Otto Eisenschiml

Otto Eisenschiml


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Otto Eisenschiml was born in Austria in 1880. After obtaining a university degree in Vienna he emigrated to the United States in 1901. He worked as a chemist and eventually became president of the Scientific Oil Compounding Company.

Eisenschiml took a keen interest in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. In his book, Why Was Lincoln Murdered? (1937), he suggested that Edwin Stanton, the secretary of war, had engineered the plot to kill the president. The evidence for this theory included the employment of John Parker to guard Lincoln, Stanton's failure to close all the roads out of Washington, the shooting of John Wilkes Booth, tampering with Booth's diary, and the hooding of the conspirators to stop them from talking.

The book sold well but was attacked by professional historians. J. G. Hamilton described it as "four hundred and thight-eight dreary pages of rambling and disconnected implication and innuendo."

Otto Eisenschiml died in 1963. However, the influence of his book remained and inspired d the book by David Balsiger and Charles E. Sellier, The Lincoln Conspiracy (1977) and the motion picture of the same name.

The man who died at Garrett's Farm was stripped of his belongings before he was dead. The things that were taken from him were of nopwere of no great consequence, with the sole exception of a diary in which he had written some declamatory descriptions of his experiences and sentiments. This diary was subsequently to become the centre of a fiery controversy, not so much because of its contents as because it had been kept hidden fro the public.

For two years the little volume lay locked up in the archives of the War Office. In the meantime Baker had been dismissed and had written his book, The History of the Secret Service. Therein repeated references were made to Booth's diary, creating a sensation in all circles. The judiciary committeee of the House, then in session, seized upon the item with alacrity, and bade Baker take the stand and repeat his statements under oath. There the detective exploded another bombshell: the the diary had been mutilated since it had been taken from the body at Garrett's Farm.

Another bizarre feature in the story of Booth's pursuit is the failure of the War Department to prosecute some people who had sheltered Booth and helped him in his flight. Again, the House of Representatives Committee, debating the distribution of rewards, was puzzled. In a proclamation dated 20 April, Stanton had declared that "All persons harboring or secreting the conspirators or aiding their concealment or escape, will be treated as accomplices in the murder of the President and shall be subject to trial before a military commission, and the punishment of death.

When Johnson became the Chief Executive of the nation the Radicals began to have pleasurable visions of wholesale massacres and executions that would depopulate the South; for the new President had expressed his hatred of traitors in terms that were immoderate and unmistakable. Yet week after week passed and, except for the hanging of the so-called conspirators and of Captain Wirz, the former commandant at Andersonville, no deed of violence took place. On the contrary, pardon followed pardon; and worse than that, the President undertook to re-establish state governments along the lines Lincoln had advocated. At first the Radicals were bewildered; then astonishment gave way to unbridled fury.

There was one man who profited greatly by Lincoln's death; the man who was his secretary of war, Edwin M. Stanton. Brusque, insolent, cruel, Stanton was without doubt the most unpopular member of Lincoln's administration; but the President in spite of strong pressure, had been loath to let him go while the conflict was raging; he seemed to think that no one else could do the work as well.

After the war was over, however, it seemed only a question of time when Lincoln would divest himself of a secretary who was fast becoming both a personal and a political liability to him. It was to his advantage to have the President out of the way; it would mean a continuance in office, increased power over a new and supposedly weak Chief Executive and a fair prospect of replacing the latter at the next election.

As secretary of war Stanton failed in his duty to protect the President's life after he was convinced that there was danger in the air. He bluntly denied Lincoln's request to be protected by Major Eckert and did not provide a proper substitute.

It was probably due to the efforts of Stanton that all evidence of negligence on the part of John F. Parker was carefully suppressed. He directed the pursuit of Booth and allowed it to be conducted in a manner that, but for the assassin's accidental injury, would have allowed his escape.

The actual pursuit and subsequent capture of Booth were silenced by unusual methods and were subsequently removed from contact with the public, either by infliction of the death penalty or by banishment to a desolate fortress. Other prisoners, of at least equal guilt, escaped punishment.

Plausible as such an indictment may seem, it would stand no chance of surviving a legal attack. There is not one point in this summary than can be proven; it is all hypothesis. Circumstantial evidence, at best, is a dangerous foundation upon which to build.


Otto Eisenschiml, Plaintiff-appellant, v. Fawcett Publications, Inc., Defendant-appellee, 246 F.2d 598 (7th Cir. 1957)

Elmer Gertz, Irwin S. Baskes, Chicago, Ill., for appellant.

Don H. Reuben, Frank A. Olson, Howard Ellis, Keith Masters, Chicago, Ill., (Kirkland, Fleming, Green, Martin & Ellis, Chicago, Ill., of counsel), for appellee.

Before DUFFY, Chief Judge, and FINNEGAN and SCHNACKENBERG, Circuit Judges.

The complaint herein alleges copyright infringement. Count I alleges defendant infringed plaintiff's copyrighted book "Why Was Lincoln Murdered?" (hereinafter sometimes referred to as "Why"). The second Count alleged the defendant infringed plaintiff's copyrighted book "In the Shadow of Lincoln's Death" (hereinafter sometimes referred to as "Shadow"). Plaintiff seeks an accounting for profits, damages and costs pursuant to the Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C.A. § 1 et seq.

The defendant, Fawcett Publications, Inc., publishes a magazine called "True". Plaintiff alleges defendant infringed his copyright by publishing in the February, 1953, issue of True, an article entitled "America's Greatest Unsolved Murder" written by one Joseph John Millard. The cause was referred to a Special Master, although the oral testimony of only five witnesses was heard by him. He also considered three depositions including that of Joseph Millard, and examined numerous exhibits.

The Special Master made a report recommending that the Court enter judgment for the defendant, and that the plaintiff be taxed all costs including the payment of an attorney fee. He reported that the parties had deposited with the Master the sum of three thousand dollars for fees, and he requested an additional allowance of three thousand dollars. Exceptions were filed to the report. The District Court filed a short memorandum, and entered an order overruling objections to the report, ordering the plaintiff to pay the Special Master an additional sum of Forty-five Hundred Dollars and to reimburse the defendant in the amount of Fifteen Hundred Dollars for the sum which it had deposited with the Special Master. The Court also ordered that the plaintiff pay attorney fees. The amounts allowed by the Court were Fifteen Hundred Dollars more than had been requested by the Special Master however, the latter has filed a partial satisfaction to the extent of Fifteen Hundred Dollars.

Plaintiff has written a number of articles and books on the Civil War period. He is an acknowledged authority in the field of Civil War history and, in particular, in the narrower field of Lincoln's assassination. His research on this subject extended over a period of eighteen years, and plaintiff testified he expended $20,000.00 in doing this work. Millard testified no competent authority would write about Lincoln's assassination without studying plaintiff's works. 1 Millard read plaintiff's "Why" and "Shadow" at least twice before writing his article.

Joseph Millard has been a free lance author and writer for twenty-five years. He has penned and sold over one thousand stories to popular media. He has made a study of the Civil War period, and has accumulated a Civil War library containing many books, magazines and newspapers. At the time of his deposition he produced more than a hundred books from his library. Prior to writing the alleged infringing article he had written, and defendant had published, two earlier articles concerning the Civil War. The first was published by True in December, 1945, and was entitled "The Spy Who Saved the Union." The story concerned the exploits of one Felix Stidger, a counter-espionage agent who had exposed the dangerous Copperhead Society called "Knights of the Golden Circle." The second was published in the July, 1947 issue of True, and was called "The Devil's Errand Boy." This story concerned incidents in the life of Lafayette Baker who was head of the Secret Service during the Civil War, and who was a one-time intimate of Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton.

Plaintiff's book "Why Was Lincoln Murdered?" is a scholarly work, extensively documented and foot-noted. It is a hard-covered book of five hundred three pages divided into twenty-nine chapters. It concerns the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and a subsequent history of the persons involved. The hypothesis of the work is that Secretary of War Stanton was implicated or at least had a guilty knowledge of the conspiracy. Twenty-two thousand copies of this work were sold.

Plaintiff's second book "In the Shadow of Lincoln's Death" is also a hard-covered book. It is four hundred fifteen pages in length and contains fourteen chapters. It is supplemented by extensive notations. One prominent reviewer described this book as a long foot-note to the earlier work "Why Was Lincoln Murdered?". Thirty-six hundred copies of this work were sold.

Defendant's article "America's Greatest Unsolved Murder" contains about twenty thousand words. It was the longest article and the main feature of the February, 1953 issue of True. The author originally entitled it "History's Maddest Murder Case." It contained no footnotes, bibliography or other documentation.

Neither defendant nor Millard ever asked or received permission to use material from plaintiff's books. Nowhere in the published article is Eisenschiml credited or referred to. The only such passage in the article as written by Millard was "Otto Eisenschiml, probably the world's leading authority on the mysteries of Lincoln's assassination, has in one curt sentence treated Stanton's diatribe to the respect which it deserves * * *." However, this passage was deleted from Millard's manuscript by defendant before publication in its magazine.

Two expert witnesses testified and, as so often happens, held diametrically opposed views. Dr. Donald Riddle is the head of the division of Social Sciences at the University of Illinois, Chicago Undergraduate Division at Navy Pier, and teaches American history. He has written books on Lincoln's Congressional career. He has done extensive work in studying and determining the textual history of the New Testament which included comparing the various Gospels' language to determine literary relationships. In Dr. Riddle's opinion, defendant's article is a literary copying of the Eisenschiml books here in question.

Dr. Ernest Samuels is a professor of English at Northwestern University. He has served as editorial adviser upon matters of style and scholarship for various publishers. He has written an historical biography "The Life of Henry Adams." One of his duties at the University has been to sit as a one-man court of review when students are accused of copying their English themes. He spent seventy-five to eighty hours analyzing the three works here under consideration. His opinion was that Millard's article was an independent literary creation.

Plaintiff insists Millard's article is a slavish imitation, paraphrase and copy of substantial portions of his two copyrighted books, and that defendant, through Millard, substantially appropriated his research. Eisenschiml claims that Millard's article contains substantially the same treatment of and language about Stanton, Lincoln, the Grants, John F. Parker, O'Beirne, Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, John Fletcher and Atzerodt as in the Eisenschiml books, and that said named persons are the principal characters in the Millard article as in the infringed portion of the Eisenschiml books. Plaintiff contends that Millard's article follows the same general outline or pattern as the plaintiff's two books, and that he treats the material therein in the same manner as does plaintiff.

Plaintiff insists Millard's article not only pirated the underlying theme of plaintiff's books, — the theme that Secretary of War Stanton may have been implicated in the assassination, that obstacles were deliberately placed in the way of Booth's capture, and that there are other unexplained mysteries — but the article treats the ideas, characters, scenes and events in the same way that plaintiff does. Plaintiff further states Millard's article so parallels and simulates plaintiff's two books that the article is actually a condensation of several chapters of Why with portions taken from Shadow plus some standard historical data.

Exhibit 7 received by the Master contained what plaintiff claimed were sixty-six parallels or quotes designed to show copying and paraphrasing by Millard of plaintiff's two books. The limitation of space will not permit more than a brief illustration of the quotes.

At page 56 of Why plaintiff wrote: "In his memoirs, Grant passed over this episode quickly and skillfully * * *." Millard, referring to the same matter, wrote "In his memoirs, Grant skillfully slid over the incident * * *."

At page 73 of Why, plaintiff wrote: "* * * L. A. Gobright, agent of the Associated Press at the Capitol * * was about to close his office * * * when he was informed of the tragedy. Rushing to the telegraph office, he sent a short special * * * he tore over to Ford's Theatre * * * and was fortunate enough to find Booth's derringer on the floor." Millard wrote: "One L. A. Gobright of the Associated Press was just closing his Washington Office when the terrible news came. Rushing out, he quickly wired his paper * * * From there, Gobright hurried to Ford's Theatre for more details. He was in the blood-spattered box when the man named Kent found the derringer on the floor."

In Why at page 120, plaintiff quoted from the O'Beirne diary. The O'Beirne papers were in plaintiff's exclusive possession. Millard quoted exactly the same passage. The comments following this quotation were as follows: Plaintiff said: "That close O'Beirne came to getting his man." Millard wrote: "That close O'Beirne came to making the capture then." In Shadow, plaintiff wrote at page 55: "What can be the meaning of this? A dying man hears his name mentioned. He opens his eyes and acts surprised." Millard wrote: "Would a dying man be surprised at hearing his own name spoken?"

On page 71 of Shadow, plaintiff wrote: "(Baker) smiled, and said `I intended to have his body, dead or alive, or a mighty good substitute for it'." Millard wrote: "* * * Baker, grinning harshly, would soon be remarking to a friend, `I intended to have his body, dead or alive, or a mighty good substitute for it'."

In Why, at page 29, plaintiff refers to "The great scoop of the century * *." Millard refers to the same subject matter as "The newsbeat of the century * *."

On page 419 in Why, plaintiff wrote: "Mrs. Lincoln, frightened and distracted, had fallen to the floor in a faint. A sudden rage possessed Stanton. Brutally he gave orders to take `that woman' out of the room and not to let her come back." Millard wrote: "When Mrs. Lincoln, half mad with grief and shock, fainted at the sight of her husband, Stanton waved his arms, bawling, `Take that woman out of here. Get her out and don't let her come back!'"

Items in the career of the dissolute policeman, John Parker, who was Lincoln's bodyguard on the fatal night, were assembled by plaintiff from private papers of a Provost Marshal named O'Beirne, and from old and scattered records and archives of the Washington, D. C. police department. Millard could not have examined the O'Beirne files as they were in plaintiff's possession. It is admitted Millard did not examine the Washington police files.

The Parker story is an important part of Millard's article. When Carl Sandburg was writing "Abraham Lincoln, the War Years" he requested and received permission from plaintiff to incorporate the Parker story in his work. In his foreward in Volume I he wrote: "The liberal researches of Otto Eisenschiml on the closing scenes of Lincoln's life are a distinct contribution * *"

Millard claims he received part of the Parker story from Sandburg's work. However, there are some parts used by Millard that were not used by Sandburg. The incident of the squawking ducks on the street car the incident of Parker firing a pistol through a window of a house of ill fame and the incident of Parker being severely kicked and injured by a man he was attempting to arrest, all of which were included in Millard's article, were not included in the Sandburg work. This information came from plaintiff's books because Millard did not examine the original police records, and they had appeared in no other book or article prior to that time.

In his testimony, Millard freely admitted that some of the material and ideas used by him in his article came from plaintiff's Why or Shadow. The following are illustrations of a number of his answers: "That, I believe, was queued to me by Dr. Eisenschiml's book" "Oh, I got some of it from the Eisenschiml books" "The thought was undeniably inspired by Dr. Eisenschiml" "The idea, I think, is an inspiration of Dr. Eisenschiml" "The idea, I think, I can positively state, was Dr. Eisenschiml's" "The material, I think, came from Dr. Eisenschiml."

