There are so many crackpot videos on conspiracy theory floating around that I’ve decided to return to video-editing for a while and create some of my own, only instead of directing people into a deep rabbit hole of paranoia (like most do), I’m more interested in empowering people to take control of their own magic. I whipped out a small sample, so I hope you check it out.
And yes, I realize there’s a typo, left because this is a sketch and not a finished piece. I suspect I will launch into a major documentary on the Lincoln assassination soon, with this as my launching pad. Here’s another segment:
I had high hopes for Boardwalk Empire when the show first arrived, but got alarmed after I realized there was zero attempt to maintain historical accuracy. After the shark jumped ten times, I began losing my passion for the show, so I was not shocked by the fizzle-out ending.
If they had only told the real story of Nucky Johnson and his epic feud with William Randolph Hearst, but I guess that was too close to the real oligarchy. Nucky was not rubbed-out on the boardwalk, but jailed for tax evasion, the same fate that brought down his buddy Al Capone. After four years in jail, he returned to a much downsized Atlantic City, which had been crushed by the 1929 stock market crash. Although production qualities and acting remained peerless on this show, the script was mostly concerned with creative staging of moments of extreme violence. But meaningless violence is on the rise everywhere these days.
I was especially annoyed how they transformed Harlem numbers king Casper Holstein (left) into a completely heartless dope peddler. In fact, Holstein was the genius who figured out how to engineer a gambling racket based off the daily stock market tally and was a great supporter of charities and known as the black Andrew Carnegie.
Boardwalk Empire pretended to tell the story of the birth of organized crime, but they distorted the story beyond recognition. Lucky Luciano is mostly known as the first gangster who made a deal with an intelligence agency. He did not invent the concept of a Sicilian “Commission of Peace.” According to Joseph Bonanno, who was there at the beginning with Luciano, the idea of this commission predated Bonanno’s arrival in the United States (1908). National conventions had been held infrequently over the decades and the network was not uncovered by law enforcement until the 1950s, but the concept had been floated after a war broke out between two Italian families in New Orleans over rights to unload banana boats owned by Italian shipping lines, resulting in a lot of bad publicity and crackdowns against Italian-Americans nationally. The society was organized similar to the many Masonic secret societies, only with one grade instead of the usual three. The important part of these secret societies is promising to keep the secrets or give the society permission to snuff out your life. These vows proved effective as the first turncoats from inside would not emerge until the 1960s.
On December 1, 1864, four-and-a-half months before J. Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theater, a plea for crowd-funding the assassination appeared in Alabama’s Salem Dispatch:
One Million Dollars, Wanted, to Have Peace by the 1st of March If the citizens of the Southern Confederacy will furnish me with the cash, or good securities for the sum of one million dollars, I will cause the lives of Abraham Lincoln, William H. Seward and Andrew Johnson to be taken by the first of March next. This will give us peace and satisfy the world that cruel tyrants cannot live in the “land of liberty.” If this is not accomplished nothing will be claimed beyond the sum of fifty thousand dollars, in advance, which is supposed to be necessary to reach and slaughter the three villains I will give, myself, one thousand dollars towards this patriotic purpose. Every one wish to contribute will address Box X, Cahaba, Alabama.
After the assassination, Henry Grimes of Ohio cut it out and attached the ad to a letter to Secretary of State Seward (above). Seward had barely survived being murdered and was saved thanks to a metal collar around his neck, a device a doctor had installed because Seward suffered a fall from his moving carriage the day before. Isn’t it somewhat strange zero investigation was conducted as to how much money was sent to this post office box in sleepy Cahaha, Alabama, and who picked it up? Also suspicious is why are Seward and Johnson signaled out for death with Lincoln, when the South hated Thaddeus Stevens and Charles Sumner far more, not to mention Edwin Stanton, a former Democrat, was universally detested. So the choice of Lincoln, Seward and Johnson seems odd and not really emanating from a true Southern patriot, but an agenda of a different stripe.
