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Caveat venditor — Caveat emptor — Sic Semper Tyrannus — seven words in Latin that cover the whole story.

Photograph of John Wilkes Booth from the Library of Congress archive.

With the exception of crimes of passion most murders revolve around money – no matter how noble the reasons to rid the planet of this, that, or the other villain there is always somebody who stands to profit by it. This account gives plausible reasons for the murder of Lincoln and weaves several of the disparate groups into a united front to achieve that goal. Part of the problem is that it would have been more difficult to find people who did not want to murder the man than those who did. Our modern vision of him as a whited sepulchre in no way conforms to the contemporary vision of him in either the north or the South. There seems to be a necessary simplicity of motive in complex events required by American naiveté and this seems to be coupled with the national parlor game of  “conspiracy theory.” Lincoln’s death is no different, this is as plausible and explanation as any and if you would seek others we can recommend the following starting point.

Dark union : the secret web of the profiteers, politicians, and Booth conspirators that led to Lincoln’s death    New York : Wiley, 2003   Leonard F. Guttridge, Ray A. Neff Conspiracies United States History 19th century, Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 Assassination Hardcover. 1st. ed. and printing. v, 282 p. : ill. ; 25 cm. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG   

April 14, 1865. The President of the Untied States. Abraham Lincoln, is seated in the staff box at Ford’s Theatre enjoying a performance of Our American Cousin when he is shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln dies hours later in a house across the street. Booth manages to escape but is shot to death twelve days later by a cavalry sergeant. By conventional account, the story of Lincoln’s assassination is fairly cut and dry. But the truth is far more complex and mysterious than has ever been revealed.

Dark Union reveals for the first time how the plot to assassinate Abraham Lincoln was woven through an even more complex scheme to pay for and profit from the Union war effort by trading in Confederate cotton — a scheme approved by Lincoln himself.

Based largely on previously unseen, long-lost archival material at Indiana State University’s Cunningham Memorial Library  Dark Union reveals how in order to head off national bankruptcy and finance the Union war effort, Lincoln sanctioned clandestine trade deals between northern investors and owners of Southern cotton. But in early 1865. Lincoln began to vacillate in regards to trading with the enemy, which — along the imminent end of the hostilities — threatened the huge profits at stake.

Simultaneously, the extremists of Lincoln’s party were enraged bv his forgiving attitude towards the South — and they plotted to remove him from office. These ele­ments merged into an unholy alliance, with holdouts from the crumbling Confederacy scheming to kidnap Lincoln… and an unstable actor named John Wilkes Booth with connec­tions on every side taking matters into his own hands.

The remarkable source material ranges from a rogues’ gallery of unpublished photos to deci­phered intelligence locked within a nineteenth century military tome to the tape-recorded memories of a centenarian whose enterprising father—unmentioned by any history book— played a pivotal role. It also provides additional evidence that John Wilkes Booth was, as some have asserted, not killed soon after the assassina­tion; rather, he escaped and fled to India.

One of the more unusual accounts of Lincoln’s assassination, Dark Union takes a new, fascinating look at a real-life conspiracy as devious and ingenious as the machinations of money allow. Since it begins with the first question – Cui bono? [for whom (it is) of advantage?] – and proceeds to answer it in a plausible manner there may be more truth than poetry here.

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