Robert Redford and the last days of the Civil War

"The Conspirator," Mary Surratt

I promise we won’t go too heavy on Civil War posts here at RSM. With the sesquicentennial kicking off this week, however, it’s hard not to talk about it. Take for example this post from Parade discussing Robert Redford’s new film, The Conspirator. The film deals with the arrest and trial of Mary Surratt, a boardinghouse owner accused of being a co-conspirator in the Booth plot to assassinate President Lincoln.

Beyond the hot-button topic of military tribunals, Redford’s film also deals with other abuses of government power, most notably Secretary of War Edwin Stanton’s Constitution-quashing use of torture and witness tampering to bring about convictions. (Makes Alexander Haig’s declaration of “I’m in charge” seem tame by comparison, doesn’t it?)

I don’t agree with all of Redford’s politics (I have more issues with the beast he created in the Sundance Film Festival), but he has always proved a more than capable storyteller. This should prove an intriguing test of his skill.

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