I imagine the ad was placed by Sandford Conover (real name Charles Dunham), who is a bit of a Zelig in the story of Lincoln’s assassination, always in the shadows at key moments, although few history books mention his name or any of his many aliases. Conover had a knack for creative fundraising and I suspect he also forged the letter from Booth to Edwin Stanton postmarked New York City the day of the assassination. His use of disinformation, misdirection and manipulation of news is absolutely spellbinding and nearly impossible to fully unravel, but it appears Conover wrote the book on military counterintelligence propaganda, while managing to stay completely hidden from history until now. My spotlight shines brightly on him in my expose Killing Lincoln: The Real Story.
The beginning of December is when this operation was set in motion to bend a previous plot to kidnap Lincoln into Lincoln’s assassination, employing the same cast and crew. Isn’t it strange that a similar ad attacking President Kennedy appeared the day of his arrival in Dallas? And in case you missed the morning paper, there was a similar flyer handed out on the streets accusing JFK of treason.
Consider the crew that killed JFK was the same team that had been hired months earlier to kill Castro, but when JFK shut down the get-Castro mission, the same get-team was diverted to get him. It goes to show how similar deep political events are: similar problems, similar solutions and similar scripts appear again and again.
I conducted my own investigation into the assassination of Abraham Lincoln after viewing Robert Redford’s, The Conspirator, a film that documents how a kangaroo military court sent an innocent Mary Surratt to the gallows to cover up the real assassination plot. It’s obvious she was railroaded if you just read the transcripts of the trial, but why?
When I told some people what I was doing, many asked if I’d read Bill O’Reilly’s recent book on the subject. I had no idea he’d written the book, much less that it had become a huge bestseller and launched a franchise of similar historical assassination books.
But after a month of research using mostly original documents from the era, I had to check out Killing Lincoln. It took me about 20 minutes to speed read the book because this is territory I know quite well at this point, so I was skimming major points of evidence, looking for rabbit holes and wanting to see which crucial characters were addressed and which left out entirely.
Unfortunately, O’Reilly pretty much faithfully follows the official cover story Booth was a lunatic operating with a small band of conspirators. His book didn’t cover the trials, so he doesn’t reveal the government’s case was based on proven perjuries.
You can’t analyze the assassination with any degree of success unless you study the role of Sanford Conover (real name Charles Dunham), the double agent and newspaper reporter who groomed the witnesses for the original trial. Another important figure left out of most books is Simon Wolf, of B’nai B’rith, who was close to John Wilkes Booth and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. We know Wolf held a private meeting with Booth the day of the assassination at the National Hotel because many years later, Wolf wrote about this meeting in his memoirs, and seems to have told some lies while doing so, so what was Wolf covering up?
O’Reilly invents a lot of details and pretends to know people’s inner thoughts, but never figured out the alleged assassination attempts on Vice President Johnson, General Grant and Edwin Stanton were all invented for the trial, and there’s not a shred of evidence anyone was supposed to be killed that night except Lincoln and William Seward, which makes total sense since they were the only ones pushing for Southern forgiveness. Lincoln wanted to pardon the South and allow them back into Congress after the war, something that greatly upset the radical Republican cabal that had captured Congress and actually put Lincoln into power. But Lincoln was drifting off the course set by his party leaders, and that’s why he was murdered.
I just published my own book in time for the 150th anniversary: Killing Lincoln: The Real Story, because O’Reilly never gets close to the truth.
The key suspects in this case are Edwin Stanton, Thaddeus Stevens, Salmon Chase and Ben Wade, and I’ve uncovered forensic evidence from the period that links them to the plot. Funny how Stevens and Wade never get a mention in O’Reilly’s book, even though they held a meeting with other leaders of the radicals in Congress the day after the assassination during which Stevens referred to Lincoln’s death as a “godsend.”
Look in the shadows around the edges of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, and you might find some useful information. I find the meeting at Ben Wade’s the morning after pretty fascinating.
Although Lincoln had been elevated to the Presidency by a shaky alliance of two dozen Republican Congressmen and Cabinet members, and he went along with their War to End Slavery, he refused to follow their tack when it came to treating the South as a banana republic with zero representation and tons of new taxation afterwards, which is why he vetoed the Wade-Davis Bill and was planning a secret peace agreement.
Lincoln had just started his second term when the war drew to a close, which meant he was going to be in control for a long time. And that is why Lincoln had to go.
