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Ford's Theatre

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Ford's Theatre is a working theatre as well as a National Park Service historic site, so it was a little tricky to pick a day where the museum, the theatre, the balcony, and the Peterson house were all open and there was a scheduled talk by an NPS ranger. The visit was well-organized, in that people were herded into the museum first, which discussed the important aspects of Lincoln's life in the White House. I was especially interested in the displays on the Lincolns' family life and, after my visit to the Douglass home, the section on the relationship between Douglass and Lincoln (they only met three times). Another feature I liked was the display on the Gettysburg Address which showed a video from the History Channel showing all the living presidents taking turns reading the text.

Then we headed into the theater for the ranger talk. He did a great job of describing (rather graphically) what happened when Lincoln was assassinated. A key factor seemed to be that John Wilkes Booth was known in the theater and knew well the building layout so his presence wasn't really noticed as strange, and he was able to get in and out quickly. The theatre was decorated for the current production of A Christmas Carol which was really cheery despite the depressing reason we were there. We then went up to the actual balcony (sealed off) and then across the street to the Peterson house, where Lincoln died in one of the bedrooms.

Strangely enough, Lincoln had a premonition about his death:
The dream as Lincoln told his Cabinet on April 14, is as follows:
"In the dream, I was awakened by a faint moaning coming from somewhere nearby. I stood, and began hunting the noise, finally finding my way to the east room, where men and women were shrouded in funeral shawls. I saw a coffin on a dais, and soldiers at either end. A captain stood nearby, and I addressed him 'Who is dead in the White House' say I. 'The President,' is his answer, 'he was killed by an assassin.' In the coffin was a corpse in funeral vestments, but the face was obscured. A loud sob left the crowd, and I awoke."


The museum featured a number of statues, including those representing people waiting to see Lincoln.






Mary Surratt, owner of the boarding house where the assassins met.



the Presidential Box (don't say "booth")



inside the Peterson House
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