The Trial Today: Epilogue

If you have followed along during these last two months as the Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators project was published day by day, I would like to congratulate you! You have essentially reenacted and relived the same experience of those who lived through May and June of 1865. During those two months, the whole country was transfixed by the daily newspaper updates regarding the trial of the Lincoln conspirators. By coming to this site and reading the testimonies and arguments from each day, you have shared in that experience.

But this project was much more than just a reading of the trial transcript. It contextualized and clarified the different testimonies explaining how they related to each conspirator. This project brought in the diaries, articles, memoirs, and recollections of those who had actually been present in the room where it happened. Taken altogether, you now have a better understanding of the trial of the Lincoln conspirators than practically anyone from 1865, save for those select few who took part in the proceedings.

I hope you all have enjoyed this chronological exploration into the trial of the Lincoln conspirators and feel that the investment of time has been worthwhile. As I noted when I introduced this project, my goal was to make the trial of the conspirators more accessible and understandable to everyone (including myself). It’s a key part of understanding the complexity of Lincoln’s death, but is too often overlooked because of its own intimidating complexity.

The old proverb asks the question, “How do you eat an elephant?” with the answer being, “One bite at a time.” According to a trial statistics sheet found in the collection of commission member Lew Wallace, the testimony in the trial constituted 4,300 handwritten pages, “making a solid file of [manuscript] somewhat over 26 inches high”. In addition to the testimony, the pages of arguments in the case numbered 700, putting the whole trial at around 5,000 handwritten pages. William Edwards’ ebook version of the trial transcript which I utilized and summarized for this project clocks in at over 1,400 pages. Finally, the text alone for the project on this site is equivalent to over 300 pages. If you’ve read through all of the pages in this trial project you have, metaphorically, eaten an over 300 page elephant, one bite at a time.

While the daily updates regarding the conspiracy trial will now cease, I still have a few more posts scheduled for the future in order to make the project even more user friendly and accessible. I have gone through and created an index for each conspirator. These indexes provide descriptions and links to all of the testimony relating to that specific conspirator. In this way, those who are interested in looking only at the testimony concerning Dr. Mudd, for instance, can go to the standalone Dr. Mudd Testimony page which will give them links to all the applicable testimony concerning him. Specific conspirator index pages will be released sequentially in the coming weeks so stay tuned for that.

As I stated in the beginning, I have been working on this project for over two years – reading, researching, collecting, summarizing, writing and assembling. I have been told numerous times in the comments and elsewhere that I should publish this as a book. However, I feel that this project, as envisioned, would not work as a book. What makes this project valuable as an online feature is how so much of the testimony can be hyperlinked in order to provide readers access to the original transcripts and documents with ease. The project also links to previous testimony and outside resources and references. In my mind, a traditional book would fail to provide the interactivity that makes this project unique. Not to mention that if this project was turned into a book, at over 300 pages long, it would likely appear just as daunting and inaccessible to the general public as the original trial transcripts. I designed this project to be a helpful guide for students of the Lincoln assassination and would rather it be widely accessible to all on the internet rather than in the hands of only the select few who would want to purchase it in book form.

With that being said, I am still very proud of this project which was, in my eyes, the equivalent of writing a book. I appreciate all of the kind words that you have left for me in the comments and in emails over the past two months. If you really enjoyed this project and want to help support me in future research on this site, I would like to ever so shamelessly direct you to the new Donation button I have put up here on LincolnConspirators.com. The button can be found at the end of this paragraph as well as on the side menu (bottom menu for mobile users). As is obvious from my real world job as an elementary school teacher, I don’t do any of this for the money. Still, I know the content that I create for this site is informative and valuable. If you have the desire and the financial means to help me continue to research, learn, and share, I would be truly grateful. I can’t promise another big, book-sized research project anytime soon as I still have another year to go in my Master’s program, but I’m constantly looking for new information which I share here and on my Twitter account. Even small donations add up and help me in the purchasing of books, articles, and the annual renewals of expensive research subscription sites like Ancestry, Fold3, GenealogyBank, Newspapers.com, and others. Your donations will also help to pay for the upkeep of this site to ensure that LincolnConspirators.com will continue for years to come.

I truly hope you have enjoyed learning about the trial of the Lincoln assassination conspirators. Remember that the entire project will always be accessible by clicking on “The Trial” on the top menu or by visiting www.LincolnConspirators.com/the-trial. Thank you again for all of your support.

Sincerely,

Dave Taylor

Categories: History, News | Tags: | 23 Comments

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23 thoughts on “The Trial Today: Epilogue

  1. Dop Troutman

    Amazing job!