Thaddeus Stevens is often correctly painted as the Robespierre of the Civil War, but Wade is also a good fit for that role. They both seem completely without scruples when it comes to achieving an agenda. The strange thing about the top abolitionists is a lack of love for fellow man, as they seem driven mostly by hate. Before joining this cabal Stevens had been an anti-mason, yet many in this new circle were certainly masons. Power, wealth and glory seems a more likely motivation driving some of these men, and having ardent anti-slave opinions was the fastest way to rise within this cabal.
George Julian (head of the Agriculture Committee), Zachariah Chandler, and John Covode assembled at Wade’s house when they learned Lincoln was mortally wounded and expected to soon die. Stevens was also in attendance, and would write later of this meeting: “Their hostility towards Lincoln’s policy of conciliation and contempt for his weakness were undisguised; and the universal feeling among radical men here is that his death is a godsend. It really seems so, for among the last acts of his official life was an invitation to some of the chief rebel conspirators to meet in Richmond and confer with us on the subject of peace.”
And there you have it, the real reason Lincoln had to go, and go quickly….was he was planning a meeting with Jefferson Davis and the Confederate Cabinet to work out a peace proposal. All these men would soon praise Lincoln and help elevate him to sainthood, and never say another bad word about him, but in reality they didn’t just celebrate his death, a few undoubtedly helped plot it.
Few expected Abraham Lincoln would become the 16th president. The newly-formed Republican Party had many better-known options: Salmon Chase, William Seward, Simon Cameron, Edward Bates, William Dayton, Ben Wade or Thaddeus Stevens, but Lincoln was the new-comer compromise selection of a radical Republican cabal that took supreme power in North America after Democrats seceded, abandoning their positions of power in Congress and the Cabinet.
Lincoln arrived into a hornet’s nest not unlike the situation facing John F. Kennedy when the Bay of Pigs dropped in his lap upon arrival in the White House. The Bay of Pigs was supposed to be a catalyst for full-on invasion of Cuba, but once Kennedy saw the operation had little popular support in Cuba, he pulled stakes, infuriating our Military Industrial Complex and the CIA spooks who’d worked on that operation.
The story you’ve heard of Fort Sumter is not entirely correct, nor is the history of the Civil War nor Lincoln’s assassination, at least not as related by Ken Burns.
Slavery was not the real issue that sparked secession, it was the right of states to withdraw from the union. Do you think any state would have signed that original agreement to form a union if they thought it was permanent and irrevocable? The South firmly believed every state had a legal right to secede for any reason it wanted. The South didn’t seek an armed rebellion and were eager to negotiate any peaceful, legal solution.
The accurate part of Spielberg’s Lincoln is it shows how all attempts by the South to make peace were rebuffed by Lincoln. And the entire incident with Fort Sumter that sparked the armed conflict was carefully instigated as a provocation, the same way all our wars begin: some wag-the-dog operation for the press to go hysterical over.
The truth is the Radical Republicans didn’t want a peaceful solution, they wanted bloody war, and they’d been baiting the Democrats in Congress for months to secede so they could start one, and the first thing they did when Lincoln arrived in the White House was convince him to stage a provocation for armed conflict, telling him this was required to keep border states like Maryland from joining the rebellion.
Baltimore was north of Washington, so secession of Maryland would leave Congress virtually surrounded. Lincoln was a novice, so all he could do was take the advice of more experienced men around him, much the same way JFK was stuck under the thumb of the Pentagon when he’d first arrived. But as time went on, both men found their personal centers of gravity, and began to drift off the designated tack their party bigwigs were trying to steer.
When the smoke cleared after the bloody Civil War, the big winners were the banks, J.P. Morgan, and Jay Gould. Follow the money.
On November 1, 1864, Louis Weichmann moved into widow Mary Surratt’s boarding house, 604 H Street NW, Washington DC. Surratt’s son John was an important courier for the Confederacy who kept his mother and sister in the dark about his activities in order to shield them from culpability. Weichmann was an old friend of the family, an elementary school chum of John’s and a fellow Catholic.
