GIDEON WELLES - TELEGRAM UNSIGNED 12/06/1866 - HFSID 280762
Sale Price $2,550.00
NAVY SECRETARY GIDEON WELLES ORDERS THE NAVY TO
TRANSPORT CAPTURED FUGITIVE JOHN SURATT BACK TO
THE US TO STAND TRIAL FOR CONSPIRING TO
ASSASSINATE PRESIDENT LINCOLN
Telegram, unsigned, 1 page, 8½x11. 1866 December 6. Telegram partly printed in Portuguese, received from Gideon Welles in Washington, D.C., for transmittal to Admiral Goldsborough, American Squadron at Lisbon, Portugal. Manuscript text of Welles' message (unknown hand): "Send steamer to Alexandria, Egypt to receive Surautt [sic] from Consul Hale and bring him to Washington." [Welles' name has also been misspelled by the telegraph office.] Docketed on verso: "Hon. G. Welles/Secy of the Navy/6th Dec. 1866/Send steamer to/Alexandria, Egypt". Gideon Welles (1812-1878), a Jacksonian Democrat who joined the new Republican Party in 1854 because he detested slavery, was Secretary of the Navy throughout the Presidencies of Abraham Lincoln (who called him "Neptune") and Andrew Johnson (1861-1869). 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. The statute of limitations had by this time expired on the lesser charges, and efforts to retry him for murder were unsuccessful. Chipped at edges. Fold creases. Light show-through of ink on verso. Otherwise, fine condition.
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