The Testimony Regarding Michael O’Laughlen

Over May and June of this year, I presented a day-by-day project documenting the Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators. To further support usability of this project for students and researchers, I am releasing individualized tables of the testimony given at the trial relating to each conspirator. Rather than having to look through the entirety of the trial to gain an understanding of the specific evidence against a single person, all of the relevant testimony regarding each conspirator has been organized into an easily accessible and hyperlinked table. I have previously released the testimony regarding Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, David Herold, George Atzerodt, Samuel Arnold and continue today with Michael O’Laughlen. The text that follows this paragraph contains the same information that will always be found on a standalone page of the trial project called Michael O’Laughlen Testimony and can be accessed by clicking the picture of O’Laughlen on The Trial homepage. The organized testimony regarding the other conspirators will be published over the next week.

The following table shows all of the testimony given at the Lincoln conspiracy trial concerning Michael O’Laughlen. Clicking on any of the witnesses’ names will take you to their corresponding testimony in the chronological Trial project.

The default arrangement of the witnesses in the table is by Relevant Testimony. This organizes the witnesses based on what specific aspect of the conspirator’s case was discussed. In the case of Michael O’Laughlen, I organized the testimony into four categories, labeled A – D. Descriptions of what each category means can be found after the table. The tabs on the bottom of the table allow you to view the witnesses arranged by Date and Alphabetically by last name.

Mobile users: Due to the smaller screen size on mobile devices, you will likely have to scroll left and right on the table to see the Relevant Testimony column.

Relevant Testimony descriptions:

A. Michael O’Laughlen’s Association with John Wilkes Booth & Others

The prosecution had a fairly easy time in connecting Michael O’Laughlen with John Wilkes Booth and some of the other conspirators. During the period of time when Booth was plotting to abduct Abraham Lincoln, O’Laughlen was seen conversing with Booth on multiple occasions. Booth also sent letters and telegrams to O’Laughlen when the conspirator was home in Baltimore. When Samuel Arnold’s confession was testified to, it included the fact that O’Laughlen was part of the conspiracy to kidnap Lincoln.

B. Michael O’Laughlen Targeted General Grant and Communicated with Booth

O’Laughlen had the bad luck of actually being in D.C. on the night preceding (and of) the assassination of Lincoln. The government brought forth witnesses who claimed that O’Laughlen had been seen outside of Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s home on the night of April 13. Stanton was entertaining Gen. U. S. Grant for the evening and O’Laughlen allegedly asked about the General before being asked to depart by those present. The prosecution also used the testimony of some of O’Laughlen’s friends in their attempt to prove that O’Laughlen was in contact with Booth on April 13 and 14.

C. Michael O’Laughlen was not Arrested at Home 

The weakest aspect of the prosecution’s case against O’Laughlen was the suggestion that he was evading arrest when he was arrested at the home of a friend rather than his own home. Walter Cox, O’Laughlen’s lawyer, showed that, in fact, O’Laughlen had arranged for his own surrender to authorities by way of his brother-in-law. He chose a different location than his home as he did not want his mother to become upset at the sight of his arrest in her home.

D. Michael O’Laughlen was Nowhere Near Sec. Stanton’s Home

Walter Cox had multiple witnesses who testified that O’Laughlen was nowhere near the home of Secretary Edwin Stanton on April 13 and could not have threatened Gen. Grant in anyway. There was nothing nefarious in O’Laughlen’s visit from Baltimore to D.C. on that day. He and his friends wanted to take part in the end of the war celebration that was going on. Many of O’Laughlen’s friends testified that the group drank and partied consistently on April 13 and a great deal on the 14. O’Laughlen was still with his merry band when the news of Lincoln’s assassination reached them, thus was not actively participating in the crime. While it was true that O’Laughlen had made efforts to see Booth on both the 13 and the 14, there was no evidence that either of these meetings were successful and were likely related to money Booth owed O’Laughlen’s brother.

For the closing argument in defense of Michael O’Laughlen please click here.

Please remember that the Relevant Testimony descriptor is not meant to be definitive. In many instances, a witness might cover material from more than one category. For example, O’Laughlen’s brother-in-law, Philip Maulsby, covered many different aspects of the government’s case against the conspirator. Still, the attempt has been made to determine the most applicable category for each witness’s overall testimony.

Categories: History | Tags: , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “The Testimony Regarding Michael O’Laughlen

  1. Great work! Thank you for your fidelity

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