National Treasure II: Book of Secrets is due out on December 21st. Despite all of the Masonic symbols used in the teaser trailer above, who knows if there will be any Masonic connections or references in it. I hope so.
NOTE: Brand new trailer up here as of today. They're almost showing too much...
In finishing the manuscript for Conspiracy Theories and Secret Societies For Dummies, we talk about the true story of what is the central Maguffin to NTII: Book of Secrets – the very real diary found on John Wilkes Booth's body, and the pages that went missing after it was found. Union spy Lafayette Baker was hand-picked by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton to be the head of the National Detective Police in 1862, and quickly played fast and loose with the almost unlimited powers of arrest he was given during the war. He lost the plum job after he went just a little too far – tapping Stanton's private telegraph lines. Baker was brought back by Stanton to find and arrest John Wilkes Booth after Lincoln was shot. Twelve days later, Baker and his men traced Booth to Garrett's Farm, where Booth was shot. Baker found his diary and delivered it to Stanton personally, who promptly locked it away.
During Congressional hearings that attempted to link Lincoln's vice president Andrew Johnson to the assassination, Baker came forward and revealed the existence of the diary, which an embarrassed Stanton was forced to produced. When he handed the booklet to investigators, 18 pages were missing from it. Now, the diary was actually a date book, and it's possible Booth had used pages from the center as scrap paper, and torn them out himself. Or Baker may have torn them out, figuring to accuse his old boss out of revenge for firing him. Or maybe Stanton removed the pages, because he was actually implicated in the plot. Baker then said he had ciphered pages that proved Johnson was a Southern agent, and accused Johnson of ordering the pages torn out (or did it himself). Stanton was no friend of Johnson, so it's unclear who would have benefitted most from the removal of whatever may have been in the diary. In any case, Baker never produced his coded papers, and was dismissed by Congress as a somewhat spectacular liar.
Baker died 18 months later of arsenic poisoning, coinciding with several private visits from his brother-in-law – who just happened to work for Stanton. Coded messages were found in the 1960's written in a military manual once owned by Baker, and when deciphered, revealed that he had feared for his life, and that he believed Stanton would have him killed. Modern analysis of his hair samples revealed the arsenic – officially, he was said to have died of meningitis.
Go to the NTII: Book of Secrets website and see the longer trailer. Seems to be gold involved, along with Ed Harris as a Southern bad guy. I'm guessing the Knights of the Golden Circle are implicated, along with a stash of the gold of the Confederate treasury...
And the missing pages of the diary? They've never been found.