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John Wilkes Booth

  • Originally published 03/03/2013

    The Strange Saga of Lincoln Assassination Co-Conspirator John Surrat

    David O. Stewart

    John Surrat in the uniform of a Papal Zouave.As the world’s eyes turn to Rome for the selection of the next pope, Americans might recall that Vatican City was the refuge in 1866 for the Lincoln conspirator who got away -- John Surratt of Maryland.In 1864, the 20-year-old Surratt was a courier for the Confederacy, carrying messages between Richmond, Washington, D.C., New York, and Confederate agents in Canada. Raised in Confederate-leaning southern Maryland, Surratt frequently crossed the Potomac on secret missions. Late in the year, he moved with his sister and widowed mother to Washington, D.C. Mary Surratt opened a boarding house on H Street. It soon became the center of an anti-Lincoln conspiracy. In President Andrew Johnson’s phrase, Mrs. Surratt “kept the nest that hatched the egg.”