Conspiracy Nation -- Vol. 3 Num. 80

("Quid coniuratio est?")

The Lincoln Conspiracy

By David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, Jr.

*                                                               *
* Did John Wilkes Booth act alone in the assassination of       *
* Abraham Lincoln or was he a pawn of higher-ups?               *
*                                                               *
* Was the man shot at Garrett's farm and identified as John     *
* Wilkes Booth actually Booth, or was he a substitute?          *
*                                                               *
* Why was the existence of Booth's diary hidden until long      

after the famous 1865 Conspiracy Trial, and when revealed, * * why had 18 pages been cut? Who removed those 18 pages, and *

* when?                                                         *
*                                                               *
* A surprising collection of newly discovered (c. 1977),        *
* unpublished, historical documents answers these and many      *
* more questions, solving the most famous political             *
* assassination mystery in American history.                    *
*                                                               *

The massive cover-up effort by government officials to prevent the American public from ever learning the real truth about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, suppressed evidence which presumably had gone to the graves of those connected with the murder conspiracy, is now [c. 1977] surfacing and answers many of the questions still surrounding Lincoln's assassination.

-- Was there an organized government conspiracy to get rid of Lincoln?

-- Why, despite countless threats and known plots, did the War Department not provide Lincoln with adequate protection?

-- Why did so many invited guests refuse to accept Lincoln's invitation to Ford's Theatre on the night of April 14?

-- Why was the President's single bodyguard absent from his post during the murder, and never punished or even questioned?

-- Why were all the escape routes out of Washington closed except the route Booth used?

-- Who, for hours after the murder, blacked out commercial telegraph lines from Washington?

-- Why was the existence of Booth's diary hidden until long after the famous 1865 Conspiracy Trial, and when revealed, why had 18 pages been cut out?

-- Who removed those 18 pages, why and when?

Traditional historical writers have perpetuated a cover-up by unquestioningly relying on 1865 government data and documents as if they were gospel. In writing this book, Balsiger and Sellier have adopted the premise that official government statements from that time might not be true. Instead, the authors' approach to re-examining the Lincoln assassination was to try to locate local private unpublished document collections in the possession of the heirs of significant Lincoln era decision makers. They reason that if official government statements from that time are, in fact, true, then they can be authenticated through papers in private collections.

The documents used by the authors to re-construct events that took place before and after the assassination include secret service documents, congressmen's diaries, old letters, book manuscripts, deathbed confessions, secret cipher-coded messages, and purported missing pages of the John Wilkes Booth diary.

Among the experts consulted during the writing of this book were:

  1. Dr. Ray A. Neff, a professor at Indiana State University [c. 1977] and author of a scholarly book on Lincoln entitled Wounded in the House of Friends.
  2. Dr. Richard D. Mudd, grandson of Dr. Samuel Mudd who was sentenced to life in prison as a Booth co-conspirator.
  3. Theodore Roscoe, author of Web of Conspiracy, which suggests that the Secret Service may have been indirectly involved in the assassination.

Among the primary sources used in the writing of the book, probably the most sensational and valuable document consists of the missing Booth diary pages, discovered in 1974 by Americana collector and appraiser Joseph Lynch. The authors acquired a full transcript of the contents of the missing pages and had the contents evaluated by historical experts, but have not [c. 1977] been able to acquire copies of the actual pages to authenticate the handwriting.

The recently discovered [c. 1977] pages from Booth's diary delineate Booth's involvement in the conspiracy plot with trusted Lincoln friends, Confederate leaders, War Department Secretary Stanton, and northern businessmen.

In this book, the authors have attempted to re-construct as accurately as possible the conspiracy events prior to the assassination and during the following cover-up. What you are about to read is a synopsis of their unraveling of the most shocking political assassination in American history.

Normally, a state of war heightens and centralizes the power of the ruling group. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton held a great deal of power during the Civil War. "The War Secretary controlled the nation's military news through the nationalization of the wires. He also controlled the transportation system. Under his direction... control over private citizens was almost complete... Lincoln himself was denied the right to see telegrams that came into the War Department in cipher to be decoded."

Moreover, Stanton was not noted for speaking well of Lincoln. He had referred to him as "the original gorilla," a "long-armed baboon," and as "that giraffe."

The authors, Balsiger and Sellier, state that a raid planned at that time (1864) by Lincoln, Stanton, and others associated with Lincoln's presidency gives evidence of an atmosphere of plotting and distrust within that small group. The "Dahlgren Raid," as planned by Lincoln, had as its ostensible purpose the freeing of Federal prisoners being held in Richmond, Virginia, at that time the capital of the confederacy. In addition, Lincoln wanted posters to be placed everywhere along the path of the raid promising amnesty to any confederates who would take the oath of allegiance to the Union.

According to the authors, however, and unbeknownst to Lincoln, the true purpose of the Dahlgren Raid was to assassinate confederate president Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. Besides Stanton, certain operatives of various special police forces, including the newly formed secret service, were also aware of the true nature of the plan. Prominent among these operatives was "Col. Lafayette Baker, a man of highly questionable integrity, [who] headed the North's National Detective Police (NDP), an undercover, anti-subversive, spy organization under the direction of Secretary of War Stanton."

