Inside the Lincoln Conspiracy with G.J.A. O’Toole

You won’t find a single picture of G. J. A. O’Toole on the internet, even though he was one of the most perceptive writers on matters of deep politics in America. In 1966, O’Toole was hired as a computer expert for the CIA. Three years later, he quit the agency and morphed into a full-time writer. O’Toole died in 2001 after publishing a half dozen ground-breaking books, many of which were presented as “fictional” historical novels, like his Lincoln assassination book.

O’Toole had a great sense of humor and his research was impeccable. The Cosgrove Report purported to be a secret document prepared by a Pinkerton detective a few years after Lincoln’s assassination. Among other wild allegations, O’Toole claimed there was an ancient, forgotten subway tunnel in Brooklyn where the missing pages from John Wilkes Booth diary were buried. The book was published in 1979.

An engineering student at Pratt Institute named Bob Diamond heard O’Toole discussing this tunnel on a radio show and decided to go look for it. Every city official he contacted told him the tunnel didn’t exist, but after a year of snooping around Diamond discovered the tunnel plans buried in the files of the Brooklyn borough president’s office. In 1981, he convinced Brooklyn Union Gas to let him explore under a manhole cover at the corner of Atlantic and Court Streets, and Diamond immediately found the tunnel. Within a year, he created a nonprofit called the Brooklyn Historic Railway Association, and had the tunnel added to the National Register of Historic Places. He began leading twice-a-month tours into the tunnel that were attended by thousands of people over the next few years.

Even the leading historian of the Lincoln assassination was intrigued. “John Wilkes Booth often took trips to New York while he was engaged in the conspiracy against President Lincoln,” said Michael Kauffman. “Those trips were never investigated, and Booth’s New York contacts were apparently never questioned. I’m very skeptical about finding those diary pages, but I have to admit the search looks like an interesting project.”

Diamond’s tour always ended at a blank wall. The last two hundred feet of the tunnel had been filled in and this was where the box containing Booth’s diary was supposed to be buried under an old locomotive. All that was needed was a little excavation. Meanwhile, Diamond got permission to rebuild the trolley tracks and was planning to reopen the tunnel as a novelty subway for history buffs. That’s when things got weird. When he started excavating, DOT inspectors arrived and shut down his entire operation. The next day the manhole was welded shut and Diamond never was allowed back inside.

O’Toole’s book contains many fictional elements, but it also contains a wealth of real research into the assassination. The bombshell O’Toole dropped was that Jay Gould was profiteering off the war through his contacts with the War Department telegraph office. No one disputes Gould made his fortune during the Civil War, as did J. P. Morgan, and everyone knew Gould had some sort of inside information because he sometimes bet on Union victories and other times bet on Union defeats. But he apparently never bet wrong.

I don’t know why it took so long for someone to put these pieces together, but the fact the man in charge of the War Department telegraph office, Major Thomas T. Eckert, left the military after the war and instantly went to work for Gould, swiftly becoming his most powerful and most trusted executive, looks suspicious in hindsight. Eckert was eventually put in charge of Western Union.
You probably never heard of O’Toole, but I strongly urge you to check out his books. You won’t be disappointed.

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.”