The assassinations of Presidents Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, almost one hundred years apart, have had such a profound impact on the American psyche that some still grapple to make sense of these tragic events decades after the facts.
Soon after the death of President Kennedy, curious parallels or coincidences between his demise and that of Lincoln began circulating, such as the fact that both Presidents were elected in ’60, or that a Vice-President named Johnson succeeded both. These and some of the sixteen or so main coincidences generally circulated have been thoroughly discussed elsewhere, so I won’t linger on these.
However, there is a major “coincidence” that may nowadays be overlooked, and this is the fact that both assassinations were subject to several conspiracy theories that have never been satisfactorily elucidated, and in all probability never will be.
As with Kennedy’s assassination, several questions have remained unanswered surrounding Lincoln’s assassination. Author Leroy Hayman mentioned some of these in his now out of print book, The Death Of Lincoln, published in 1968 – a copy of which I was lucky enough to get my hands on.
Here are some of these unanswered questions, as taken from Hayman’s book:
- President Lincoln had asked the physically powerful Major Thomas T. Eckert of the War Department Telegraph Office to accompany him to Ford’s Theatre on thefatal night of Friday, April 14, 1865. The President’s request was refused because Eckert was supposed to have had other “important duties”. But Eckert that same night left the office early and went home to bed. Why?
- John F. Parker, Lincoln’s assigned guard that night, criminally neglected his duty, yet he was never tried or punished. Why?
- No real effort was made to track down John Surratt until long after the others were tried and convicted. Why?
- John Lloyd and Louis Weichmann were involved in passing arms and whiskey to the fleeing Booth and Herold. They were never punished. Why?
- Samuel Cox, Thomas Jones, William J. Jett, and others who knowingly helped Booth and Herold on their flight were questioned and allowed to go free. Why?
- Yet Dr. Samuel Mudd, whose aid to the fugitives was no greater than that of the others, was punished severely. Why?
As Hayman concludes, “These disturbing questions, like similar ones asked about the Kennedy assassination, in all likelihood will never be answered. There will always be a mystery surrounding the death of Abraham Lincoln – a mystery on its way to becoming a myth”.
This was written in 1968, and since then the same has become true regarding the death of John F. Kennedy, for the endless enjoyment of conspiracy theorists everywhere. Which reminds me, “the fact that you’re paranoid doesn’t mean that no one’s after you…”
 According to Wikipedia, Lincoln’s bodyguard, John Parker, left Ford’s Theater during intermission to join Lincoln’s coachman for drinks in the Star Saloon next door.
 According to Wikipedia, John Harrison Surratt, Jr. avoided arrest immediately after the assassination by fleeing the country. He served briefly as a Papal Zouave before his arrest and extradition. By the time he returned to the United States the statute of limitations had expired on most of the potential charges and he was not convicted.