Millard's attention was called to a portion of his manuscript and he was asked to compare same with portions of plaintiff's Why. He testified: "It just shocks me a little. I did not get the language consciously from Dr. Eisenschiml, whether unconsciously I could not say. * * * It is not a copy, but there is a similarity there, and a rather shocking one to me."

It is apparent Millard did, to some extent, at least, use the material which resulted from plaintiff's research. In Toksvig v. Bruce Publishing Co., 7 Cir., 181 F.2d 664, 667, this Court said: "The question is not whether Hubbard could have obtained the same information by going to the same sources, but rather did she go to the same sources and do her own independent research? In other words, the test is whether the one charged with the infringement has made an independent production, or made a substantial and unfair use of the complainant's work. Nutt v. National Institute, Inc., 2 Cir., 31 F.2d 236, 237."

But the Master and the District Court found that whatever use Millard may have made of plaintiff's work is not actionable "because it was an insignificant use, a fair use or use of non-copyrightable material." The Master and the Court also found the work of Millard "is an independent literary creation based upon independent research." The District Court said: "Not only Millard's sworn word, but all the circumstances, indicate clearly that he did not copy from the plaintiff."

Rule 53(e) (2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, 28 U.S.C.A., provides: "In an action to be tried without a jury the court shall accept the master's findings of fact unless clearly erroneous." In Ferroline Corp. v. General Aniline & Film Corp., 7 Cir., 207 F.2d 912, at page 920 this Court said: "Findings of fact by a master are binding on the trial court unless clearly erroneous. * * * The threshold question here then is the same as it was in the court below, — whether, as a matter of law, the master's findings of fact were clearly erroneous. * * * Neither the trial court nor this one may refuse to recognize the findings `merely because of a difference in personal persuasion * * * or a dissatisfaction with the result reached.'"

The Master found that Millard did not copy but that he worked independently. We agree that a large portion of Millard's article resulted from his independent work. But it also is apparent, as hereinbefore indicated, that a number of extracts from plaintiff's works were used in Millard's article. "* * * an infringement is not confined to literal and exact repetition or reproduction it includes also the various modes in which the matter of any work may be adopted, imitated, transferred, or reproduced, with more or less colorable alterations to disguise the piracy. Paraphrasing is copying and an infringement, if carried to a sufficient extent." 18 C.J.S. Copyright and Literary Property § 94, p. 217. This Court, quoting with approval from Ball on Law of Copyrights said in Toksvig v. Bruce Publishing Co., 181 F.2d 664, at page 667: "The question of infringement of copyright is not one of quantity but of quality and value."

Ideas, as such, are not protected by the law of copyright. Holmes v. Hurst, 174 U.S. 82, 19 S. Ct. 606, 43 L. Ed. 904 Kalem Co. v. Harper Brothers, 222 U.S. 55, 32 S. Ct. 20, 56 L. Ed. 92. But the mode of expression used by the author can be protected. Dymow v. Bolton, 2 Cir., 11 F.2d 690. The association, arrangement and combination of ideas and thoughts and their form of expression may make a particular literary composition which is entitled to protection. Holmes v. Hurst, 174 U.S. 82, 19 S. Ct. 606, 43 L. Ed. 904 Chicago Record-Herald Co. v. Tribune Association, 7 Cir., 275 F. 797.

The question before us is did Millard make a substantial copy of plaintiff's books? Mazer v. Stein, 347 U.S. 201, 218, 74 S. Ct. 460, 98 L. Ed. 630. We must keep in mind that copying is not necessarily a literal or exact repetition or reproduction. The answer is not entirely free from doubt. However, we have concluded, in view of the findings of the Master, and the findings in the memorandum opinion of the District Court, that Millard did not substantially copy plaintiff's books, — in other words, we conclude that the findings of fact in this respect were clearly not erroneous.

Whatever we may think of the ethics of Millard in utilizing various portions of plaintiff's works with only a scant credit reference, or the ethics of the defendant in publishing the article after first eliminating the credit reference, we conclude, in view of the findings we must hold there was not a sufficient copying to amount to an infringement.

The Master found that such use as Millard did make of plaintiff's books was a fair use. If so such use was a non-infringing use. The question of a fair use usually arises in connection with scientific or other works dealing with a common subject matter. 18 C.J.S. Copyright and Literary Property § 104, p. 223. In historical writings such as the events immediately before and after President Lincoln's assassination, plaintiff and Millard were necessarily, writing about the same personages during a very limited period of time. It is to be expected that there would result some similarity of treatment. In any event, the issue of fair use is a question of fact. Mathews Conveyer Co. v. Palmer-Bee Co., 6 Cir., 135 F.2d 73, 85. We cannot say that the Master's finding in this respect is clearly erroneous.

We consider the award of attorney fees by the District Court to be an abuse of discretion and entirely unwarranted. True, the Master and the District Court were of the opinion that plaintiff's case was entirely without merit. However, we have indicated our view to the contrary. We have pointed out that a very close question was involved, and we hold that plaintiff should not be assessed attorney fees for trying to protect the copyright on his books. The provision in the judgment requiring plaintiff to pay attorney fees must be eliminated. Official Aviation Guide, Inc., v. American Aviation Associates, Inc., 7 Cir., 162 F.2d 541.

Criticism must also be made of the size of the record before the Master. In spite of repeated objections by plaintiff the time of the trial was unnecessarily prolonged.

Rule 16(c) of this Court, 28 U.S.C.A., provides: "* * * It is expected that the parties will not indulge in unnecessary or repetitious printing, having in mind the fact that the record is always available to the court for reference or examination. Infractions of this rule may be penalized by the denial or award of costs." Plaintiff's appendix contained 505 pages. Defendant filed a separate appendix containing 798 pages. Defendant's appendix contained much unnecessary and repetitious testimony. Defendant may include in its Bill of Costs the printing of only 400 pages of its separate appendix.

Modified as hereinbefore indicated, the judgment is

SCHNACKENBERG, Circuit Judge (concurring in part, and dissenting in part).

I concur in Judge DUFFY'S opinion insofar as it disapproves the assessment of attorneys' fees against plaintiff.

Insofar as the opinion upholds the district court's finding and judgment on the merits of the case, I dissent. Even from those facts set forth in the majority opinion, it appears that the findings of the master and the district court are clearly erroneous. Rule 53(e) (2), Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. An examination of all the evidence in the record convinces me of Millard's transparent and shocking piracy of plaintiff's publications. For the wrongful and clearly established infringement, I would grant relief to this researcher and author.

In his article "The Devil's Errand Boy" Millard referred to plaintiff as follows: "Mr. Otto Eisenschiml of Chicago, the outstanding authority on Abraham Lincoln's death, has devoted a lifetime of intensive research to the subject. His two books — `Why was Lincoln Murdered' and `In the Shadow of Lincoln's Death' — are packed with his own sensational discoveries. Yet he feels the surface has barely been scratched."


