Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Dr. Samuel Alexander Mudd (December 20, 1833 – January 10, 1883) was born in Charles County, Maryland. He was the fourth of the ten children of Henry Lowe Mudd and his wife, Sarah Ann Reeves. His father owned a large plantation called "Oak Hill" which was approximately 30 miles (48 km) from downtown Washington, DC. Mudd attended Georgetown College before studying medicine at Baltimore Medical College.
After graduating in 1856, he returned to Charles County where he worked as a doctor before marrying Sarah Dyer, his childhood sweetheart, on November 26, 1857 and buying his own farm near Bryantown , Maryland. They became the parents of nine children.
Mudd had long been an advocate of slavery and, like many Marylanders, was a supporter of the Confederacy during the Civil War. He was known to associate with Confederate agents. This included John Wilkes Booth, who he met for the first time on November 13, 1864 and may have been involved in the plot to assassinate Lincoln. After Booth's assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, Booth broke his left leg while fleeing Ford's Theater. A disguised Booth and David Herold arrived at Mudd's house the following day. Mudd set, splinted and bandaged Booth's broken leg and arranged for a carpenter to make Booth a pair of crutches.
After Booth's death, Mudd was arrested and charged with conspiracy to murder Abraham Lincoln. During his trial Mudd denied recognizing Booth while treating him.
On May 1, 1865, President Andrew Johnson ordered the formation of a nine-man military commission to try the conspirators. The trial began on May 10, 1865. Mary Surratt, Lewis Powell, George Atzerodt, David Herold, Samuel Mudd, Michael O'Laughlin , Edman Spangler and Samuel Arnold were all charged with conspiring to murder Lincoln.
On June 29, 1865, Mudd was found guilty of conspiracy to murder. He missed the death penalty by one vote and was sentenced to life imprisonment. Four of the defendants were hanged at the Old Penitentiary at the Washington Arsenal on July 7, 1865. Mudd and three others were imprisoned at Fort Jefferson.
Mudd was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson on February 8, 1869, released from prison on March 8, 1869, and returned home to Maryland on March 20, 1869. In 1877 Dr. Mudd ran unsuccessfully as a Democratic candidate for the Maryland House of Delegates. He died of pneumonia on January 10, 1883, and was buried at St. Mary's Catholic Church Cemetery in Bryantown, Maryland.
Note that the expression "His name is mud" is not related to Samuel Mudd as there are much earlier references to it.
Mudd's grandson Richard Mudd unsuccesfully tried to clear his grandfather's name from the stigma of aiding John Wilkes Booth.
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