Friday, April 2, 2010

Newsletter Review--Surratt Courier

The Surratt Courier. The Surratt Society. Volume XXXV No. 4. April 2010.

This issues starts off as always with the President's Message and a listing of upcoming events.

The main article this month is titled The Old Capitol Prison by Joan L. Chaconas. The article is adapted from a speech given at the 2009 Surratt Society Conference.

Interestingly enough the building was originally built in 1815 to house Congress after the British burned the Capitol in 1814. I find this funny since many believe all in Congress should be in jail. Just my odd humor I guess. Anyway...The building then became a school and was then used as a hotel before sitting empty for a decade. The government confiscated the building in 1861 and turned it into a feared prison. Later the building was torn down to make way for the Supreme Court Building.

A wide variety of prisoners from muggers to counterfeiters to northern soldiers to "prisoners of state", both men and women, Union and Confederate, were housed here in various rooms. Most were housed on the first floor but if you were deemed a political prisoner you went to Room 16 on the second floor. Accomodations were poor with cramped quarters, vermin filled bedding, and bad food. The article also provides a listing or persons associated with the Lincoln murder conspiracy who were held there.

Overal an interesting article. A future issue is to contain an article on William Wood who was the superintendent of the Old Capitol Prison. I'm looking forward to it.

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