Ford's Theatre National Historic Site

Ford's Theatre National Historic Site Welcome to the official page for Ford's Theatre National Historic Site. This page is maintained by National Park Service employees at Ford's Theatre National Historic Site.
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For more information visit http://www.nps.gov/foth America's transfer from civil war to peace was made more difficult on April 14, 1865, when Abraham Lincoln was shot and killed, just five days after General Lee's surrender at Appomattox Court House. A well-known actor, John Wilkes Booth, desperate to aid the dying Confederacy, stepped into the president's box. Booth's decision to pull the trigger altered the nation's power to reconstruct after the war. Booth escaped into the night as Abraham Lincoln was carried to the Petersen boarding house across the street. It was there that President Lincoln died early the next morning, and became the first American president to be assassinated. Explore Ford's Theatre National Historic Site and discover some of the motivations behind this tragic act and its impact on a nation trying to heal.

Operating as usual

Today we recognize #InternationalDayOfPersonsWithDisabilities!  People with disabilities contribute to every facet of Am...
12/03/2020

Today we recognize #InternationalDayOfPersonsWithDisabilities! People with disabilities contribute to every facet of American life. One hero from the night of the assassination, CPL James Tanner, overcame serious injury, and the stigma of the time, to make a lasting impression. After he was hit by shrapnel in the Second Battle of Bull Run (@Manassas National Battlefield Park), surgeons were forced to amputate both legs. Following this, he relearned to walk, studied stenography (writing in shorthand), and returned to serve his country, this time working for the Ordnance Department. It was due to this skill that he was called to the Petersen House by Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, on the night of April 14, 1865, to record eyewitness testimony.

Following that night, Tanner worked for the New York state legislature, passed the bar, and travelled as a public speaker covering such topics as veterans’ rights and Civil War pensions. Commissioner of Pensions for five months, he then worked as a private lawyer helping veterans win pension claims, before becoming Register of Wills for DC. He successfully campaigned for soldier’s homes to be established in New York and Virginia and served on the board of directors for the Red Cross.

While we’re currently closed to ensure the safety of our guests and staff, feel free to explore accessibility during regular operations with this link:

https://www.nps.gov/foth/planyourvisit/accessibility.htm

#FordsTheatreNPS

Image: White, Thomas and White, Samuel. Ancestral Chronological Record of the William White Family, From 1607-8 to 1895. Concord, Mass.: Republican Press, 1895

#OTD in 1859, John Brown was hanged in Charles Town, Virginia.  One of the witnesses to this execution was John Wilkes B...
12/02/2020

#OTD in 1859, John Brown was hanged in Charles Town, Virginia. One of the witnesses to this execution was John Wilkes Booth. After Brown’s sentencing, Governor Wise of Virginia (now West Virginia) received letters that suggested an armed resistance might try to stop his hanging. Wise ordered militia units including the Richmond Grays to assist in guarding Brown. Booth, who was in Richmond, heard the call and boarded the train with the Grays, borrowing one of their uniforms. While in Charles Town, Booth guarded Brown’s cell multiple nights. The day before Brown’s execution, Booth visited him in his cell. No written evidence remains of what was spoken between the two men, but Booth left impressed with his courage. Booth told his sister Asia, “John Brown was a man inspired, the grandest character of this century.” The next day Booth stood among two thousand onlookers including Robert E. Lee, Thomas (Stonewall) Jackson, and Walt Whitman, as Virginia hanged John Brown. Brown became an inspiring figure, one who some historians have argued helped usher in the Civil War. While Booth despised Brown’s abolitionist goals, he idolized his character. Why do you think Booth admired John Brown?

#FordsTheatreNPS #HarpersFerry #JohnBrown

For #TriviaTuesday yesterday we asked about the DC prison that housed theater owner John Ford, Mary Surratt, and Dr. Sam...
12/02/2020

For #TriviaTuesday yesterday we asked about the DC prison that housed theater owner John Ford, Mary Surratt, and Dr. Samuel Mudd. Though suspects were imprisoned in a variety of locations in the city, all three of these individuals were incarcerated at Carroll Prison, which also was known as Carroll Annex. Surratt and Mudd were eventually transferred to the Old Federal Penitentiary at the Washington Arsenal. If you attempted the bonus question, we were just looking for an answer in the ballpark as far as the prison’s location. The prison was located on Capitol Hill, near the U.S. Capitol Building. The specific location was A Street and First Street Northeast.
#NPS #FordsTheatreNPS

It’s #NationalHandwashingAwarenessWeek!  Hand washing is a great way to stop the spread of disease.  While Lincoln’s wou...
12/01/2020

It’s #NationalHandwashingAwarenessWeek! Hand washing is a great way to stop the spread of disease. While Lincoln’s wound would likely have been fatal at any time, it’s thought that poor hygiene, including a lack of hand washing, may have contributed to President James A. Garfield’s death following being shot by an assassin. Attacked in DC on July 2, 1881, Garfield died 79 days later in New Jersey. Suffering a prolonged decline, Garfield finally succumbed to a likely combination of sepsis, pneumonia, a punctured liver and possibly a punctured gallbladder. Had doctors the tools they have now, and our modern knowledge of the importance of cleanliness, he may very well have lived.

