Monday, December 31, 2007

Atzerodt's Carriage Shop

Before getting into today's subject, I want to congratulate April: today she shipped to the University of Alabama Press our edited volume, The Archaeology of Institutional Life. April spearheaded the project, and she put huge amounts of time into collecting and editing the papers from a number of prominent archaeologists from the US, United Kingdom, and Australia. Well done April.

And now, for a few bits about someone who has as much in common with April as Mother Teresa has with Lucretia Borgia: our old friend George Andrew Atzerodt. I have been reading Michael Kauffman's American Brutus: John Wilkes Booth and the Lincoln Conspiracies (Random House, 2004).

Kauffman characterizes Atzerodt as an ill-kempt weasel, devoted to the pursuit of wealth, but never successful, a drunkard, and the sort of person much of middle class and upper class Washington society would have avoided. I suspect Port Tobacco society didn't welcome his company either. Scott caught some of the flavor of this miscreant in an earlier posting. Kauffman reports many of Atzerodt's movements in the months leading up to, and the days following, the assassination of President Lincoln, including Atzerodt's locking up the carriage shop in Port Tobacco. He sprinkles names of Charles countians throughout his narrative, including Reverend Lemuel Wilmer, Samuel Cox, and others familiar to area genealogists and historians. Kauffman also describes Atzerodt's aborted plan to assasinate Vice President Andrew Johnson.

American Brutus is a good read, provides as definitive an account of the conspiracy as we are likely to see, and recreates some of the atmosphere of Southern Maryland and Washington, DC, during the Civil War. While the project team does not anticipate making significant contributions to the conspiracy story, we do hope to provide more details about life in the region generally, and Port Tobacco specifically.



Scott said...

Lucretia Borgia's reputation is undeserved and unwarrented. Who is Mother Theresa?

Jim said...

I take it then that you think April is like Lucretia Borgia and better known than Mother Theresa?

April M. Beisaw said...

I know not of which you speak.

Scott said...

See above. She sure ain't Nanook of the North!

April M. Beisaw said...

No. I am not Nanook. Although I do have great respect for the Inuit and Eskimo people.