Monday, January 10, 2011

A Part Of Conspiracy

Doctor Samuel Alexander Mudd who was convicted for helping John Wilkes Booth escape after killing President Abraham Lincoln, died January 10th 1883.

Samuel Alexander Mudd was born December 20th 1833 in Charles County, Maryland the son of Henry Lowe and Sarah Ann [Reeves] Mudd. He grew up on his families tobacco plantation about thirty miles from Washington, DC. He was schooled at home by tutors until fifteen when he went to St Johns a boarding school in Frederick, Maryland. Two years latter Mudd began attending Georgetown College, and went on to studied medicine at the University of Maryland at Baltimore. After graduating in 1856 Mudd returned to Charles County, Maryland and opened a medical practice. A year latter he married a childhood sweetheart, Sarah Frances Dyer. To add to his income Mudd grew tobacco and owned five slaves as part of this operation.

With the Civil War beginning in 1861 Maryland’s economy took a hit. In 1863 Union Army Camp Stanton was set up about ten miles from the Mudd farm. Camp Stanton was a place for black freemen and run-away slaves to enlist in the Union Army, six regiments would train there. In 1864 Maryland abolished slavery, and Mudd felt he could no longer keep his farm, and considered selling. It’s believed that this is how Mudd met John Wilkes Booth who was in the area looking at property. Mudd would meet Booth again in Washington, DC December 23rd 1864, when they shared drinks with Louis J Weichmann and John Surratt.

Around four on the morning of April 15th 1865, Booth came to the Mudd home to have a broken leg splinted and bandaged. Mudd made arrangements for a local carpenter to make crutches for Booth. Booth and David Herold, who helped with the escape spent about fourteen hours at the Mudd home. Mudd didn’t know at the time that President Lincoln had been shot, but when he returned from town latter that day he had learned of the news. Mudd waited to inform the authorities of Booth’s presence until the following day which was Easter Sunday. Mudd asked a cousin to notify the 13th New York Cavalry. It was this delay that threw suspicion on Mudd’s being part of the conspiracy. After Booth’s death Mudd was arrested and placed in prison in Washington, DC and was placed on trial for conspiracy to murder President Abraham Lincoln. The eight conspirators were place on trial May 10th 1865.

Mudd was found guilty June 29th 1865, and sentenced to life in prison. He and three of the other conspirators who escaped the death penalty were place in Fort Jefferson about 70 miles from Key West Florida. When the prison’s doctor died, Mudd took over the job saving many men who would have died from Yellow Fever. Mudd received a pardon on February 8th 1869 from President Andrew Johnson. He returned home to Maryland March 20th 1869. He resumed his medical practice, and went back to farming. He even ran for few political position as a Democrat. Mudd died January 10th 1883 of pneumonia, he was only 49. He is buried in the St Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Bryantown, Maryland.

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