Thomas Eckert is a key to the Lincoln assassination conspiracy

Born and raised in Ohio (like so many others in this saga), Thomas Thompson Eckert was a huge and powerful man who once broke a handful of iron pokers across one arm with judo-like dexterity, greatly impressing President Lincoln, a man also known for superhuman strength.
Eckert began his military career as captain, aide-de-camp and telegraph expert on General George B. McClellan’s staff. It’s difficult today to realize how crucial the telegraph became once wires began crisscrossing the nation. Suddenly information moved with lightning speed and the spook world re-centered itself around the ciphering of telegraphed messages.

Edwin M. Stanton secured a post as Secretary of War by feigning support for President Lincoln, while torpedoing the sitting Secretary. Stanton not-so-secretly detested Lincoln as the record shows he typically referred to Lincoln as either ape or gorilla. Stanton was a diminutive man himself, and may have suffered from Napoleonic complex. Because he was so brilliant at crafting myths about himself, the official record may not be the most accurate source of information about him, and since he had power to throw anyone in jail without charges while he reigned, few spoke against him while he was alive.
According to the official story, however, Stanton caught Eckert telegraphing a message from General McClellan direct to Lincoln, a violation of protocol that immensely angered Stanton. Eckert was called to Washington to face rebuke, a dressing-down conducted in front of Lincoln, who naturally jumped to Eckert’s defense. Suddenly, Stanton changed his attitude completely, promoting Eckert to major and reassigning him (and the telegraph lines) to his office, capturing complete control of all information from the front. Was this dressing-down part of an act to gain control? If so, it would have been vintage Stanton, as he was famous for conspiratorial plots.

Evidence of Eckert being a highly trusted member of Stanton’s conspiracy against Lincoln is three-fold.

1) Lincoln specifically requested Eckert accompany him to Ford’s Theater the night he was assassinated, a request Eckert bizarrely rejected twice. For a major to rebuff his commander-in-chief twice is certainly a great insult and some hidden motivation must be considered.

2) When Lewis Powell was taken on board the ironclad U.S.S. Saugus, he was shackled, chained to a ball, and photographed. Soon he would be permanently hooded with a claustrophobic and suffocatingly hot canvas bag in an iron cage in the middle of summer, and no one was allowed to speak with him, not even the guards. Powell would not get an attorney assigned to his case until the tribunal was well under way, and until then, only one person was allowed to visit Powell, and that person was Eckert.

Eckert interviewed Powell at least twice, at least once before the hood was applied and once after. The excuse given for the hood was Powell banged his head against the iron wall in a supposed suicide attempt. But when they placed that awful hood over his head, in rare display of weakness, Powell shed a few tears.

The next time Major Eckert came around, he slipped a piece of chewing tobacco into the tiny mouth hole cut in the bag.

“Thank you,” Powell reportedly said. “That’s the first kind thing anyone’s done.”

Whether Powell knew the plot reached into Lincoln’s own administration—or whether he thought he was acting on orders from Richmond—we’ll never know as there are no notes from the interrogations, and within a few weeks of wearing that padded canvas hood, Powell was showing severe mental decline, making future interrogations unnecessary. By the time a lawyer was assigned to him, Powell could not answer softball questions involving his age or his mother’s maiden name.

3) Thomas Eckert rose to become head of Western Union, a post given him by the ruthless robber baron, Jay Gould, a scoundrel who made his fortune speculating on Civil War battles. It doesn’t take much imagination to guess this supreme post might have been a reward for services rendered.
Coda: Powell’s good looks and cool indifference marveled observers who attended his trial. His photo taken by Alexander Gardner (above) is considered the first modern portrait because it appears so contemporary. Powell refused to strike a pose like most others in the early days of photography, instead just oozed rock-star-level charisma. As the noose was slipped around his neck, seconds before his life was extinguished, Powell calmly spoke his final words: “They ain’t caught the half of us yet.”

Inside Stanton’s Secret Service

During the Civil War, the Union’s secret services were known as the National Detective Police (NDP) and headquartered in the basement of the Treasury Department, but directed through the office of the Secretary of State. After a railroad detective thwarted an assassination attempt on his life, President Abraham Lincoln elevated the supremely competent Allan Pinkerton (left) to head the NDP.

But on Valentine’s Day 1862, Lincoln transferred all control of the secret police to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, who apparently was awarded control because many innocents were languishing uncharged in Carroll Prison. Lincoln was hoping Stanton’s organizational skills might manifest a more speedy resolution for these unfortunates. This may have happened, but more important, Stanton demoted Pinkerton as NDP commander, and replaced him with the brutal and obviously-corrupt Layfayette C. Baker, who began a reign of terror in Washington, closing bordellos, raiding gambling houses, confiscating smuggled goods, closing grog shops, running multiple kick-back schemes. How much booty was put in Baker’s pocket and how much shared with Stanton will never be known.

Although precise statistics on civilian imprisonment were not recorded, it’s estimated 14,000 were imprisoned by the North during the Civil War. On September 24, 1862, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, installing martial law so civilians were subject to military tribunals in which officers acted as judge and jury while suspects were not allowed to testify in their own defense. Stanton became an expert at stage-managing the trials of those officers he felt were not sufficiently loyal, which left him with a iron grip on ones that remained, lest they incur his mighty wrath. Pretty soon, it became obvious General George B. McClellan was on Stanton’s shit list.

