Papers belonging to American lawyer, soldier, and politician Joseph Holt.
Joseph Holt (1807-1894) was an American public official and judge advocate general of the U.S. Army from 1862 to 1875. A native
of Kentucky, he became a well-known lawyer and prominent Democratic politician. In 1857, President Buchanan appointed him
commissioner of patents, and in 1859 he became Postmaster General. In the beginning of 1861, before the outbreak of the American
Civil War, he was Secretary of War. A staunch opponent of the secession movement, Holt was instrumental in preventing Kentucky
from seceding. In September 1862, he was appointed to the newly created office of judge advocate general. In this capacity
he presided over the trial and punishment of John Wilkes Booth's accomplices. A controversy over the trial that involved charges
of misusing the power of a military tribunal and manipulation of the evidence resulted in a growing public demand for his
resignation. He remained in office until 1875 and afterwards continued to try to disprove the charges. He died in Washington,
D.C. in August 1894.
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