The Lincoln Conspirators Hanged

July 7, 1865

Washington, D.C.

Execution of the Conspirators (Library of Congress)

After a seven week trial with 366 individuals testifying before a military tribunal, all nine conspirators being tried for Abraham Lincoln’s assassination were found guilty. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, and George Atzerodt were all sentenced to death for their roles associated in the killing of Lincoln and/or the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward, and failed attempt on Vice President Andrew Johnson. Samuel Mudd, Samuel Arnold, and Michael O’Laughlen escaped the death penalty, and were instead sentenced to life in prison while the final conspirator, Edmund Spangler, was given six years for holding Booth’s horse outside Ford’s Theater. The four conspirators sentenced to hang climbed the hastily constructed gallows in the courtyard of the Old Arsenal Penitentiary in Washington, D.C. just one week after the verdict was read. More than 1,000 spectators purchased the exclusive tickets and packed into the penitentiary’s courtyard to witness the macabre spectacle in the sweltering July heat. Gen. John F. Hartranft then read the death sentences aloud, ordered the trap doors sprung loose, and the four conspirators dropped to their deaths shortly after one-thirty in the afternoon of July 7, 1865.


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