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    David Hunter Signed Pass to the Lincoln Conspirators' Trial. One pass, 4" x 2.75", Washington, May 26, 1865. This pass is manuscript completed for the admittance of Augustus Seward, son of Secretary of State William Seward, wounded by Lewis Payne during the attempted assassination of his father.

    On May 1, 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a controversial Executive Order to form a nine-man military commission to adjudicate John Wilkes Booth's conspirators in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln and attempted overthrow of the Federal Government. The trial, lasting from May 10 to June 30, was presided over by General David Hunter. The other members of the commission consisted of Lew Wallace, August V. Kautz, Alvin P. Howe, Robert S. Foster, James E. Eken, T.M. Harris, C.H. Tompkins, and David R. Clendenin. The prosecution was chaired by Judge Advocate General Joseph Holt. The proceedings concluded with the pronouncement of guilty verdicts for all the conspirators. Mary E. Surratt, Lewis Thornton Powell (alias "Payne"), George A. Atzerodt, and David E. Herold were sentenced to death; Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, Michael O'Laughlin, and Samuel B. Arnold were sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor; Edman Spangler was given six years at hard labor. The executions were carried out on July 7, 1865. Spangler, Arnold, and Mudd were pardoned in 1869; O'Lauglin died the previous year while incarcerated.

    Hunter (1802-1886), a close Lincoln friend, accompanied the president-elect for a portion of his inaugural journal from Springfield to Washington and commanded the detail that escorted the return of his body to Illinois. Considered one of Lincoln's more controversial generals - a man absolutely despised in the South - Hunter first entered military service after graduating from West Point in 1822. During the War he held several posts including: commanding the 2nd Division, Army of Northeastern Virginia; commanding brigade, Division of the Potomac; commanding Western Department; commanding Department of Kansas; commanding Department of the South; and commanding the Department of West Virginia. He was severely wounded while leading one of two divisions on the flank march at the 1st Bull Run. After his recovery and service in other posts - including replacing the command of General John C. Fremont - in late 1862, Hunter found himself in South Carolina. Hunter would infuriate Confederates in that state by announcing the "abolition" of slavery in the department and forming the 1st South Carolina Colored Infantry. Washington, still hoping for a peace proposal, disavowed his policies. He earned a regular brevet to brigadier for his victory at Piedmont under U.S. Grant. Hunter's policy of burning Confederate land and properties - including the torching of the Virginia Governor's residence and the Virginia Military Institute - earned him a death sentence if ever captured. His presiding over the trial of the conspirators was his last active role in military service. The pass contains some small, light stains. Later handwritten information on verso. Fine.


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    Auction Dates
    November, 2008
    20th Thursday
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