Murder & Memory


James Allen Hardie.  Telegram to John P. Gray, Washington, D. C., June 14, 1865.  Manuscript.

In his telegram to John Purdue Gray (1825-1886), superintendent of the New York State Asylum in Utica, Major General James Allen Hardie (1823-1876) requests that Dr. Gray come to Washington to examine Lewis Payne (Powell).  On 27 April 1865, ten days after his arrest, Powell had attempted suicide by banging his head against the wall of his cell. Powell and his fellow conspirators were tried by a military commission.  Brevet Brigadier General William E. Doster (1837-1919), a former District of Columbia provost marshal, was appointed by the commission to represent Powell.  Doster tried to prove that his client was insane at the time of the attempted assassination of Secretary Seward.  He called three prison guards and two physicians, Charles H. Nichols on 2 June and James C. Hall on 14 June, to testify in support of Powell’s insanity defense.  The prosecution also called two medical experts, including the same James C. Hall who had testified for the defense (but then recanted his previous statements), on June 14, the same day Hardie sent the telegram to Dr. Gray. Both testified that Powell was not insane. The commission rejected the insanity plea and found Powell guilty, sentencing him to death by hanging.   There is no evidence that Dr. Gray ever examined Powell.

*2007M-42    Purchased in 2007 on the Bayard Livingston & Kate Gray Kilgour Fund