How do you like to keep clean?

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln #JamesGarfield #GarfieldNPS

Image: Library of Congress

Greetings! Here’s this week’s #TriviaTuesday question. This DC prison housed, at one time or another, the likes of Ford’...
12/01/2020

Greetings! Here’s this week’s #TriviaTuesday question. This DC prison housed, at one time or another, the likes of Ford’s Theatre owner John Ford, conspirator Mary Surratt, and Dr. Samuel Mudd following Lincoln’s assassination. What is the name of the prison? And a bonus question, what was the approximate location of the prison?
#NPS #FordsTheatreNPS

Welcome to another #MuseumMonday!  On the night of April 14, 1865, Major Henry Rathbone accompanied his fiancée Clara Ha...
11/30/2020

Welcome to another #MuseumMonday! On the night of April 14, 1865, Major Henry Rathbone accompanied his fiancée Clara Harris as guests of the Lincolns to see Our American Cousin. Rathbone was a military veteran who saw action at the battles of Fredericksburg and Antietam. Around 8:20 that evening, the presidential carriage picked up the couple, and they proceeded to Ford’s Theatre. Rathbone wore these white gloves that night. The gloves were manufactured by Courvoisier and are 7 ½ in size. As they watched the play, Rathbone heard a shot in the box and saw John Wilkes Booth. Rathbone attempted to stop him from leaving the box, but Booth slashed his arm from shoulder to bone. Over the years, Rathbone blamed himself for not stopping Booth from assassinating Lincoln. Do you think Rathbone could have done anything to stop Booth? Why or why not?

#FordsTheatreNPS #gloves

Image: Ford’s Theatre National Historic Site Museum Collection, [FOTH 4167]

11/29/2020
Story Time at Ford's - Looking at Lincoln

We have a special holiday gift for you and the kids in your lives! In response to these unprecedented times, we at Ford’s Theatre have been putting together some story time videos for your kids to be entertained and educated through the life and words of Abraham Lincoln. Feel free to use these at home or in your classroom.

FYI, all our story times will include both captions and audio descriptions so everybody can enjoy them fully. There will also be some questions throughout that you are more than welcome to help your kids respond to in the comments below.

With the permission of Penguin Group publishing company, our first story time features Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman. Enjoy! And be on the lookout for the next one in the coming week or two.

#OTD in 1864, one of the most tragic events occurred in US history, the Sand Creek Massacre. During the Civil War tensio...
11/29/2020

#OTD in 1864, one of the most tragic events occurred in US history, the Sand Creek Massacre. During the Civil War tensions arose between the settlers in the Colorado Territory and the Cheyenne and Arapaho Nations. The two nations had already been pushed west repeatedly due to earlier Euro-American settlement. President Lincoln, who was focused on the Civil War, gave territorial governor and friend from Illinois, John Evans, the authority to handle the conflict. For political reasons, Evans ordered the tribes off their lands and commanded General John Chivington to wage war against them. Chivington saw his opportunity at Sand Creek where two hundred Cheyenne and Arapaho were camped under the leadership of Cheyenne Chief Black Kettle. Even though they waved a white flag of peace, Chivington’s men were ruthless, killing unarmed women, children, and elders. During the massacre, 150 to 200 Cheyenne and Arapaho were killed. Upon learning of the massacre, the US military ordered an investigation that resulted in Chivington being held responsible but no charges were filed. Look through the photos to learn more about what happened.

This November, during #IndigenousHeritageMonth, we will be exploring the relationship between Lincoln’s administration and indigenous communities. Stories of the Civil War often leave out that while Union soldiers were fighting the Confederacy, many to ensure their freedom or the freedom of others, that Union forces and state militias were being used in the west to oppress and control Native communities. What stories of strength, resilience, and survival can we learn from these events? How can we reconcile the idea of states and the federal government fighting for individual freedoms in one context, but against them in another?

