. . .
CHAIRMAN: Gentlemen, is there anything further to come before the meeting?
MR. RANKIN: I'd like to say about the oath, if you will sign them when you have time and send them to me.
REP. BOGGS: Why don't we do that right now?
MR. RANKIN: All right, and I'll send them to Justice Reed.
(The Commission members pause to sign their oath.)
MR. DULLES: I've got a few extra copies of a book that I passed out to our Counsel. Did I give it to you, Mr. Chief Justice?
CHAIRMAN: I don't think so.
MR. DULLES: It's a book written about ten tears ago giving the background of seven attempts on the lives of the President.
CHAIRMAN: I have not seen it.
MR. DULLES: It's a fascinating book, but you'll find a pattern running through here that I think we'll find in this present case. I hate to give you a paperback, but that's all there is.
CHAIRMAN: Paperback is good enough. Thank you very much.
REP. BOGGS: This piece in the current issue of the New Republic raises some interesting questions. You might like to read it.
MR. MC CLOY: This is very interesting.
REP. BOGGS: It is.
CHAIRMAN: The New Republic?
REP. BOGGS: The December 21st issue.
MR. MC CLOY: Called "Seeds of Doubt, Questions About The Assassination."
REP. BOGGS: It quotes stories from papers all over the country.
REP. FORD: When was the book written?
MR. DULLES: 1952. The last one is the attack on Truman. There you have a plot, but these other cases are all habitual, going back to the attack on Jackson in 1835. I found it very interesting.
MR. MC CLOY: The Lincoln assassination was a plot.
MR. DULLES: Yes, but one man was so dominant that it almost wasn't a plot.
"President Kennedy's assassination was the work of magicians. It was a stage trick, complete with accessories and false mirrors, and when the curtain fell the actors, and even the scenery, disappeared.
But the magicians were not illusionists but professionals, artists in their way.
Abraham Lincoln too had been murdered by artists. Lincoln's election to the Presidency by the abolitionists had been the signal for the start of the Civil War.
He was the first President to proclaim a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Like Kennedy, he read Shakespeare, and he took long rides in the country, where he could dream far from the sounds of men. To a passing stranger he said, "If you have no friend, I will be your friend."
Even Karl Marx eulogized him.
Before the outbreak of the Civil War, there was a plot to kill Lincoln in Baltimore. He was warned by Pinkerton, however, and saved his life by crossing the town at night.
Afterwards, the New York Times wrote: "This plot was hatched by politicians, backed by bankers, and it was to be carried out by a group of adventurers."
On January 31, 1865, slavery was abolished.
On April 14, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington.
The "assassin," John Wilkes Booth, was trapped and shot in a barn.
Colonel Baker tore 18 pages out of a notebook he was carrying.
Nevertheless, there was a trial, and the prosecutor, Bingham, proved that Jefferson Davis, the President of the Confederacy, was behind the assassination.
Eight accomplices were condemned, and four of them were hanged.
Jacob Thompson, the representative of the Confederacy in Canada, had deposited a large sum of money in Booth's account at the Bank of Ontario in Montreal. But Booth and his accomplices were only the executants.
The men behind the plot went free. Lincoln was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson, who, on Christmas Day, 1886, proclaimed an amnesty and complete pardon.
The war that Lincoln had tried to avoid was over before his death. He was killed out of vengeance.
But it was an era when men killed for spite and made little attempt to hide it.
An Alabama newspaper had taken up a collection to cover the cost of the assassination, and a Confederate officer had volunteered for the job.
In those days of the Old Frontier, there were volunteers for all sorts of causes. Men then were driven by their emotions.
Today's killers have less emotions and stronger motives. William Manchester remarks that "some motives lie beyond the rules of evidence. Like the shadow, they are elusive."
These motives, nevertheless, were strong enough to persuade Chief Justice Earl Warren to place "the good of the country " ahead of justice.
"The good of the country" is always invoked with regard to an act contrary to the laws and justice of the nation. "
by "James Hepburn"
Frontiers Press, 1968