Friday, September 18, 2009

Busy! Busy! Busy at the Surratt House!

The last couple of days at the Surratt House have been extremely busy, but have been educational and fun! Yesterday I officially became a volunteer docent (a person who gives tours of a site or museum) of the Surratt House! I was very excited, because then I knew I was going to give tours of the museum, and I was ready to meet new people from around the country!

Yesterday, I decided I needed to do some research about the Surratt House Museum, so I was ready for my tours today. I learned soo much.

  • Mary was born in 1823
  • She has 3 Children, Isaac Douglas, Elizabeth Susannah (Anna), and John Surratt Jr.
  • The Surratt House was built by her husband, John Surratt, Sr. in 1852.
  • The house was to serve as a tavern and a family home.
  • The house was also a post office, for the people who lived in the area!

The Surratts were Confederate Sympathizers during the Civil War, that means they support the South. Many people in Maryland supported the south because many people grew tobacco and relied on slaves to farm the tobacco. Slaves are people who work for no money, and do not have any rights, and are considered property of someone else.

Mary's husband John, Sr. dies in 1862, and leaves Mary in a lot of debt (about $70,000 in today's money!)

Mary brings her son John Surratt, Jr. Home from seminary school to run the business for her, and at that time he was a SPY for the Confederate Underground. The Confederate Underground was a spy network that traded weapons, supplies, and messages to help the Confederate Army. Eventually, John Jr. is caught and he loses his post office.

Mary needed to make more money, so she rents the Surratt Tavern to aman named John Lloyd and she moves to her boarding house in Washington D.C. (it is now a Chinese food restaurant called the "Wok and Roll".) A boarding house is like a hotel, where people pay money to stay the night, sometimes a week, sometimes months!

Mary's son John Jr. met a famous actor named John Wilkes Booth, who had this plan to kidnap President Abraham Lincoln!! John Surratt, Jr. wanted to help, so they start planning at Mary Surratt's boarding house for months! Then in March of 1865 they try to kidnap Abraham Lincoln, but the plot failed!

Not only did the plot fail, but a man named David Herold, was holding weapons, in a tavern near Surratt House, to use while escaping with the captured president. But, since the plot failed they needed to hide the weapons, so they bring them to the Surratt House!!
About a month later John Wilkes Booth discovers that Abraham Lincoln is going to see a play at Ford's Theater, so he has a secret meeting with all of the remaining men from the failed kidnapping. He tells one man to kill the Vice President Andrew Johnson, another man to kill the Secretary of State William Seward, and John Wilkes Booth was going to kill President Abraham Lincoln.

After the meeting he goes to Mary's boarding house, and he asks her to deliver a package to John Lloyd at the Surratt Tavern. So, Mary rides down to the house...And she gives the package to John Lloyd, and apparently delivers a message, "Get the shooting irons ready, they will be picked up tonight!"

Later that evening John Wilkes Booth shoots Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater. He will break his leg, but meets up with David Herold, and rides to the Surratt House.
The two men grab 1 of the 2 rifles hiding in the house, and then they go on a 12 day journey.
Eventually John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed.

Federal Troops (Like police during the Civil War) will arrest Mary Surratt, because they found evidence of secret meetings between men involved with the assassination, and other evidence (you will have to visit to find out the rest!).

Mary Surratt was put on trial and hanged for conspiring to assassinate Abraham Lincoln.

It is QUITE THE STORY! I already told too much!! But, I was just sooo excited about what I learned!! The interesting thing about the museum is they let you decide whether you think Mary Surratt is guilty or innocent. Hmmm....not sure what I think!

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