On this date, January 13th, in 1865, Lewis Thornton Powell took the Oath of Allegiance to the United States government under the alias “Lewis Paine”. This was the first documented time that Powell used this alias, having previously been under the command of John Singelton Mosby in the service of the Confederacy. While this first Oath of Allegiance no longer exists, Powell would sign another oath in March of 1865, after being arrested as a spy at the home of the Branson sisters in Baltimore. In this oath he signs his name “L. Paine”.
Powell would use the name Paine (misspelled Payne) throughout the trial of the conspirators until his execution in July for his attempt on Secretary Seward’s life. His devoted use of this alias over his real name made him a very elusive figure in the assassination for decades. The modern research of his biographer, Betty Ownsbey, has uncovered many previously unknown aspects of his life. Ms. Ownsbey will be speaking about Lewis Powell at the Surratt Society’s 14th Annual Lincoln Assassination Conference on March 16th, 2013. Call the Surratt House Museum at (301) 868–1121 for more information and to sign up to attend the conference.
Alias “Paine”: Lewis Thornton Powell, the Mystery Man of the Lincoln Conspiracy by Betty Ownsbey (1993)