Mary Elizabeth Surratt is a little-known but important figure in American history as the only woman to be hung as a consequence of the yankee invasion of the South. Her son, John Surratt, was believed to have acted in a plot with John Wilkes Booth and others not only to murder President Abraham Lincoln but also to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward.
Soon after Lincoln”s assassination though, John Surratt was in Canada and Booth yet to be apprehended. Mary and many other men were arrested in connection with the assassination of the President. Denied the opportunity of a fair trial by jury, they were brought to trial by a military commission. Despite protests by the defense lawyers that it was illegal to try civilians before a military court, all were tried and found guilty (Illegally and Unconstitutionally).
Many prominent citizens plead with President Andrew Johnson for a stay of execution for Mrs. Surratt. He steadfastly refused. On July 7, 1865, Mary Surratt was hanged along with three others. In its grief over the death of President Lincoln, did America condemn an innocent woman to her death?
This moving account will no doubt elicit new debate on the subject of the Civil War and reveal a new perspective on the events surrounding the Lincoln assassination.
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