The Reason Lincoln Had to Die
by Don Thomas

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After spending over four years researching the conspiracy behind Abraham Lincoln's assassination, I not only found out the true motive for his death, I also discovered why the men who plotted his murder had remained an unsolved mystery.

When Lincoln was shot he was sitting in a theater in the heart of Washington, D.C., surrounded by 1,600 people, many of whom were military and police officers, yet the assassin was still able to escape. Today, everyone is in agreement that John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln, but, unlike Lee Harvey Oswald (the assassin of John F. Kennedy), Booth was never suspected as being a lone gunman, and he was definitely part of a conspiracy. Mainstream history claims that the identities of the actual masterminds behind John Wilkes Booth can never be known. But I not only found out who these conspirators were, I learned how and why they persuaded Booth to kill Lincoln.

Many history writers still imply that John Wilkes Booth was a Confederate agent assigned by Jefferson Davis to assassinate Lincoln. However, early in my research I discovered that Jefferson Davis was proven to have played no role in the assassination. I naturally wondered (as anyone researching this story would) why anyone with that knowledge would want to leave the false impression that Booth was working as a Confederate agent.

My documented evidence will prove that John Wilkes Booth was persuaded by the United States Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, and not by anyone from the former Confederacy, to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Using a double agent, Secretary Stanton employed Booth and his associate, Lewis Powell, to kill both Lincoln and Secretary of State William Seward. James Donaldson was Stanton's double agent who had previously infiltrated Booth's conspiracy to kidnap the President, and there is a paper trail linking him to both Booth and Stanton. And for me, the biggest mystery about the entire conspiracy was: "why has James Donaldson remained in complete obscurity throughout all of mainstream history?"

Sometime during the day of the assassination Booth was assured that he would be provided unrestricted access to Lincoln, and it was also guaranteed that he would be allowed to escape from Washington. Only conspirators within the Federal government could have arranged such a guarantee. Booth believed that after he killed Lincoln, the President's political rivals would then be free to assume power. He was convinced that he would be brought back to Washington as a hero. Booth had always held Lincoln responsible for all the atrocities committed during the Civil War, and he was led to believe that Donaldson was an agent working for the Peace Democrats. This was a movement within the Democratic Party called "Copperheads," which had always opposed the President, and had been calling for an armistice to stop the fighting throughout Lincoln's first term.

By April, 1865, the Civil War had ended, but even after the war had been won, Lincoln was still in a years-long battle against a different group of political rivals over an issue as great as the war itself—the reunification of the states. These rivals were not the Democratic Copperheads, but a coalition within his own party. The faction most opposed to Lincoln's second term plan for bringing the Southern states back into the Union was a coalition referred to as "the Radicals," even by members of their own party. The politically moderate remainder of the party, who supported Lincoln, was called "conservatives." The fact we know today (but Booth never understood) is that if Lincoln had not been assassinated, his second term agenda would have been even more lenient for the Southern states than that of the disastrous administration of his successor, the Southern Democrat Andrew Johnson.

The Radicals' impeachment attack on President Johnson shared the same motive as their attacks on Lincoln and Seward. These same Radicals who plotted Lincoln's death turned their attack on Johnson to prevent him from implementing the same amnesty plans for the Southern states that Lincoln would have carried out, had he not been killed.

The true purpose for killing Lincoln was to prevent his reconstruction policy for a post-Civil War America, which would have diminished the Congressional power of the Radicals. Lincoln's assassination was plotted because of an argument over America's future, and not because of the phony alibi about revenge for America's past. On the day Lincoln was killed, April 14, 1865, the dispute between the states that resulted in a civil war had been finalized, but the remaining dispute about the fate of the Southern states (specifically their political and economic resources) was only between Lincoln and his rivals. The Radicals were elected to protect the economic and political powers in the industrial sector of the Northeastern states. This coalition of political rivals against the President also included many vengeful Union generals who wanted the United States government to hang the surviving Confederate leaders, not grant them amnesty. Furthermore, many wealthy Northeastern industrialists realized they would lose their congressional majority if the Southern state representatives returned to Congress. The assassination was certainly not the end result of a dispute between Lincoln and the desperate leftovers from an extinguished Confederacy. The defeated Confederate leaders were counting on Lincoln's protection from the Radical Congressmen who were campaigning to have them all executed.

It was Lincoln's plan to grant amnesty and restore political equity to the South. Several key industrialists would have preferred to render the Confederate states subjugated territories without Congressional authority, and without a say in the course of the expanding nation. Lincoln had been under a four-year political attack by this large coalition within his own party, and when the war ended their time was running out to prevail over the President. The coalition's political purpose was to take away the President's Executive powers. These Radicals were led by Supreme Court Justice Salmon Chase, Congressmen Charles Sumner and Thaddeus Stevens, and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.

