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EIU Teaching with Primary Sources

Follow the Evidence: The Trial of the Lincoln Conspirators

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Lewis Powell (Payne)

Evidence | Prosecution | Defense | Verdict
April 14, 1865 | The Conspirators

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On April 14, 1865, Lewis Powell arrived at Secretary of State William Seward's home. Seward had been recuperating from a carriage accident and Powell claimed he had a delivery of medicine for Secretary Seward.  Seward's son, Frederick, denied Powell entrance into his father's bedroom but Powell was determined to finish his mission and beat Frederick Seward severely, entered William Seward's bedroom and slashed his throat twice. As Powell was departing, Seward's other son Augustus struggled with Powell before he broke free and escaped from the house where David Herold was waiting with their horses. Lewis Powell often used aliases one of which was Lewis Payne. Lewis Powell was charged with conspiracy and the attempted assassination of Secretary of State William Seward.


Washington Navy Yard, D.C. Lewis Payne,
the conspirator who attacked Secretary
Seward, standing in overcoat and hat.
Library of Congress/Prints and Photographs



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