Historic Surratt House has national significance due to its role in the dramatic events surrounding the Lincoln assassination. Built in 1852, the house served as the Surratts' home, a tavern, hostelry, post office, and polling place. During the Civil War, it was a safe house on the Confederate underground which flourished in Southern Maryland. Because of heavy debts following her husband's death in 1862 and the subsequent freeing of her slaves by the new Maryland constitution in 1864, Mary E. Surratt rented this country home in the fall of 1864 and moved to a rowhouse on H Street in Washington City. Her son, John Surratt, Jr., a Confederate courier was soon introduced to John Wilkes Booth by Dr. Samuel A. Mudd and recruited into the original scheme to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln. As part of that plot, rifles and other supplies were hidden at the country home. When Booth turned to assassination, this home was the first place he and conspirator David Herold stopped as they fled out of Washington. Mrs. Surratt was subsequently arrested, tried, and convicted of being part of the Lincoln conspiracy. On July 7, 1865, she became the first woman to be executed by the federal government. A visit to Surratt House relives this tragic history.
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