Samuel Arnold (conspirator)

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Samuel Bland Arnold
Samuel Arnold - Lincoln conspirator - LoC Civil War.jpg
Samuel Arnold after his arrest, 1865
Born(1834-09-06)September 6, 1834
DiedSeptember 21, 1906(1906-09-21) (aged 72)
Resting placeGreen Mount Cemetery, Baltimore, Maryland
Military career
Allegiance Confederate States
Service/branch Confederate States Army
Years of service1861-1864
Unit 1st Maryland Infantry[1][2]

Samuel Bland Arnold (September 6, 1834 – September 21, 1906)[3] was an American Confederate sympathizer involved in a plot to kidnap U.S. President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. He had joined the Confederate Army shortly after the start of the Civil War but was discharged due to health reasons in 1864.

Early Life[edit]

Samuel Arnold was born in the Georgetown section of Washington, D.C. 6 September 1834. He was the son of Mary Jane and George Arnold, Sr. and had an older brother. The family later moved to Baltimore where Arnold attended St. Timothy's Hall, a military academy - where he and John Wilkes Booth were Schoolmates.[4]

Role in Lincoln kidnapping conspiracy[edit]

After his discharge, Arnold returned to Baltimore and in late summer of 1864, he was recruited by Booth to be part of the kidnap plot.[4] Bored and unemployed, Arnold accepted. 15 March 1865, the conspirators met at Gautier's Restaurant on Pennsylvania Avenue to discuss the plot.[4] Arnold and the other alleged conspirators, John Wilkes Booth, David Herold, Lewis Powell, Michael O'Laughlen, and John Surratt, were to kidnap Lincoln and hold him to exchange for the Confederate prisoners in Washington D.C.. This was attempted twice, but failed, because Lincoln was not where they thought he would be. After the failure, Arnold took a clerk's job in Old Point Comfort, Virginia.[4]

Arrest and trial[edit]

After Booth assassinated Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Arnold was arrested from his job in Virginia on suspicion of complicity. He admitted his part in the plot to kidnap Lincoln, and his co-workers supported his contention of being in Virginia at the time of the assassination. During the trial, one of the chief witnesses was Louis J. Weichmann, a boarder at Mary Surratt's (John Surratt's mother).

Conviction and sentence[edit]

Arnold was found guilty by Military Commission and sentenced to life in prison at Fort Jefferson, along with Samuel Mudd, Michael O'Laughlen, and Edmund Spangler. In 1869 Arnold, Mudd and Spangler were released after being pardoned by President Andrew Johnson (O'Laughlen had died in prison in 1867).

Post-prison years and death[edit]

After Samuel Arnold returned home, he lived quietly out of the public eye for more than thirty years. In 1898 he returned to Fort Jefferson and took photographs of his old prison, but the photographs have not survived. In 1902 Arnold wrote a series of newspaper articles for the Baltimore American describing his imprisonment at Fort Jefferson. Arnold died four years later on September 21, 1906.[5] He is buried at Green Mount Cemetery in Baltimore, Maryland. The only conspirator who survived him was John Surratt.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Arnold, Samuel B". National Archives. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  2. ^ Summers, Robert (2008). Dr Samuel A Mudd at Fort Jefferson. p. 33.
  3. ^ Booth, p. 138
  4. ^ a b c d "Samuel Arnold". Retrieved 2019-04-16.
  5. ^ Johnson, Scott Patrick (2011). Trials of the Century: An Encyclopedia of Popular Culture and the Law. ABC-CLIO. p. 98. ISBN 978-1-59884-261-6.


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