MUDD DAY – December 20

Mudd Day | December 20
(Last Updated On: December 16, 2022)


Mudd Day on December 20th annually recognizes the birthday of Dr. Samuel Mudd, a man whose name was mud after his dealings with one man. 


After assassinating Lincoln on April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth rode with co-conspirator David Herold to Dr. Samuel Mudd’s home in the early hours of the 15th before crossing into Virginia. Mudd performed surgery on Booth’s fractured leg and allowed both men to stay the night. At some point, Mudd must have learned of the assassination. However, he did not report Booth’s visit to the authorities for another 24 hours. This delay appeared to link him to the crime, as did his various changes of the story under interrogation. On April 26th, authorities arrested Mudd. A military commission found him guilty of aiding and conspiring in a murder and sentenced Mudd to life imprisonment. He escaped the death penalty by a single vote.

President Andrew Johnson pardoned Mudd, and he was released from prison in 1869. Despite repeated attempts by family members and others, Mudd’s conviction has never been overturned, nor has his record been expunged.


Dr. Mudd’s name has been dragged through the mud since his sentencing giving the term “your name is mud” a whole new meaning. However, the phrase existed long before Samuel Mudd and the events of 1865. And it meant exactly what it means today, too. Do you use the phrase? Use #MuddDay to post on social media.

What is in a name? Explore these 9 Notable Figures Whose Names Morphed Into Eponyms.


National Day Calendar keeps searching for the origin of this suspect observance. 

Mudd FAQ

Q. Does Dr. Mudd’s house still exist?
A. Yes. The home of Dr. Samuel Mudd still stands and has been transformed into a museum documenting his place in history.

Q. Does Ford’s Theatre still exist?
A. Ford’s Theatre closed after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln in 1865. However, it reopened 103 years later. It serves as both a historic site and a live theatre.

Q. What other historic sites preserve the history of Lincoln’s assassination?
A. Visit these sites for an up-close historic perspective of Lincoln’s assassination:

  • Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
  • Petersen House in Washington, D.C.
  • Lincoln’s Tomb in Springfield, Illinois
  • Mary Surratt’s house in Clinton, Maryland

December 20th Celebrated (And Not So Celebrated) History


France transfers the authority of 828,000 square miles of land over to the United States completing the sale of the Louisiana Purchase.


Sacagawea, the Shoshone woman who acted as a guide and translator during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, dies at Fort Manuel, South Dakota. However, some contend that she lived until 1884.


The U.S. Patent Office issued the first patent No. 488,494 to Alexander T. Brown and George Stillman of Syracuse, NY for a pneumatic vehicle tire that “readily and easily detached from or applied to the rim of a wheel.”


Directed by Frank Capra, It’s a Wonderful Life, premieres in New York City. Starring James Stewart, Donna Reed, and Lionel Barrymore, the perennial Christmas film earned four Oscar nominations.


Dr. Bernard Kouchner and several Paris journalists founded Doctors Without Borders.


President Donald Trump signed legislation creating the United States Space Force.

December 20th Celebrated (And Not So celebrated) Birthdays

Harvey Firestone – 1868

In 1900, the American businessman founded the Firestone Tire and Rubber Company.

Robert J. Van de Graaff – 1901

The American physicist invented a type of particle accelerator called the Van de Graaff generator.

Julia Verlyn LaMarsh – 1924

Following her service in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps, LaMarsh pursued her law degree. Her career as a lawyer led to her election to the House of Commons in 1960. She became the second woman to serve as a federal Cabinet Minister when she became Minister of National Health and Welfare in 1963.

Dick Wolf – 1946

The television producer is best known for his crime dramas such as Chicago P.D., Law & Order, and FBI. Several of his creations also resulted in successful spinoffs.

Sandra Cisneros- 1954

The internationally recognized author and poet is best known for her novel The House on Mango Street. She was most recently earned the 2019 PEN/Nabokov Award for Achievement in International Literature.

Trent Tucker – 1959

The shooting guard played eleven seasons in the National Basketball Association. The majority of his professional career was with the New York Knicks. His biggest contribution to the game came in a January 1990 game when he launched a three-point shot with 0.1 seconds remaining on the clock against the Chicago Bulls. He made the basket, winning the game for the Knicks. Following the game, the NBA established a rule that required 0.3 seconds to remain on the clock in order for a player’s shot to count. It is called the Trent Tucker Rule.

Eduardo Sanchez – 1967

Born in Cuba, the American director is best known for the realistic horror film The Blair Witch Project.

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