The Corresponence of James McNeil Whistler
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John H. Surratt, 1842-1916

Nationality: American
Date of Birth: 1842.04.13
Place of Birth: Washington, DC?
Date of Death: 1916.04.21
Place of Death: Baltimore, MD


John H. Surratt was the son of Mrs Surratt, whose Washington boarding house was the headquarters of the conspirators who assassinated President Lincoln.


Working as a postmaster in a small Maryland town, Surratt was secretly acting as a Confederate secret agent passing on information about Union troop movements around Washington. In the autumn of 1864 Surratt was introduced to John Wilkes Booth, the man who would kill President Lincoln. Surratt claimed that, at this meeting, he agreed to enter into a conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln. And attempts to do this were made before the worsening Confederate position and the fall of Richmond made the plan unworkable. On hearing the news of Wilkes' assassination of the President he fled from New York, where he claimed to be obtaining information on a P.O.W. camp, to Canada. He then moved on to England before being arrested in Egypt and brought back to the U.S. for trial. He was however cleared of all charges relating to the death of the president although his mother had previously been tried and executed for her involvement in the affair.

Bibliography: (accesed 2004.09.28)