#FordsTheatre #Colorado #Cheyenne #Arapaho

11/28/2020
Story Time at Ford's - Looking at Lincoln

We have a special holiday gift for you and the kids in your lives! In response to these unprecedented times, we at Ford’s Theatre have been putting together some story time videos for your kids to be entertained and educated through the life and words of Abraham Lincoln. Feel free to use these at home or in your classroom.

FYI, all our story times will include both captions and audio descriptions so everybody can enjoy them fully. There will also be some questions throughout that you are more than welcome to help your kids respond to in the comments below.

With the permission of Penguin Group publishing company, our first story time features Looking at Lincoln by Maira Kalman. Enjoy! And be on the lookout for the next one in the coming week or two.

On this, the biggest retail weekend of the year, we are reminded that #MaryToddLincoln loved to shop. And sometimes, she...
11/28/2020

On this, the biggest retail weekend of the year, we are reminded that #MaryToddLincoln loved to shop. And sometimes, she overspent. When the Lincolns moved into the #WhiteHouse in 1861, there was consensus that the home was in desperate need of renovations. President Lincoln’s secretary John Hay said it had a “threadbare appearance” and referred to it as “a dirty rickety concern,” in need of fresh paint and new furniture.

Mrs. Lincoln was appalled at what she found, and wanted the executive mansion to be a place worthy of the country’s status in the world. So, she went to work on the needed improvements. However, in her enthusiasm for the project, she spent more than Congress had allocated.

Knowing that this would likely upset her husband, Mary asked Benjamin B. French, Commissioner of Public Buildings, to explain the situation to the president. As French told it, this news did not sit well with #AbrahamLincoln who responded that the executive mansion was “better than any we ever lived in.” Lincoln did not want to ask for more money “for flub dubs for that damned old house,” and said that “it would stink in the land to have it said that an appropriation for furnishing the house had been overrun by the president when the poor freezing soldiers could not have blankets.”

However, the money had been spent and the bills had to be paid, so Congress agreed to cover the costs.

Which Lincoln do you agree with in this situation?
Have you ever gone over budget on a home improvement project?

Image: White House Collections, “A Grand Presidential Party” in the East Room of the White House, February 1862. This is one of the rooms that Mrs. Lincoln renovated.

Happy #FilmFriday!  Today we explore another of Frank McGlynn Sr.’s films, “Are We Civilized?” from 1934.  The film expl...
11/27/2020

Happy #FilmFriday! Today we explore another of Frank McGlynn Sr.’s films, “Are We Civilized?” from 1934. The film explores fears of the time, including the possibility of a Second World War, which would happen five years later. In the film, a war veteran returns from America to his European country of birth (deliberately vague but symbolizing Germany) to see his son. He is confronted with a country engaging in censorship of the press, inciting racial hatred and religious intolerance, destroying the liberties of the people, and sponsoring book burning. The majority of the film consists of the father, played by William Farnum, giving a speech about the progress of humanity, exemplified by the religious leaders Moses, Buddha, Confucius, Christ, and Muhammad, and political leaders culminating in Lincoln. Frank McGlynn Sr. plays both the government censor as well as Lincoln (a role he was well-known for).

Lincoln is often used in film as an easy reference for good governance - does this oversimplify the man and his legacy?

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln
Image: Library of Congress

Good Evening!  In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  As not...
11/27/2020

Good Evening! In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the Thanksgiving Holiday. As noted in the first two posts, Sarah Josepha Hale influenced Abraham Lincoln’s Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1863. But her influences on American Society, and Thanksgiving in particular, were the result of lifelong work. Widowed in her thirties with five children to support, Hale entered a literary, social, and influential sphere uncommon for women in the early and mid-1800s. She wrote poetry and books (including one of the first to tackle slavery), created a charity to help widows and orphans, helped found Vassar College, raised money to build the Bunker Hill Monument, and edited two lady’s magazines, including Godey's Lady's Book (increasing the circulation from 70,000 to 150,000).

It was in her book, “Northwood: Life North and South” that she listed a fictional New England Thanksgiving feast, including, “…roasted turkey…stuffing…a sirloin of beef…leg of pork and loin of mutton…gravy and plates of vegetables…A goose and pair of ducklings…a chicken pie…pumpkin pie.…Plates of pickles, preserves and butter…wine …wheat bread…plum pudding, custards and pies…rich cake, and a variety of sweetmeats and fruits…cider and ginger beer…”

What did you eat today?

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln

Image: Library of Congress

Greetings!  In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the #Thanksgiving Holiday.  General ...
11/26/2020

Greetings! In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the #Thanksgiving Holiday. General thanksgiving has been given by people through history for all sorts of reasons: military victory, relief from plague, or to celebrate a good harvest. Following the steadfast urging of Sarah Josepha Hale, Abraham Lincoln issued Proclamation 106, declaring a national Thanksgiving Day in 1863.

