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Dublin: 11°C Monday 19 April 2021

This is what Lincoln had in his pocket when he was assassinated

This week marked 150 years since the president was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre.

IT WAS 150 years on Monday since President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington in 1865.

Lincoln was attending the play “Our American Cousin” in a much-needed attempt to calm his nerves after the stresses of the Civil War. Although the war would not officially end for almost another month, Lincoln was able to breathe a little easier that night knowing Confederate General Robert E Lee surrendered to Union troops just a few days earlier.

After Lincoln was assassinated, the president’s coat along with whatever items he was carrying when he was shot were turned over to his son, Robert Todd. In 1937, they were handed over to the Library of Congress for preservation.

When Lincoln was assassinated, he had two pairs of glasses, an ivory pocketknife, a handkerchief, a pocket watch fob, a lens polisher, nine newspaper clippings, a leather wallet, and a Confederate five dollar bill on him.

The multiple pairs of glasses, according to US News, were for the president’s failing vision. He needed lenses for both reading and seeing at a distance, especially while watching a play. The president also had strabismus, which prevented him from focusing both eyes on the same object at once.

Lincoln’s possession of a Confederate bill remains a mystery. Aside from the fiver, Lincoln had no other money on his body, from either the Union or the Confederacy. The bill was likely a souvenir from the president’s victorious visit to the Confederate capitol of Richmond, Virginia only ten days earlier.

Although Lincoln is now represented on the five dollar bill, he was not placed on the bill until 1914. Until then, the bill went through a series of redesigns featuring Andrew Jackson, Ulysses S. Grant, and Christopher Columbus.

If you want more details on the artefacts, you can see a brief explanation from the History Channel here.

- Jeremy Bender

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