The Lincoln assassination honey trap

Sarah, whatcha been up to?
In the world of spooks, great attention should be paid to the 20-something super hotties because they make effective spies, and this did not start with Mata Hari. In my attempts to untangle the plot that assassinated President Abraham Lincoln, Sarah Slater joins Sanford Conover on the dias of most under investigated suspicious people inside the center of the true conspiracy.

Someday a book will appear that focuses only on Slater, and it will be long over-due, and perhaps some documents will also surface that will purport to explain what happened to her and her brothers, although odds are these documents will be forgeries and the book filled with misdirections and disinfo, if the past is any guide to the future. That’s just the way things work when investigating deep political events that threaten to shake the populace’s faith in their primary institutions, which is why Lincoln, JFK and 9/11 have such blatant propaganda protection shields in place.

A few months before Lincoln was killed, a newspaper ad appeared in a Southern newspaper offering to assassinate Lincoln, Seward and Johnson for $1 million, and a post office box given as the return address. Strangely, no investigation was ever conducted concerning funds or messages that may have been sent to that box, even though Secretary of State Seward received a copy of the ad and asked Stanton to look into it.

Let’s suppose $1 million was on the table, supplied by a cartel of wealthy individuals with a stake in Lincoln’s removal. And consider this is much closer to $100 million in today’s money. It would be more than enough to set-up anyone for life in a new identity on a new continent.

Slater went by the name Kate Brown or Kate Thompson and was first identified by George Atzerodt, who indicated Louis Weichmann had further details on her. The picture above may be Slater. Little is known as immediately after the assassination, she dropped off the face of the earth.

I plan to keep researching Sarah, and fold whatever turns up into my book on the Lincoln assassination because she and Conover may be the keys to unveiling the real plot. Both stand accused of being Confederate spies, but I find it much more likely they were double agents working for a corrupt entity in New York City that was getting inside tips from the War Department. Great fortunes were made during the Civil War, and no one made a bigger one than Jay Gould, who seemed to have inside information on the outcome of battles before anyone else on Wall Street. Did you know that the man in charge of the War Department telegraph lines rose to become head of Western Union thanks to his friendship with Gould? These links are worthy of more investigation as well.

Slater should have been easily located for the military tribunal, and some reported she was taken to meet Stanton, but the official record indicates she could never be found and zero information ever located concerning her real identity. This is an obvious lie, but could have been told on the grounds of protecting national security if Slater was a double agent.

I find it fascinating that both her brothers were Confederate soldiers accused of fomenting desertion among the troops, a very serious crime. Yet, they managed to slip away, and like their beautiful sister would disappear off the pages of history forever. If you’re going to set-up a new identity on a new continent, it sure helps to have some family along to keep you company.
I hope I locate a trail to wherever Slater landed, although I’m sure whatever trail exists has already been salted by the machine protecting the Radical Republican cabal that orchestrated Lincoln’s murder and then celebrated it secretly as a “godsend.” Because that machine does exist.

Why wasn't Booth arrested in March?

On November 1, 1864, Louis Weichmann moved into widow Mary Surratt’s boarding house, 604 H Street. Surratt’s son John was an important courier for the Confederacy who kept his mother and sister largely 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. 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.

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. It’s possible Dunham’s real employer, however, was the treacherous Jay Gould, soon the be the richest man on Wall Street.

Booth claimed in his diary he could return to Washington and clear his name. I believe he intended to reveal that a detachment of Union soldiers had been sent into Richmond for the purpose of assassinating Jefferson Davis. This unit had been sent by Stanton and Lincoln had been purposely kept in the dark.

Booth was also a bit unhinged over the hanging of his mentor John Yates Beal, despite the pleas of many prominent Washingtonians to spare the spook for his failed attempt to free the Confederates held prisoners-of-war in the North.

Also, John Parker, the guard who deserted his post was never punished and 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 (the alleged killer of Booth) was inexplicable, unless this is exactly what Stanton wanted: an unguarded President and dead assassin to tell no tales.

String of suicides and suspicious deaths

Abraham Lincoln became inflated almost beyond recognition through positive mythologizing very quickly, just as his foil John Wilkes Booth received quite the opposite treatment and morphed into a cartoon character from a cheap melodrama. Forgotten is the reality Booth was the original matinee idol, receiving up to 100 love letters a day, frequently followed home to his hotel by adoring groupies, and the first person in recorded history to have his clothes shredded by fans desiring a piece of him. Not exactly the raving lunatic that’s come down in history, eh? We’ll likely never know the full list of missions Captain Booth undertook for the South, or anything close, but we do know that smuggling precious quinine was a big part of that puzzle.
During the Civil War, hundreds of thousands of soldiers contracted malaria, and at the time, no one knew it was spread by mosquitoes. Produced from the bark of the South American cinchona tree, quinine was the only known cure for malaria, and it was very hard to procure in the South, where malaria was a much worse problem than in the North. By smuggling quinine through the lines, Booth saved thousands of lives and performed a noble service that could have gotten him hanged for treason had he been discovered.

