Marymount professor Kenneth Zanca, Ph.D., recently published his intriguing Civil War-era book, The Catholics and Mrs. Mary Surratt: How They Responded to the Trial and Execution of the Lincoln Conspirator.
Dr. Zanca, who is a professor of philosophy and religious studies, explores the Catholic Church and its reaction to the Lincoln assassination. In particular, he looks at Mary Surratt, the only woman convicted of taking part in the conspiracy to assassinate Abraham Lincoln and the first woman executed by the United States federal government.
Since the execution took place in 1865, questions have remained about Surratt’s involvement in Lincoln’s assassination. Dr. Zanca says that he approached this topic with care. “I worked hard to present the data and not pass judgment on Mrs. Surratt’s guilt or innocence – which to me will always be an unanswerable question unless new documents are found.”
Dr. Zanca, whose book has been very well received, was invited to present his findings at the annual national conference of the Surratt Society. Recently, he received a letter from Marshall Surratt, a direct descendent of Mary Surratt, who thanked him for his excellent work and confirmed that Mary’s involvement in Lincoln’s assassination remains both a mystery and a controversial topic.
Dr. Zanca says that he is currently working on the first volume of a multivolume work dealing with Catholics and the Civil War, a topic that he says has not received in-depth study in years.