Witches, Cranks, and Assassins: Conspiracy in American History

Edwin Stanton has a long history with Lincoln, as they both were lawyers growing up. Stanton, was one of the less favorites of Lincoln’s cabinet, but he had strong intentions of changing the shape of the Union after Lincoln’s death. Eisenschiml offered proof of Stanton’s involvement by stating, “Stanton had a motive: he was worried that Lincoln’s moderate proposals for southern reconstruction would let the former Confederate states off too easily for the carnage they initiated” (Eisenschiml), Stanton wanted to do more than let the South off easy, and at the time of a nation in grief, they were wanting to put the blame on the South. Ironically though Stanton, was a very powerful man, so could he have helped Booth escaped and lead the Union Army on man hunt for the wrong person? Eisenschiml suggested that Stanton had exaggeration of power, to close off the bridges in Washington the night of the assassination along with the power to control the telegraphs. In Eisenschiml’s book he states, “Stanton closed all bridges from the city, except one – the Navy Yard Bridge – which Booth took as his escape route. Stanton also allegedly ordered that Union soldiers should kill Booth rather than arrest him. And, finally, investigators noted 15 pages torn from Booth’s diary, deliberately ripped out by Stanton”, (Eisenschiml), to prove that Stanton had control over the night in attempt to get rid of all the evidence that would be against him in the court of law. Stanton knew what he was doing and knew how to cover up his mess, since he was a lawyer before becoming a part of Lincoln’s cabinet.
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Comments

I think you can make a theory out of anything if you dig deep enough into it. I am not saying his theory is not a possibility but how much time do you think he spent looking for any detail during this night that could have made for a different motive or story to tell? It is hard to take his theory as sound when there are people that were present that did not publicly speak out about some sort of possible "foul play." This is hard to distinguish as this chemist is a fan of Lincoln and in loosing him he likely lost an idol of his. I think if that were to happen to anyone, the explanation they are provided with is not enough closure for them. He probably found his closure in questioning the actions that led to the death of Lincoln and the repercussions following.


The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracies

Many are acquainted with at least one good JFK assassination conspiracy, but fewer are aware of the alleged plots involving the Lincoln assassination. His murder, which took place 150 years ago this Apr. 14, prompted a number of very different conspiracy theories.

Any theory that gained more than a handful of credulous adherents had to agree with the overwhelming evidence that John Wilkes Booth, the famous actor and Confederate sympathizer, was the assassin. Beyond that point, however, things began to take different trajectories, and Booth’s alleged co-conspirators ranged from the somewhat plausible to the fascinatingly bizarre.

A Vice Presidential Conspiracy

It’s only natural for a Vice President to want to become President, and there’s one quick and easy way to accomplish that objective. Andrew Johnson, who became President after Lincoln’s death, was an immediate target for conspiracy theorists, according to William Hanchett, author of The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies.

One titillating detail is that, on the afternoon before the assassination, Booth paid a visit to the hotel where Johnson resided. He didn’t meet Johnson, but left a card saying, “Don’t wish to disturb you are you at home?”

Lincoln’s widow, Mary Todd Lincoln, wrote in a letter to a friend that her: “own intense misery, has been augmented by the same thought – that, that miserable inebriate Johnson, had cognizance of [her] husband’s death – why, was that card of Booth’s, found in his box?”

She added that she was “deeply impressed, with the harrowing thought, that [Johnson] had an understanding with the conspirators…Johnson, had some hand, in all this.”

Even before the assassination, it was no secret that Mary Todd Lincoln disliked ‘that miserable inebriate Johnson,’ who had been disgracefully drunk at Lincoln’s Second Inaugural on March 4, 1865. Her dislike, combined with the trauma of her husband’s murder and Johnson’s benefiting from it, easily could have distorted her viewpoint.

However, some members of Congress did express suspicion that Johnson had been involved, and in 1867 a special committee was formed to investigate his possible role. This committee did not find enough to incriminate Johnson, and it’s very possible that the congressional “suspicion” was just an attempt to remove him from office.

It is commonly accepted that there was a plot to kill Vice President Johnson along with President Lincoln. However, Johnson’s would-be assassin, George Atzerodt, lost his courage and, instead of killing the Vice President, got drunk and wandered the streets of D.C.

Did Johnson arrange this abortive attempt on his life, just to make himself look like an intended victim instead of a conspirator? Some thought so.

The Cotton Investor Conspiracy

There is evidence that, during the Civil War, Lincoln violated the official Union trade blockade by allowing a select group of Northerners to invest in Southern cotton. The President did this to “head off national bankruptcy and finance the Union war effort,” according to Leonard Guttridge and Ray Neff, authors of the Lincoln conspiracy book, Dark Union.

When Lincoln began to waver in his unofficial position on allowing trade with the Confederates, there were investors who stood to lose a lot of money – perhaps enough to kill over.

The Eisenschiml Theory

Otto Eisenschiml, born in Austria in 1880, was a trained chemist and oil tycoon who developed a fixation on the Lincoln assassination. Following nine years of research, he published Why was Lincoln Murdered? – a book which argued that Lincoln’s murder was orchestrated by his own Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. The book sold very well, whether or not its readers fully believed the contents.

Eisenschiml contended that Stanton covertly teamed up with a small group of people looking to profit by taking over Southern territory. He claimed that Stanton, who headed the manhunt after Lincoln’s killing, purposely left open an escape route for Booth, whom he then ordered killed before the assassin could go to trial (and possibly reveal Stanton’s involvement).

Though Stanton and Lincoln had their political disagreements, there also was a good deal of respect between these two men, and most historians contend that Eisenschiml’s theory is groundless.

Killed by Resentful Northerners

Shortly before his death, Lincoln was aggravating many Northern politicians with a Reconstruction policy which they regarded as being far too lenient and forgiving. Well over 300,000 Union lives had been sacrificed to defeat the Confederacy, and now Lincoln was allowing Confederate officials to return to positions of considerable power.

Ben Wade, a senator from Ohio, said about Lincoln before he was shot: “By God, the sooner he is assassinated the better.” Though such a remark does not make Wade a conspirator, it does reflect a sentiment that some politicians of the North had toward Lincoln and his Reconstruction policies.

A Catholic Conspiracy

When, some 19 months after the assassination, Booth co-conspirator John Surratt, Jr. was tracked down by American officials in Alexandria, Egypt, it was revealed that he had served in the Papal Zouaves, a now-defunct army that had fought on behalf of the pope.

His mother, Mary Surratt – in whose boardinghouse the Lincoln murder plot was engineered – was a Catholic, and there were rumors that Booth himself recently had converted to Catholicism. These details, combined with sensationalist, inaccurate reporting that all the arrested conspirators were Catholic, led many to proclaim that Lincoln’s murder was the work of a Catholic conspiracy, one possibly leading all the way to the Vatican.

Ensuing decades would see a succession of works, some authored by discontented ex-priests, arguing that the Catholic Church had Lincoln assassinated because they wanted to destabilize an American democracy which they felt was a threat to their power.

The grand Catholic conspiracy theory was enduring. As recently as 1963, Emmett McLoughlin, a former Franciscan priest, wrote An Inquiry in the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln, a book which implicated the Vatican for Lincoln’s murder.

Of course, the same year McLoughlin’s book saw publication, JFK was assassinated, and a whole new world of intrigues and conspiracy theories came to the national forefront.


OTTO EISENSCHIML., 01/01/1942-12/31/1945

The bulk of the Barbee Papers concerns his research, accomplished primarily between the years 1928-1958. The Papers are organized according to provenance into seven series, out-lining his historical interests. The series are: I: Abraham Lincoln II: Death of Lincoln III: Lincoln and Booth IV: John Wilkes Booth V: Conspirators VI: Rose O'Neil Greenhow and VII: American History. Because of the inter-relatedness of topics, the same subject files may be found in a number of series. An alphabetical index to subjects is appended to the finding aid and should be consulted. The Papers are largely subject-oriented. File headings as they appear in the folder descriptions are either in large case to indicate subject files or in small case to indicate correspondence files.

The Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, transcribed material, photocopies of documents, newspaper clippings, printed material, and photographs. Transcribed material, photocopies of documents, and newspaper clippings represent an enormous amount of research through published and unpublished sources. Barbee was able to gain access to a great deal of material still in private hands, the continued existence of which is uncertain. It is interesting to note that Barbee was one of the scholars to read through the Lincoln Papers when they were opened to the public. Through his studies, he not only concerned himself with major historical figures, but identified many less central characters and spent a great deal of time in reconstructing their societal context.

Correspondence contains fascinating discussions of history, shared with a wide variety of individuals, in addition to including specific research inquiries in search of source material. Because of the years in which Barbee conducted his research, he was fortunate in being able to correspond with close relatives of historical figures from the Civil War era, such as Mrs. Lee D. Marie, grand-daughter of Rose O'Neil Greenhow. Barbee's large correspondence with historians includes letters from Paul M. Angle, Charles Beard, Samuel Ashe, Matthew Page Andrews, Frank Maloy Anderson, Ray P. Basler, Otto Eisenschiml, Lyon G. Tyler, Philip Van Doren Stern, Henry Steele Commager, Emmanuel Hetz, Archibald Henderson, and Albert J. Beveridge, among others. Other correspondents include Bennet Cerf, General Merritte W. Ireland, Stephen Early, Nicholas Murray Butler, Claude G. Bowers, Cordell Hull, Adlai Stevenson, Patrick Hurley, William Jennings Bryan and Lyndon B. Johnson. Other material of note includes original correspondence concerning the estate of Rose O'N. Greenhow. Included are letters between A.M. Waddell of Wilmington, North Carolina and Richard Savage, dated 1866-1869. The question of the Greenhow estate is particularly interesting since she was found after her death with large amounts of gold, presumably for the Confederacy. Also included in the Greenhow series are three photographs of - Greenhow, including a carte-de-visite taken in London shortly before her death, a memorial card after her death, and a da- guerreotype, date unknown.

Size: 25.0 linear feet 17 boxes Dates: 1886-1956 (terminal) 1928-1956 (bulk)