Ella Star Turner made a huge spectacle on a Washington street car the day after the assassination. She was carrying a framed portrait of Booth and reportedly dove into the aisle, threatening suicide. Some say she ran the fanciest sporting house in Washington, but we’ll never know because she quickly vanished off the face of the earth, leaving one to wonder what she may have known. Another rumor stated Vice President Andrew Johnson had visited Turner’s bordello the night of the assassination. Two thousand suspected Booth accomplices were rounded up quickly and George B. Love was just one of them. He slit his throat with a penknife in the guardhouse at Fort Stephens and they later found a baggage claim made out to Turner in his pockets.

On July 11, 1866, Senator James H. Lane of Kansas shot himself. He was the leader of the Jayhawkers, and Quantrill’s bloody raid on Lawrence was really an attempt to assassinate him and avenge some of his raids on the South. Lane was a leader of the Radical Republicans, but after the assassination he switched his support to Andrew Johnson, which must have infuriated Stanton and Stevens.

On July 3, 1868, retired General Lafayette C. Baker died in Philadelphia. He was 44. An examination of his hair decades later revealed he may have suffered arsenic poisoning, and not died of meningitis as claimed. Baker had been thrown under the bus and fired by Stanton shortly after the conspiracy trial was concluded. He had a ghostwriter whip out a pulp-novel style autobiography strung together with newspaper accounts and Baker’s own mythologizing, a book that explosively revealed the existence of Booth’s diary for the first time. Baker long suspected Stanton had been involved, and he seeded some clues in his book, but made no direct accusations. Baker had initially requested three quarters of the reward, the equivalent of almost $2 million today. But he only got a measly $3,500 (or approximately $90,000) and felt massively cheated by Stanton.

In December 1869, Edwin Stanton died shortly after complaining of being haunted by Mary Surratt’s ghost. Caleb Cushing immediately claimed Stanton had slit his throat, same as his brother had done many years earlier, and there was a coverup in progress. Although the Senate had approved Stanton’s appointment to the Supreme Court, President Grant sat on the paperwork for weeks, letting him twist uncomfortably in the wind. Stanton had been rudely rebuffed from a seat on Grant’s cabinet, as he was now one of the most unpopular politicians in the nation. R. F. Harvey had been in charge of preparing his corpse for the casket. In 1903 a Baltimore newspaper story reportedly written by Harvey’s son stated “no human being ever succeeded in getting him to deny or confirm anything on the subject [of Stanton].” The death certificate (severe asthma attack) had been issued by Stanton’s close friend, Surgeon General Barnes.

On November 12, 1875, ex-Senator Preston King tied a bag of bullets around his neck and jumped from the Christopher Street Ferry in New York. King had personally blocked Anna Surratt from an audience with President Johnson, which ended all hope of saving her mother, indicating this might be another death linked to Surratt’s ghost.

One of the more mysterious deaths was Louis Wiechmann, key witness against Mary Surratt, who was later rumored to have been gay and infatuated with the old school chum he’d betrayed, John Surratt. Wiechmann was put into “protective custody” and spent weeks traveling all over the northeast in the failed effort to bring Surratt to justice. He died on June 2, 1902, and according to Lloyd Lewis in Myths After Lincoln, the cause of death listed as “extreme nervousness.” Strangely, Wiechmann had recently signed a declaration stating: “This is to certify every word I gave in evidence at the assassination trial was absolutely true.”

No one knows what happened to John F. Parker, the guard who failed to protect the president. He returned to his post in theĀ  White House and was chastised once by Mrs. Lincoln. In 1868 he was dismissed for sleeping on a streetcar while on duty. Similarly, the fall-guy for Booth’s assassination, Boston Corbett, was admitted to a mental institution, escaped and slipped off the pages of history forever.

Edwin Booth did all he could to make amends for his brother’s misguided act, even to the point of paying to rebuild the barn on Garrett’s farm. But Edwin also kept a framed portrait of his younger brother on his nightstand in his bedroom at the Player’s Club on Gramercy Park in New York City. The day of Edwin’s funeral (June 9, 1893), Ford’s Theater, which had been converted to a War Department warehouse by Stanton, collapsed. Apparently too many files had been crammed into the rickety third floor and 22 clerks were killed, and 68 injured.

The War Department files on Lincoln’s assassination remained sealed until 1937 in the interest of national security.

Lord Lyons and the Lincoln assassination

Let me be the first to admit there’s no evidence of anything unworthy or unseemly concerning Lord Richard Bikerton Pemell Lyons, 1st Viscount etc., and I don’t expect to find any, but if rumors of His Majesties Secret Service helping foment the Civil War are true, he’d be a key player in the game, having arrived two years before the outbreak of hostilities, just enough time to stoke the fires.

