Observed annually on December 20th, Mudd Day is a day that recognizes the birthday of the American physician and conspirator in the assassination of U.S President Abraham Lincoln, Dr. Samuel Mudd. Although his part in the plot to assassinate the president is unclear, he did have a connection to the assassin, John Wilkes Booth, and even splinted Booth’s leg after Booth had broken it while jumping from the Presidential box in Ford’s Theater after the assassination.
It is known that Dr. Mudd didn’t contact the authorities immediately, but would instead wait until Easter Sunday to ask his second cousin to notify the 13th New York Cavalry in Bryantown. This delay linked him to the crime and he was found guilty of giving aid and conspiring with Booth in Lincoln’s assassination.
A Brief Biography On Samuel Mudd
Samuel Mudd was born on December 20, 1833, in Charles County, Maryland. At the age of 15, he would go off to boarding school at St. John’s Literary Institute, and two years later, he would enroll at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C. When he finished there, he would then study medicine at the University of Maryland at Baltimore.
As a present for his wedding, he was given about 218 acres of farmland in Maryland by his father. It’s on this land that he would build the home known as St. Catharine. Dr. Mudd would begin to grow a small amount of tobacco to supplement the income from his medical practice. He used five slaves to grow these crops because he believed that slavery was divinely ordained.
When the Civil War broke out in 1861, The slave system and economy of Maryland began to fall apart. Although Maryland was originally exempt from Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves—they would abolish slavery anyway. As a result, Mudd considered selling his property and depending solely on his medical practice to support his wife and four kids. This is when he was introduced to someone who might be interested in buying the property from him—a Mr. John Wilkes Booth.
Although Booth was pretending to be interested in purchasing real estate, his real purpose for being in Maryland was to plan an escape route as part of his plan to kidnap Lincoln. During one of these visits, Mudd met Booth and Booth would end up staying a night at Mudd’s farm the following day. Whether Mudd knew about Booth’s plan to assassinate Lincoln or not is up for debate among most historians.
It is known that Mudd splinted Booth’s leg on April 15th at 4 AM after Booth had broken it while jumping out of the Presidential box in Ford’s Theater. It’s also known that Mudd didn’t immediately contact the authorities, but instead had his second cousin notify the 13th NY Calvary on Easter Sunday. It was this delay that drew suspicion from authorities about Mudd’s participation in the event.
On April 26, Mudd was arrested by authorities. A military commission then found him guilty of conspiring in Lincoln’s murder and aiding Booth. He was sentenced to life in prison but was pardoned by U.S President Andrew Johnson in 1869.
Observing Mudd Day
This day can be observed by simply learning more about Samuel Mudd and his part in the Lincoln assassination. You can also use the hashtag #MuddDay to spread the word about this holiday on your social media accounts as well.