Shopping with Francis J. Meriam

On October 13, 1859, 21-year-old Francis J. Meriam left Barnum’s City Hotel  in Baltimore to go on a shopping trip. The grandson of Francis Jackson, a prominent Boston abolitionist, Meriam had read of John Brown’s exploits in Kansas and may have even gone out there to join him, although he never caught up with Brown. …

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Another Boardinghouse, Another Conspiracy

In 1865, a widowed Washington, D.C., boardinghouse keeper named Mary found herself at the center of a conspiracy: to kidnap President Lincoln. When the conspiracy plot turned into an assassination plot, Mary Surratt paid with her life, being hanged on July 7, 1865. Nearly six years earlier, however, another widowed boardinghouse keeper named Mary was …

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A Stop by the (First) Washington Monument

A few days ago, my family and I stopped by Maryland’s own Washington Monument–the first such structure erected to honor George Washington. In 1859, John Brown’s son Owen, fleeing with others after the raid at Harpers Ferry, stopped by the monument as well. In an interview by Ralph Keeler published in the March 1874 of …

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Why Isabelle d’Angoulême is hard to love: Guest Post by Sharon Bennett Connolly

I’m delighted to welcome Sharon Bennett Connolly back to my blog! I’ve known Sharon since her blogging days, and was delighted when she began to publish her biographies of historical women, including her brand-new one, Ladies of Magna Carta. Today’s woman, Isabelle of Angoulême, is one who’s long intrigued me. Over to Sharon! At first …

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The Sister Who Dated Lincoln First: Frances Todd Wallace

In the 1830s, Miss Frances Todd, living with her married sister Elizabeth Edwards in Springfield, Illinois, went out once or twice with one of the town’s up-and-coming lawyers, but found him to be insufficiently social, so the relationship, if it ever amounted to that, fizzled out. Fortunately, Frances’s younger sister, Mary, was more impressed with …

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The Other Henry and Clara

(Originally published in The Surratt Courier, a publication of the Surratt Society) Among its other consequences, Abraham Lincoln’s assassination would upend the lives of not one, but two young couples named Henry and Clara. The first—Henry Rathbone and his stepsister/fiancée, Clara Harris—are well known; the second, Henry Ritter and his new bride, Clara Pix, are …

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