Friday, April 15, 2011

"The Conspirator" ... the story of Mary Surratt


Today is the release of "The Conspirator," a Robert Redford movie about Mary Surratt and her involvement in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.  I'm particularly interested because I used to work at the Surratt House in Clinton, MD for the Park Historian of our county.

Surratt House, Clinton, MD
Do you see the top two windows to the left of the front porch?  About 25 years ago, I used to sit in that room. The Surratt Society (docents) were wonderful ladies who gave tours in period costume. But I have to tell you that I had goosebumps more than once when I'd lock up at dusk on a wintry day.  I had to turn off all of the lights in the house and use the ambient light of the setting sun to set the house alarm. Once the alarm was set, I'd run out of there so fast I'd practically trip on the porch stairs.

Briefly, Mary Surratt owned the home, which was a tavern, post office, and a place for weary travelers to stay overnight. Mary also had a boarding house in downtown Washington, DC not far from Ford's Theater, where the conspirators met.  Her son, John Surratt, John Wilkes Booth, and two others planned the assassination of the President.  Mary was asked by her son to take guns to the Surratt House in Clinton and hide them.  You think, "Surely she must have suspected something?"  But the war was just over, marauders made the countryside unsafe ...

Following the assassination, John Surratt successfully escaped to Canada.  John Wilkes Booth was chased to Clinton and points further south into Virginia ... but not before having Dr. Mudd set his leg ... hence the expression, "Your name will be Mudd."

Fr. Walter, an ancestor of my husband's, who was pastor of St. Patrick's Cathedral in DC, heard Mary's last confession, which he kept secret for 25 years after her hanging.  She confessed her innocence to him.    Mary was the last civilian to be tried by a military tribunal.  She was the sacrificial lamb.  I'm interested to see how her story is portrayed.

10 comments:

Laura Twiford said...

Wow, how very interesting! Now I'm anxious to see the movie too! I didn't know any of that.

Melissa Meman said...

Thanks for this Barbara! I'm going to have to see this one as well...I love this kind of stuff!

earbar said...

My daughter Laura Twiford directed me to your blog & I found this intriguing...want to see the movie more now...thanks for the insight....Barbara

Lisa said...

thanks for the background information Barb..the movie sounds intriguing and I'd like to see it. Didn't know the Surratt house was in Clinton...

Kristi Bowman said...

We rarely go to the big screen to see a movie but this is one I think I might like to go see. Now with some extra background information I think I want to see it even more. Thanks Barbara!

Cindy said...

Barbara, I find this absolutely fascinating. Both the history and the family connection. I can't wait to see this...but it will be a long time since I don't get to the movies often.

Janet Bocciardi said...

Fascinating! Amazing how you have so many personal connections to this story. Now I can't wait to see the film.

fishyfacedesigns said...

HI! I am such a history fan! Thanks for leading us into the movie... I cant wait to see it!

Alice said...

Oh gosh, your story gives me goosebumps! I lovey history and can't wait to see the movie.

diane cook said...

How interesting Barbara! I must see the movie....