Book Review: The Last Lincoln Conspirator: John Surratt's Flight from the Gallows


by Andrew C. A. Jampoler

Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2009. Pp. xii, 312. Illus., maps, notes, biblio., index. $18.95. ISBN: 1591144086

The primary purpose of The Last Lincoln Conspirator is to provide an account of the flight, capture, and trial of John Surratt, an alleged co-conspirator in the Lincoln assassination and son of Mary Surratt, convicted, probably wrongfully, and executed for participating in the plot.  And Jampoler, a retired U.S. Navy captain and author of several books, mostly on naval history (Horrible Shipwreck!, etc.) has given us a very satisfactory, comprehensive look at Surratt's life in considerable detail, including, of course, his links to the assassination conspiracy, as well as his flight, capture, trial, and acquittal in considerable detail.  However, Jampoler doesn'tt stop there, for The Last Lincoln Conspirator is very rich work. 

While covering Surrat's and flight, Jampoler also gives the reader an interesting account of the Papal Zouaves, in which the fugitive served for a time, as well as short discussions of Confederate "special operations", international cooperation in criminal pursuit, and several word portraits of interesting characters, such as Pope Pius IX and the American soldier-diplomat Rufus King, while touching upon many aspects of life and society in mid-nineteenth century America that are today largely forgotten, such as the status of America's Catholics in the mid-nineteenth century, viewed with suspicion, and even outright bigotry, by their largely Protestant fellow-citizens.   

An essential read for those interested in Lincoln and the assassination conspiracy, The Last Lincoln Conspirator will also be of value to anyone curious about society in the mid-1800s.


Reviewer: A.A. Nofi   

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