The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977)

Some of you may remember this classic docudrama, The Lincoln Conspiracy, which poses the theory that President Lincoln’s Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, was behind a plot to kill him at Ford’s Theater. His motive was his opposition to Lincoln’s adamant refusal to allow the North to punish the South for its actions. The “official” assassination goes awry when another would-be assassin, the second-rate actor John Wilkes Booth, learns of the plot and decides to beat the government to the punch, for reasons of his own. In the movie, it is Stanton’s assassin who is mistakenly captured and killed, rather than Booth.  Click through for all 9-part episodes.

5 comments… add one
  • AndyinTexas Jan 28, 2010 @ 18:40

    That's an awesome trip down memory lane. Sunn Classic also produced such memorable “documentaries” as In Search of Noah's Ark and The Bermuda Triangle. They were such pioneers of the genre, producing what we now call direct-to-video shows before anyone ever heard that term.

  • robwick Jan 27, 2010 @ 3:02

    Even though I've studied Lincoln's assassination for almost 30 years, and I knew this existed, I've never seen it before. Besides the whole thing being a bunch of tripe, there are some things which stood out to me, given that I've spent the last 14 years researching the life of Everton Conger.

    1. Conger was a civilian at the time he was sent south by Lafayette Baker. He had no business, and would not have been allowed, to wear a uniform. Also, Conger had a beard at the time. He definitely did not have a paunch like the actor portraying him. He weighed about 120 pounds soaking wet and was only 5'7″. Of course, it was part of Otto Eisenschiml's “theory” that Conger shot Booth/Boyd on Stanton's orders. By the way, my avatar is Conger when he was in his 50s.

    2. Whoever cast these people never saw their photos. John Dehner looked nothing like Lafayette Baker, nor did Byron Baker look anything like the man who played him. Didn't the casting director realize that people back then had beards. The only one who looked anything like the actor was Stanton. Oh, and Mary Surratt looked like a grandmother.

    3. In spite of what Ray Neff has written since Balsiger and Sellier's book came out, no one has ever been able to find or show indisputable proof that the Potters ever existed.

    4. I love how Willie Jett “recognized” Booth. Not bad for a soldier who had been out in the field and who likely had never watched a play before. Also, when the soldiers bang on Richard Garrett's front door, am I the only one who thought it looked like an electric lamp turning on? Plus, it's interesting how Richard Garrett was left alone when the soldiers went to the barn. As for the barn, the place where Booth was shot was a tobacco barn, not the type of barn shown there. There were no spaces between the slats.

    5. Finally, it was Conger who set fire to the barn, not Edward Doherty or Byron Baker. Conger did so, I'm convinced, because he was in terrible pain from the wounds he received during the war. He was shot in 1862 and then again 1864 and lived with the pain for the rest of his life.

    This is interesting for what it says about how some chose to remember this event, but what bothers me is how many people watched this and thought it was a true story.

  • Heather Michon Jan 26, 2010 @ 21:36

    Now THAT is a blast from the past. Lincoln's assassination was the first thing that got me interested int he Civil War, when I was int he 6th grade and read one of those little Scholastic books on the subject. Even my adolescent brain could figure out that this particular conspiracy theory was a bunch of 100%, unvarnished hooey. Still, I had this on an old Betamax tape for years. Will have to re-watch and see how hokey it looks after 20+ years.

  • Brookdalian Jan 26, 2010 @ 3:40


    I do remember the series–it was a gas!! And I know you know–but it's Edwin, not Edward, Stanton. Thanks for the great work on the blog–it's among my first reads every morning!

    Larry Hartzell

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