Sunday Survey for July 1st., 2012

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     Welcome to the Sunday Survey for July 1st., 2012.
     I'm filling in for Randal.

     After the assassination of President Lincoln, the response from the Government was swift and heavy handed. Scores of people were arrested and held without being charged. The Garretts and members of the Booth family were thrown in jail for weeks. The cast of Our American Cousin was arrested. Property was confiscated. Being the country was still at war, Lincoln's 1862 suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus was in full effect. The Gov't. trumped civil and personal legal rights we now take for granted.

     The question is - what was the Gov't's. more egregious violation? The arrests? The confiscation of Ford's Theater? Or the trial of the conspirators itself?          

It is clear Stanton didn't have a plan at first, thus the paranoia, the "round-up" of anyone and everyone who even remotely knew  Booth,

It's also a testiment of Stanton's paranoia that the government confiscated John Ford's theatre, but even more ironic, gave it back to him on the day the conspirators were being hung.

Many have written that Stanton did a great job with what was put in his lap, and what he had to work with.

I think the greatest egregious violation was the trial. You had people on trial for the murder of the President, charged with conspiracy, who didn't even know one another.

Mr Hess:
The mass arrests and holding them without the writ of habeus corpus.
Yeah, I know h/c was suspended, but this was way over the top

But does it really matter whether or not they knew one another? Shouldn't the only thing that matters is whether or not they knew about the plot against Lincoln? Five of the eight on trial undoubtedly knew about the plot to kidnap, which of course rolled over into murder. In my opinion, Mudd and Mary Surratt almost certainly knew about the kidnap plot, leaving only poor Edman Spangler as the only innocent. I'm not saying the trial was fair necessarily, just that those on trial were actually guilty, in my opinion. Except Spangler, who seems to have gotten railroaded.

I should have mentioned that I'd probably go with the mass arrests as my answer. I can easily see how someone would choose the trial though.


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