Remarkable Stories of the Lincoln Assassination
Few events in American history have sparked as much controversy as presidential assassinations. As a papermaker, the industry I work in has been blessed by the dizzying array of books and magazine articles written on the killings of John F. Kennedy and Abraham Lincoln, two events that stunned their generations and created firestorms of opinions and agendas. The CIA. The Mafia. The U.S. government. Cuba. The Illuminati. The Confederate States of America. The U.S. Secretary of War. The Pope. All have been blamed in some fashion for one (or both) of these events.
While some of the public has been fascinated by theories and speculations, Gettysburg Licensed Battlefield Guide Michael Kanazawich has focused his energies and studies on finding and communicating some of the more obscure vignettes and remarkable true stories from the assassination of the 16th President. You won’t find long accounts of Edwin Stanton’s alleged betrayal of his commander-in-chief, or of Jeff Davis’s secret plot to take care of his rival and counterpart. Instead, this new book offers a diverse collection of short accounts and stories that are perfect for light reading.
Published by Colecraft Industries, a botique publisher based in Orrtanna, PA not far from the Gettysburg Battlefield, Remarkable Stories of the Lincoln Assassination (ISBN 0-977-71256-7) continues Colecraft’s recent successful series of books with snippets of interesting information arranged in chronological order covering historical events (Gettysburg, Antietam, and now the Booth / Lincoln story).
The author has assembled an interesting array of stories, which are well written and understandable. Some of well known to the general public, but some would only be known to the hard-core Lincoln historian and enthusiast. Kanazawich in short bursts gives a rather complete general overview of the sequence of events from the early stages of the conspiracy through the actual attacks on Lincoln and others down through the capture of the plotters, the trial and the executions. He then offers some useful anecdotes that deal with the aftermath of the tragedy, one that plunged the country in widespread mourning.
Here are example of the snippets and stories that capture the emotions of the unfolding events:
“An inhumane remark was made to [conspirator] Mary Surratt as she was being prepared for her execution. As her arms were being bound she remarked, ‘It hurts.’ ‘Well,’ was the consoling reply, ‘It won’t hurt long.'”
“In 1876 ghouls did plan on stealing Lincoln’s remains. Their reason for stealing Lincoln’s corpse, however, had nothing to do with the needs of medical schools [in that day, corpses were quite valuable for scientific research and medical training]. A counterfeiter by the name of ‘Big Jim’ Kneally wanted to steal Lincoln’s body and use it to negotiate a trade for his master engraver, who was in prison at the time. To ensure success, Kneally added ‘the boss body snatcher of Chicago,’ Lewis Swegles, to his team of grave robbers. They chose Election Day to steal Lincoln’s remains. With everyone in town awaiting election results, there was a good chance the cemetery would be empty.”
To see what happened to Kneally and his morbid assortment of body snatchers, you have to pick up a copy of the new book… it’s well worth a read and is a good deal at $9.95. It is available from Colecraft via mail, or from the Internet at various retailers including amazon.com. Selected book stores in Gettysburg also carry the book should you happen to be visiting that town.