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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”
Chinatown in Northwest Washington in Washington, District of Columbia — The American Northeast (Mid-Atlantic)
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Mary Surratt's Boarding House

Civil War to Civil Rights

— Downtown Heritage Trail —

 
 
Marry Surratt's Boarding House Marker image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, August 19, 2008
1. Marry Surratt's Boarding House Marker
Inscription.  
"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 to the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theatre, just five blocks from here.
,br> During the Civil War, this modest brick house was occupied by Maryland-born widow, Mary Surratt, who took in boarders. Like many in this southern city, 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.
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Although there was never a formal meeting here, President Andrew Johnson reflected a popular belief in calling the house "the nest in which the egg was hatched."

Three days after the assassination, police 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 7, 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.)
 
Topics and series. This historical marker is listed in this topic list: War, US Civil. In addition, it is included in the Booth's Escape, the Downtown Heritage Trail, the Former U.S. Presidents: #16 Abraham Lincoln, and the Former U.S. Presidents: #17 Andrew Johnson series lists. A significant historical year for this entry is 1865.
 
Location. This marker has been replaced by another marker nearby. It was located near 38° 53.983′ N, 77° 1.223′ W. Marker was in Northwest Washington in Washington, District of
Mary Surratt's Boarding House and the previous marker e.5 image. Click for full size.
Photographed By Richard E. Miller, August 16, 2009
2. Mary Surratt's Boarding House and the previous marker e.5
Columbia. It was in Chinatown. Marker was on H Street Northwest just west of 6th Street Northwest (U.S. 1/50), on the right when traveling east. Touch for map. Marker was at or near this postal address: 604 H St NW, Washington DC 20004, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this location. "Surratt Boarding House" (here, next to this marker); a different marker also named Mary Surratt's Boarding House (here, next to this marker); Lin Han, noodle master (within shouting distance of this marker); Discover DC / Gallery Place - Chinatown (about 300 feet away, measured in a direct line); Friendship Archway (about 400 feet away); Chinatown (about 500 feet away); The Northern Baptist Convention (about 700 feet away); Man with Briefcase (about 700 feet away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Northwest Washington.
 
Related marker. Click here for another marker that is related to this marker. This marker has been replaced with the linked marker which has slightly different text.
 
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.
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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.) 

4. Booth's Escape Byway, Maryland Office of Tourism. (Submitted on August 19, 2019.)
 
Additional commentary.
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.

2. Previous text of the marker e.5, since changed to e.9 (see photo #3)

"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 city, 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 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.
    — Submitted June 8, 2018, by J. Makali Bruton of Accra, Ghana.

 
Additional keywords. Crime, criminals
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on January 30, 2023. It was originally submitted on March 1, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. This page has been viewed 10,285 times since then and 145 times this year. Last updated on March 2, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. It was the Marker of the Week July 5, 2015. Photos:   1. submitted on March 1, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland.   2. submitted on August 17, 2009, by Richard E. Miller of Oxon Hill, Maryland. • Kevin W. was the editor who published this page.

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Apr. 22, 2024