Mary Surratt's Daughter Petitions Andrew Johnson for the Return of Her Mother's Remains

February 5, 1869

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Mary Surratt's Daughter Petitions Andrew Johnson for the Return of Her Mother's Remains
Autograph Letter Signed
1 page | SMC 2033

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      Three and a half years after she was hanged as a conspirator in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, Mary Surratt’s daughter, Anna, here petitions President Andrew Johnson for the return of her mother’s body.

      Anna Surratt’s request was heeded. Shortly before President Johnson left office, he authorized that the body of Mrs. Surratt - the first woman executed by the United States government - be removed from the Old Penitentiary and released to her daughter for re-burial in consecrated ground. This he did, apparently, by way of binding the war-torn nation’s wounds. In the last weeks of his presidency, Johnson pardoned Lincoln conspirators Mudd, Arnold, and Spangler, and returned the body of the assassin Booth to his family.

      Mary Surratt always claimed to be innocent. Johnson, however, signing her death warrant, declared otherwise: she "kept the nest” he insisted, “that hatched the egg." Neither Mrs. Surratt’s guilt, nor her innocence, has yet been indisputably established.
      Autograph Letter Signed, in the hand of Anna E. Surratt, 1 page, octavo, no place or date [circa February 1869]; to President Andrew Johnson. Docketed on integral back sheet that said petition was forwarded to the War Department, on February 5, 1869, and so attested, by proxy, "Andrew Johnson" in an unknown hand.
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      Page 1 transcript

      His Excellency

      The President of the United States.

      The undersigned most earnestly and respectfully addresses Your Excellency on a matter which has been for more than three years to her a source of great affliction.  She seeks the privilege of removing the remains of her deceased mother, to have them interred in consecrated ground.

      She fondly hopes that Your Excellency will not allow your authority in the premises to expire without granting this request, prompted only by filial love and devotion to the memory of her dear Mother.



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      Page 2 transcript

      Anna E. Surratt.

      Asks authority to remove
      the remains of her deceased

      A copy sent to the War
      Dept. with the following en-

      "The Honorable
      the Secretary of War will cause
      to be delivered to Anna E. Sur-
      ratt the remains of her
      Mother, Mary E. Surratt, for
      the purpose set forth in the
      within communication.

      "Andrew Johnson.

      "Febry [sic] 5th 1869."