April 15th marks 150 years since the death of President Abraham Lincoln. Historic sites, museums and communities around the country are hosting exhibits, performances and events to mark the anniversary. Here are details on a few.
Lincoln was shot April 14, 1865, while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. His assassin, actor John Wilkes Booth, shot him as he sat in a box looking down on the stage. Booth, a Confederate sympathizer, fled but was fatally shot several days later by a soldier.
Lincoln died April 15 in a house across the street from Ford’s. His body was transported by train to Springfield, Illinois, where he and his family lived for years before he became president. Thousands of people turned out to pay their respects along the train route. Lincoln was buried May 4, 1865, in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield.
The murder took place several days after the formal surrender of Confederate forces in Appomattox, Virginia, ended the Civil War.
IN WASHINGTON, D.C.
Visitors to Washington have their pick of historic sites and museums connected to Lincoln starting, of course, with the massive marble statue and columned building at the Lincoln Memorial on the National Mall. If you’re in town April 15, listen for the tolling of church bells across the city at 8 a.m. to mark the date.
An exhibit at Ford’s Theatre, “Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination,” through May 25, displays the tiny pistol that Booth used, a blood-stained flag and his coat and top hat. Ford’s is also hosting a daytime show through the summer, “One Destiny,” describing the shooting from the point of view of an actor and theater owner who were there, and an evening musical through May 20, “Freedom’s Song,” about Lincoln and the Civil War. An around-the-clock “Lincoln Tribute” unfolds at Ford’s April 14-15, and through October, the theater hosts a walking tour of downtown Washington themed on the shooting. You can also take a self-guided tour of the theater and attend talks there, and/or visit the Petersen House across the street where the president died. Tickets for Ford’s do sell out, so book ahead, http://www.fords.org/home/performances-events/civil-war-150 .
President Lincoln’s Cottage, on a breezy hill where he and his family escaped Washington’s summer heat 3 miles from the White House, will be draped in black April 18-30, just as it was 150 years ago. The president visited the cottage the day before the shooting, and the site, which offers regular tours, is also hosting two exhibits connected to the anniversary, one on presidential security and one on memorial objects.
The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History is displaying the carriage that carried the president to Ford’s Theatre the night he was shot. An exhibit at the Newseum showcases special newspaper editions the New York Herald published the day he died.
Lincoln’s home in Springfield is a national historic site, and the city is hosting exhibits, lectures, performances and reenactments to mark the anniversary, culminating May 1-3 with a military encampment, procession to the Oak Ridge Cemetery and cannon salute, http://lincolnfuneraltrain.org/2015_event.php .
Springfield’s Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum is hosting “Undying Words: Lincoln 1858-1865,” an exhibit about his speeches, through February 2016. A show opening April 2 called “A Fiendish Assassination” includes dozens of items connected to Lincoln’s death, including a photo of him in his coffin.
In Lincoln, Illinois, home to Lincoln College, the school’s Lincoln Heritage Museum is hosting an exhibit called “Now He Belongs to the Ages,” with artifacts including a pallbearer’s glove.
The Lincoln Log Cabin Historic Site, 8 miles from Charleston, Illinois, includes the 1840s farm home of his father and stepmother. The site is hosting a dramatic recreation called “An Evening at Ford’s Theatre: April 14, 1865″ the weekend of April 10-12.
New York City’s Morgan Library is hosting an exhibit through June 7 called “Lincoln Speaks: Words That Transformed a Nation,” which includes handwritten speeches, military communiques and letters. Among the artifacts: the last letter he wrote to his wife, about the fall of Richmond, and a note he wrote denying clemency to a slave trader sentenced to death. His quill pen is also on display.
The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan, owns the chair Lincoln was sitting in at Ford’s when he was shot. The museum will waive admission April 15 and take the chair out of its glass enclosure. Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of “Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln,” is scheduled to give a sold-out lecture at the museum April 13.
The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace, a National Historic Park at Knob Creek, Kentucky, is closed for construction, but you can visit the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial in southwestern Indiana near the Ohio River, which includes a recreation of an 1820s homestead. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, who died when he was 9, is buried nearby.