("Quid coniuratio est?")
THE STRANGE CAREER OF JOHN F. PARKER
Synopsis based on chapter of same title in Why Was Lincoln Murdered? by Otto Eisenschiml (New York: Halcyon House, 1937)
[CN --To begin, the connection between Parker and the White House seems to have been Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton. Details as to this particular will appear further below.]
"Parker was born on May 19, 1830, in Frederick County, Virginia. He later became a carpenter in the city of Washington, and enlisted in the army shortly after the outbreak of the [civil] war. When the Metropolitan Police Force was organized in September 1861, he became one of its first patrolmen."
"About a year after joining the Force, he was charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and with the use of violent, coarse and insolent language... Parker took personal offense [at remarks made by a superior to a fellow officer,] thinking that the remarks had reference to himself. In clearing the case, the Police Board found that Parker had shown a disposition to be insubordinate. 'The language he used,' says the report, 'was exceedingly violent and disrespectful, and, if permitted to be continued, must lead to insubordination.'... [Parker] was reprimanded and transferred to another precinct."
"On March 16, 1863, Parker again found himself before the Police Board, charged with willful violation of the rules and regulations, and with conduct unbecoming an officer. This time he was accused not only of having used highly offensive language... but also of having visited a house of prostitution... It was stated that he had been intoxicated, that he had been put to bed, and that he had fired a pistol through the window."
"Parker once more ran afoul of the police regulations only a fortnight later. This time he was accused of being found asleep on a street car when he should have been walking his rounds..."
"Scarcely three months passed before Parker had to appear before the Police Board again." He had been charged with using insulting language to a lady who had tried to lodge a complaint.
Then, strangely enough, in April 1865, a request was made in his behalf that he be detailed for duty at the White House.
Most other White House guards had "been picked from the ranks of the oldest police officers of Washington, and, so far as the files show, they were among the best behaved and the most respected members of the Force... How then, did a man of John F. Parker's character find his way into this select company?"
The mystery deepens: "Parker was chosen for his duty as bodyguard by none other than President Lincoln's own wife... What prompted the wife of the President to make this unusual request in behalf of an obscure and mediocre patrolman like Parker will probably remain a moot question."
[CN -- Moot to an extent. It is doubtful that Mrs. Lincoln would have requested Parker on her own initiative. How would she have known Parker? Why would she have bothered having him transferred to the White House even if she had somehow become acquainted with him? From my knowledge of Mrs. Lincoln, she was much more interested in the latest fashions and in social occasions.
I consider it more likely that some "power behind the scenes" persuaded Mrs. Lincoln that Parker should be appointed.]
"Historians have touched but lightly on the fact that [President Lincoln] was accompanied by an armed bodyguard [Parker] on the night of his assassination... [Parker's] orders were to stand at the entrance of the box [at Ford's Theater] and to permit no unauthorized person to enter it..."
Parker at first stayed at his assigned post. But then his curiosity got the better of him and he wandered away in order to catch a glimpse of the play, "Our American Cousin"! [Cf. The Lincoln Conspiracy by David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr.] During the intermission, Parker went downstairs to a nearby tavern for some drinks. From this point until his being shot, Lincoln had no assigned bodyguard. His back was totally unprotected when John Wilkes Booth crept up behind him and fired the fatal shot.
"What Parker did immediately after the assassination has not been definitely ascertained." He showed up at police headquarters at 6 a.m.
"Even those only superficially acquainted with the history of the Civil War period would probably surmise that this policeman, guilty of criminal neglect while on important duty, was promptly court-martialed and executed. Stanton was in complete control of the situation and, without Lincoln's gentler hands to stay him, one would have expected the austere Secretary of War to make sure that the delinquent officer was summarily dealt with."
"But Stanton did exactly nothing. Parker was not shot; nor was he court-martialed. He not only kept his life, he also kept his position. He was not reprimanded, not dismissed, not even immediately relieved of his White House appointment. This inexplicable failure on the part of the authorities to act brought forth no burst of indignation from the populace. It elicited no diligent research among questioning newspapermen..."
"Mrs. Lincoln herself believed that Parker was involved in the conspiracy to murder her husband."
Parker was transferred back to his regular police beat. On November 22, 1865 a complaint was filed against Parker for unbecoming conduct.
Finally, after being found asleep on his beat he was discharged from the Force on August 13, 1868, for "gross neglect of duty."
"Parker's last offense was perhaps the least important one among his many infringements... Yet the official axe fell promptly and relentlessly..."
"A few weeks prior to Parker's dismissal, Secretary of War Stanton had finally been ousted from his position, and had returned to private life."
[CN -- So, the Stanton connection: there are two connections here.
I encourage distribution of "Conspiracy Nation."
Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"