“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chinatown in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)

Mary Surratt's Boarding House

Civil War to Civil Rights


—Downtown Heritage Trail —

Marry Surratt's Boarding House Marker Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, August 19, 2008
1. Marry Surratt's Boarding House Marker
"The nest in which the egg was hatched."
President Andrew Johnson, April 1865.

The building at 604 H Street, today Golo’s Chinese Restaurant, is intimately connected with the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford’s Theater, just five blocks from here.

During the Civil War this modest brick house was occupied by a Maryland-born widow, Mary Surratt, who took in boarders. Like many in this Southern history, she was quietly sympathetic to the Confederacy, though living in the capital of the Union. She had a son in the Confederate Army. Another son, John, had become friends with the famous actor, John Wilkes Booth.

Booth, it turned out, had been plotting to capture President Lincoln for months; on April 14, 1865, the plot changed to murder. A member of a famous theatrical family, Booth was the matinee idol of his day. His dashing appearance caused women to swoon, and both men and women were taken with the handsome young man. He attracted co-conspirators, several of whom, including John Surratt, lived in this house. Booth himself visited several times. Although there was never a formal meeting here, President Andrew Johnson reflected a popular belief in calling it “the nest in which the egg was hatched.”

Three days after the assassination, police
Mary Surratt's Boarding House - 2009 Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, August 16, 2009
2. Mary Surratt's Boarding House - 2009
came to see Mrs. Surratt. By unlucky chance, Louis Powell, already identified as part of the plot, showed up at the time. The coincidence was enough for the authorities to implicate Mrs. Surratt. She was arrested, tried and hanged with three others at Fort McNair in Southwest Washington on July 5, 1865. Booth was shot in a Virginia tobacco shed, where he died. John Surratt escaped to Canada and went free. Mary Surratt’s guilt continues to be a subject of debate.
Erected by Cultural Tourism DC. (Marker Number e.5.)
Marker series. This marker is included in the Civil War to Civil Rights marker series.
Location. 38° 53.983′ N, 77° 1.223′ W. Marker is in Chinatown, District of Columbia, in Washington. Marker is on H Street, NW just west of 6th Street, NW (U.S. 1/50), on the right when traveling east. Click for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 604 H Street, NW, Washington DC 20004, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. "Surratt Boarding House" (here, next to this marker); Friendship Archway (about 400 feet away, measured in a direct line); Chinatown (about 500 feet away); The Daguerre Monument (approx.
Mary Surratt's Boarding House - photographed 1910 Photo, Click for full size
By Richard E. Miller, August 19, 2008
3. Mary Surratt's Boarding House - photographed 1910
detail from illustration on marker.
0.2 miles away); a different marker also named The Daguerre Monument (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Roots of Freedom and Equality (approx. 0.2 miles away); Patent Office Building (approx. 0.2 miles away); The National Building Museum (approx. 0.2 miles away). Click for a list of all markers in Chinatown.
More about this marker. In the upper portion of the marker is a portrait of Mary Surratt and a photo of the house captioned Mary Surratt’s boarding house stands to the left in this 1910 photograph; Surratt, right, was hanged as a Lincoln conspirator.

To the right is a collection of portraits of those implicated in the conspiracy. The Conspirators: Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, J. Wilkes Booth, [Lewis T. Powell] Payne, George A. Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Arnold, Michael O’Laughlen, Edmund Spangler, John Surratt.” A number of the Lincoln conspirators pictured here frequented the Surratt house. Though this image puts Surratt in the center, her guilt is still a subject of debate.

at the bottom is a wanted poster issued at the time.
War Department, Washington, D.C. , April 20, 1865
of our late beloved President ABRAHAM LINCOLN

Also see . . .
1. Lincoln Conspirators. (Submitted on March 2, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.)
2. Mary Surratt (1823-1865). Mary Surratt's grave site. Link includes a brief biography. (Submitted on March 2, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.) 

3. John Harrison Surratt, Jr. (1844-1916):. Mary's son and friend of Booth, known Confederate operative and international fugitive, extradited from Egypt to the U.S. in 1869 and released after mistrial in Federal civilian court - John Surratt admitted to conspiring in the plot to kidnap President Lincoln but not in his murder. (Submitted on March 2, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.) 
Additional comments.
1. First woman executed by the Federal government.
Mary Surratt was the first woman ever executed by the Federal government. "Chivalry" is said to have been the reason why a number of convicted female Confederate spies and criminals before her had not received the death penalty; and some believed that Mary was only put on trial as a means of forcing her son, John out of hiding. John could not be apprehended; and Mary was found guilty by the military court. She was sentenced to be "hanged by the neck 'til she be dead" for treason, conspiracy, and plotting murder on June 30, 1865. Because she and several of the other conspirators were Roman Catholics, it has also been speculated that the strong religious prejudice of the era contributed to rumors of a "Papist" conspiracy behind the assassination plot and the lack of Presidential clemency for Mary.
    — Submitted March 2, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.

Additional keywords. Crime, criminals
Categories. War, US Civil
Credits. This page originally submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 7,905 times since then. Last updated on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page was the Marker of the Week Photos:   1. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   3. submitted on , by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page. This page was last revised on June 16, 2016.
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