Lewis Powell was one of four Lincoln conspirators that received the death sentence for his involvement in the assassination plot. He was hanged in July 1865. His “job” in the plot was to murder Secretary of State William Seward on the same night that John Wilkes Booth was to kill President Lincoln. For his part, he really tried to accomplish his assigned task. He attacked Secretary Seward while he was bedridden secondary to an earlier carriage accident. Powell got on top of Seward on the bed and began plunging the knife again and again. While Powell severely cut Seward’s face, none of the stab wounds proved fatal. Powell, of course, did not know that when he left the Seward residence screaming: “I’m mad, I’m mad.” Powell had also attacked several other adults in the home in order to get to Seward. He left a bloody mess in the home. When Booth heard about the savage attack Powell had committed-even he was repulsed. Just a few days afterward, Powell was in custody of the authorites.
The account of Powell’s bloody attack and his capture are well known. Now I don’t mean to trivialize Powell’s story at all. I’m as serious as any student of Mr. Lincoln, his assassination, and his era. But I came across a sentence about Powell while reading the book ‘Myths After Lincoln’ by Lloyd Lewis (a book I highly recommend, by the way) that startled me. In fact, I read it over several times to make sure it was saying what I thought it was saying (about Powell). So, after much due diligence, I will now share this amazing little known (I guess) fact about Lewis Powell, the Lincoln conspirator. It is claimed that while incarcerated for his crimes he went 34 days without eliminating. 34 days? 34 DAYS? How could that be? Is that even humanly possible?
Forget about the fact that Powell was a killer well -practiced in his craft. He had seen many a battle during his service in the Civil War. He seemed to have no problem in his mission to kill a high level figure (Seward) in government. He seemed to have no second thoughts about his involvement in the whole Lincoln plot with Booth. He even went to his death apparently not really bothered by it at all. His true talent was unspoken. Maybe he should have joined a circus for his skill. He could have avoided the horrible crime he eventually executed. Lewis Powell didn’t have to use the bathroom (or outhouse, if you will) for long periods of time. He would have been murder if he had had a carload of kids on a long distance trip. “Mr. Powell, we have to go to the bathroom, can we stop? ” “No,” I imagine Powell saying, “ I don’t have to go so you all can wait too.” “But Mr. Powell, it’s been 6 hours,” reply the children. Powell quips back: “I once held it for 34 days, now man-up!” (smile).Mail this post