The Grassy Knoll PROF. NEAMAN'S HISTORY 210: HISTORICAL METHODS

Alex McMullen
Historical Methods
18 May 2010
Professor Neaman
Otto’s Labyrinth: Debunking a Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy Theory
Abraham Lincoln has always been a president of great intrigue. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest, if not the best president, to ever lead the United States of America. There are literally hundreds of books, documentaries and movies that have been made about him. The reason for this is in part because he lived an extraordinary life, and also because he himself was a bit of an enigma, with many hidden facets to his personality.
In the time since his death, much has been discovered, and even more has been speculated about the man. His death marked a major moment and turning point in the history of this country. After it happened, it appeared to be fairly straightforward, but as time went on, more details and inconsistencies have emerged. This had led to a variety of claims and allegations trying to expose the “truth”. Out of all the conspiracy theories available, one stands out above the rest. Otto Eisenschiml presented a theory in his book Why Was Lincoln Murdered? When deconstructed, his basic premise is that Secretary of War Edwin Stanton orchestrated the assassination and manipulated the events following to attempt to gain control of the U.S. government. After thorough examination, his theory is implausible, inaccurate, nor does it contain any truth at all. He relies on character assassination and large assumptions to make his point. The biggest fault is that he creates the story himself, as opposed to following the story the facts present. A true revisionist of history must have their theory fit the facts, not twist the facts to fit their theory, and this is the first and biggest mistake the author makes in his argument. While he does indeed ask thought provoking questions about peculiarities, he fails to give realistic or probable conclusions to be drawn from them.
Before dissecting his theory, it is necessary to expand upon the author himself, and his motives for writing a piece of literature such as this. Otto Eisenschiml was born June 16, 1880 and raised in Vienna, Austria. He graduated from the University of Vienna with advanced degrees in Chemistry. Even though he was brought up in Austria, he was an American citizen by birth (Hanchett 159). His father had immigrated to America, and fought in the Civil War. He then returned to Austria, where he married and had a son, Otto. The younger Eisenschiml recalls his father telling tales and being fascinated by General Grant and President Lincoln, and always told his son of his American life.
Otto came to the United States after graduating in 1901. He settled in Pittsburgh and later lived in Chicago for most of his life. He quickly became a successful scientist, and turned a significant profit in the process. Eisenschiml began working as a consultant for businesses who had chemical problems. His biggest claim to fame was he invented a way to keep the transparent address window on envelopes from getting cloudy. He invented many other little chemical fixes and products, and became increasingly successful as the years wore on. He worked his way up to become the President of the Scientific Oil Compounding Company, a company that became the largest distributor of tools and materials used in manufacturing. After only a few years, he became incredibly wealthy.
He was not satisfied with all the riches he had though, he wanted something that money couldn’t buy- fame. Chemists had created all these new inventions and improvements that were being utilized in everyday life, yet they largely remained anonymous to the public’s eye. Eisenschiml knew this, as he personally experienced it. That is a large reason why he left the science field after he accumulated his wealth. He went from chemist to businessman, “my choice might have been different, had chemists been regarded with more respect, and had the financial returns been anywhere near adequate” (Hanchett 160). This quote sums up his life pretty accurately, and also gives the basis for his motives to write his book.
Eisenschiml was always fascinated by American history, spurred by his father, and he pursued its study as a personal hobby his whole life. On business trips he would often stop at famous war sites, like Custer’s Massacre. He came up with the goal to visit every battlefield in America before he died. He actually published a number of books about American History, not just his book about Lincoln’s murder.
When examining his reasons for writing a conspiracy theory, it becomes evidently clear there is more to it. He wanted the recognition he couldn’t get as a scientist, which clearly bothered him. He also was driven by money. He really only did his science for profit. Writing a book proposing something like this would solve all those major issues. He would gain widespread notoriety and also make a considerable amount of money. This held true to form, as the book became a best seller when released. He gained his popularity as everyone read the book, even though most people disagreed and were outraged by the book, they still read it all the same. As it was a bestseller, it made a sizeable profit for him. In essence, he found something he was knowledgeable, and could write about, and used it to gain the two things he really wanted most from this life. He was trying to achieve the American dream of working the way to top, and somehow he did it.
He to choose to unravel the conspiracy by using the scientific method he had used his whole life as a chemist. His entire theory is based on questioning, which is the first step towards any discovery in the field of science. In his book, he poses questions, which are followed by his theses, which are really a hypothesis in this case. He proceeds to try to answer all these questions by using this method, which he claims is objective. Eisenschiml used Russian scientist Dimitri Mendeleyev to explain his process, “if all the known elements were arranged in order..there are little gaps in between, and that these gaps could be filled in by the discovery of new elements”. He believed he had uncovered new information that filled in these gaps. That is the basic set up for conspiracy theory of the assassination of U.S. President Abraham Lincoln.
Most experts agree on the simple facts of what happened. The arguments begin when examining why they happened the way they did. It is impossible to understand the theory without first looking at what actions were taken, who was involved, and the events that occurred because of them. The Civil war had just come to its conclusion at the Appomattox courthouse on April 9, 1865. The masses were tired, but finally everyone could go home and relax now that the war was over. A lot of the country still hated Lincoln though. Obviously the Confederates despised him, but people living in the Union also were upset with him. Thousands of men had died to preserve Lincoln’s precious Union, and people struggled with letting that go. There was a lot of tension in the air following the conclusion of the war. Questions began arising, like how to rebuild the country that had been so devastated and torn apart by war? What would happen to the Confederate States? Who would be punished? Where do we go from here? Unfortunately, Lincoln wouldn’t live long enough to see his vision.
The story of the assassination begins on the evening of Good Friday, April 14, 1865. President Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd Lincoln planned to attend a play with the Grants at Ford’s Theater. At the last second, General Grant and his wife decided to cancel, but Lincoln went forward as planned. He was accompanied by an officer, General Rathbone and his fiancée. Lincoln was escorted by John Parker, a regular bodyguard for the President. He sat in the Presidential box with his company, and began watching Our American Cousin, a popular comedy play at the time. During the intermission, the bodyguard, John Parker, left and went to the tavern. It is unclear whether he ever returned.
Meanwhile, John Wilkes Booth took the action he had been so diligently planning for weeks. He was an actor, a Confederate sympathizer, and a lot of evidence has been presented proving he was likely mentally unstable. Originally, the plot was to kidnap Lincoln, but time and time again his plans fell through. He finally resorted to trying to kill the President. He would succeed. Booth knew the play well, and timed his entrance to coincide with a moment of laughter at the play in order to muffle the gunshot. Around 10:15 PM, he entered the box and shot President Lincoln in the head. A struggle ensued between Major Rathbone, who was stabbed in the arm by Booth. Booth eventually would break free from the Major, and jumped down from the box. His spur caught on the flag below the box, and he actually fractured his leg on the drop down. He then famously ran on stage, and yelled “Sic Semper Tyrannus!”, or “thus to tyrants!” He escaped out of the back, where he had a horse waiting for him. He escaped out of Washington D.C. that night, and met up with a fellow conspirator, David Herold.
Lincoln would die at a home across the street early the next morning. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton arrived at the house immediately that same night and began taking action. He mobilized troops, gathered intelligence, and began the search for Booth. The troops were under strict orders not to kill the conspirators. It would take two weeks before they would be located by Union troops. Booth and Herold were hiding out in a farm owned by Richard Garrett. Troops surrounded the barn, and told them to come out.
Herold gave up and came out, but Booth refused to leave. In response, the troops set the barn on fire. Booth attempted to fight his way out. A chaotic situation ensued as a Union soldier named Boston Corbett, snuck up to the barn and shot Booth. The bullet hit him in the neck, paralyzing him. Troops pulled his body out of the barn and him up against a nearby tree. Troops gave him water, and sat there with him for two hours until he died.
Herold and seven others were later rounded up as co-conspirators, some involved with the Lincoln assassination, and others involved a failed effort to kill Secretary of State Seward. There was a subsequent trial, carried out and led by Secretary of War Stanton. Four of them were sentenced to death and hanged, 4 others were given a life sentence in prison. Interestingly, one of those hanged was Mary Surratt, who was the first woman in the history of the United States to be hanged.
Andrew Johnson took control as President of the United States following Lincoln’s death. The nation now mourned Lincoln as a hero and a martyr. It has become accepted by historians that Booth and his co-conspirators acted alone. There was not a master conspiracy or grand scheme. Time passed, and a few theories were brought up, but nothing really substantial. Otto Eisenschiml wrote his book in 1937, and it was the first theory to really get anyone’s attention, and set up the premise for a lot of other revisionists later.
His book is over 400 pages, and he presents a number of arguments. I am going to discuss and disprove his main arguments. He believes that certain oddities and inconsistencies are evident in the assassination and the subsequent roundup and trial. He feels that they all converge, and point to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton. His theory is that Stanton masterminded a scheme to try and take over the U.S. government, and intervened in a series of events that took place. He uses a question and hypothesis format to explain his points. His “scientific method” doesn’t help him make his argument though, as it all fails to add up to his very bold conclusion about Stanton.
The author’s first argument is examining why General Grant did not attend the play with Lincoln that night. On the night of the play, Secretary of War Stanton supposedly gave General Grant an “implied order” not to attend the play with the President. This information is according to a secretary who was present at this meeting, who was later interviewed by Eisenschiml. His point was that he didn’t want Lincoln to have a man capable of really protecting him by his side, and it would draw less attention to Lincoln and his box if Grant wasn’t there (Eisenschiml 58).
In actuality, there was no implied order. First of all, that secretary was interviewed 42 years after the event, so it is questionable how well he actually recollected this event. Second, the author had twisted what the secretary, named David Bates, really said. The facts reveal that Stanton knew about a potential threat to the president, and feared for the President’s safety. He wanted to dissuade Lincoln from going by having Grant cancel. Grant was just following orders. Stanton was not trying to set things up for Booth and his attempt (Hanchett 165).
