashley Luthern, Smithsonian.com. May 5, 2011

“The FBI Investigated John Wilkes Booth – in the twentieth century?” Jack El-Hai, Wonders and Marvels. Online

“Trial of the Conspirators”. Article, Lincoln’s Assassination. Ford’s Theater. Online

“Identification and Autopsy of John Wilkes Booth: Re-examining the evidence”. Leonard F. Guttridge, Navy Medicine. January-February, 1993.

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