Sarah Miller (Violet and Daisy) delves into the conflicting narratives concerning the guilt of Mary Surratt--the first woman ever executed by the United States government--in yet another absorbing work of nonfiction for teens.
After midnight on April 15, 1865, government officers "very violently" rang Mary Surratt's doorbell and demanded to search her boarding house for John Wilkes Booth and John Surratt. Earlier that evening, Booth had fired his "single-shot derringer pistol" at President Lincoln's head, then fled Ford's Theatre. Mary Surratt was an acquaintance of Booth and the mother of John Surratt, Booth's good friend and known "Confederate operative." Secretary of State William Seward had also been killed, and investigators realized another Booth associate had been preparing to assassinate Vice President Johnson. Detectives were deployed, and two days later "Mary Surratt and everyone else at 541 H Street" was arrested. Eight suspects faced a military tribunal, were tried as conspirators and charged with treason. While some of the men with whom Mary was on trial were certainly guilty, Mary's case, which turned on "knowledge" and "intent," remains inconclusive.
Hanged! uses transcripts, books, articles and archival documents to deliver a captivating look at the lead-up to Mary Surratt's trial, a feel for the day-to-day experiences of those attending and an unflinching look at what followed. Contradictory evidence presented by witnesses is endlessly fascinating and should convince readers that, regardless of the guilt or innocence of Mary Surratt, this dark episode constituted an egregious miscarriage of justice. --Lynn Becker, reviewer, blogger and children's book author