Sarah Frances Mudd’s June 16, 1865 Affidavit

Sarah Mudd’s June 16, 1865 Affidavit  (1865) 
by Sarah Mudd

The law at the time of the Lincoln conspiracy trial prohibited a wife from testifying in her husband’s behalf. Anticipating an unfavorable outcome of the trial, Dr. Mudd’s attorney, General Thomas Ewing, had Mrs. Mudd prepare an affidavit describing Booth’s visit to the Mudd farm. When Dr. Mudd’s guilty verdict was announced, Ewing submitted the affidavit, dated June 16, 1865, directly to President Johnson in a long-shot hope that Johnson would abrogate the verdict. Johnson didn’t do that, and Dr. Mudd was sent to prison.

Three weeks after her June 16th affidavit, Mrs. Mudd prepared a second affidavit, dated July 6, 1865, which expanded upon her first affidavit.

Source: Thomas Ewing Papers, Library of Congress

I, Sarah F. Mudd, wife of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, do hereby certify that when my husband returned from Bryantown on Saturday evening the 15th of April, the two men since ascertained to be Booth and Harald, were leaving the house.

I was standing in the passage when they came down stairs and noticed that the whiskers of the lame man were false from their becoming partially detached on one side. And that about night Dr. and I were speaking about those men, I then told him about the whiskers becoming detached. He then told me he did not like the actions of those men who had been at the house, that the lame man had shaved off his moustache and they both seemed to be under more excitement than the breaking of a leg would cause. He then remarked he would return immediately to Bryantown and give this information to the authorities of the fact of those parties having been there. I became alarmed and earnestly entreated him not to go. I recalled the fate of Capt. Watkins and reminded him of the report that Boyle and his associates were infesting the neighborhood and begged him not to expose his life by openly giving information on the parties who had left his house. He warned me of the danger he would be incurring by deferring to give the information. I told him it would be as well to wait until morning as it was then quite dark, and give the information indirectly. I suggested to him to tell Dr. Mudd or some one living in the village of Bryantown and let them tell the authorities. He seemed unwilling to yield but finally gave up to my fears and entreaties.

I know that my husband had no knowledge or suspicion that the man with a broken leg was Booth until after the man had gone, that since his arrest I have never ceased to regret my interposing in his purpose of that evening and have openly blamed myself as the cause of his trouble. He has suffered on account of not having given immediate information and that I dissuaded him from giving information purely in consideration of his personal danger and in the belief it would be as well to get some one to do it for him.

Sarah F. Mudd

This work was published before January 1, 1926, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.