To that end, the Confederate government conceived a plan to kidnap Abraham Lincoln in order to force the Union to free Confederate prisoners of war. While the kidnapping never came to fruition, questions remain as to whether the Confederate government was involved in Lincoln’s assassination.1 It is fairly evident that Davis and key members of his government had conceived of, and funded, some initiative aimed at striking the Union beyond the battlefield. The Confederacy established an espionage department in 1864, which conducted covert operations from its base in Canada, helping plan and carry out the raid on St. Albans, Vermont.2 Many claims have been made about the independent nature of the conspiracy that orchestrated the Lincoln assassination. Skeptics insist that such a conspiracy likely began as a kidnapping plot involving the Confederate secret service and prominent members of the Confederate government. My hypothesis is that an intricately planned conspiracy involving Confederate agents in the U.S. and Canada, which ended in the assassination of the president, was carried out with the knowledge and involvement of Confederate officials. It is possible that the assassination itself was simply an unplanned outcome of a kidnapping plot that had gone undetected by federal officials. Either Booth, secret service officers or the Confederate high command (or all three) at some point decided that the only remaining viable, practicable option was assassination. As Lincoln himself told journalist Noah Brooks in 1863, “I long ago made up my mind that if anybody wants to kill me, he will do it. If I wore a shirt of mail and kept myself surrounded by a bodyguard, it would be all the same. There are a thousand ways of getting at a man if it is desirable that he should be killed.”3 My research will address the origins of the kidnapping plan; the extent to which the Confederate government was responsible; and the exact nature of the decision to alter the plan from a kidnapping to assassination. III. Definition of Terms “Chaos Theory: The Tortuous Pursuit of Motive and Means in the Lincoln Assassination.” Key terms/headings in this proposal include: No direct evidence - Lack of clear evidence linking Richmond to the conspiracy The Booth factor – The likely influence of Booth in altering the original plan Of like mind – Federal authorities convinced Davis, other high officials guilty Scapegoats…and more questions – Hysteria obscures true motive, investigations Fact over fiction – Preponderance of practical evidence points to Richmond IV. Background The conspiracy’s original goal had been to kidnap Lincoln and carry him to a secure location. The conspirators pursued that goal with a specific outcome in mind: attack the Federal government at its source, free the prisoners of war and enable the Confederacy to fight on.4 In his summary argument in the conspiracy trial, government Judge Advocate John Bingham claimed that a paper found in Booth’s possession contained a secret cipher, used by Davis himself, to communicate with his agents5 Bingham asked, “Of what use was it to (Booth) if he was not in confederation with Davis?”6 Bingham went on to conclude that “my own conviction is that Jefferson Davis is as clearly proven guilty of this conspiracy as John Wilkes Booth, by whose hand
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A Research Project Proposal Submitted by Name Student Number Submitted To: Date I. Tentative Title I propose to title this paper “Chaos Theory: The Tortuous Pursuit of Motive and Means in the Lincoln Assassination” II. Research Problem With the surrender of Lee’s army, a rising chorus of voices from inside and outside the Confederate government called for a radical change of tactics…
This is only natural considering that Lincoln was a well renowned figure and above all President of the United States1. Though some of the theories have been dismissed over the years as baseless, there are those that still intrigue historians today. Among the many questions that still hang is whether there was confederate government complicity in the assassination2.
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Others favored a direct strike at the heart of the federal government, a bold and destabilizing gesture aimed at bringing the Union to its knees in one bold stroke. To that end, the Confederate government conceived a plan to kidnap Abraham
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6 pages (1500 words)Research Proposal
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