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[56] people that Mr. Davis, Mr. Clay and others were implicated in the assassination of President Lincoln, and, in this belief, possibly some of those participating in the harsh treatment of the State prisoners may have shared, and it is fair to admit this is a circumstance in mitigation of their conduct.

While the public mind was in the condition of horror and indignation, which naturally resulted from the great crime of Lincoln's death, even more disastrous to the South than to the North, a swarm of crawling spies and lying informers infested Washington with details and incidents well calculated to inflame public sentiment and to warp the minds even of cool-headed men. Consequently the first intention was to cause Mr. Davis and others to be tried by a military commission upon that charge, but, as more light was obtained, wiser counsels prevailed, and it was determined to indict him for treason, and try him in a civil court.

In this connection, and before proceeding further, let us stop a moment to consider the charge made against Mr. Davis and Mr. Clay of complicity in the crime of Mr. Lincoln's assassination. It may, with proprietry, be said that though the accusation was believed for a while by many people at the North, it made no practical lodgment upon the minds of any of those in authority, except the vindictive Judge-Advocate, General J. Holt, whose taste for blood had been freshly stimulated by that of his victim, Mrs. Suratt. Perceiving how gladly he welcomed and eagerly he swallowed anything which might bring fresh victims under his jurisdiction, he was easily made the dupe of a set of sharks, all under assumed names, led by a man calling himself Sanford Conover, but whose true name was Dunham. Holt conducted a long correspondence with Conover, in which his correspondent proved himself a very ‘shrewd, bad and dangerous man,’ to use the language of Colonel L. C. Turner, who subsequently discovered his deceptions. The result of this intercourse, which was not confined to letters, was that Conover (the Titus Oates of the epoch), was paid handsome sums for himself and his witnesses. Every now and then Conover would turn up with a new witness, who would attend at the Judge Advocate General's office and give an ex parte deposition.

These depositions detailed conversations with and acts of Davis and Clay, Thompson and others, which were so absolutely improbable that a child, who would faithfully believe the dreams of Alice in Wonderland, would reject them as false.

Holt, however, swallowed them all with gaping gullibility, and

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Jefferson Davis (8)
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