Written by Secretary of State William Seward, and proclaimed on October 3, 1863, it asked “…to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father…” and “…fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it, as soon as may be consistent with the divine purposes, to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union.”

What hopes do you have for our country today?

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln

Image: Library of Congress

It’s #Thanksgiving!  In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the Thanksgiving Holiday.  ...
11/26/2020

It’s #Thanksgiving! In this three-part series we’re exploring 19th century contributions to the Thanksgiving Holiday. Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation was likely in response to Sarah Josepha Hale of New England, who had written for nearly four decades and to five administrations for Thanksgiving to be declared a fixed holiday. This letter to Lincoln seems to have brought some success. The opening portion reads:

“Philadelphia, Sept. 28th 1863.

Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States

Sir.—

Permit me, as Editress of the “Lady's Book”, to request a few minutes of your precious time, while laying before you a subject of deep interest to myself and — as I trust — even to the President of our Republic, of some importance. This subject is to have the day of our annual Thanksgiving made a National and fixed Union Festival.

You may have observed that, for some years past, there has been an increasing interest felt in our land to have the Thanksgiving held on the same day, in all the States; it now needs National recognition and authoritive fixation, only, to become permanently, an American custom and institution.”

In a time of intense struggle and unrest, what do you think about this idea convinced Lincoln of its importance?

#FordsTheatreNPS #AbrahamLincoln

Image: Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Abraham Lincoln Papers

For the 300th anniversary of the Bard’s birth, Edwin Booth convinced his brothers Junius Brutus Jr. and John Wilkes to p...
11/25/2020

For the 300th anniversary of the Bard’s birth, Edwin Booth convinced his brothers Junius Brutus Jr. and John Wilkes to perform in a benefit performance of Julius Caesar. The benefit was to raise money for a proposed statue of Shakespeare to be placed in Central Park. Scheduling conflicts pushed back the play twice, but finally, on November 25, 1864, the brothers starred in the play at the Winter Garden Theater in New York City. The central role of the play, Brutus, went to the most famous brother Edwin while John Wilkes played Mark Antony and Junius Brutus Jr. starred as Cassius. John appeared upset with the casting choice, as he wanted to play Brutus himself. Brutus, one of the Roman Senators who assassinated Julius Caesar, appealed to John, and he later referenced him after assassinating President Lincoln. The benefit was a success, raising four thousand dollars for the statue. Critics also applauded all three brothers, giving rave reviews for their performances. Two days later, the brothers posed for this photograph, showing John as Mark Antony on the left holding out his hand to Edwin portraying Brutus. It was the last time the three brothers were together.

Today, we at Ford’s Theatre memorialize Lincoln. The Booths, a theater family, memorialized Shakespeare. Who would you like to create a statue to?

#FordsTheatreNPS #Shakespeare #CentralPark

Image: McClellan Collection at Brown University.

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Page Expectations and Guidelines: We hope this will become a place where fans feel comfortable sharing information and experiences about Ford's Theatre National Historic Site with one another. While this is an open forum, it is also a family friendly one, so please keep your comments and wall posts clean. Please be considerate of other fan's opinions. In addition to keeping it family friendly, we ask that you follow our posting guidelines here. If you do not comply, your message will be removed. We do not allow graphic, obscene, explicit or racial comments or submissions, nor do we allow comments that are abusive, hateful or intended to defame anyone or any organization. We do not allow solicitations or advertisements. This includes promotion or endorsement of any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. Such posts and/or links are subject to deletion. People who continue to post such content and/or links may be subject to page participation restrictions and/or removal from the page. We do not allow attempts to defame or defraud any financial, commercial or non-governmental agency. We do not allow comments that suggest or encourage illegal activity. You participate at your own risk, taking personal responsibility for your comments, your username and any information provided. Posting of external links on this site that are intended as advertising (or to drive traffic to websites unrelated to Ford's Theatre National Historic Site), or do not contribute to dialog and discussions about Ford's Theatre National Historic Site may be deleted. People who continue to post such links may be subject to page participation restrictions and/or removal from the page. External links do not constitute official endorsement on behalf of the U.S. National Park Service or the U.S. Department of Interior.

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Monday 09:00 - 17:00
Tuesday 09:00 - 17:00
Wednesday 09:00 - 17:00
Thursday 09:00 - 17:00
Friday 09:00 - 17:00
Saturday 09:00 - 17:00
Sunday 09:00 - 17:00

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