Things to Do

The Things He Carried: Abraham Lincoln’s Top Hat and Other Artifacts Go on Display at Ford’s Theatre (Photos)

A new exhibit, opening in March, commemorates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination.
The silk top hat (size 71⁄8 Abraham Lincoln wore to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. The hat was purchased from Washington hatmaker J. Y. Davis and personalized by Lincoln with a black silk mourning band in memory of his son Willie. Image courtesy of the National Museum of American History.

April 15, 2015, marks the 150th anniversary of President Lincoln’s assassination. To commemorate the occasion, Ford’s Theatre’s Center for Education and Leadership has planned several special exhibits and events themed around Lincoln’s life, presidency, and legacy, including the world premiere of James Still’s The Widow Lincoln and around-the-clock programming on April 14 and 15.

Also on the schedule is the debut of a new exhibit, “Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination,” which runs March 23 through May 25. Ford’s partnered with the National Park Service and museums around the country to collect items present in the theater the night of President and Mrs. Lincoln’s ill-fated visit, including Lincoln’s top hat and the contents of his pockets, and John Wilkes Booth’s pistol.

Tickets to “Silent Witnesses” go on sale Monday, October 20, at 10 AM. In the meantime, read on for a look at some of the objects included in the exhibit.

Objects found in President Lincoln’s pockets: two pairs of spectacles and a lens polisher, a pocket knife, a watch fob, a linen handkerchief, a sleeve button, and a brown leather wallet containing a $5 Confederate note. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

The .44-caliber Deringer pistol John Wilkes Booth fired at the President from six to ten inches away. The gun discharged a ball of lead less than a half-inch in diameter, which entered Lincoln’s head near his left ear. Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith/courtesy of Ford’s Theatre.

Lincoln wore this custom Brooks Brothers wool overcoat for his second inauguration. The wool is reportedly finer than cashmere, and the coat includes embroidery of an eagle on the inner lining, along with the words “One Country, One Destiny.” Photograph by Carol M. Highsmith/courtesy of Ford’s Theatre.

President and Mrs. Lincoln, along with Henry Rathbone and his fiancée Clara Harris, took this barouche to attend a performance of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theatre on April 14. The Lincolns may have also taken the carriage to visit the USS Montauk on the afternoon before the play. Image courtesy of Studebaker National Museum.

Mary Todd Lincoln wore this black velvet cloak to Ford’s Theatre on the night of her husband’s death. Image courtesy of the Chicago History Museum.

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