McClellan’s sabotage was necessary because Stanton feared McClellan might win the Presidency during the next election, a post Stanton wanted to keep for a Radical Republican (if not Lincoln then Salmon Chase), but McClellan seemed too damned popular to beat and needed to be removed from power. Although commanding general of the Union army, McClellan was also a peace candidate who favored legal solutions rather than a national blood bath. And like many commanders McClellan was reluctant to mount suicidal frontal assaults, something Ulysses S. Grant was not adverse to. In one of Grant’s more bloody battles 7,000 Union soldiers perished in the first hour.

Lincoln had a soft heart and could not turn down a mother’s request to save her son from a firing squad because he’d run like a jack rabbit during his first encounter with the terrible ceremonies of death. But Stanton always tore up those pardons, claiming they’d destroy the army’s morale. So Lincoln usually relented and let those boys be hung or shot by firing squad, although those deaths weighed heaviest on his soul.

Right after the assassination, Stanton seized all power and had 2,000 suspects thrown into prison, including the staff and owners of Ford’s Theater. He seized the theater and converted it into his own warehouse, but not before ordering a private command performance of Our American Cousin, on grounds the play might hold some clue to the assassination. I’m sure a few actors were a bit worried because they knew any of them could also be declared a suspect without warning as they all knew Booth.

Considering how heartless Stanton was, it’s difficult to understand why not a single person who aided Booth past Dr. Samuel Mudd’s house was ever charged or arrested (and there were many). Or why the President’s only guard who’d abandoned his post was never charged with negligence. Or why the leader of that patrol that brought Booth back dead was awarded $15,000 after his patrol killed the key witness to solving the crime. Or why the three key witnesses who were later convicted of perjury before Congress were never charged for similar lies told at the conspiracy trial. The only way any of this makes sense is if Stanton was covering up something.

Keep in mind, no one was allowed to see the cipher messages telegraphed from the front lines except Major Thomas T. Eckert and Stanton. If they were working together on war profiteering scams, they were in a unique and powerful position to control the flow of all information.

3 who could have plotted Lincoln’s assassination

Funny how the wikipedia entry of Jay Gould skips over the Civil War, which is when he made his sudden fortune. Gould made genius moves on the stock market and went from a small-time, self-made speculator, to the ninth richest man in U.S. history. He jousted for control of the railroads and telegraph lines of America.

You may wonder how Gould made this meteoric rise to the top of the financial world, but his method was never hidden.

According to The Life of Jay Gould, How He Made His Millions by Murat Halstead and J. Frank Beale Jr.,(Edgewood Publishing Co., 1892):
“Mr. Gould profited largely by his speculation in railway stocks and gold during the war of the rebellion. The keen-sighted intelligent men in “the Street” at that time nearly all made money, and Mr. Gould was at least a millionaire when the Confederacy fell. During the war of the rebellion, Gould’s firm did a large business in railway securities, and also made a great deal of money speculating in gold, and he was able to turn almost every success or defeat of the Union army to profitable account.” The book adds that everyone knew he had inside sources of knowledge, although these sources have never been revealed.

The War Department controlled information regarding the war. Reports from the front came direct to the War Department in cipher, and then the information was massaged before being disseminated to the daily newspapers. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton was in a position to reap vast sums off the war, provided he had a partner on Wall Street who could put his advance knowledge to good use, and it’s no doubt he found that man in Jay Gould, because Gould became one of the richest speculators on Wall Street within a few years. It’s no wonder this cabal wanted the war to last a few years and not end too quickly. Stanton told Lincoln the war needed to drag on in order for the South to psychologically accept the end of slavery. End it too fast, he said, and the South would insist on keeping their slaves. But it’s far more likely Stanton was involved in war profiteering. The history books portray Stanton as a folk-saint almost on the level of Lincoln, but a careful reading of the diaries of his fellow Cabinet members prove he was really one of the most duplicitous liars in Washington.

But there was another spoke on this wheel of corruption and that is Thomas T. Eckert, Stanton’s assistant and the chief of the telegraph lines at the War Department.

The night of the assassination Lincoln stopped by that office and asked Stanton to accompany him to Ford’s Theater. Stanton rudely declined the invitation, citing he had too much work to do and would be busy into the night. Then Lincoln requested Major Eckert to accompany him, citing Eckert’s imposing physique, but Eckert also strangely declined citing he was working late as well.

Yet both men went home at their usual hour and did not work late that night as they claimed they had to. They both were preparing for bed when they heard news of an attack on Secretary of State Seward.

Stanton became the MacBeth of this drama, however, and was dead within a few years, by which time he was disgraced and out-of-power in Washington. He may have had plenty of money when he died, but he was haunted by the ghost of Mary Surratt.

General Eckert departed public service after the war to work for Gould and quickly become head of Western Union. Everyone always remarked on how close the two were. Gould became so rich, he went up against the British banks and tried to capture a monopoly on gold, an attempt that failed, and he was later swindled out of millions by a man posing as a British Lord in what may have been a British Secret Service operation seeking vengeance. One of Gould’s techniques for hostile corporate takeovers was to flood the market with counterfeit stock, and then buy up the company’s real stock for quarters on the dollar once it crashed. He once claimed he could hire half the country to fight against the other half, so he knew the value of war.

It’s well-known that commercial telegraph lines in Washington suspiciously went dead for two hours immediately after Lincoln’s assassination. Most people assumed at the time the lines had been cut by Confederate spooks, something that would take days to detect and repair, but suddenly the lines came back online without any repairs at all, which should have been a clue the break was an inside job. There was no investigation. Some think that break was designed to allow Booth to escape so he wouldn’t tell what he knew.

I’m more inclined to believe the break was so Gould had the necessary time to make some massive short-sales on Wall Street before the news of Lincoln’s assassination could hit the papers in New York.

Mark Twain considered Gould: “The mightiest disaster that has ever befallen the country.”