Mudd Day is an annual holiday that commemorates the wrongful conviction of Samuel Mudd for conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. It is celebrated far beyond the United States in order to remember historical events and to avoid similar mistakes in the future.
Samuel Mudd was an American doctor who was convicted of plotting with John Wilkes Booth, the real perpetrator of the assassination. On April 14, 1865, Booth jumped onto the stage at Ford’s Theatre and fired the fatal shot at President Lincoln, breaking his leg in the process. Mudd, unaware of what had happened, treated Booth’s leg and sent him on his way. Mudd was later tried and sentenced to death for his part in the conspiracy, though the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment in Fort Jefferson prison. There, he was subjected to harsh conditions and rules, but eventually managed to escape.
In 1867, a pandemic broke out at Fort Jefferson. Mudd was tasked with finding a vaccine, and he managed to save over 200 people. As a reward, he was pardoned and released, living in freedom for another 16 years.
- Even after being pardoned, the charge of conspiring with Booth was not dropped from Mudd’s record.
- Mudd was a hero to all the prisoners at Fort Jefferson.
- He had a family waiting for him at home – a wife and four children – who suddenly found themselves without a breadwinner.
- Despite the conviction, Mudd had openly expressed his disdain for President Lincoln on multiple occasions.
How to take part
Learn about Mudd Day and the events of that day. Share what you learn with your friends, and express your opinion on social media. Remember the strength of mind of the innocent doctor who endured adversity with dignity.
When is Mudd Day celebrated in 2023?
Mudd Day is observed on December 20 each year.