Posts Tagged ‘Mary Surratt’

I love visiting historic locations where famous (or infamous) events took place. I recently watched The Conspirator which is based on Dr. Kate Clifford Larson’s book The Assassin’s Accomplice. The movie follows the trial of Mary Surratt, the owner of the boarding house in Washington, DC where Booth and other conspirators plotted to kidnap President Lincoln, but then Booth changed the plan to murder.

Mary Surratt was arrested two days after President Lincoln died. She and her co-defendants were tried by military tribunal rather than in civil court. She was the first woman executed by the Federal government and the facts surrounding her trial and execution remain controversial. She and three others were hanged on July 7, 1865.

Robert Redford did a fabulous job as the director of this movie and it was produced by The American Film Company  which uses historians to assure their films depict the events accurately. I’m usually so disappointed with movies and TV shows that play fast and loose with historical facts.

The main actors, James McAvoy (from X-Men) and Robin Wright (House of Cards) are fantastic. I didn’t recognize Robin Wright at first ~ she played the role of Mary Surratt so well. It’s a courtroom drama and the movie drags on a bit at times but for the historical accuracy, I highly recommend it.

I’ve already been to Ford’s Theater where President Lincoln was shot but I learned through the film that the conspirators were hanged at Fort McNair DC. Before I headed over to take a look, I looked up the photos taken by Alexander Gardner (a famous Scottish photographer who covered a lot of the US Civil War and the aftermath). Here are his photos (caution: graphic):

Alexander Gardner HangingA. Gardner
(c) Alexander Gardner.  Photos from the Library of Congress collection

…and here’s what the location looks like now:

Fort McNair Tennis courts
The site of the execution is now tennis courts at Fort McNair. John asked if I wanted to play some tennis there but the thought of that was too macabre for me.


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