His Name was Mudd

Today is the opening day of “Lincoln.” As Robin said, I would have to do this post because I was entirely more excited about the movie coming out – of course, she also mentioned that due to my Dad looking like Lincoln that it was even more of a must that I write this post.

Anyways, sadly, I will not be able to go see the movie tonight because I will be at a rehearsal dinner. So, I decided that I would just get everyone else pumped up about the movie tonight.

Last week, I told you about the book “Team of Rivals.” The movie was based off of that book. So this week, I want to recommend “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell for any other Lincoln buffs. Sarah Vowell’s book has a tremendous amount of information about the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the conspirators of his murder. My personal favorite reference in her book pertains to a historian that wrote a book titled “His Name is still Mudd.” Vowell wrote that this was a keen little way to refer to the age old saying “his name is Mudd.”  Of course, it was just neat that she was able to point that out and it gave her book a nice bit of humor. A couple of things that I learned from the book:

  •  Lincoln’s brain was removed/examined shortly after he died. We now consider Lincoln to be one of our more eloquent and intellectual presidents, but interestingly the examiners weighed his brain and found that he did not have any outstanding attributes that could indicate higher intelligence.
  • John Wilkes Booth’s remains are apparently in Florida.
  • Dr. Mudd served his sentence for conspiracy at Fort Jefferson at Dry Tortugas National Park, which is located in the Keys. If the name “Dry Tortugas National Park” does not immediately cause the image of hell, hurricane, or desert like conditions, well… maybe you would enjoy it better than Mudd did. Mudd wrote that his imprisonment at Fort Jefferson was absolutely miserable and he did not know if he could make it in those conditions.
  • Vowell travelled to Washington D.C to visit some of the key players in the Lincoln conspirator trial and some of the ‘consultants’ in his cabinet. She mentions that she walked into a house that was government owned and asked the lady at the desk (federal employee or volunteer we could assume) if the house she was in was the house of Major Henry Rathbone (Henry and his fiancée were in the same box as Lincoln when he was shot). The lady replied, “who is that?” Sarah Vowell had to educate someone, that worked in a house that had historical value, of an important person that once lived there.  History fail?

If you are going to see Lincoln tonight, you will only see a glimpse of his time in office with more of a focus on politics. If you want to know some interesting details about his assassination and the conspirators,  go buy “Assassination Vacation” by Sarah Vowell. It is a definite add to the bookshelf!


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