The unlikely figure of Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd has long been the center of one of the major controversies of American history. Born into the tobacco aristocracy of Maryland's patrician Charles County, he could easily have lived and died without creating more than a regional ripple. Instead he found himself catapulted onto the front pages in the weeks, months and years following the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, and even today scholars and amateur historians still debate what role he may or may not have played. Here, Samuel Carter presents the first full-scale biography of this enigmatic man, a major feat of research in view of the number of the doctor's private papers that were confiscated by the government or later destroyed in a fire. What he stood accused of was conspiring to assassinate Lincoln. All that is definitively known is that he did indeed provide medical care for John Wilkes Booth as he fled Washington, that the two men had met previously and that Mudd was sympathetic to the Southern cause. Around these facts the government, pushed by its implacable and vindictive Secretary of War, Edward P. Stanton, constructed a case that may well have involved suborned witnesses and perjured testimony. Even more dubious was the legitimacy of the trial itself, in which nine civilians including Mudd were tried by a military tribunal in time of peace. The book recreates the dramatic courtroom scenes and goes on to describe the gruesome fate that awaited the doctor in a lonely plague-filled prison on the Dry Tortugas islands off Florida.--Adapted from dust jacket.