Murder & Memory


Alexander Gardner. Lewis Powell. 1865. Photograph.

Lewis Thornton Powell (alias Lewis Paine or Payne) attempted to murder Secretary of State Seward at the same time that John Wilkes Booth was attacking President Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre.  Powell (1844-1865) beat Seward’s son with a pistol and stabbed Seward repeatedly with a Bowie knife.  Though seriously wounded, the secretary of state survived thanks to a heavy brace he wore as a result of a recent carriage accident and through the efforts of his nurse, George T. Robinson, to protect him from Powell. Although Powell managed to escape from the scene of the crime, he was arrested on the evening of 17 April when he showed up at the boarding house of Mary Surratt, where Booth and his associates frequently met. Shown here is an albumen print made of Powell on 27 April 1865 by Alexander Gardner at the Washington Navy Yard, where Powell was held for a time after his arrest.

Lincoln Collection   Source unknown.