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"April 15th, 1864" Major Henry W. Smith Signed Document He Personally Captured Lewis Payne and Mrs. Surratt Two of the Hunted Abraham Lincoln Assassination Conspirators
HENRY W. SMITH (1836-1869). Major Henry W. Smith gained notoriety in 1865 for helping to Capture Lewis Payne and Mrs. Surratt, who were subsequently tried and hanged for involvement in the Assassination of President Abraham Lincoln.
April 15th, 1864-Dated Civil War Era, Partially-Printed Document Signed, "Henry W. Smith," at Washington (D.C.), legal Document Granting Power of Attorney, Signed Exactly One Year to the Day President Abraham Lincoln was Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, Officially Attested and Notarized on April 18, 1865, Fine to Very Fine.This original Document was quite remarkably Signed, "Henry W. Smith" dated on April 15th, 1864, at Washington (D.C.), being the very day that President Abraham Lincoln died. Major Smith and his wife are granting Power of Attorney to Colonel Joseph R. Smith, regarding certain of their property holdings in the State of Michigan.

This rare signed document remains in overall whole, complete and very collectable condition. This Partially-Printed Power of Attorney Form is completed in manuscript, with a verification form dated on "April 18, 1865" being attached along its bottom. Some expected tone, edge wear and creasing from use. The two official blue 50 US Internal Revenue Postage Stamps are intact and attached. There are some deft archivally sealed splits along the main horizontal folds. This Document measures approximately 8.5" wide x 6.5" tall (about 8.75" x 12.25" including verification form).

This Document boldly Signed "Henry W. Smith," (who personally captured two of the Abraham Lincoln Assassination Conspirators, Mary Surratt and Lewis Payne). Ironically, this document was Signed Exactly One Year to the Day, before Lincoln was Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. President Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre on the night of April 14th, 1865, and died the following morning on April 15th, 1865. According to the official Assasination Report regarding this action, which states, in part:

"I was in charge of the party that took charge of Mrs. Surratt's house, 541 H Street, on the night of the 17th of April (1865), and arrested Mrs. Surratt, Miss Surratt, Miss Fitzpatrick, and Miss Jenkins. When I went up the steps, and rang the bell of the house, Mrs. Surratt came to the window, and said, 'Is that you, Mr. Kirby?' The reply was that it was not Mr. Kirby, and to open the door. She opened the door, and I asked, 'Are you Mrs. Surratt?' She said, 'I am the widow of John H. Surratt.' And I added, 'The mother of John H. Surratt, Jr.?' She replied, 'I am.' I then said, 'I come to arrest you and all in your house, and take you for examination to General Augur's Headquarters.' No inquiry whatever was made as to the cause of the arrest.

While we were there, [Lewis] Payne came to the house. I questioned him in regard to his occupation, and what business he had at the house that time of night. He stated that he was a laborer, and had come there to dig a gutter at the request of Mrs. Surratt. I went to the parlor door, and said, 'Mrs. Surratt, will you step [out] here a minute?' She came out, and I asked her, 'Do you know this man, and did you hire him to come here and dig a gutter for you?' She answered, raising her right hand, 'Before God, sir, I do not know this man, and have never seen him, and I did not hire him to dig a gutter for me.'

Payne said nothing. I then placed him under arrest, and told him he was so suspicious a character that I should send him to Colonel Wells, at General Augur's headquarters, for further examination. Payne was standing in full view of Mrs. Surratt, and within three paces of her, when she denied knowing him." [Steers, Edward Jr.; Testimony of Col. Henry W. Smith; The Trial: The Assassination of President Lincoln and the Trial of the Conspirators].

On the evening of April 17, 1865, two days after Lincoln died, Major Smith arrested Mrs. Mary Surratt and Lewis Thornton Powell (alias Lewis Paine or Payne) at Mrs. Surratt's boarding house. John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators had met at her house at 541 H Street in Washington, D.C. to devise their murderous plots against Lincoln, Vice President Andrew Johnson, Secretary of State William H. Seward and General Ulysses S. Grant. After a trial by a military commission, Payne, who had seriously wounded Seward in his assassination attempt, was hanged with Surratt on July 7, 1865. Other conspirators hanged that day were David Herold (who had escaped with Booth) and George Atzerodt, who was supposed to kill Johnson.

We have located one other example of this rare signature on an unimportant document, dated in 1868, "H.W. Smith" as Lieutenant 3rd U.S. Cavalry Commanding, Carlisle Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas having been offered at a price of $4,999 in Fine condition. This historic signature is indeed quite rare and missing in most Abraham Lincoln and Lincoln Assassination related collections. An extraordinary, exceedingly rare historic find that is certainly a very worthy acquisition for any specialized Abraham Lincoln collection.
Mary Surratt (1823-1865) was convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. Sentenced to death, she was the first woman executed in the United States and was hanged. She was the mother of John Surratt, also alleged to have been involved in the conspiracy.

Lewis Payne (also known as Lewis Powell) (1844-1865) attempted unsuccessfully to assassinate U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward on the same night Lincoln was assassinated, and along with Mary Surratt, was one of four people hanged for the Lincoln assassination conspiracy.

Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., as the Civil War was drawing to a close, just six days after the surrender of General Robert E. Lee and the Army of Northern Virginia to General Ulysses S. Grant and Union forces. The assassination was planned and carried out by John Wilkes Booth as part of a larger conspiracy in an effort to rally the remaining Confederate troops to continue fighting. Lincoln was attending a stage performance of "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater on the evening of April 14th, 1865, with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, Major Henry R. Rathbone, and his fiancee, Clara Harris.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN was the first American president to be Assassinated, though in 1835 an attempt had been made to assassinate Andrew Jackson. Lincoln's assassin, actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth, had also plotted with fellow conspirators, Lewis Powell and George Atzerodt, to kill Secretary of State William H. Seward and Vice President Andrew Johnson respectively. Although Booth succeeded in killing Lincoln, the larger plot failed. Seward was attacked by Powell, but recovered from his wounds, and Johnson's would-be assassin fled Washington, D.C. upon losing his nerve.

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