Cover image for The last Lincoln conspirator : John Surratt's flight from the gallows
The last Lincoln conspirator : John Surratt's flight from the gallows
Jampoler, Andrew C. A., 1942-
Publication Information:
Annapolis, Md. : Naval Institute Press, [2008]

Physical Description:
xii, 312 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm
General Note:
Map on endpaper.
"On the honor of a lady" -- "Flight is the criminal's inarticulate confession" -- "Such a wretch ought not to escape" -- "The escape of Watson savors of a prodigy" -- "I believe your name is Surratt" -- "Seduced by the instigation of the devil" -- "A new trial will doubtless follow" -- "President Johnson was a drunkard" -- "A verdict of acquittal" -- "Free as an innocent child."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
E457.5.S972 J36 2008 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Despite all that has been written about the April 1865 assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the story of John Surratt--the only conspirator who got away--remains untold and largely unknown. The capture and shooting of John Wilkes Booth twelve days after he shot Lincoln is a well-known and well-covered story. The fate of the eight other accomplices of Booth has also been widely written about. Four, including Surratt's mother, Mary, were convicted and hanged, and four were jailed. John Surratt alone managed to evade capture for twenty months and escape punishment once he was put on trial. In this tale of adventure and mystery, Andrew Jampoler tells what happened to that last conspirator, who after Booth's death became the most wanted man in America.

As the first full-length treatment of Surratt's escape, capture, and trial, the book provides fascinating details about his flight from New York, where he was on a Confederate spy mission scouting the huge Union prisoner of war camp in Elmira, through eastern Canada to a hideout in Liverpool, England, and on to France and the Papal States. His twenty-month flight, including nearly one year of enlisted service in the Papal Zouaves (the pope's army), is a remarkable adventure through mid-century Europe and locations unknown to most Americans of the time. Despite an uncontrollable tendency to babble to strangers about who he really was and what he had done, Surratt, frequently sheltered by sympathetic Roman Catholic priests, managed to stay at large during a flight that took him across three continents and over the Atlantic Ocean and half the Mediterranean Sea. Finally caught in Alexandria, Egypt, he was returned to Washington to stand trial in 1867.

Jampoler brings Surratt to life as he traces the wily young man's remarkable journey and the bitter legal proceedings against him that bizarrely led to his freedom. After his trial, Surratt lived out his life peacefully in Baltimore, marrying a relative of Francis Scott Key and dying at the age of seventy-two. The book's cast of characters includes a menagerie of the nineteenth century's most colourful personalities.

Author Notes

Andrew C. A Jampoler is also the author of the award-winning book Adak as well as Sailors in the Holy Land. After retiring from the U.S. Navy, he became a sales and marketing executive in the international aerospace industry.

Reviews 1

Library Journal Review

Jampoler (Sailors in the Holy Land) provides an engrossing account of the life and adventures of John Harrison Surratt, alleged Confederate agent and the youngest son of Mary Surratt, who was convicted and hanged as part of the conspiracy to assassinate President Lincoln. John Surratt, however, was the only alleged member of the Lincoln conspiracy who ultimately escaped the hangman's noose. The author traces how the wily Surratt eluded authorities for almost two years across three continents, masterfully uncovering details about his escape-to Canada, England, Vatican City, Italy, and Egypt, where he was captured in 1866. Jampoler situates Surratt's criminal trial in 1867 in a larger perspective by placing it in the context of domestic politics, international law, diplomacy, and papal authority. Surratt was tried for kidnapping, which ended in a mistrial and his release. Thereafter, he lived in Baltimore, married into the family of Francis Scott Key, and died at the age of 72. Jampoler's research is meticulous, and this account is written in a style that immediately engages the reader, making it a welcome addition to academic libraries and all collections of Lincoln assassination literature.-Gayla Koerting, Nebraska State History Soc., Lincoln (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrationsp. viii
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xi
Chapter 1 "On the honor of a lady"p. 3
Chapter 2 "Flight is the criminal's inarticulate confession"p. 45
Chapter 3 "Such a wretch ought not to escape"p. 70
Chapter 4 "The escape of Watson savors of a prodigy"p. 93
Chapter 5 "I believe your name is Surratt"p. 128
Chapter 6 "Seduced by the instigation of the devil"p. 156
Chapter 7 "A new trial will doubtless follow"p. 180
Chapter 8 "President Johnson was a drunkard"p. 219
Chapter 9 "A verdict of acquittal"p. 246
Chapter 10 "Free as an innocent child"p. 263
Notesp. 275
Bibliographyp. 293
Indexp. 303