  2. Can’t say enough about your accomplishment, Dave. So I won’t even try.

  3. t\\

    Thanks so much for all of your hard work in putting together this project. It has been fascinating to read and very educational. 

  4. Steven Foster

    Felt like I was in the court room. I often thought about how hot the room was, with both sun load and 40 or more bodies present.

    A few years ago I toured the Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia. It was constructed about the same time as Arsenal Penitentiary. My guess is the cells at Arsenal were similar in size and appearance to those at Eastern.

    • Steven,
      I’ve been up in the courtroom during our quarterly reenactments when the air conditioning has been on the fritz. It is not pleasant and I can only imagine what day after day of that would be like.

      Thanks for making me aware of the Eastern State Pen. I’d love to visit a place to give me a better sense of what their imprisonment was like.

  5. Steve Dixon

    Great job! It was a treat to have the chronology laid out this way.

  6. chiefden34gmailcom

    I have eagerly followed the trial every day looking forward to the next day’s postings and asking a few questions along the way. This is an enormous accomplishment of which you can be justly proud. I understand not turning this into a book but have you considered turning the complete work into a DVD with all the attachments an exhibits. Folks may want to add something like that to their library. Thanks again for all that you do. I shall miss the daily postings.

    • Thank you for the kind words. I’m so glad you have enjoyed the journey. While a DVD is an interesting idea, one of the main issues in turning this project into any purchasable product would revolve around image rights. Some of the images I’ve used here come from other sources that would have copyright issues. I can use them here under Fair Use doctrine since my website is an educational resource and costs nothing to access. Still, I’m very content with this project living on the interwebs for all to find and enjoy.

  7. graham baldwin

    Amazing work. I disagree with only one of your conclusions (i.e. that your readers have a better understanding of the trial than anyone else save those who participated therein). I think your asides from news reports, contemporary diaries/recollections of those who attended/participated blended with your unbiased summaries of the daily events offered us an even better perspective than those who were directly involved in the case.

    • Steven Foster

      Your comment reminds me of a discussion I had with my father about his combat on Negros Island, Philippines, in 1945. I went to the National Archives and thoroughly researched his unit’s movements and activities. Excellent records available. I followed his route into the Patag mountains there twice, using GPS to track his campsites. He told me I had more knowledge than he did about his combat. All he knew is what he could see in front of him and what he heard from others. He was nearly killed by a mine explosion on May 23, 1945. Was shielded by a tree. I was easily able to find this location from the morning reports. He didn’t have the benefit of the National Archives.

      • Graham Baldwin

        Steven: that’s what I call dedication. You accomplished a great deal when you simultaneously satisfied your own historical curiosity and paid homage to your father.

    • Thank you, Graham. I suppose you are right that this project has given you a greater context regarding the trial than those who were involved in it. We have the benefit of reading and learning from multiple points of view while those involved only had their own senses. Still, we will never truly get to have the same visceral experience as those who were there.

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it.

  8. mrdonahue@aol.com

    Hi Dave, Following the Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators project each day as been an incredibly educational experience. The structure of every entry has been effective with your recaps of previously presented information, a rich variety of graphics, and the assortment of supplementary materials such as recollections and newspaper reports. My understanding of the trial, the evidence and the many people involved has been greatly enriched by reading your project daily over the last two months, and I thank you for your efforts. I also agree with you that your work is more useful as an interactive online project than a printed book. I have used many of your links, including the numerous footnotes, for additional readings and to learn of resources of which I was unfamiliar. Your decision to change the name of the website to Lincoln Conspirators is indeed appropriate as your site has evolved into a mature and major source of information about the Lincoln assassination. You deserve to be proud of what you have achieved and will continue to achieve. All the best,Rick Donahue

    • Rick,

      I’m so happy to read that you have been clicking on those hyperlinks and exploring further. That was a very important part of this whole thing to me. While I trust my ability to summarize, that still does not replace reading the testimony yourself, especially if you are ever doing research into one specific aspect of the trial. Thank you for making full use of this project and everything it offers and for your generous donation.

      Dave

  9. Craig

    I have throughly enjoyed this experience. Thank you for all of your hard work and attention to detail.

  10. Ted Schubel

    Loved this. Absolutely loved it.

  11. David Greene

    Outstanding contribution to the study of the Lincoln Assassination. I’ve been studying the subject for nearly 60 years and learned so much from your site. Much respect and appreciation!

    • David, I could tell by your first name that you are an exceptional person and you clearly have exquisite taste. 😉 I’m glad I’ve managed to teach you a few things you didn’t already know. Thank you again for your donation.
      Sincerely,
      A fellow David

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