Friday, February 5, 2016

Historical Person with No Right To Be So Good-Looking: Lewis Powell

Look at Lewis Powell. Look at him.

Public domain.
He's so handsome he looks like he should play an antihero in a Marvel Comics Universe movie. Yet this historical hottie has absolutely no right to look so attractive. He is, in fact, an attractive sociopath who had no problems taking part in a conspiracy to brutally murder up to four people, as part of the larger conspiracy to assassinate president Abraham Lincoln.

I read about Lewis Powell and his better-known co-conspirator, John Wilkes Booth, in Killing Lincoln by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.

Mr. Tit Elingtin scoffed when I told him I was reading one of Bill O'Reilly's books. We're not very much fans of Mr. O'Reilly's loudmouthed talk show on Fox News - or anything that's on Fox News, really. (As a person of Middle Eastern descent, I often come away from watching Fox News with the feeling that I'm being blamed for something I haven't done. This is a familiar feeling to Jewish persons, but not one of which we are fond.)

Perhaps my husband would be happier if, instead, I had chosen to read Fox News Fuckfest.

(Yes, that's a real book, a piece of "bizarro erotica." I wouldn't necessarily be opposed to reading it someday, just out of curiosity.)

To be perfectly fair, it should be noted that the co-author with the real experience in historical research and writing is Mr. Dugard.

Let it be further noted that I purchased this book off my Irish Granny's want list. I bought it from Better World Books, then gave it to her, and she read it. Then my dad read it. When he was done it passed back to me, and I read it, and then I'll re-donate it Better World Books to await its next reader(s).

Bill O'Reilly notwithstanding, this was a fascinating little slice of American history. I knew a little bit about Booth being part of a larger conspiracy, but I never knew the details. The story of Mary Surratt, the only woman ever executed by hanging in the U.S., is quite sad. She didn't really do anything wrong, but got swept up in the fervor to punish Lincoln's killers because of the actions of her son.

Lewis Powell was a scumbag, but his last act was one of compassion, declaring before the crowd (100 people won a sort of lottery to witness the hangings) that Mary Surratt was innocent. But that still doesn't excuse the fact that he savagely beat Secretary William Seward, Seward's son Frederick, and Frederick's wife, leaving all three for dead. He was also very rude to the Sewards' butler, William Bell. He called Mr. Bell a very bad name such as only the likes of Draco Malfoy or Donald Trump would use.

But the Sewards survived, and William Seward would go on to purchase Alaska for the United States (known at the time as "Seward's folly" before oil and gold were discovered there. Now that Sarah Palin has been discovered there, maybe we should go back to calling it a folly again).

So the unfairly handsome Lewis Powell probably deserved his fate, to be hanged by the neck until he was dead.

Why is it always the sexy people who get hanged?

No comments: