A Little Historical Lore

Since one plague can lead to another…

images.jpeg Dr. Samuel Mudd (1833-1883) comes to mind, remembering the Yellow Fever epidemic that broke out at Fort Jefferson in the Gulf of Mexico, in 1868.

Dr. Mudd was imprisoned there for setting the leg of John Wilkes Booth a day after he shot and killed Abraham Lincoln,images.jpeg breaking it, jumping onto the stage of Ford’s Theater from the balcony where Lincoln sat enjoying the show.

Mudd denied ever meeting Booth before, claiming when he showed up at his farm in Southern Maryland, asking for help, he was just honoring his Hippocratic Oath, or his Hypocritical Oath? Unknown-1 2.36.45 PM.jpeg It’s hard to believe when you read about it now, that he didn’t at least know, though he kept to his story till he died.

Despite his denials, along with two other alleged Lincoln conspirators, was tried and given a life sentence, escaping the death penalty by one vote.

While incarcerated at Fort Jefferson, the largest military prison of its time, when the fever broke out Mudd volunteered his services after 30 year-old, Joseph Sim Smith, the in-house physician died from it.

Because of his selfless service, President Andrew Johnson, ironically Lincoln’s Vice-President and reluctant successor, granted him a full pardon on February 8, 1869.

Despite efforts from his descendants to clear his name, his conviction was never overturned, leaving the sad legacy of…your name is Mudd, if one is disgraced or disappointing in any way.

The unfortunate part, it’s an expression that was used way before Dr. Mudd was stitched into the fabric of our nation’s history.

images.jpeg The Presidential Box at Ford’s Theater as it looks today.

As far as our pandemic goes, I guess it’s just history repeating itself…sigh



About Susannah Bianchi

I'm just a girl who likes to write slightly on slant. I've had a career in fashion, dabbled in film and to be honest, I don't like talking about myself. Now my posts are another matter so I will let them speak for themselves. My eBooks, A New York Diary, Model Behavior: Friends For Life and Notes From A Working Cat can be found on Amazon.com. Thanks.
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47 Responses to A Little Historical Lore

  1. If I ever knew that story, I forgot it. Thanks for writing it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale says:

    A case of guilty until proven innocent and even then…sad for the descendants, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Grasshopper never disapoints this girl.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. skinnyuz2b says:

    I always thought the expression originated because of Dr. Mudd. So interesting to find out that isn’t so. He definitely made the saying more widespread. I do wonder if he was ignorant of whom he was administering aid. Imagine all the mysteries we could solve if they ever come up with a time machine!

    Liked by 1 person

    • According to Google, it’s an English expression coined long ago, but it’s more fun and sinister to attribute it to him. In my mind, he might have stopped Lincoln from being killed if he had revealed Booth’s plot but…and so it goes, says Mr. Vonnegut.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you on the guilt of the good doctor. I do think he moved on from his “lack of attention” to do some great work. A terrific historical reference today, Susannah.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Patricia says:

    Interesting. Was history your favorite subject in school?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hardly went to school. My love of it came much later.


      • Patricia says:

        I hardly went to school either. But I loved and still love learning. I just didn’t like school. Weird but true.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I never knew whether I liked it or not, really. You need encouragement as a kid, and since, my parents were far from scholars, I was left to my own feral devices.I’m just happy I’m the eternal student now. I so love to read and learn, write and share. I feel it’s when I’m at my best. It’s a pity it happened when I was so much older but…one appreciates everything so much more. Always an upside, my fellow proser. πŸ™‚


  7. kingmidget says:

    Totally unrelated, but not quite … when I was seven, we went on a 10 week vacation across the country. Living in a 20-foot trailer towed behind our Suburban. Family lore has it that one of my sisters did something that annoyed my mother (I think she tracked some dirt into the trailer or maybe plugged the toilet) and my mother opened the trailer door and yelled at her, loud enough for the entire campground to hear, “Debbie Ann, your name is mud with me!!”

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Infamous for the phrase β€œyour name is Mudd”…as in…you are in trouble now.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorryless says:

    I don’t think I knew this about Mr. Mudd.

    As for the name Mudd, I think back to a former NBC anchor by the name of Roger Mudd whose time came after Walter Cronkite I believe. It was sort of like when Bobby Murcer replaced Mickey Mantle. Thankless.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Googles:

      Mudd is an indirect, distant relative of Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who was implicated with inadvertently aiding John Wilkes Booth shortly after he assassinated U.S. president Lincoln. Many accounts have muddled the facts, assuming incorrectly that he is a direct descendant.

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I remember that part from Assassination Vacation, where they go to where he was imprisoned. Love your history pieces. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s right, and apparently there’s an etching on the wall in his cell you can see. My feelings for him are dulled. Why couldn’t he have spoken if he knew about the plot? I’ve read two books on Wilkes’s infamous ride, and you see without much prodding, that he had to at least have met Wilkes before, denying even this. Something perks your senses when you read about it. Poor Abe. Wilkes honestly thought by killing him, the south could resume like before the war. What an asshole, but then again, he was not much more than a kid. He was only 26 when he died. His last words were after holding up his hands…useless, useless. sigh

      Liked by 1 person

  11. robprice59 says:

    Any law that enables prosecution of a physician for treating an injury, whatever the circumstances, is iniquitous.

    Liked by 1 person

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