Abraham Lincoln passed away on April 15, 1865, after being shot to death. On the 150th anniversary of his death, the History Museum is offering a virtual tour of the numerous artifacts connected to his assassination. As these relics are all scattered in museum collections around the United States, the virtual tour provides a unique chance of seeing them all together, in one single tour.
The most important artifacts to be seen on the virtual tour
These are: the murder weapon, the lead ball of the deadly shot, Lincoln’s rocking chair, Lincoln’s deathbed, a strangely preserved piece of the assassin, Booth’s calling card to Vice President Andrew Johnson, Lincoln’s carriage and Lincoln’s catafalque.
The murder weapon was fired by John Wilkes Booth. It is a pistol that weighs no more than 8 ounces, fashioned from brass. It discharges a single 44-caliber lead ball that is only accurate at close range. Booth had only a single shot as ammunition, in fact – only one chance to kill the president. The pistol is on standing display in Washington, D.C., at Ford’s Theatre as part of the theater’s special exhibition, “Silent Witnesses: Artifacts of the Lincoln Assassination,”
The lead ball that entered below Lincoln’s left ear and lodged behind his right eye was recovered by Dr. Edward Curtis. The autopsy was then performed in one of the White House’s guest rooms. The bullet is on display at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Silver Spring, Maryland.
The high-backed, walnut rocking chair upholstered in a plush red fabric is where Lincoln when Booth quietly approached from behind and fired one single shot into the back of the president’s head. The rocking chair was removed from the theater as evidence, by the police. Henry Ford Automotive purchased the relic for their new museum in Dearborn, Michigan.
The bed where Lincoln was laid diagonally across, since he couldn’t fit on it any other way, the bed that he died in at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 is part of the collection of the Chicago History Museum.
The specimen from Booth’s body is a fragment, floating in a glass jar that was taken from Booth’s corpse during the autopsy. The label of the jar says it is a piece of Booth’s thorax, although it could be a piece of his vertebra.
The calling card that Booth left when he visited the hotel where Vice President Andrew Johnson resided says: “Don’t wish to disturb you. Are you at home? J. Wilkes Booth.” The vice president was also targeted for a synchronized assassination that night. The card is in the collection of the U.S. National Archives.
The carriage that was inherited after his father’s death is also a part of the tour. It is part of the presidential carriage collection of the Studebaker National Museum in South Bend, Indiana.
The catafalque made of rough pine boards, covered in black cloth, and has started a trend in the American presidential burying history. It resides in a specially constructed display in the Capitol Visitor Center.