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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      Background

      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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