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Lincoln’s death: Was it a conspiracy?

Wintergreen foundation presents a historical program to discuss the controversial events

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Posted: Wednesday, January 30, 2013 7:45 am

Countless Americans can recall the facts of President Lincoln’s assassination from history books.

He was shot April 14, 1865, at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., by John Wilkes Booth. He died the next morning in a home across the street, just days after General Lee’s surrender at Appomattox.

However, there is more to the black and white details of the day, and that’s left historians contemplating for years. This weekend, a program will examine another aspect of Lincoln’s death — was it a conspiracy?

“There’s a bit of intrigue in all of this as well,” said Doug Coleman, executive director for the Wintergreen Nature Foundation, the group sponsoring the event.

The historical program, “The Lincoln Assassination Conspiracy: was Booth’s group unaided … or did they have inside help?” will discuss the controversial events surrounding Lincoln’s death. The hour-long discussion and presentation will be led by Len DiIoia, who wrote his thesis on Lincoln’s assassination at State University of New York Cortland. DiIoia presents a compelling argument for the possibility of a conspiracy, Coleman said.

“There was a lot of disagreement with Lincoln at the end of the war,” Coleman said. “The question is, was there enough animosity to lead to Lincoln’s death or not?”

The event’s structure is informal, providing audience members ample time to ask questions. It will be held Saturday, Feb. 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Tuckahoe School in Nellysford. In case of inclement weather, the date will be moved to Feb. 9. The cost is $10 for foundation and Nelson County Historical Society members and $12 for nonmembers. The cost covers setup and refreshments.

Space is limited to 75 people. To RSVP, call (434) 325-8169.

The presentation comes at an appropriate time, coinciding with the numerous award nominations for Steven Spielberg’s film “Lincoln.” Coleman said the program is especially appealing to people who have seen the movie, which focuses on passing the 13th amendment. The discussion will delve deeper into the unrest at the time, something that is not really pictured in the film, he said.

“What I expect to get out of this is a better understanding of a chapter that was somewhat abbreviated in the movie — the conclusion of Lincoln’s life,” Coleman said.

He said the presentation is enjoyable for everyone who loves history, even those who haven’t seen the movie yet. The first part of DiIoia’s talk will feature the events and themes discussed in “Lincoln” so everyone has an understanding of the background.

In addition to the popularity of the film, Coleman said topics like slavery and Lincoln as an individual are important to discuss.

“I think people should come to complete the picture,” Coleman said. “That’s why I would come.”

Wintergreen Nature Foundation sponsors an annual winter event as a way to support their mission of connecting the area’s cultural history with its natural history. The recent movie release led the foundation to choosing this topic, as did Lincoln’s connection to this part of Virginia — particularly with the surrender at Appomattox, which was influential in ending the Civil War.

Coleman said the program will help people understand their heritage and the roles others played throughout history. Programs such as this help bring a real understanding of history beyond the memorization of dates and places, he said.

“It’s my hope that as people begin to understand the personalities of these people that had an impact on where they live, they become proud of what their families were involved in,” he said.


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