Weichmann worked as a clerk at the War Department of Prisons and sat next to Daniel H.L. Gleason. After arriving at the boarding house, he immediately began telling Gleason the house was a nest of illegal activities. Of course, the possibility exists Weichmann was placed in the house as a confidential informant from the beginning, the results are the same either way. That fall Weichmann began informing on Surratt and his friend John Wilkes Booth.
On April 18, 1865, four days after Abraham Lincoln’s assassination, Gleason testified Weichmann informed him in March that “he was well-acquainted with some blockade runners, young fellows, not secessionists, who were out for money and excitement, who were currently involved in a new project that aroused his suspicion.” This message wormed its way up the chain-of-command and it soon came back down Weichmann should join this project, whatever it was. But in 1911, Gleason unloaded his conscience and confessed the real story: the War Department was made aware of John Wilkes Booth’s plot to kidnap Lincoln weeks before the assassination.
Since Stanton controlled the secret police, the army, the telegraph and the entire Washington DC police force, his power was absolute and once he discovered this plot, Booth was obviously at his mercy. At any time, Stanton could have arrested Booth and hanged him for treason, standard treatment for a Confederate spook like Booth, although Booth represented a high-profile celebrity trophy catch, and as such might expect special treatment.
So why wasn’t Booth arrested in March?
Even stranger, Stanton suddenly demoted his chief detective, moving the head of the National Detective Police to Manhattan, leaving the NDP headless for the crucial few weeks the assassination plot unfolded.
I believe Stanton sent a message to Booth through an intermediary, someone like Simon Wolf, a close friend of Booth’s who could be relied on for confidentiality, and that message could have gone something like: I know who you are and can have you arrested and hanged tomorrow. I can also hang your secret fiance Bessie Hale and your brother Edwin. On the other hand, you could take $10,000 and agree to assassinate Lincoln and Seward and tie this plot to Johnson. If you take the second option, I’ll insure you have time to escape. I’ll deny ever offering this deal.
Just a hint of the sort of buttons Stanton could have pushed and if he did push them, maybe you can see Booth in a different light? Booth’s entire famous family could have been implicated, not just his brother. And, of course, Booth would have done anything to protect Bessie from harm, being he was a true Southern gentleman. Stanton’s specialty was manufacturing evidence, and he had a entire crew led by Sanford Conover (real name Charles Dunham) for this purpose, so guilt or innocence never got in the way of his agenda.
This is the only scenario that makes any sense if you consider Booth claimed in his diary he could return to Washington and clear his name. Also, John Parker, the guard who deserted his post was never punished, went back to work inside the White House the next day. Knowing Stanton ripped-up most every Presidential pardon, this sudden overwhelming sense of forgiveness for both Parker and Boston Corbett was inexplicable, unless this is exactly what Stanton wanted to happen: and unguarded President and dead assassin to tell no tales.
In 1823, Captain Warren Delano, 24, sailed to Canton, China, in search of adventure. Seven years later, Delano was a senior partner at Russell & Company, America’s biggest opium trader, and his descendents would rise straight to the top of North America’s oligarchy. Of course, the lion’s share of the opium trade belonged to the world’s most powerful corporation at that time, the Honorable East India Company (HEIC), chartered by Queen Elizabeth in 1600, the same year Freemasonry appeared as a major force. And yes, those two are linked throughout history, one visible and the other completely invisible.
William Huntington Russell was heir to the great Russell opium fortune and educated at Yale University. In fact, he was valedictorian of 1833. While at Yale, Russell spent a summer in Germany, where he was inducted into a Masonic-style society known as “The Order.” When he returned to New Haven, he discovered Phi Beta Kappa was going public, so he launched the secret Skull & Bones society based off the The Order he’d discovered in Germany.
There’s some strong connections between the slave and opium trade because both were considered sleazy and not discussed in polite society, and both reaped profits rivaling King Sugar, and both involved shipping fleets. Soon, thanks to the invention of the cotton gin, King Cotton could sit at the dais alongside the monarchs of opium and sugar. But it’s important to realize cotton and sugar were initially dependent on the African slave trade, so while Southerners were saving money with free labor over the long-term, first they had to buy slaves and three million were transported from Africa to North America, so figure a billion dollars over the course of a few decades, and realize those numbers require multiplication of a factor of 25 to reach commensurate value in our money today, so we are talking potentially $25 billion. The average price of a slave during the Civil War peaked at $800, and considered a good investment since they were expected to produce at least $130,000 in labor over a lifetime. There were 4 million slaves when the war began representing a value of $3.2 billion, or $80 billion today.
Maybe now you realize why eight of the twelve colleges at Yale are named after slave holders, while none named for abolitionists, a sure indication Yale was the Northern college of choice, not just for the Boston Brahmin slave traders, but for the Southern oligarchy as well, and The Tomb a place where both interests might converge.
It’s become standard practice for corporations to mount secret grass-roots movements against themselves. You might think it strange, but it’s actually standard corporate counter-intelligence procedure, not rocket science, and something that’s been going on for centuries, if not longer. So don’t be surprised if the same corporations that profiteered off slavery put up money to fund the abolitionist movement. In 1808, the African slave trade was abruptly officially stopped, thus ending the gravy train on that profit stream, although a black market illegal slave trade flourished for another 50 years, it was subject to confiscation and forfeiture by the British Navy.
In England everyone was paid off. You got money for loss of your slaves and you were compensated for any business losses. And only slaves under the age of 3 were freed immediately, others had to work as indentured servants until they’d paid back their value in labor. The pay-out amounted to the equivalent of over 16 billion pounds in today’s money, or around $26 billion.
Jay Gladstone got $134 million and his son served as Prime Minister four times. If you check the House of Lords, you’ll find a number of family fortunes associated with these payouts, and heirs have been living comfortably off interest ever since, a list that includes the appropriately-named Hoggs as well as the Camerons.
So why didn’t Abraham Lincoln strike the same deal, and avert Civil War by offering to compensate the South in much the same way? Maybe he would have after the war was over, we just don’t know, because Lincoln was assassinated before any final decisions were made on Reconstruction.
We know Lincoln vetoed the plan proposed and championed by Thaddeus Stevens: confiscation of all property owned by the 70,000 richest Southern families, so it could be parceled out to freed blacks and Northerners like himself who’d lost property during the war. I imagine Stevens may have already had his winter-estate plantation selected amongst all the choice options available.
It’s interesting the abolitionist movement came out of Massachusetts. The chief propaganda organ was titled, The Liberator, run by William Loyd Garrison, who was closely associated with the British abolitionist movement. Frederick Douglass became his star contributor and most of the subscriptions were sold to blacks. When Douglass launched his own paper, The North Star, Garrison cruelly cut off all contact. As soon as the war ended, Garrison folded his paper and the abolitionist society it had created, saying their mission was accomplished. In truth, any mission involving justice and equality for Southern blacks was just getting started and it took another hundred years to really start lifting them out of the depths of exploitation, and, in fact, in some places that battle lingers, especially inner-city ghettos where blacks have a much better chance of going to prison than of going to college.
During the Civil War, William Russell served as correspondent for London Times.
The seeds of the Civil War were planted by our founding fathers when they wrote “all men are are created equal,” while pretending blacks weren’t human, which is like shaking hands with fingers crossed behind your back.
I wonder when, if ever, Josiah Henson is going to get credit for fomenting the Civil War? Henson was born a slave on a farm in Maryland in 1785. His parents were property of different owners, and his most vivid early memory involved his father preventing a white man from assaulting his mother. For this “crime” his father lost an ear and received 100 lashes, after which he was never the same and had to be sold, which was the last Henson saw of his dad.
By the time Henson reached 22, he was the overseer of a large plantation, and obviously had intellectual abilities higher than the people who owned him. He dressed better, talked better, and comported himself better than most whites. A local minister gave him the idea of buying his own freedom, something that had never occurred to him. Henson soon learned to make money on the side, and began negotiating his own purchase. But after raising the needed $450, his owner swindled him by adding a zero to the contract after it was signed, and then re-sold him. Consequently, Henson escaped to Canada, where he eventually dictated his autobiography, The Life of Josiah Henson, Formerly a Slave, Now an Inhabitant of Canada.