After all my years of spook study, I give credit to the English. They are the masters of the craft. Not only did they write the book on James Bond, they wrote the book on Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Knights of the Round Table. When you put these elements together, spooks plus magic, you get amazing results. Plus their idea of oligarchy is so much more transparent, with a clear chain-of-command, not anything like the murky and conspiratorial oligarchy of North America.

If Lyons is talking to Secretary of War Edwin McMasters Stanton, the key person in the Lincoln assassination plot around whom all others orbit, it’s likely being done in whispers in the Grand Lodge of the Scottish Rite on Tuesday night or at some private 5-star restaurant afterwards. People have the illusion these major conspiracies involve people meeting in large groups, but in reality, the opposite is true. It’s one-on-one and done very quietly.

Someone put up a lot of money for the Lincoln hit, and Stanton easily could have handled that himself. Or maybe it was Clement Vallandigham, Jay Gould, Salmon Chase, or even Thaddeus Stevens, Fernando Wood, Jacob Astor, or just a combination of the above plus others unnamed. Any one of those people could have easily raised enough on a day’s graft at the office. (Things haven’t changed much, the budget on 9/11 was supposed to be $150,000 wired to Atta from a Pakistan ISI agent.)

The most significant moment early on in the Civil War concerned the Trent Affair, when two Confederate envoys were seized off a British ship to prevent them from seeking aid in Europe. This threatened to blow up into an international incident and force England to enter the war on the side of the South to preserve its honor, which would have led to an easy Southern victory. Wall Street would have relocated to Richmond or New Orleans. The North would have been returned to England officially and not just in the banking realms. The Union Jack could have flown from the White House. Lyons got the envoys released, which saved the day for Wall Street and the North, so we know what side he was working for. England had spawned and funded the abolitionist movement, and even though its economy depended on cheap cotton from the South, it’s trade with the North must have been far more important.

There’s only one person I know who consorted socially with Lyons, Booth and Stanton, and that’s Simon Wolf, young head of B’nai B’rith, someone active in the support of Jewish merchants caught in the middle of the war (and doing some narco-dollars-type profiteering, I might add). Notice British banking and intelligence employs many assets in these realms? That’s not by accident I assure you, and I know why.

When dealing with matters of intense sensitivity, it’s advisable to step outside your cultural realm and enlist agents from another social universe. The reason I suspect Wolf could have been the courier between Stanton and Booth is because he was very ambitious and very close with Stanton. I don’t know if Wolf managed to get close to Lyons, but he aggressively courted his approval. Wolf became a masterful social climber and rose to the top of Washington social circles and stayed there until he died. And he told a lie about meeting with John Wilkes Booth the day of the assassination, and when people tell lies, they are often covering something up.

I’d assume Booth was not told he was dealing with Stanton when he accepted the bag of money, whoever handed it to him. Booth would have been working for expenses only, anyway. He was a patriot, not a mercenary, and that’s what he’s was trying to make clear in his final messages, however corrupted and distorted they became through selective editing and negative mythologizing. If Wolf handed him a bag, the source could have been some anonymous benefactor inside the Union who admired his efforts. The first rule of spook craft is “need to know,” and a professional spook respects that rule religiously because it can save your life. You don’t want to be the man who knew too much because that’s how you get whacked during the final clean-up. And you don’t want to be haunted by the likes of a ghost as powerful as Mary Surratt.

One of the more fascinating pieces of evidence in this case is a letter from Booth sent to Stanton postmarked from Canada shortly after the assassination. This letter was designed to convince the War Department that Booth had escaped into Canada, which would have taken heat off his escape through the south. This was certainly a deft ploy and showed tremendous foresight and is evidence of Booth’s super-heightened spook craft. No doubt John Surratt hand carried and posted the letter before departing for Ireland. Many think Booth’s plan was to flee to Mexico because he left a map of that route at Garrett’s farm, although the map was probably just another ploy to throw off pursuers. England would have been a more likely designation since that’s where his boss in the Confederate Secret Service landed. The more I study Booth, the more impressed I am with his craft.

Louis Weichmann was kept several degrees from Stanton, although he was the War Department’s double agent placed in Booth’s cabal. But before the trial, Weichmann had a long, private meeting with Stanton, the details of which were never recorded, and the only time Stanton directly participated in the trial was to cross examine Weichmann, a man whose testimony was obviously sculpted to frame and hang two innocent people. Any examination of Weichmann could have veered into dangerous waters, which is why Stanton took the unprecedented step of doing it all by himself.

It’s amazing how Weichmann provided all sorts of minute and trivial information about Booth and Surratt, but was never once questioned about having been reporting their activities to the War Department for weeks. Many of his statements were fabrications and he’d later admit that Mary Surratt was innocent, and that nobody expected she’d be hanged. No one except Stanton, who was determined to make it happen, as she was his stand-in, sheep-dipped as the mastermind of the assassination.

But the murder of designated-scapegoat Mary Surratt became the flaw in the plan (to quote Harry Potter) that led to Stanton’s demise.