During the war, Stanton had used the military's presence in key states to intimidate voters and influence elections for Congressional Radicals.[1] He and the Radicals were working to build a House majority to see that Lincoln's reunification plan would never be implemented. After the war suddenly ended, Stanton not only needed to remove Lincoln from office fast, he also had to conceal his crime by framing the assassination on Confederate agents and Southern sympathizers. Stanton's War Department spies had a ready-made list of zealot sympathizers in the capital city. John Wilkes Booth, who had previously plotted to kidnap Lincoln, would be the perfect executioner. Stanton could conceal his own involvement by sending to Booth his double agent James Donaldson, posing as a Southern Copperhead.

The idealistic Booth did not understand the political infighting within Lincoln's administration, and he was led to believe that a new Democrat administration under Johnson would welcome him back a hero after they assumed control from Lincoln. That explains why Booth made no arrangements to escape the country, nor bothered to find some safe sanctuary, or even pack a bag with clothes and ample money. Neither Booth nor any of his convicted accomplices had any getaway plans for after the assassination. Booth was then tracked down by a select military detachment, organized by Stanton's chief investigator, to assassinate him (far from Washington) so that his true accomplices would never be revealed.

The Radicals responsible for Lincoln's murder had emerged victorious from the chaos of a government at war with itself, and after the President was gone they gained complete control over the investigation of his murder and the conspiracy trial that followed. Today those men are portrayed as American icons, and the public has grown very complacent with the allegation that secessionists were responsible for Lincoln's death, even though it was discovered two years later by a Congressional committee that they were not.[2]

If the Confederate government was not responsible for plotting the successful killing of Lincoln, then the only other plausible suspects would have to be from a conspiracy within the United States government. Censorship and control over mainstream history has become the only way to conceal this shameful realization.

To prove my point that this history has been tampered with, I challenge the notion that everything there is to be told about the assassination has already been broadcasted or written. After years of researching this subject I found there are many discernible people and events missing from this history, and to understand the reason they have been omitted became my resolve. It is my conviction that our histories are not completely free from censorship, and continue to be sanitized.

To give just one example of this incomplete story, I used common logic to question how the most popular assassination theories assume that John Wilkes Booth preplanned to kill both Lincoln and General Grant in a crowded theater in the heart of Washington, D.C., using only a muzzle-loading, single shot Derringer, good only at very close range. After his first shot, what did Booth think would happen while he rammed more powder and another ball down the muzzle of his little gun? Did he expect General Grant (had he been there) to just sit patiently, waiting to be shot in the back of the head as well? And how did Booth plan to escape the theater, not to mention the Capital city, full of police and soldiers, with only a knife as a defensive weapon? If he did preplan an escape, never to be caught, why did he not make prior arrangements to leave the country? Booth ran from Washington with little money and neither a change of clothes nor even a hat on his head. The only arrangements he made on the morning prior to his attack on the President was, allegedly, to send some field glasses to Surrattsville Tavern to be picked up on his run to nowhere. I realized there had to be something more to this story, but it must have been (for some deceitful reason) left out.

The popular historical accounts about John Wilkes Booth and the assassination plot are nothing more than poorly constructed conspiracy theories. Despite evidence that tells a different story, so many facts are left out of this history, and so many events that could not have happened are presented as truth, and done so in scores of widely marketed movies, books and documentaries.

In the most popular version of Lincoln's assassination the public is asked to believe that some unknown Confederate agents were the ones who plotted the assassination with John Wilkes Booth. In that same breath it is also said that during the Civil War, the use spies and counterespionage was so undeveloped that the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, was completely unaware of a possible threat to Lincoln's life. This impression is suggested without regard or respect for the abundance of published books that detail the extensive spying and espionage that took place during the entire Civil War.

The Confederate capital city, as well as Washington, D.C., was full of spies and double agents. There are hordes of books and documents exposing the elaborate undercover war that was being waged throughout every state in both the North and South, including also Canada and Europe. One of the most noted spies during the Civil War was Elizabeth Van Lew, who reported straight from the Confederate White House to the War Department in Washington. She was even given assistance from several servants employed in the home of Jefferson Davis. Timothy Webster, F. W. E. Lohmann, John C. Babcock, Virginia B. Lomax, Pryce Lewis and John Scully are just a few well-known Union spies who reported to Washington from in or around Richmond. However, you will not read about those spies in this book. My purpose is not to repeat proven facts, but to reveal the spies that have been curiously edited from history.

This book presents a verifiable and obvious motive to kill Lincoln, told with painstaking notes and credits. More than just the 19 chapters, it is the Author's Notes section that exposes the in-depth story that cannot be falsified or altered. What the readers can learn from information in this book is only limited by their curiosity. The Notes and Appendices are a road map to as much of this history as one is interested and willing to discover.

