Mary Surratt Facts

Mary Surratt Facts
Mary Surratt is one of the most interesting and controversial figures in American history. Arrested, tried, and convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln, Surratt was the first female executed by the United States federal government in its history. In many ways, Surratt was a most unlikely assassin and pro-Confederate. At the time of the Civil War, Surratt was a widow who managed her late husband's estate in the Union state of Maryland. Unlike most southerners, Surratt was a convert to the Roman Catholic religion. The government argued that she became involved in the assassination plot because a number of people associated with John Wilkes Boothe stayed at her Washington, D.C. boarding house. Her son, John Surratt Junior, was admittedly involved in a plot to kidnap Lincoln, but he was acquitted of the assassination and claimed that his mother was also not guilty. Today, many believe that Mary Surratt knew nothing about the assassination plot and that her only crime was allowing some of Boothe's co-conspirators to stay at her boarding house.
Interesting Mary Surratt Facts:
Surratt was born Mary Elizabeth Jenkins to Archibald and Elizabeth Jenkins in 1820, or 1823, on a tobacco plantation near Waterloo, Maryland.
Mary was sent to a Roman Catholic girl's school, which is when she converted to Catholicism.
Marry married John Surratt in 1840. The couple lived on a Maryland plantation owned by the Surratt family and would have three children.
Although Maryland was north of the Mason-Dixon Line and was in the Union during the Civil War, it was a slave state. The Surratts owned many slaves that worked their plantation.
John Surratt showed signs of being a good businessman, but chronic alcoholism often impeded his success. The infamous boarding house where Boothe stayed was purchased by John in 1853.
The Surratts also owned a tavern in Washington that became a pro-Confederate hangout during the war.
After John died, Mary moved to the Washington townhouse and began renting rooms out to men in 1864.
Mary's move to the Washington townhouse has been the source of debate among historians: some believe she did so for economic reasons, while others think she did to be part of a Confederate spy ring.
The boarding house came to the attention of the local police when it was learned that Secretary of State, William Seward's would be assassins, George Atzerodt and Lewis Powell had stayed there.
Mary Surratt was arrested on April 17, 1865.
Surratt was tried with seven other co-conspirators in a military tribunal, which began in May 1865.
The case against Surratt was based on circumstantial evidence. The evidence was primarily the testimony of two alleged conspirators - John Lloyd and Louis Weichmann.
The defense's strategy was to argue that the star witnesses were untrustworthy and had no real loyalties or beliefs.
Justice moved extremely swift at that time. Surratt was found guilty on June 29, sentenced to death on June 30, and executed by hanging on July 7. She was hung in a gallows with Lewis Powell, David Herold, and Georg Atzerodt.
Mary Surratt is buried at the Mount Olivet Cemetery in Washington, D.C.


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