Henson’s book inspired Harriett Beecher Stowe to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin. Stowe had no experience living on plantations and her book was packed with stereotypes, while Henson’s book was the real deal. So, of course, Stowe’s book became the second biggest-selling book of its time, right behind the Bible, while Henson’s book never mentioned. America was undergoing a huge wave of Christian consciousness during the Victorian age. Henson was a devout Christian, as was Stowe, and the abolitionist movement was spread largely through the pulpit. The ministers were the radicals of their time, and greatly despised by the population at large for brewing trouble. Even John Brown, who would later be celebrated as a martyr, was considered a maniac, which he was. Brown had limited popular support, but war has a way of changing perspectives and once a few hundred thousand American boys were dead, he began looking prophetic to a country battered by PSTD.
I know most abolitionists were motivated by good Christian ideals, but I also wonder if the movement wasn’t hijacked in some corridors by bankers who saw an opportunity to make money. There’s no profit stream that can compete with war, and huge sums were borrowed by both sides to fund their war machines. The bankers win every war. Keep in mind the international slave trade had been very profitable, and many of the profiteers were located on the Northeast coast. In fact, if you check the social register, you’ll find some of the biggest Brahmins were making huge profits off the African slave trade up until it was abolished in 1808. Although most of the population and manufacturing resided in the North, the South had cotton, which didn’t explode economically until the invention of the cotton gin in 1784. The South was growing very rich very quickly, and planned to keep growing its slave population to keep the economic engine humming. It’s likely some accountants did some calculations and saw the South was going to outpace the North due to the economic advantages of free labor.
This woodcut from the period reveals a common practice of the slavers prior to 1808, and the major reason the African slave trade was abolished. Any slaves found to be ill would simply be tossed into the ocean at mid-voyage. The reasoning was threefold: 1) This prevented infections from spreading; 2) An insurance loss could be filed for the value of property lost at sea; and 3) The slaver saved on import duties once arriving at port. Once this practice became widely known, the outrage was so great even most Southerns agreed to finally end the barbaric trade, although by then they figured they had enough slaves to breed as many as they wanted. This was a huge loss to the slave trade speculators, who must have been thrashing their brains for a substitute profit stream.
It’s funny how Abraham Lincoln was transformed into the Great Emancipator when he didn’t believe blacks and whites were equal and supported the idea of sending blacks back to Africa. However, the cost of buying the slaves and shipping them home ran into the hundreds of billions of dollars, much more than the Civil War cost.
The Radical Republicans wanted a bloody and long-lasting war because they knew that was the only way the South would accept the end of slavery. Lincoln was a moderate, and only put out an Emancipation Proclamation toward the war’s end. Thaddeus Stevens and Ben Wade had been pressing for the proclamation for years, and were furious that it was taking so long.
It’s hard to know what to make of Stevens and Wade. Are they to be celebrated for their crucial role in ending slavery, or condemned for their involvement in the plot to assassinate Lincoln so the South could be looted six-ways-to-Sunday?
Meanwhile, I’m wondering when the entertainment industry is going to stumble across Henson, a man who should be as celebrated as Lincoln for the crucial role he played in this epic drama, but somehow he seems to have slipped through the cracks of history, at least thus far.
Most of what we know about La Fayette Curry Baker is taken from his autobiography, and undoubtedly lies mixed with gross exaggerations, as Baker didn’t even write the book, but had it ghostwritten. When grilled about it on the stand, he wasn’t completely sure of its contents. Baker was undoubtedly one of the most corrupt officials in Washington so why would the truth cross his lips with any frequency? The fact he never read his autobiography is an indication he was not a learned fellow, although street-smart and schooled in the arts of spookdom.
Secretary of War Edwin Stanton hand-picked Baker to run the goon squad, the National Detective Police (NDP), which had been under control of the Secretary of State until Stanton snatched it away. Stanton also snatched the telegraph lines around the same time.
Stanton soon became a law unto himself, and Baker, chief enforcer. Admittedly, Baker wasn’t good at administration, although he did like dressing in disguise and doing his own gumshoe work. Interrogating suspected spies (especially pretty female ones), and manifesting fake evidence were among his admitted specialties, talents that made him quite useful to Stanton.
