Exhibitions/ Art Object

[Broadside for the Capture of John Wilkes Booth, John Surratt, and David Herold]

Unknown (American)
Alexander Gardner (American, Glasgow, Scotland 1821–1882 Washington, D.C.)
Photography Studio:
Silsbee, Case & Company (American, active Boston)
Photography Studio:
April 20, 1865
Ink on paper with three albumen silver prints from glass negatives
Sheet: 60.5 x 31.3 cm (23 13/16 x 12 5/16 in.) Each photograph: 8.6 x 5.4 cm (3 3/8 x 2 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 852
On the night of April 14, 1865, just five days after Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln at the Ford Theatre in Washington, D.C. Within twenty-four hours, Secret Service director Colonel Lafayette Baker had already acquired photographs of Booth and two of his accomplices. Booth's photograph was secured by a standard police search of the actor's room at the National Hotel; a photograph of John Surratt, a suspect in the plot to kill Secretary of State William Seward, was obtained from his mother, Mary (soon to be indicted as a fellow conspirator), and David Herold's photograph was found in a search of his mother's carte-de-visite album. The three photographs were taken to Alexander Gardner's studio for immediate reproduction. This bill was issued on April 20, the first such broadside in America illustrated with photographs tipped onto the sheet.
The descriptions of the alleged conspirators combined with their photographic portraits proved invaluable to the militia. Six days after the poster was released Booth and Herold were recognized by a division of the 16th New York Cavalry. The commanding officer, Lieutenant Edward Doherty, demanded their unconditional surrender when he cornered the two men in a barn near Port Royal, Virginia. Herold complied; Booth refused. Two Secret Service detectives accompanying the cavalry, then set fire to the barn. Booth was shot as he attempted to escape; he died three hours later. After a military trial Herold was hanged on July 7 at the Old Arsenal Prison in Washington, D.C.
Surratt escaped to England via Canada, eventually settling in Rome. Two years later a former schoolmate from Maryland recognized Surratt, then a member of the Papal Guard, and he was returned to Washington to stand trial. In September 1868 the charges against him were nol-prossed after the trial ended in a hung jury. Surratt retired to Maryland, worked as a clerk, and lived until 1916.
Inscription: Printed broadside with heading: "War Dept., Washington, April 20, 1865. $100,000 Reward! The Murderer of our late beloved President, Abraham Lincoln, Is Still at Large"...
(sold, Riba-Mobley Auctions, Inc., October 26, 1985, Lot 174); Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York

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