The second issue that Eisenschiml brings up was the choice of John Parker as Lincoln’s escort for that night. Parker had a bit of a rough history, as he was a drunk and had made a few mistakes on prior assignments. He was chosen to guard Lincoln that night despite protests from the President himself. Lincoln asked to be guarded instead by a Sergeant Eckert. The author questions why Stanton would leave Parker in charge of Lincoln. Eckert told Lincoln he couldn’t work that night because he had another assignment, but sources say that Eckert actually didn’t do anything else that night, he just went home. The author believes Stanton told Eckert to refuse to escort Lincoln, and leave Parker in charge. He wanted both of those things all to make it easier for Booth to complete his task.
Again, the idea behind why this happened is skewed. Stanton did not want Lincoln to attend this play. But, Lincoln felt obligated because they had announced in the newspapers that General Grant and President Lincoln would be in attendance. The President didn’t want to go to the play either, but felt personally obligated to attend because he didn’t want to let the people down. Furthermore, when Grant cancelled, he believed he must go to avoid a sort of double no-show at the event. Stanton was upset by this, and was set on trying to dissuade him from going by giving him Parker and not Eckert for protection. It is also the reason he asked General Grant not to attend. Grant never wanted to attend the play, so as soon as it was okay for him to bail out, he did. So while it appears at first glance that Stanton made a few curious decisions, there are reasonable explanations for them. Also, this is not enough evidence to connect him directly to the assassination. Just because he made a few errors in judgment does not mean that he was trying to get Lincoln killed on purpose.
Eisenschiml’s next argument involves the getaway. After Stanton received word of the shooting, he rushed to the house where the doctors were working on Lincoln. Stanton then immediately ordered the blocking of every route out of Washington D.C. except one. Every bridge and exit was covered except one path that led to Port Tobacco, Maryland (Eishenschiml 96). John Wilkes Booth, of course, took that route to make his initial escape. Eisenschiml believes this is not a coincidence, but was in fact planned by Stanton. First of all, there were no troops or telegraph posts in that area, so there was no way to blockade the route in time to catch him. Secondly, Stanton did order troops to station themselves in the near vicinity, and ordered them to watch for the assassin. In a way, one could say that Stanton actually did about as much as he could from his position.
Eisenschiml also claims that the road leading to Port Tobacco was the obvious choice for Booth to take, and that Stanton should have known this. He argues that Stanton failing to block this clear choice for a route in turn implicates him somehow. The author fails to take into account the pressure and intensity of the situation. The American President has just been shot dead, there is a panicked search trying to find out who killed Lincoln, and where is he. Stanton probably wasn’t thinking with an entirely clear mind. Also, it is easy to say he would take that route after the fact. Hindsight is 20-20, and in this situation it is necessary to consider the fact that Stanton probably couldn’t look at the situation with an entirely level head. Also, there is no way for him to know that Booth would take that route. What also detracts from the author’s claim is that this would mean Stanton and Booth had contact with each other, and had set up the proper pieces in place with this elaborate plan. Nowhere in his book, not a single page, does he ever even infer that these two knew each other or had met in their entire lives. The fact that he tries to make it plausible that these two worked together, which they would have to complete this, has no validity. There is no record of these two men ever having any contact.
He then goes on to make a few smaller arguments, each one getting pettier than the next until it becomes almost absurd. The author claims that Stanton didn’t immediately release information about Booth to the public, and that again, this implicates him because it meant he wanted Booth to get away cleanly. In truth, it was because Stanton didn’t want the wrong information getting released if it turned out it wasn’t him. There was a play going on, the scene in the box was chaos, and the man jumped down and then ran away. It wasn’t as if it was obviously John Wilkes Booth. They had to investigate it further to confirm it was him. If Stanton were to make a mistake and send people after the wrong man, then he would look incompetent. The delay was only three hours before he released that the killer was in fact Booth. It really is just opinion as to whether or not that was too slow. Eisenschiml believes that he waited in order to give Booth enough time, but again, there is no real proof of this. Throughout the assassination and the aftermath, Stanton had a large censorship of the press. Although this was and is a major event in U.S. history, Stanton tried to control the exposure to the best of his ability. Throughout this time, there were “remarkably few lurid reports in the press, a fact for which Stanton deserves either the credit of the blame” (Hanchett 175). Stanton did not want to make a mistake, so he made sure the information was correct. This explanation is far better, and has more backing than saying he was giving Booth time to escape.
Another main point was that Booth was shot, not captured. The soldiers at the Garrett’s barn were on strict orders not to kill Booth, but to take him alive. Eisenschiml believers Stanton secretly gave someone the order to shoot Booth in order to “silence him” (Eisenschiml 160). The author fails to make a sustainable claim here as well. It is questionable who exactly shot Booth, but he doesn’t give an answer. He puzzles over who could have done it, but that doesn’t mean that it was a conspiracy. Again, this was an intense situation, there were lots of soldiers, the house was burning down, and the man who had just killed the President was inside. Eisenschiml claims that no one ever saw Sergeant Corbett actually shoot Booth. Maybe that is true, but there also isn’t anyone who says he could not have taken the shot. Corbett took credit for the shot, was never punished, and it was generally accepted. So while he may be asking a good question-Who shot John Wilkes Booth? He doesn’t give any real answer as to why he thinks that it matters, or why it is relevant to his overarching belief that Stanton started this. If Stanton wanted Booth silenced, then whoever killed Booth did a bad job, because he laid there against a tree outside the barn for nearly two hours. The soldiers let Booth talk during that time, and he did. Slowly, Booth died out a few hours later. It is unfair to say that there was any skullduggery that directly involved Stanton in this case.
The last detail that Eisenschiml tries to make is borderline ridiculous. During the capture, sentencing and hanging of the 8 co-conspirators, they were forced to wear shackles and hoods. According to Eisenschiml, the shackles made it impossible for the prisoners to write and communicate. The hoods prevented them from verbally communicating. In the eyes of Eisenschiml, this was done to make sure the prisoners could not talk or share what they knew. He believes this was done by Stanton to silence those who were not killed, but were capable of implicating him and his plot. Stanton did not design the shackles himself, but signed off on them. The restraints were unique in that they made the left hand move the same way as the right, making it impossible to write on paper.
Again, this idea doesn’t hold up under close scrutiny. The prisoners were questioned numerous times when first captured and throughout the investigation. They were able to speak during the investigations and also at the trials, where they had proper legal representation. They were given ample time to talk, and expose Stanton if they wanted to. Eisenschiml claims also that the hoods were designed so that they could not speak. Even if this is true, which it is not confirmed, that does not explain June 10, 1865. The hoods were ordered to be permanently removed due to the extreme heat that day. The prisoners had an opportunity to speak then. Those prisoners that got a life sentence were sent to a prison far away, which Eisenschiml believes was another way to silence them. Again, this is wrong. The prisoners, while in a far away location, could have said something to the guards or other prisoners, or even the crew aboard the transport ship.
The last section of Eisenschiml’s book deals with Stanton himself. He examines his character and beliefs. He notes that Stanton never got along with Lincoln, and they frequently argued over political decisions. He then takes a lot of quotes from Stanton, and makes a few outrageous claims. The first is that Stanton tried to deliberately elongate the Civil War. He believed Stanton thought if the war continued, then the army would only get larger. Stanton believed that when a war ended, they would take the man directly in charge of that large army and make him the supreme ruler. Eisenschiml uses questionable sources, and twists Stanton’s quotes so they are out of context. There is no true proof that Stanton did anything to try to make the war last any longer. It is a ridiculous allegation. Of course, this would explain why he would try and get Lincoln out of office, so that he could make his power play and take over the government. His biggest flaw is just that there is no evidence of this. The author takes a few random words Stanton said and plays with them until they fit his aim. He has based this whole last section of the book entirely on painting Stanton as this bad guy, a man of questionable morals and attitudes. That is not the way to revise history. To say he was a bad guy and that is why he must have done it is not a credible response. Eisenschiml fails here yet again.
Eisenschiml examines a number of possibly intriguing events and actions taken before, during, and after the assassination of President Lincoln. Unfortunately, he fails to draw any realistic or reasonable conclusions from this. Instead, he tries to concoct some ridiculous conspiracy. Essentially his book is a twisted maze that has no exit. As the reader gets deeper and deeper into his points and details, they only get more lost. He has created a labyrinth, and he himself has lost his way in the middle of it. He brings up interesting topics for discussion or revision, but just does not follow through on presenting accurate answers. His method is questionable, and it does not provide any real evidence for any of his arguments. He did have personal motives to write this story, and they can’t be forgotten.
There are people who do believe Eisenschiml’s theory, and it isn’t too difficult to understand why. This event was a huge tragedy, one of the biggest in our nation’s brief history. People wanted an answer. Booth being crazy and acting alone just simply wasn’t enough for a lot of people. The other major assassination in U.S. history, that of John F. Kennedy, has also sparked a huge outburst of conspiracy theories. I think that they partly emerge because of the magnitude of their importance, but also because people struggle to comprehend these events. They want there to be some elaborate reason and cause, when the reality is that it often is the simplest answer. Also, especially in America, there is a sense of individualism that drives everyone to have unique viewpoints and beliefs. One of the foundations of our country is that people are allowed to have those ideas, and share them. Thus, conspiracy theories arise and become popular.
There are numerous other theories out there regarding a plot behind the Lincoln assassination. One involves the kidnapping of all major officials to save the Confederacy. Another one incorporated the Catholic Church, who was believed to be getting revenge against Lincoln for a case he tried while still just a lawyer in Illinois. This topic is interesting to revisionists and historians because there are little inconsistencies in the facts, and certain choices and decisions that do not make a lot of sense. But, for now, until more information is discovered and revealed, there is just this labyrinth. There is this maze, this web, with no clear way out, no up or down, and no exit.