Right before the assassination, this duo got into a tiff, reportedly because Stanton discovered Baker had put a tap on his private telegraph line, which could have been deployed to communicate with an entity in Manhattan (likely Jay Gould, soon to be the richest man in America). Stanton and his allies running Congress (Wade, Stevens) had control of the flow of information concerning the outcome of battles. After Lincoln won his second term, he wanted to forgive the South and let their old representatives return to Congress, which would have taken control away from the Radicals.
Strangely, when Stanton discovered Baker’s tap, instead of firing him, Baker was moved to Manhattan. No doubt the head of the NDP office in New York, where Baker was moved to, was also involved in the conspiracy. Baker, however, was the odd man left out in the cold.
The Radical Republican cabal that had taken power in Washington viewed Lincoln as a novice and hick, and referred to him as “the ape” behind his back. Nothing like the saintly image we have today.
Precisely as the assassination plot went into action, Baker was demoted and moved to New York. Yet, a few weeks later, two days after the assassination, Stanton recalled Baker and reinstated him as NDP chief. Baker was considered the best detective on the force. No doubt Stanton was worried about the impression created by keeping him on the sidelines for the crime of the century. Using information gleaned from the army patrol that had visited Dr. Mudd’s home, Baker correctly pinpointed Booth’s location and sent a patrol led by a relative to retrieve him. At the last second, however, Stanton attached a civilian to the patrol, and he is the one who actually shot Booth in the barn.
When Baker got the news of Booth’s capture and death, he was elated since the equivalent of around $2.25 million in reward money was at stake and he expected to get the lion’s share. Baker bolted to Stanton’s home to give him the news. Stanton was an emotional man given to outbursts of rage and happiness, and Baker was curious what his reaction might be. At first, Baker did not tell Stanton Booth was dead, only captured, as he wished to judge the reaction. Surprisingly, upon hearing Booth was captured, Stanton registered nothing, but silently put one hand over his eyes while laying on his living room couch, remaining still as a statue until Baker told him Booth had not survived capture. Instead of becoming angry they could not move up the chain-of-command through torturing Booth, Stanton calmly rose and put on his coat for the trip to the office.
The story is revealing, and takes me back a few days to that initial meeting the duo had when Baker was recalled from New York and reinstated. Stanton spun his chair around and put his back to Baker. Baker assumed this was because Stanton was shedding tears over Lincoln’s death and did not wish to be seen in a moment of weakness. But knowing Stanton, it’s far more likely he turned around and feigned that moment, simply so Baker couldn’t look deeply into his eyes and read the guilt. Even though Baker was chief of the secret police, and involved in all sorts of nasty business, he remained on the outside of the assassination conspiracy as Stanton did not fully trust him.
After President Johnson went to war with Stanton and Thaddeus Stevens, and they mounted an impeachment campaign against him, word around Washington was the cabal had already decided Johnson had to go, and with manufactured evidence if necessary.
Just as they had invented the testimony that hanged Mary Surratt, they were already busy inventing evidence against Johnson. Under oath General Baker (he was promoted after Booth’s death) claimed to have seen letters between Johnson and Jefferson Davis, letters he promised to produce, but never did. Odd because forgery was not an issue for Baker.
To give an idea of the sort of shenanigans Baker fomented, he had a detective hire a prostitute to carry a pardon request to the White House. But when she arrived, Baker was waiting and nabbed her, claiming she was not of sufficient character to be in the White House. During the impeachment trial, this incident would be twisted to paint Johnson as a drunk who engaged prostitutes in the White House.
But it all backfired because Johnson survived his impeachment trial by one vote, meaning Stanton and Baker were both soon fired. Which is why Baker was forced to sign that publishing deal. He did put some clues in his book, however, and the most important had been to reveal the existence of Booth’s diary that had been captured at Garrett’s farm. Until then, the diary had never been revealed. This was an obvious case of obstruction, and Congress eventually forced Stanton to produce the diary so they could examine this curiosity, although when it finally arrived, many pages had been snipped out with a pair of scissors.
Baker received a pittance of the reward and became quite bitter later in life. Stanton and Stevens were both soon dead of natural causes and the head of Stanton’s telegraph operation would become the first CEO of Western Union, appointed by the owner, Jay Gould, who had profited immensely off uncanny Wall Street maneuvers involving Civil War battles. Almost as if he had advance knowledge.