Washington, DC: Ford’s Theatre and Abraham Lincoln’s Legacy

Abraham Lincoln holds a vital place in American history, and reminders of him can be found in many places throughout the nation’s capital, Washington DC. The Lincoln Memorial, located at the west end of the National Mall, is the most obvious dedication to the late President. The structure is 99 ft tall and 202 ft wide and the statue of Lincoln inside is 19ft tall. Many historic gatherings have happened here, including Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a Dream” speech!

Also on the National Mall, the National Museum of American History houses many amazing artifacts from America’s history. From the American Flag that inspired the Star Spangled banner, to Dorothy’s shoes from The Wizard of Oz. One exhibition is called “The American Presidency: A Glorious Burden”. It has artifacts from all of the Presidents and First Families but the most notable for Abraham Lincoln was the top hat he wore to Ford’s Theater the night he was assassinated.


The last Lincoln tribute we visited was Ford’s Theater, which is all about Abraham Lincoln. They give out free tickets in the morning on a first come first serve basis but they also sell tickets ahead of time online. We opted to buy ours online to make sure we didn’t miss out! The tour started in a museum underneath the theater. Its exhibits follow Lincoln’s life from when he first arrives in Washington to the night he was assassinated. You can learn about Lincoln’s political policies, his important role in the Civil War, and they even have the gun John Wilkes Booth used to kill the President on display.


The next step of the tour is in the actual theater. They start to tell everyone to move to the theater when you still have 10 minutes or so to explore the museum, but you don’t need to rush, there are plenty of seats. If you didn’t purchase the audio tour you can’t come back down, so make sure to see your fill downstairs first. Once in the theater, a National Park Service Ranger walks you though April 14th, 1865 from both Lincoln and Booth’s perspectives. The ranger’s monologue is well done and very informative. Once they are done you are able to explore the theater and get a better view of where the president was sitting on that fateful night.

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Included in the Ford’s Theater ticket is a visit to the Peterson House across the street. This is where Lincoln was taken and tended to before dying at 7:22 am on April 15th, 1865. The house is staged similar to how it was the night Lincoln died. After going through the Peterson house, you come out in more exhibits about that night in the building next door.

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There are many statues of Abraham Lincoln but none are more accurate than the bust in the U.S. Capital Building. Lincoln’s bust was carved in 1908 straight out of marble instead of making it from a plaster cast made from a clay model. The scale of Lincoln’s head was too large for the marble stone the sculptor had to work with. If you look closely you can see he is missing his left ear! Throughout Washington DC, you can see small pieces of Abraham Lincoln’s legacy. He has left his mark on this nation’s capital as well as United States history.

 

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