I am a history purist, and I have put this book together without political affiliation or one-sided, biased opinion about the subject, and defend only the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln has been given saintly status in American ideology. We have carved his likeness on a mountaintop, and erected a colossal Greek temple in our national capital in his honor. Isn't it time we showed him the respect he truly deserves by holding the true conspirators behind his murder accountable for their crimes against him?

Due to the immense volume of events and characters surrounding Lincoln's assassination, it is impossible to tell the complete story in a single book. The story told for the past century and a half omits key events and characters, claiming the conspiracy to kill Lincoln will always remain a mystery. The prevailing assassination theories are just that—theories—ignoring the fact that Lincoln was at odds with the most powerful men in his party over the fate of post-Civil War America. It is time to put speculation aside and finally examine the hidden evidence, the ignored players, and The Reason Lincoln Had to Die.

Author's Notes & References

[1] Maryland Election Interference by the War Department

The motive for Lincoln’s assassination was to control the majority vote in Congress, and the great deal of dissension in Maryland against the Lincoln administration was because of the War Department’s efforts to maintain a Republican majority through military force.  The Union men called John Boyle a “guerrilla desperado” because he was fighting against the War Department’s interference in the polling districts over electing the Maryland administrators and representatives.  He was a northern Democrat accused of killing a Captain Thomas H. Watkins.  Watkins had arrested Boyle for horse theft, but Boyle escaped, then went to the home of Captain Watkins and shot him in the chest.
      An example of this political infighting over free elections in Maryland was expressed to the President by one of his cabinet members from Maryland, the Postmaster General Montgomery Blair.  At this time Blair was still a Maryland Republican.  On November 11, 1863, Lincoln responded to Blair’s note.  Included with the note was a letter from the defeated Maryland Democrat Congressman, John M. Crisfield, informing the President of military interference in the election for Congress in the Districts of Maryland.
      Under the direction from the Secretary of War, Stanton, General Robert C. Schenck had issued Order No. 53, which dispatched large bodies of troops to all voting places for the purpose of interfering with the free elections to Congress.
      Blair informed Lincoln that it was in his own county of Somerset where hundreds of fully armed cavalry soldiers, equipped with pistols, swords, and carbines, gathered on Tuesday before the polls were to open, as a show of intimidation and threats to the voters.  The cavalry then broke into squads of 5 to 30 soldiers in each voting place and took control of the elections.  In the district of Tangier an officer pulled from his pocket a yellow voting ticket that was for the Republican candidate, John A. J. Creswell, and announced that no other ticket would be allowed.  The Baltimore Clipper reported: “The purse and the sword, the Treasury of the United States and all patrons of the War Department, elected [Crestwell].”  The authors of Lincoln and the Patronage, Harry J. Carman and Reinhardt H. Luthin, said, “No person ever wished [Crestwell] to be a candidate but Henry Winter Davis and his friends” (pp. 232–33).  In the County of Hungry Neck every ticket was examined by the military before it was put into the ballot box, and in 176 Author’s Notes Princess Anne County dismounted cavalry soldiers surrounded the polling place and required each voter to file past the commanding officer, Captain Charles C. Moore of the 3rd Maryland cavalry.  Captain Moore then challenged the son of the defeated Democrat Congressman, John M. Crisfield, as he approached the polling box and questioned his loyalty to the Union.  Captain Moore then ordered the Judges of the elections to administer an oath of loyalty to the congressman’s son.
      The Judges complained of this conduct at a free election and they themselves were then arrested and sent under armed guard to answer in person to General Schenck at his headquarters.  The Judges were put in the guard house, awaiting transport to Baltimore, when General Lockwood intervened and had them released.
      The elections for that entire district had been broken up after only one vote had been cast. Blair complained that these proceedings occurred in every county, and witnesses had been prepared and sent to the Governor, and copies would be published in every County paper.  (Basler, Roy P., editor. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume VII. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1953, pp. 9–10)
      Lincoln responded to General Schenck’s Order No. 53, instructing Judge Advocate Joseph Holt to have Captain Charles C. Moore tried by a military commission. However, Captain Moore was acquitted of all charges by the War Department, and a great deal more dissension further separated the Union.  Unfortunately, Lincoln was viewed in Maryland as a tyrant, responsible for this violation of free elections.  (See also note 7 for Chapter 4: “The Radicals’ Campaign to Replace Lincoln and His Supporters”)
Kunhardt, Philip B., III, Kunhardt, Peter W. & Peter W. Kunhardt, Jr. Looking For Lincoln. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 294.
When Booth’s diary was examined by Congress two years after the assassination it was ruled that Jefferson Davis had no role in the assassination, directly contradicting the ruling of the conspiracy trial, and the former Confederate President was released from prison (see also Chapter 19)

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