Lincoln's Assassins.
Their Trial and Execution.

By James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg. Photographs by Alexander Gardner.
Arena Editions, Santa Fe, 2001. In English. 164 pp., 300 four-color illustrations, 10x12".

Out of Print

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Publisher's Description

It was the crime of the nineteenth century, and it led to the most notorious trial in American history. On April 14, 1865, the president of the United States went to the theater. Five days earlier Lee had surrendered to Grant. The Civil War was over and the North held a jubilee. Cannons boomed, people sang in the streets of Washington, D.C., and bonfires flamed. On April 14 Abraham Lincoln sought relief from the exhilaration of victory by attending the play OurAmerican Cousin at Ford's Theatre. The rest of the story barely needs retelling. On that night John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln, and soon the murderer was hunted down and killed by federal troops.

The story of the Lincoln assassination does not end with his state funeral and the death of his killer. In Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution, James L. Swanson and Daniel R. Weinberg resurrect these events by presenting an unprecedented visual record of more than 200 contemporary photographs, documents, prints, woodcuts, newspapers, pamphlets, books, and artifacts, many hitherto unpublished. These rare materials, which took the authors decades to collect, evoke the popular culture of the time, record the origins of the Lincoln myth, take the reader into the courtroom and the cells of the accused, document the beginning of American photojournalism, and memorialize the fates of the eight accused conspirators.

Highlights include original albumen prints, cartes de visite, stereo cards, reward posters for the conspirators, the trial transcripts, the manuscript order for execution, and the seminal series of photographs by famed Civil War photographer Alexander Gardner of the conspirators in prison and during their execution. In the most important series of American historical photos ever made, Gardner, who obtained special permission from the War Department to record the scene, photographed the awaiting scaffold; the condemned on the scaffold as they listened to the sentence of death read aloud to them and as they were bound, hooded, and fitted with nooses; and the conspirators hanging in death. The authors have tracked down examples of all of Gardner's photos in the series, including the shocking and rarely seen image of the conspirators taken moments after the trap was sprung, while they were still alive, swinging through the air in their death struggle.

Lincoln's Assassins: Their Trial and Execution, is a unique work that will appeal to anyone interested in American history, Abraham Lincoln, the Civil War, law, crime, assassination, nineteenth-century photographic portraiture, and the history of American photojournalism. James L. Swanson, an author and attorney, writes about history, law, popular culture, photography, style, and the arts. His work has appeared in American Heritage, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Playboy, law journals, and other publications. His best-selling book, Bettie Page: The Life of a Pin-Up Legend, solved the mystery of the legendary icon who vanished without a trace in the 1950s, and was acclaimed as the ultimate book about Page's life and myth. He has studied and collected Lincoln assassination material since he was ten years old.

Daniel R. Weinberg is the owner of the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop, which has, for the past sixty years, authenticated, appraised, and sold manuscripts, books, pho tographs, and artworks related to Lincoln, the Civil War, and American history. Weinberg has helped build some of the major collections in the United States.


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