Ask the Filmmakers – Round 4

We asked you on Facebook to send us any questions you had for the filmmakers of THE CONSPIRATOR. Here are some more of the answers! Keep asking questions, as we’ll be answering more in the coming weeks.


Justin Lamberson asked…
There were several conspirators (like Samuel Mudd) that were not executed. Why was discussion of their sentences not included in the tribunal deliberation scene?

The screenwriter (and director) wanted the story to focus Mary Surratt. Samuel Mudd is seen in a few scenes and referred to by name in one. But it would have been too lengthy to include the sentences for all the conspirators. In 1936, director John Ford made a film about Samuel Mudd, “Prisoner of Shark Island” though I cannot attest to its historical accuracy.

Chris Colfesh asked…
What was the major different between civil courts and military tribunals in 1865?

That is a very good question for one of our consulting historians, Fred Borch, who knows all these details. I recommend going to our web site to ask him:

http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/brig-gen-joseph-holt—his-role-as-chief-prosecutor-in-the-military-tribunal/#comments

Adam Guntmacher (and several others) asked…
Whatever happened to Mary Surratt’s third child, Isaac?

Most historians agree that Isaac was not around during the period of time that was covered in the film. Just after the inauguration of Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Surratt left his family for Texas, where he enrolled in the Confederate States Army. He eventually returned to Baltimore and died there in 1907.

The Filmmakers

About The Filmmakers

Founded on the belief that real life is often more compelling than fiction, The American Film Company produces feature films about incredible, true stories from America's past. Central to the company's filmmaking will be prominent historians, assuring that each production remains true to the history from which it is drawn.
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11 Responses to Ask the Filmmakers – Round 4

  1. Jon Boyd says:

    I was very interested in the “ticket to Richmond” that apparently belonged to Surratt boarder/prosecution witness Louis Weichmann- I had never heard that before- When did he go to Richmond? Has this been proven/documented? Is there more evidence against Weichmann?

  2. Laurie Verge says:

    Isaac Douglas Surratt went West shortly after the inauguration of Lincoln and joined a Texas cavalry unit, fighting throughout the war. After his discharge, he returned to the Washington area in September of 1865, over two months after his mother’s execution. When he got to Baltimore, he was arrested because there was a rumor going around that his Confederate buddies had put together a purse to send him back to assassinate Andrew Johnson. Of course, there was no evidence to support this, so he went free.

    Along with Anna, he tried desperately to pay off his family’s debts and to save both the boardinghouse in D.C. and the country home in Surrattsville, Maryland (now Clinton and now the Surratt House Museum). All attempts failed.

    When brother John was returned to the U.S. to stand trial, both siblings supported him and attended the trial(s). Shortly thereafter, John took off for South America — maybe on vacation, but more likely to visit with Confederate friends who had gone into self-exile there. John was not present at the wedding of his sister, Anna, in 1869. Isaac gave her away. Neither was John present at the re-interment of his mother when the bodies were released to respective families. Isaac was present.

    All of the children eventually moved to the Baltimore area. Isaac never married, but John did. His wife was actually the second cousin of Francis Scott Key. I have often wondered what her family thought when the notorious Mr. Surratt married into it!

    Both Isaac and John worked for the Old Bay Steam Packet Company, a steamship company which worked out of Baltimore and down the Chesapeake Bay. Anna died in 1904, Isaac in 1907, and John in 1916.

    • ChaleeBusy says:

      This is so exciting, I tried tnlaikg my pastor into getting involved and he wouldn’t pull the trigger. I fully plan on forcing him to view some of these messages and planting the seeds for our congregation to do this next year.(I only assume that this will happen next year) Sometimes it takes time to move people out of a tradition and into something like this. I really appreciate all the forward thinking leaders and churches involved! I can’t wait to tune in and soak up what God will be saying to our churches through these dynamic leaders.

  3. Christine Christensen says:

    I’d love to post a question on FB, but I can’t seem to find the correct place to post it. Anybody know how I can ask my question?

    • The Filmmakers The Filmmakers says:

      Hi Christine; thanks for asking. We look at all the different Facebook threads each time we pull questions, so as to not miss any good ones.

      But as a matter of fact, we just posted a request for questions today. Check out the latest update here:

      http://www.facebook.com/TheConspirator

      • Marsh says:

        I was very interested in the tciekt to Richmond that apparently belonged to Surratt boarder/prosecution witness Louis Weichmann- I had never heard that before- When did he go to Richmond? Has this been proven/documented? Is there more evidence against Weichmann?

  4. Eric Tober says:

    While my wife and I enjoyed the film , and especially the concerns of injustice any time people’s passions turn to revenge instead of following the constitution and laws,
    I was troubled by some cheap shots taken at the Bible
    via the “various interpretations” comment which was not really relevant nor necessary to the story line -but may have revealed filmmakers own prejudices.

    • Laurie Verge says:

      I do not remember that line nor the context in which it occurred, but could it possibly have been used to signify the intolerance and disregard that the American culture held for Catholics during that era? It was the age of Know-Nothings and distrust of Catholics, the foreign born, etc. Nativism was rampant.

      There was even a theory postulated later that the Catholic Church was behind the assassination.

      This is just my interpretation of such a term based on the history of the time, not intended slurs by the film’s producers.

  5. barb langer says:

    I am interested in knowing where the prison was that held Mary Surratt. The Capitol building can be seen in the distance. Was it a real prison at the time? Does the building still exist?

    • Laurie Verge says:

      Mary Surratt was first taken to the Carroll Annex of the Old Capitol Prison. That was a large building that had served as the U.S. Capitol after the British burned Washington in the War of 1812. The annex was a series of rowhouses that were utilized as the Civil War swelled the number of political prisoners and spies sent to the Old Capitol. The last vestiges of that building were demolished in the 1930s to make room for today’s Supreme Court Building at First and A Streets adjacent to the Capitol.

      After two weeks, Mrs. Surratt was then transferred to the old DC Penitentiary on the grounds of the Washington Arsenal in southwest Washington. Fort Lesley J. McNair now occupies this area. One portion of the old penitentiary now remains. Tennis courts now occupy the site of the gallows of July 7, 1865.

      • Aleksandar says:

        Isaac Douglas Surratt went West shortly after the iuonguratian of Lincoln and joined a Texas cavalry unit, fighting throughout the war. After his discharge, he returned to the Washington area in September of 1865, over two months after his mother’s execution. When he got to Baltimore, he was arrested because there was a rumor going around that his Confederate buddies had put together a purse to send him back to assassinate Andrew Johnson. Of course, there was no evidence to support this, so he went free.Along with Anna, he tried desperately to pay off his family’s debts and to save both the boardinghouse in D.C. and the country home in Surrattsville, Maryland (now Clinton and now the Surratt House Museum). All attempts failed.When brother John was returned to the U.S. to stand trial, both siblings supported him and attended the trial(s). Shortly thereafter, John took off for South America maybe on vacation, but more likely to visit with Confederate friends who had gone into self-exile there. John was not present at the wedding of his sister, Anna, in 1869. Isaac gave her away. Neither was John present at the re-interment of his mother when the bodies were released to respective families. Isaac was present.All of the children eventually moved to the Baltimore area. Isaac never married, but John did. His wife was actually the second cousin of Francis Scott Key. I have often wondered what her family thought when the notorious Mr. Surratt married into it!Both Isaac and John worked for the Old Bay Steam Packet Company, a steamship company which worked out of Baltimore and down the Chesapeake Bay. Anna died in 1904, Isaac in 1907, and John in 1916.

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