Why Abraham Lincoln did not have a better personal protective detail ?

Apr 2014
317
Istanbul Turkey
#1
Lincoln who led Union during four year long Civil War ,was not only a designated target as Head of State during wartime (and capital of Union so close to front line in Virginia) , there were several attempts on his life not to mention numerous threats to kill him before he was murdered eventually in Ford Theater by an amateur actor and his co conspirators. Considering all this we he did not have any better protective detail as head of state during wartime ? His assasin after killing him actually jumped in stage , hailed in triumph then escaped. Confederate conspirators even tried to kill vice president (I think) and secretary of state same night and almost suceeded. (not Secretary of War though who was the driving force in Union war effort) Again no close security for them during wartime. Why no close survelllience for known suspects of Confederate syphatisers , agents and operatives esp. in Washington and Maryland before assasination ?

I am also suprised there are no conspiracy theories about this like Kennedy assasination , it seemed almost too easy to commit the act and get away with it.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,677
#2
A few corrections. Booth was a professional actor who made $10,000 / year in 19th century money, almost like a movie star. It is known to be conspiracy. 8 people were convicted as conspirators, and 4 hanged.

Booth and some of the other conspirators had ties to the Confederate secret service. There are various theories about a wider conspiracy, Confederate, radical Republican, British, Catholic, bankers, etc.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,675
Las Vegas, NV USA
#3
I am also suprised there are no conspiracy theories about this like Kennedy assasination , it seemed almost too easy to commit the act and get away with it.
There is at least one. It has some plausibility but no real evidence that I know of. War Secretary Edwin Stanton was a key member of Lincoln's inner cabinet. He made no secrete of his disdain for his boss. He apparently regarded Lincoln as a country bumpkin who took up time in cabinet meetings telling bad jokes. He was a very serious man with no sense of humor, but regarded as indispensable in managing the war effort. He was very opposed to Lincoln's postwar plans. He considered the leaders of the "rebellion" to be guilty of treason. Since he was in charge of the President's security, some believe that he had some evidence of a plot kill Lincoln and either didn't act on it or possibly left Lincoln more exposed than he might have been at Ford Theater.

Stanton remained War Secretary under Johnson who obviously was not happy with him. Johnson waited for some time, but eventually fired him which led to his own impeachment and trial in the Senate. He was acquitted by one vote.
 

Chlodio

Ad Honorem
Aug 2016
3,379
Dispargum
#4
Considering all this we he did not have any better protective detail as head of state during wartime ?
Politicians always dislike their protective details. They are men of the people and enjoy, even thrive off of, close personal contact with the masses. Every lesson has to be learned a first time and with Lincoln, there had never previously been a successful presidential assassination. A better question would be, 'Why, after three successful presidential assassinations, was Kennedy so unprotected? The answer is in my first two sentences.
 

stevev

Ad Honorem
Apr 2017
2,675
Las Vegas, NV USA
#5
Misinformation and Conspiracy Theories about the Lincoln Assassination

"But those conspiracy theories did not stop in the frenzied days following the assassination. Perhaps the most lasting of the conspiracy theories was the Eisenschiml thesis. Otto Eisenschiml was not a historian. He was an Austrian-born chemist who emigrated to the U.S. in 1901 and became an oil company executive in Chicago. After nearly a decade researching Lincoln’s assassination, he published Why Was Lincoln Murdered in 1937, claiming that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton masterminded Lincoln’s assassination.
Otto Eisenschiml falsely alleged that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton (pictured) masterminded the conspiracy to kill President Lincoln. Courtesy Library of Congress Prints & Photographs, LC-DIG-cwpbh-00958.
As “proof,” Eisenschiml offered several circumstantial piec........"
 
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Likes: Futurist

Nemowork

Ad Honorem
Jan 2011
8,232
South of the barcodes
#6
Lincoln who led Union during four year long Civil War ,was not only a designated target as Head of State during wartime (and capital of Union so close to front line in Virginia) , there were several attempts on his life not to mention numerous threats to kill him before he was murdered eventually in Ford Theater by an amateur actor and his co conspirators. Considering all this we he did not have any better protective detail as head of state during wartime ? His assasin after killing him actually jumped in stage , hailed in triumph then escaped. Confederate conspirators even tried to kill vice president (I think) and secretary of state same night and almost suceeded. (not Secretary of War though who was the driving force in Union war effort) Again no close security for them during wartime. Why no close survelllience for known suspects of Confederate syphatisers , agents and operatives esp. in Washington and Maryland before assasination ?

I am also suprised there are no conspiracy theories about this like Kennedy assasination , it seemed almost too easy to commit the act and get away with it.
He did, supplied by the Pinkerton agency and usually a military aide and bodyguards when needed. thats decent security by the standards of the day. Queen Victoria didnt have a bodyguard after all!

He was inside a relatively secure building amongst trusted people and in a closed booth.

The war was over, there was no point in shooting Lincoln, the Confederacy had lost.

Booth managed to get close because he was a known and trusted person, he was famous. Its like going to a white house dinner and Brad Pitt pulls out a pistol and shoots the President.
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
5,677
#7
There is evidence that Booth was an agent of the Confederate Secret Service and that Booth and James Surratt had earlier been involved in Confederate plots to kidnap Lincoln. Lincoln was effective at running the war, so it would make sense that the Confederacy would want to remove him. It doesn't make sense that it was a Conferate operation though, because there was no longer a Confederate government at that point. It also seems like the last thing the Confederate leadership would want to do at the end of the war, as they must have been concerned about their own safety and what would happen to them if captured.
 
