Rabbit Hole #1: Jefferson Davis did it. Did you know Jefferson Davis was convicted of orchestrating Lincoln’s murder, with Mary Surratt and John W. Booth as his primary agents in that endeavor? That was the finding of the military tribunal that took 5,000 pages of testimony and then hanged four people the next day, indicating not a single officer on the tribunal bothered to read the transcript before rendering a decision. Even today, this theory is periodically trotted out and dusted off. Only problem is less than two years later, a Congressman named Rogers exposed the trial had been a sham and witnesses had been coached and paid for their false testimony. This inconvenient truth was brushed under the rug, but created enough of a public outcry that Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt, who presided over the trial, went into a phase of “intense personal excitement” as he was worried he was becoming the fall-guy for the sham trial.
Rabbit Hole #2: Andrew Johnson did it. President Andrew Johnson was next in the patsy line. The Radicals began building a case against Johnson the moment he attempted to remove Edwin M. Stanton from his perch running the War Department, the military, the newspapers and the telegraph lines. Johnson survived the impeachment trial by one vote, despite the long list of dirty tricks, bribes and threats brought to play against him. Once the smoke cleared, Johnson knew the tribunal had been a complete sham and regretted allowing Mary Surratt to swing from the gallows and would soon pardon the convicted-but-not-hanged conspirators languishing in jail.
Rabbit Hole #3: The Pope was responsible. In order to shift suspicion off himself and the Radical Republicans who orchestrated the sham trial, Holt wrote a manifesto claiming the Catholics conspired to kill Lincoln based mostly on Mary Surratt being a Catholic, and Catholics at that time were a minority despised by many Protestants. Some really absurd evidence was brought to bear by Holt and this balloon did not fly with the public.
Rabbit Hole #4: The Rothschilds did it. This has become the standard canard for shielding the oligarchy that really runs the banking system. Because some powerful banking families of Jewish heritage happen to control a large percentage of the banking system does not mean they own all the money or even most of it, or that they are pulling evil strings on every event in history. I’d imagine Simon Wolf had a relationship with the Rothschilds, and did meet with Booth that day. However, it seems far more likely a New York element was closely involved, and not a London or European element. The key suspects beyond Booth and his inner circle should be the Radical Republicans working with Jay Gould and/or Fernando Wood as the “New York crowd.”
Rabbit Hole #5: Booth was insane and acting on his own. This is the meme that has come down through history, and ignores Booth’s command of spy craft and his devious methods for concealing operations. Sam Arnold, one of the primary conspirators in the kidnap plot remarked how closed-lipped Booth was on all matters and how Booth shared little information concerning the source of his funding, but Booth did buy a carriage, horses, four pistols, four knives, two rifles and a rowboat for the kidnapping scheme, indicating deep pockets were behind the plot.
The most suspicious thing about the trial, other than the perjuries committed, were the dozen conspirators who aided Booth that were never investigated or brought to testify. George Atzerodt ran down all the key players in his first confession, but that document was destroyed and never admitted into evidence. Why wasn’t the beautiful Kate Brown brought before the tribunal? She was reportedly taken to Stanton’s office and then disappeared forever. But then there were many others, and strong suspicion exists today these conspirators were hidden to protect their identities as double agents. Stanton undoubtedly had many doubles pretending to be loyal Confederate agents. This would have been standard procedure. And if so, the reason these doubles couldn’t be brought forth is because that would have indicated Stanton knew about the plot in advance, and had purposefully left Lincoln unguarded.
The day after Lincoln died, the Radicals met for a crucial strategy session and Thaddeus Stevens remarked on how the assassination had been “a godsend,” as Lincoln had been planning forgiveness for the South. That callous statement is an indication of the Radicals true feelings toward Lincoln, who had just returned from a visit to Richmond, where he’d walked the streets unguarded, and spoken freely with the inhabitants. If the Confederate secret service and Jefferson Davis had wanted Lincoln murdered in revenge for losing the war, he could have been cut down in the streets of Richmond just a few days before his death in the heart of Washington DC.
Of course the rabbit holes don’t stop there and every year some new piece of forged documentation will appear to send researchers on a goose egg hunt to nowhere, usually in support of one or more of the fake theories already listed. But it’s incredibly suspicious how so much evidence has emerged over the years to support the thesis of an inside job, and how none of that evidence seems to make it into the media or onto Wikipedia.