Inside the Lincoln Assassination trial at Grant Hall

This episode of Walk With History takes place at Grant Hall in Fort McNair, Washington, DC, where the Lincoln Assassination trial was held from May to July of 1865. A military commission found seven of the prisoners guilty of at least one conspiracy charge, and four were sentenced to be hanged by the neck until dead. Over 300 witnesses gave their testimonies about all of the accused. The episode provides a glimpse into the history of the trial and the location where it took place.

Intro: 0:00
Lincoln trial timeline: 0:16
Inside Grant Hall: 1:17
Conspirators on trial: 2:39
Witness stand: 3:33
The movie: 4:12
Exact spot of the execution: 5:39
How to visit: 6:49

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Episode 114 – Grant Hall

Episode 114 – Grant Hall

Jenn: Join me today on Walk With History from Grant Hall, the location of the Lincoln Assassination trial from Fort McNair in Washington, DC. I realized this is where the scaffolding was. Right here. I’m standing right where the scaffolding was, and then the burials are right over there, and then the wall is kind of right in front of the tree there. So right here, the corner of the tennis court is where the scaffolding action was, and up there is the third floor. You see the third floor of Grant Hall, so on June 26th, 1865, the military commission met in secret session to review the evidence of the seeks of the seven week long trial. A guilty verdict would come with a majority vote of the nine members, which again, five of the four and death sentence required the votes of six, and the next day they reach their verdict. So they meet on June 29th, 1865, and it takes them one day to decide to they’re guilty, and then that four people should be executed. And this is the area where all of the accused would’ve been? Yes. But you said this was even further out. So the commission found seven of the prisoners guilty of at least one conspiracy charge. Uh, Spangler was guilty of aiding and abetting booth’s escape, and four of the prisoners, Mary Ra Lewis Powell, George Asat, and David Harold, was sentenced to be hanged by the neck until he or she is dead. So this is where the accused would’ve sat. Sat, and in between each one, Is a guard. So when you see the picture of the accused sitting up here, there’s a guard between each one and you might see some names and wonder who’s Samuel Arnold? And you know, we’ve talked about mud before and, uh, spangler. And so here in. The witness stand over seven weeks. There were over 300 witnesses, and they all talked to people’s character and what they had heard them say. And a lot of this is based on Jefferson Davis and Jefferson Davis giving orders to have the president assassinated. So that’s where these gentlemen with the plot are coming into play. A hundred witnesses stood in this location and gave their testimonies about all of the accused, but they’re talking and telling. What is happening and, and their recollection of the accounts to the military Tribunal on these two tables in front are where the lawyers are sitting. So you have the lawyers for each side, the military tribunal, and then a recorder. And the press over here. Super cool. And then Mary ot, who would’ve sat here at the end to keep women kind of segregated. She did help get. The weapons to her tavern with the field glasses to her tavern, and she did facilitate the location. And what’s neat is up here is a room of artifacts, and this is the dress that Robin Wright Penn wore in the movie, the Conspirator, where she plays Mary Ott. And if you’ve seen that movie, it’s pretty, it’s really good. But this picture, Depicts the gallows. It’s a photograph by Alexander Gardner, and you can see the men standing below. They’re gonna pull out these poles where the floor will drop from underneath. He has the director’s chair on the spirit. Robert Redford, did he sit right there? So this is the kind of hood that the conspirators had to wear. Everybody but Mary Ott wore these hoods and they made them wear these hoods so they couldn’t communicate with each other and talk with each other. The theater bill from our American cousin, the show that they had gone to see that night because Mary Todd Lincoln thought it would, it’s a comedy and she thought it would be great for Lincoln to laugh. Uh, they were supposed to go see Aladdin, but they had changed their. Plans. There’s a morning badge. That’s Alexander Gardner there who’s taking all the pictures. So this is where they were originally buried. After they were executed, they were originally buried. So you can see TZ is, uh, officer Henry Wirtz, tried, convicted, executed, but Asot Harold per soot. And if you can see, Harold is right where like the gutter is. So it has a really good depiction. You can see the wall. And then the gallows. So the gallows would’ve been right there, kind of the end right there. That’s where they were hung. July 7th, 1865. You know, they had to kind of redo the whole area, uh, to look like it does today, which it looked like it did then, which is pretty cool. And now it’s open to the public. Uh, you have to reserve times to go up and see it, but it’s there for you. It’s there for you to go and see and to see that part of history and to stand there and be a part of that seven week trial. And I’m walking over the area where the conspirators were executed and buried. I’m just reminded of what, uh, A trying time. It was in American history and I think this execution, when it was all said and done on January 7th, 1865, it did do that. It, the war was done. And even though we lost the, probably the greatest president the country has ever had, there was a conclusion. People did pay for that with their lives. But I hope you enjoyed this walk with history. I hope you learned something about the Lincoln trial, and if you ever get a chance to make it to Fort McNair here in Washington, DC visit, please go to the third floor. Please, uh, see, uh, what is there for you, uh, of this part of American History onto my next walk with history.

Published by Scott

The mountains are calling, let me grab a jacket and my kids.

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