Hanged! Mary Surratt and the Plot to Assassinate Abraham Lincoln

Random House Studio. Nov. 2022. 352p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780593181560.
Gr 7 Up–The assassination of Abraham Lincoln is well-covered ground in youth literature, but information on one of the coconspirators, Mary Surratt, the first woman to be executed by the U.S. government, can be hard to find. Miller remedies this with her exhaustive look into Surratt’s trial and execution. Surratt, a slave owner and resident of Maryland, a Union state, was the mother of John Surratt, a Confederate messenger. She also ran a boarding house that John Wilkes Booth was said to frequent. Shortly after Lincoln’s death, she was arrested along with several other conspirators. Despite being a civilian, she was given a trial by a military tribunal as it was argued finding an impartial jury would be impossible. The tribunal did not give her any protections that a civilian court would afford the accused. In fact, her lawyers were denied rights as basic as evidence discovery, leaving them only minutes to think of questions for the prosecution’s witnesses after hearing testimony for the first time. Examples like this abound throughout the narrative, which will leave readers shaking their heads. All along, Surratt maintained her innocence and was convicted despite a split among the tribunal members. Her son went into hiding for years, then was subsequently captured but was freed due to the statute of limitations.
VERDICT Miller provides readers a compelling and detailed analysis of the courtroom proceedings against Surratt that will intrigue lovers of history and true crime stories. Recommended for middle and high school collections.

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