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His Name is Still Mudd




In a recent biography of Samuel Mudd the author concluded his study with the following observation:


This gentle man lived his life well, marred only by some enthusiasms of early adulthood and finally by an unexpected entanglement with an egotistical zealot who had committed a horrendous crime.

This gentle treatment of Dr. Mudd in which his role in Booth's conspiracy is reduced to an "unexpected entanglement" is consistent with the perception of Mudd for the past one hundred and thirty-plus years. Knowing what the members of the military tribunal knew at the time of the sentencing, life imprisonment for Dr. Mudd was appropriate. Knowing what historians know today, the tribunal would certainly have voted the death sentence for Mudd.

While Mudd's crucial help to Booth did not prevent Booth's ultimate apprehension and death, it did prolong it.