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Likes: Scaeva
Jun 2017
2,552
Connecticut
#8
Lincoln who led Union during four year long Civil War ,was not only a designated target as Head of State during wartime (and capital of Union so close to front line in Virginia) , there were several attempts on his life not to mention numerous threats to kill him before he was murdered eventually in Ford Theater by an amateur actor and his co conspirators. Considering all this we he did not have any better protective detail as head of state during wartime ? His assasin after killing him actually jumped in stage , hailed in triumph then escaped. Confederate conspirators even tried to kill vice president (I think) and secretary of state same night and almost suceeded. (not Secretary of War though who was the driving force in Union war effort) Again no close security for them during wartime. Why no close survelllience for known suspects of Confederate syphatisers , agents and operatives esp. in Washington and Maryland before assasination ?

I am also suprised there are no conspiracy theories about this like Kennedy assasination , it seemed almost too easy to commit the act and get away with it.
There a ton of conspiracy theories about the Kennedy assassination, if it's not the most famous conspiracy of all time, it probably is the most widely believed(I ironically happen to not believe this one). The place where Kennedy was shot is a museum(unlike the other assassination sites, including Lincoln's which doesn't have the element of potential mystery to it) and tourist destination particularly for this reason.

19th century America, the 19th century world really was very different than it was today,a President hadn't been assassinated and the only one who had, Andrew Jackson was a homicidal maniac who beat up his assassin after the gun misfired twice. This just wasn't something there was a tradition of happening in the United States, didn't really have a tradition of unsanctioned peacetime violence at this point. The guy who shot Garfield had previously been to the White House to ask for political appointments and the average citizen had considerably better access to public leaders, and people badgering the President(or more likely someone else in their place but because they were busy not because they saw it as a security threat) was a bit of a tradition. Part of why William Henry Harrison died is because he was so under the weather from loyal Whig politicans who wanted a job(after having been locked out of the Federal Civil Service for in many cases there entire adult lives).

Anyhow John Wilkes Booth was not your typical assassin, he was a celebrity and even today those are allowed to get quite close to the President(Lincoln himself had asked to meet with Booth as he had attended Booth plays). Booth also had unusual knowledge of Ford's theater and was an expected presence there(it was where he received his mail at the time of the assassination) and while he had given up on the assassination/kidnapping Lincoln going to a play at the mailing address of a man who had actively been trying to kill/kidnap him is still an incredible stroke of bad luck on his part. Lincoln ironically was the most secure President ever assassinated at the time of his death. He was in a private box that no one except Booth would have known to gotten to and his seat also happened to be right in front of the door allowing Booth to just kill him(if he and the officer he was with were sitting in the opposite spots, Booth would likely have failed) without warning and flee, while the subsequently killed or almost killed Presidents were all shot out in the open while giving speeches, handshakes or driving in an open vehicle all while having more extensive security details.

But yes it was a conspiracy they almost killed Seward(the assassin stabbed him several times before Seward's family were able to intervene), while the people who were going to kill Johnson got cold feet. Seward was the most high profile person in the government besides Lincoln. He had been the frontrunner for the 1860 Republican nomination(and before Lincoln became President he was probably less known than Seward) and was Secretary of State which in the early US was the position you gave the most high profile member of your government, the Presidential types (and the previous administration briefly revived this tradition and it's not entirely dead in either party even if it sometimes doesn't work out this way but traditionally state has been given to someone who could have been President themselves). So Seward would be a natural target perhaps more so than Johnson who's actions after avoiding assassination would likely have been approved by Booth.
 
Likes: Scaeva
Sep 2013
793
Chattanooga, TN
#9
Lincoln who led Union during four year long Civil War ,was not only a designated target as Head of State during wartime (and capital of Union so close to front line in Virginia) , there were several attempts on his life not to mention numerous threats to kill him before he was murdered eventually in Ford Theater by an amateur actor and his co conspirators.
The man who killed President Lincoln, John Wilkes Booth, was a professional actor. Booth was a major celebrity throughout the United States for his work as an actor.

Considering all this we he did not have any better protective detail as head of state during wartime ? His assasin after killing him actually jumped in stage , hailed in triumph then escaped.
Lincoln told the Secret Service to take the night off on the night that Lincoln was murdered. If the Secret Service was present, the Secret Service might have prevented the assassination.


Confederate conspirators even tried to kill vice president (I think) and secretary of state same night and almost suceeded. (not Secretary of War though who was the driving force in Union war effort) Again no close security for them during wartime. Why no close survelllience for known suspects of Confederate syphatisers , agents and operatives esp. in Washington and Maryland before assasination ?
John Wilkes Booth and Booth's accomplices were not sponsored in any way by the Confederate government. I wouldn't call Booth a Confederate conspirator. Booth was a Confederate apologist though.

I am also suprised there are no conspiracy theories about this like Kennedy assasination , it seemed almost too easy to commit the act and get away with it.
Neither Booth nor Booth's accomplices got away with assassinating Lincoln.
 
Sep 2013
793
Chattanooga, TN
#10
Politicians always dislike their protective details. They are men of the people and enjoy, even thrive off of, close personal contact with the masses. Every lesson has to be learned a first time and with Lincoln, there had never previously been a successful presidential assassination. A better question would be, 'Why, after three successful presidential assassinations, was Kennedy so unprotected? The answer is in my first two sentences.
What should Kennedy have done, live in a bullet proof vault 24/7?
 

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