Eisenschiml, Otto. Why Was Lincoln Murdered. Boston: Little, Brown and, 1937. Print.
Hanchett, William. “Ch. 6 Eisenschiml’s Grand Conspiracy.” The Lincoln Murder Conspiracies: Being an Account of the Hatred Felt by Many Americans for President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War and the First Complete Examination and Refutation of the Many Theories, Hypotheses, and Speculations Put Forward since 1865 concerning Those Presumed to Have Aided, Abetted, Controlled, or Directed the Murderous Act of John Wilkes Booth in Ford’s Theater the Night of April 14. Urbana: University of Illinois, 1986. Print.


Additional information

Michael Burlingame, Lincoln and the Civil War, 1st ed.

In Lincoln and the Civil War Michael Burlingame explores the experiences and qualities that made Abraham Lincoln one of America’s most revered leaders. This volume provides an illuminating overview of the entirety of the Civil War and Lincoln’s administration, focusing on the ways in which Lincoln’s unique combination of psychological maturity, steely determination, and political wisdom &hellip Continue reading Michael Burlingame, Lincoln and the Civil War, 1st ed. &rarr

Philip Kunhardt Jr. & Family Members, Lincoln: An Illustrated Biography, dj

A Beautiful Gift. Richly Illustrated

Edwin Stanton, Autograph Letter, Signed

Stanton Answers and Inquiry About a Naval Deserter

Abraham Lincoln, Modern Photograph, O-77, albumen toned

The Gettysburg Lincoln,New Smaller Format!

New Acquisitions

Libbie Custer Burnishes Her Husband’s Legend

An Almost Impossible to Find Pamphlet!

Possibly Purchased By a New Hampshire Congressman During the 1860 …


In 1901, he emigrated to the United States and took a job as an industrial chemistry He rose through the ranks to become president of the Scientific Oil Compounding Company. Foreign much of his life, Eisenschiml lived in Chicago, Illinois. He invented a window envelope made from one piece of paper. Later he developed a test to detect the presence of fish oil contaminants in vegetable oil. Eisenschiml was well published within the chemical and oil industries, authoring several articles in trade journals and magazines on various technical aspects of the business. He became a student of American history, with a particular fascination for the Abraham Lincoln assassination. He began researching the murder in 1928, but was not satisfied with the prevailing account that John Wilkes Booth was the mastermind of the plot. In 1937, his signature work,, was published to mixed reviews and a national furor. The resulting publicity resulted in good sales volumes. In it, he postulated that the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton had plotted to kill Lincoln due to marked political and personal differences. He used circumstantial evidence to build his case, including Stanton"s hiring of a bodyguard named John Parker to protect the president (Parker was temporarily absent when assassin Booth entered the presidential box at Ford"s Theater). Eisenschiml also speculated that Stanton had deliberately left one key bridge across the Anacostia River open, the same bridge Booth actually used to escape, and that he ordered Booth to be shot and killed by the Union Army. Another controversial suggestion was that Stanton tore several incriminating pages from Booth"s diary. The book sparked other books and conspiracy theories, as well as some films. His theories have become popularly known as the "Eisenschiml Thesis," but have generally been discredited by leading historians. Otto Eisenschiml"s first book on the assassination inspired the 1942 Broadway play Yours, A. Lincoln. His theory, or one derived from it, was mentioned by the fictional detective Steve Crosetti in an episode of Homicide: Life on the Street. Edward Hyam"s book, Killing Number Murder, which studied a number of assassinations, accepted this theory, with the added error of supposing Secretaries Seward and Stanton to be next in line after the Vice President. Eisenschiml"s book is also referenced in the 2007 Disney film National Treasure: Book of Secrets, when it is mentioned by a precocious child during a scene at the White House Easter egg roll. Similar to the book, the film"s premise was partially inspired by pages missing from John Wilkes Booth"s diary.


OTTO EISENSCHIML., 01/01/1928-12/31/1956

The bulk of the Barbee Papers concerns his research, accomplished primarily between the years 1928-1958. The Papers are organized according to provenance into seven series, out-lining his historical interests. The series are: I: Abraham Lincoln II: Death of Lincoln III: Lincoln and Booth IV: John Wilkes Booth V: Conspirators VI: Rose O'Neil Greenhow and VII: American History. Because of the inter-relatedness of topics, the same subject files may be found in a number of series. An alphabetical index to subjects is appended to the finding aid and should be consulted. The Papers are largely subject-oriented. File headings as they appear in the folder descriptions are either in large case to indicate subject files or in small case to indicate correspondence files.

The Papers contain correspondence, manuscripts, transcribed material, photocopies of documents, newspaper clippings, printed material, and photographs. Transcribed material, photocopies of documents, and newspaper clippings represent an enormous amount of research through published and unpublished sources. Barbee was able to gain access to a great deal of material still in private hands, the continued existence of which is uncertain. It is interesting to note that Barbee was one of the scholars to read through the Lincoln Papers when they were opened to the public. Through his studies, he not only concerned himself with major historical figures, but identified many less central characters and spent a great deal of time in reconstructing their societal context.

Correspondence contains fascinating discussions of history, shared with a wide variety of individuals, in addition to including specific research inquiries in search of source material. Because of the years in which Barbee conducted his research, he was fortunate in being able to correspond with close relatives of historical figures from the Civil War era, such as Mrs. Lee D. Marie, grand-daughter of Rose O'Neil Greenhow. Barbee's large correspondence with historians includes letters from Paul M. Angle, Charles Beard, Samuel Ashe, Matthew Page Andrews, Frank Maloy Anderson, Ray P. Basler, Otto Eisenschiml, Lyon G. Tyler, Philip Van Doren Stern, Henry Steele Commager, Emmanuel Hetz, Archibald Henderson, and Albert J. Beveridge, among others. Other correspondents include Bennet Cerf, General Merritte W. Ireland, Stephen Early, Nicholas Murray Butler, Claude G. Bowers, Cordell Hull, Adlai Stevenson, Patrick Hurley, William Jennings Bryan and Lyndon B. Johnson. Other material of note includes original correspondence concerning the estate of Rose O'N. Greenhow. Included are letters between A.M. Waddell of Wilmington, North Carolina and Richard Savage, dated 1866-1869. The question of the Greenhow estate is particularly interesting since she was found after her death with large amounts of gold, presumably for the Confederacy. Also included in the Greenhow series are three photographs of - Greenhow, including a carte-de-visite taken in London shortly before her death, a memorial card after her death, and a da- guerreotype, date unknown.

Size: 25.0 linear feet 17 boxes Dates: 1886-1956 (terminal) 1928-1956 (bulk)


The University of Iowa Libraries

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs in Series I, Box 6.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: This collection was donated by Ralph G. Newman in 1975.

Preferred Citation: Otto Eisenschiml Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman
Email: [email protected]
Website: http://www.lib.uiowa.edu/sc

Personal correspondence and biographical material, typescripts, galleys, and published versions of Eisenschiml's articles, reviews, and other major works, chiefly about Abraham Lincoln, the Lincoln assassination, and the Civil War reviews of Eisenschiml's works correspondence, legal briefs, petitions, and other records relating to Eisenschiml's suit against Fawcett Publications, Inc . and research materials including 19th and 20th century newspaper clippings, Civil War related publications, illustrations and prints.


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  3. Dozahn

    I will know, many thanks for the help in this question.

  4. Arashiktilar

    I find you admit the error.

  5. Nitaxe

    I find that you are not right. We will discuss it. Write in PM.



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