The Dahlgren Raid failed and its leader, Colonel Dahlgren, was killed. On his body, the confederates found two documents. One document directed that Dahlgren and his soldiers were to free federal prisoners being held near Richmond. "The second document, unsigned, seemed to be an order: 'Once in the city [Richmond], it must be destroyed, and Jeff Davis and cabinet killed.'"

When this news became widely known in the confederacy, southerners were furious. "Gen. Robert E. Lee... officially asked his Union counterpart, Gen. George Meade, if the Union's true motives were contained in the papers."

The authors claim that John Wilkes Booth met with a Colonel William A. Browning, secretary to future (2nd term) vice- president Andrew Johnson during the summer of 1864. They claim that Booth worked as a special envoy for secret peace negotiations being attempted at the time. "Booth quietly made the trip to Richmond with proper military passes issued by both Union and Confederate governments." Unfortunately, while on his mission in the south Booth saw proof that the Dahlgren Raid had had as one of its goals the murder of Jefferson Davis and his cabinet. Infuriated by what he had learned, Booth resigned from his assignment as special envoy.

Because the great drama of the Civil War takes center stage, most people are not as aware that in "...1864, the Union was close to dictatorship."

"All the elements were in motion: transportation and communications were nationalized, the writ of habeas corpus suspended. Military tribunals had replaced civilian trials... Dictatorship was an evil lurking behind the scenes. [However] the name of the would be dictator was not discernible to the public."

The previously mentioned National Detective Police (NDP) constituted a force of 2,000 "detectives" which acted as a law unto itself. Under the leadership of the already mentioned Lafayette Baker, it operated without judicial constraint under the direction of Secretary of War Stanton. "Baker held authority... because a highly placed Lincoln cabinet official [Stanton] had set in motion all machinery necessary to become dictator of the nation."

"But first, Abraham Lincoln had to be removed from office."

During the summer of that year [1864], Lincoln faced mounting dissension within his own political party. A powerful faction within his party, known as the "Radical Republicans," did not want Lincoln to seek re-election. That summer a group of them introduced the Wade-Davis Bill to the 38th Congress.

The Wade-Davis Bill was "...a version of postwar reconstruction diametrically opposed to the President's proposal." Lincoln favored a "soft" peace plan, "designed to bind up the nation's wounds with all possible speed so that the nation could move forward and leave the events of the tragic war behind." Since the president had the right to pardon, Lincoln reasoned that he could offer a general amnesty to all who would take a loyalty oath to the Union.

However, "under the Radicals' Wade-Davis Bill each seceded state was to be treated as a conquered country... [The Radicals were] demanding Rebel property be confiscated and proposed that the conquered South should be considered a prize of war." [B.R. -- Thus, a lot of money was at stake in the argument.]

This was a tough time for Lincoln. He was up for re-election and it was the general opinion that there was little chance of his being re-elected. The war was dragging on and the casualties were multiplying. In addition to the dissent within his own political party, there was the constant threat of assassination. During that summer of 1864, there were incessant rumors of assassination plots.

The authors assert that during that summer of 1864, in Maryland, "...a group of planters had gathered to discuss ways of ending atrocities [by Federal troops] in the counties of Prince Georges, St. Marys, and Charles. Among the Maryland planters were Patrick C. Martin... Dr. William Queen, and Dr. Samuel Mudd." The authors contend that at this meeting a plot to kidnap Lincoln was discussed and that it was suggested that John Wilkes Booth would be a good person to bring in on the plot.

{ Sources used for this section include, but are not limited }

{ to the following:                                             }
{                                                               }
{ Barbee, David Rankin, "The Murder of Mrs. Surratt"            }
{   (Speech at the Emerson Institute, Washington, D.C.,         }
{   Feb. 25, 1950). Margaret K. Bearden Collection,             }
{   Rochester, NY                                               }
{                                                               }
{ Benedict, Michael Les, A Compromise of Principle: The        }
{   Politics of Radicalism (W.W. Norton & Co., New York, 1974) }
{                                                               }
{ Committee on the Conduct of the War research files.           }
{   Dr. Richard D. Mudd Collection, Saginaw, MI                 }
{                                                               }
{ Lamon, Ward Hill, Recollections of Abraham Lincoln          }
{   (University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1895)                     }
{                                                               }

{ Schlesinger Jr., Arthur M. *History of American Presidential } { Elections, Vol. II, 1848-1896 (McGraw-Hill, New York, 1971) }

{                                                               }
{ Unpublished Voluntary Statement of Michael O'Laughlin,        }
{   April 27, 1865, originally in the Benn Pitman Collection,   }
{   Cincinnati, OH  Ray A. Neff Collection                      }
{                                                               }
{ Missing Booth Diary Pages. In the private collection of       }
{   Stanton descendants. Released in 1976 through the efforts   }
{   of Americana appraiser, Joseph Lynch of Worthington, MA     }

[ be continued...]

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Aperi os tuum muto, et causis omnium filiorum qui pertranseunt. Aperi os tuum, decerne quod justum est, et judica inopem et pauperem. -- Liber Proverbiorum XXXI: 8-9

Brian Francis Redman "The Big C"

Coming to you from Illinois -- "The Land of Skolnick"