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Lafayette Curry Baker to Andrew Johnson, November 11, 1865, Washington, D.C.

Lafayette Curry Baker, detail
Lafayette Baker was a former Union spy and then head of the "National Police," a forerunner of the U.S. Secret Service. He had launched an investigation at the White House into "pardon brokers" and their possible connection with corruption involving government offices. He focused first on two notorious female brokers, Mrs. Lucy Cobb and Mrs. Mary Washington, and was able to entrap the former with an undercover agent. After questioning her at his office, he was within days castigated by the President and then indicted in a Washington D.C. court on charges of false imprisonment and extortion. Johnson requested an explanation and in this report Baker lays out his suspicions and the course of his investigation. He was found guilty in late January 1866 of one count of false imprisonment, for which the sympathetic judge later sentenced him to a one dollar fine. Baker claimed in his memoirs that Johnson strongly encouraged Mrs. Cobb in her action against him and he testified against the President in his impeachment trial. Baker died in what some say are mysterious circumstances soon after. (By John Osborne)


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