Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kate Clifford Larson

Historian Kate Clifford Larson is the author of The Assassin's Accomplice: Mary Surratt and the Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln. From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:

Q. Why don't more Americans know about the grand conspiracy to kill not only Abraham Lincoln but members of his cabinet too, even the vice president?

My suspicion is that the story of the conspiracy disappeared by the 1880s and certainly by the 1910s, partly because of this tremendous effort toward reunification of the North and South and the obliterating of the memory of why the Civil War happened in the first place. A lot of that just disappeared and that whole mythology of the Lost Cause took over: You can't keep talking about a conspiracy of Southerners who killed the president. It's better to have John Wilkes Booth as the lone gunman. It's easier to blame one crazy actor.

Q. That's in sharp contrast to how so many people refuse to believe that a lone gunman killed President Kennedy and flock to conspiracy theories. In regard to the murder of Lincoln, why should we take time to understand that conspiracy today?

It's really important that Americans know the real story rather than passing it over quickly and blaming it on John Wilkes Booth. There are real people who were involved. They did this for a reason, and it's all wrapped up in the causes of the Civil War.

Americans don't like to talk about why the Civil War happened in the first place. It's...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue