The American Film Co. - Discussion Comments Feed - Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/ The American Film Co. - Discussion Comments Feed - Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense en-us Fri, 28 Apr 2017 15:04:19 -0400 info@americanfilmco.com Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-777 In my opinion, Fredrick Aiken did the best he could to defend Mary Surrat especially with his theme: Don't allow your desire for revenge cloud your judgement. But I have a theory that, When the innkeeper John Loyd testified that Mary brought the french field glasses and carbine rifles out to the tavern saying "get the Shooting irons ready". I'm thinking that was she an accomplice to Booth? Because she did that on Booth's behalf while Booth was stalking Lincoln in Washington City and what Booth told her what to do during that conversation with Mary at her Boardinghouse days before the assassination. Sun, 19 Aug 2012 02:08:29 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-777 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-776 In my opinion, Fredrick Akien did the best he could to defend Mary Surrat especially with his theme: Don't allow your desire for revenge cloud your judgement. But I have a theory that, When the innkeeper John Loyd testified that Mary brought the french field glasses and carbine rifles out to the tavern saying "get the Shooting irons ready". I'm thinking that was she an accomplice to Booth? Because she did that on Booth's behalf while Booth was stalking Lincoln in Washington City and what Booth told her what to do during that conversation with Mary at her Boardinghouse days before the assassination. Sun, 19 Aug 2012 02:08:07 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-776 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-691 Like I said a few times back, I think that Mr. Aiken was a great man, James McAvoy does a wonderful job bringing him to life, McAvoy is one of my favorite actors, and I think he shows what kind of pressure Aiken was under. Tue, 11 Oct 2011 19:10:15 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-691 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-687 This movie was great. The acting and the story line. It scares me that the government can at will take away your right when they feel it necessary. This is not only a story of the past, but of the future. Every American should watch this movie and learn that people should not fear their government. The government should fear their people. I leave you with two quotes I like.... "Inter arma enim silent leges" is a Latin phrase meaning In times of war, the law falls silent Those that do not learn from the past are domed to repeat it. Tue, 11 Oct 2011 17:10:49 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-687 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-684 Fredrick Aiken I feel was a good man, he did what he could to save Mary. (James McAvoy does a brilliant job playing him in The Conspirator.) Mon, 10 Oct 2011 22:10:07 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-684 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-659 whats needed is a new movie about gettesburg Thu, 15 Sep 2011 14:09:30 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-659 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-472 this should be a movie that should scream "Oscar". If any american director can create a great movie look no further than Redford. I would love to see this film soon. Lincoln was our 16th President. This looks like a first rate film. Fri, 15 Apr 2011 17:04:29 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-472 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-377 In regards to the question as to why Reverdy Johnson stepped aside in the defense of Mary Surratt, the dean of assassination studies, Dr. James O. Hall, once told me that Johnson was summoned to defend her without having the opportunity to review all facts. He commented that he would conduct the defense unless he found circumstances to indicate that she was guilty. When he, himself, became the target of the court regarding his wartime questioning of the validity of oral oaths of allegiance and his vociferous objection to the military trying a civilian, he retreated from appearing in the courtroom for fear that he was hurting her cause. He turned the case over to Aiken and Clampitt (who were not his law partners as many thought/still think) and worked behind the scenes. The average citizen, however, took his disappearance to mean that he thought Mrs. Surratt was guilty. Sun, 27 Mar 2011 21:03:45 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-377 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-368 Robin's question / comment is a good one. I don't know how many of the commissioners were "Republicans" or "Democrats" -- and I am not at all sure about the political views of the defense attorneys either. Does someone else know?? That said, I think you/we need to be careful with these labels for a few reasons. First of all, the Republican Party was brand new -- and so any affiliation with it would have been unusual at this point. Republicans in 1860 were pro-Union and opposed to the expansion of slavery. But they were not necessarily interested in freeing the slaves (and neither was Lincoln). In fact, abolitionists in 1860 were considered to be radicals and extremists by the vast majority of white people in America. Second, while the Democrats in 1864 were anti-war (and pro-negotiated peace), there had been a sizeable number of pro-Union Democrats in 1860. But all these points aside, Robin's point about Mary having an attorney with the "right" political sympathies is on-point -- which is why Reverdy Johnson says in THE CONSPIRATOR that Fred Aiken's prior service as a Union officer will help her defense. Thu, 24 Mar 2011 12:03:02 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-368 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-363 One question I haven't seen addressed is this: just how politically motivated do you believe the tribunal was? It appears (from brief searches I've done) that most of the conspirators' defense attorneys were Democrats. Aiken and Clampitt were so well known in Democratic circles that they co-authored the Democrats response to Lincoln's assassination. Among the statements they wrote is this: " Resolved, that in order to vindicate the violated law, we pledge ourselves to use our utmost endeavors to ferret out and bring to merited punishment the guilty perpetrators of this most unnatural crime," I wonder what their thoughts were days later when they were asked to help in Mary's defense? Were most of the tribunal judges Republican? Were Democrats the only ones willing to defend the Conspirators, and was the underlying thread at the trial the same Democrat vs. Republican rhetoric that tore the country apart in the 1860 election, and during the war? Do you think that if Mary had Republican attorneys she may have had a better chance at avoiding the gallows? Thu, 24 Mar 2011 00:03:25 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-363 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-355 Kissable25 is right. It isn't at all clear that Aiken believed Surratt was not involved in the conspiracy. And I think it is correct to say that Aiken thought---as did every man on the commission panel -- that Mary had to know what was going on in her boarding house and what her son was doing. Of course, a defense counsel's personal belief in a client's innocence isn't required -- all that is required is an adequate and zealous defense. My colleague, Kate Larson, thinks Aiken did a poor job. I think he did the best he could -- and my bottom line is that even the best lawyer in Washington City in 1865 couldn't have saved Mary from the hangman's noose. Stanton and Holt were determined to see her dead. Wed, 23 Mar 2011 09:03:26 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-355 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-354 In re Reverdy Johnson. Somewhat of a mystery here (in my opinion). Reverdy was right on the money in contesting the jurisdiction of the military commission to try Mary Surratt. But there was no way that Gen. Hunter and the other commissioners were going to rule that they lacked jurisdiction to try the conspirators. So why Reverdy withdrew is an open question. He may have been so insulted by the questions about this loyalty that he did not want to participate. He may have been unwilling to defend Mary because he thought she was guilty. But he certainly abandoned here to Aiken and Clampit and a weaker defense. Wed, 23 Mar 2011 09:03:21 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-354 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-353 I'd like to stick with talking about Aiken's defense of Mary --- but -- in light of your many comments on the conspiracy --- It is true that the government (esp. Stanton and Holt) believed that the conspiracy was much larger than the eight defendants who were tried. I don't think you can say that they were "low level" conspirators, however. What we really have here is a trial of "trigger-pullers" or "doers" rather than "planners." The government thought that Booth and the eight defendants were part of a larger conspiracy that included Jeff Davis. But the proof adduced at trial for this larger conspiracy was quite weak. However, it is a good question as to why "only" seven men and one woman were put on trial? Why not 10 or 12? There were other conspirators out there. Wed, 23 Mar 2011 09:03:26 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-353 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-352 The Federal Government had to produce guilty persons in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a President had never before been murdered in this country. But the guilty persons produced were very low echelon, with the exception of Booth who actually shot the President. All the others were only Booth's confederates. J. Powell (Payne), D. Herold, G. Atzerodt, S. Arnold, M. O'Laughlen, E. Spangler, J Surratt and of course Mary Surratt were nothing more than Booth's accomplices. Dr. Samuel Mudd was a part of the larger conspiracy. I realize I am straying from the discussion, but I feel it's important for all concerned to know about the real conspiracy. Let's not forget George Nicholas Sanders, one of the higher up conspirators. These upper echelon conspirators went to the top of the Confederate Government. Up to and including Jefferson Davis. I hope we can see discussions concerning this in the future. Tue, 22 Mar 2011 02:03:44 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-352 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-350 I like this article, however I don't think you can say he adequately defended her. It sounds as though he didn't believe her at all and went out of his way to bring people to the stand who would tilt the scales too far in the other direction. No woman is as pious and perfect as he wanted to portray her. She was the owner and in charge of the boarding house and was sure to hear things just in her daily activities. Men aren't very good at keeping things to themselves, especially things that make them seem like more of a man in their eyes. Mon, 21 Mar 2011 23:03:45 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-350 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-349 Well said Mr. Borch! I agree with your sentiments on Reverdy Johnson. Do you think his weak defense was actually rooted in a deep conviction of his legal interpretation or was he unwilling to get too involved/could not be bothered to properly prepare. I do recall that although he did not present his own closing defense, it took something like two hours to read. I also agree that Aiken and Clampit deserve much praise for their attempts at clemency. Great discussion! Mon, 21 Mar 2011 19:03:40 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-349 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-348 I don't think scapegoating is the correct word. The country wanted someone to pay for Lincoln's assassination. Booth's death, days later, did nothing to satisfy anyone because it was so private (and there are those who believe it was not Booth in the barn). The Government wanted to give the people someone (s) to hate. It was the time, it was too close to the event. Bear in mind that when John Surratt was finally tried for the crime, he was acquitted with the same evidence that damned his mother. Mon, 21 Mar 2011 16:03:20 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-348 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-346 JFrederick, that's sort of how I see it. I think my colleague and friend Kate Larson is being too hard on Aiken and Clampitt. Yes, they were inexperienced. Yes, they made mistakes at trial (presented the wrong witnesses, asked the wrong questions). But Reverdy Johnson abandoned them and the military commission process itself was an insurmountable obstacle -- my point is that even an experienced lawyer would not have been able to save Mary from the hangman -- and if Reverdy Johnson had remained at the trial, the result would still have been death for Mary. Aiken's spirited defense, however, did result in a clemency petition and his courage in getting the writ of habeaus corpus from Judge Wiley almost saved Mary. Thu, 17 Mar 2011 16:03:42 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-346 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-344 I recently read "The Assassin's Accomplice" in preparation for this movie so I could have a command of the facts. Larson grades Aiken's defense as mediocre to downright poor. A large portion of Aiken's case rested in the claim that Surratt's eyesight was poor and thus did not recognize Lewis Powell when he stumbled into investigators at her house on April 17. Despite this claim, Aiken called witnesses to the stand stating her eye sight was fine. In addition, Aiken called to the stand priests and associates who barely knew Surratt and could not confirm her loyalty to the Union. The fact that few "true" friends or family came to her defense in court is a testament to the fact that she was not close to many and may even be another point alluding to her likely guilt. Aiken and co-defender John Clampitt were inexperienced in the world of legal matters but you nevertheless have to give them an A for effort given their situation. Reverdy Johnson, Surratt's other defender in court, argued that a military tribunal judging civilians was unconstitutional. This was not an unsound interpretation of law, but it was Johnson's only point in defending Surratt. No wonder Aiken and Clampitt did a less than stellar job when their team leader abandoned them in the first week of the trial! The defense shot themselves in the foot on more than one occasion. That said, their efforts to attempt to get her a last minute pardon were most honorable. Wed, 16 Mar 2011 22:03:26 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-344 Frederick Aiken: A Proper Defense http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-343 I certainly agree with vic_tom01 that we have an imperfect system of justice and that innocent people are sometimes convicted. And yes, the American public was thirsty for revenge. But was Mary innocent? There is plenty of evidence that she was part of a conspiracy to harm the president ... but did she know about Booth's plan to kill Abraham Lincoln? The government thought so ... Wed, 16 Mar 2011 21:03:10 -0400 http://www.theamericanfilmcompany.com/talk/discussion/frederick-aiken-a-proper-defense/#comment-343