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GIDEON WELLES - MANUSCRIPT LETTER SIGNED 12/05/1866 - HFSID 31389

GIDEON WELLES He orders that John Surratt, suspected accomplice in the Lincoln assassination just captured in Egypt, be brought to Washington by naval vessel "without stopping at any intermediate port." Perhaps signaling the importance of this mission, the Navy Secretary signs this order with his full name, instead of his typical "G.

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Condition: slightly soiled, otherwise fine condition
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GIDEON WELLES
He orders that John Surratt, suspected accomplice in the Lincoln assassination just captured in Egypt, be brought to Washington by naval vessel "without stopping at any intermediate port." Perhaps signaling the importance of this mission, the Navy Secretary signs this order with his full name, instead of his typical "G. Welles".
Manuscript Letter signed: "Gideon Welles" as Secretary of the Navy, 2 pages (integral leaf), 15½x9¾ open flat, 8x9¾ closed. Navy Department, Washington, 1866 December 5. To L. M. Goldsborough commanding, European Squadron, care of B. T. Stevens, U.S. Dispatch Agent, London. In full: "I herewith enclose a copy of a dispatch addressed yesterday by the Secretary of State to Chas. Hale, Esq., Consul General of the United States at Alexandria, Egypt, in relation to John H. Surratt. You will immediately send a suitable vessel of your Squadron to Alexandria for the purpose of receiving from Mr. Hale the above mentioned John H. Surratt and conveying him to the United States. It is thought expedient by the Secretary of State, that the prisoner should be brought directly to the City of Washington and delivered to the custody of the Marshal of the District of Columbia, without stopping at any intermediate port, either in this country or elsewhere, either in this country or elsewhere; and you will give instructions accordingly to the Commanding officer of the vessel you may detail for the service." Docketed on integral leaf. Gideon Welles (1802-1878), formerly a Jacksonian Democrat, joined the newly founded Republican Party in 1854 because of his strong opposition to slavery. An able administrator, he served as Secretary of the Navy throughout the Presidencies of Abraham Lincoln (who called him "Neptune") and Andrew Johnson (1861-1869). Welles generally supported Johnson's policies, including Johnson's reluctance to impose far-reaching changes and full rights for African-Americans during the Reconstruction of the South. John Suratt (1844-1916) was the son of Mary Suratt, convicted of conspiracy in the assassination of President Lincoln and the first woman executed (hanged) by the US government. John Suratt was accused of involvement in the conspiracy, but remained at large for a year and a half, fleeing first to Canada and then through Europe, escaping after first having been captured in Italy. Traveling under an assumed name, he was finally apprehended in Alexandria, Egypt on November 23, 1866, and returned on the USS Swatara to stand trial. He was tried in a civilian court, whereas his mother and the other conspirators received military trials. Suratt admitted to having been a Confederate spy and courier, and to conspiring with John Wilkes Booth in an unsuccessful attempt to kidnap President Lincoln and exchange him for Confederate prisoners. He denied any involvement in the assassination conspiracy. A mistrial was declared after the jury was deadlocked. Normal mailing folds. Light wear on edges of folds. Slightly toned. Small holes in center of document where folds meet. Slightly soiled. Tear along center fold (not seen head on). Otherwise, fine condition.

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