Landmark of the Month (April): Ford's Theater (Part II)

As I stated last time, the assassination of Abraham Lincoln at Ford's Theater has connections to at least three other historical sites around DC.

First, it relates to the Peterson House. The Peterson House was a boarding house across the street from the Theater. Fearing that Lincoln would not survive a trip in a carriage, they carried him into a first-story bedroom, where Lincoln slipped into unconsciousness and died at 7:22 AM the next morning. The Peterson House is still open to the public, and you can enter the small bedroom at the back of the house where the 16th President passed away.

Inside the Peterson House

Second, it relates to Fort McNair, a small military post south of the Jefferson Memorial. The Lincoln Assassination was part of a plot to destabilize the entire government by killing the President, Vice-President (Andrew Johnson) and the Secretary of State (William Seward) all on the same night. Eventually, eight conspirators were captured and imprisoned during the trial at Fort McNair, known at the time as the Old Arsenal Penitentiary. On June 30, all 8 were found guilty; four were sentenced to life imprisonment, and four were sentenced to death by hanging. (one of them was Mary Surratt, the first American woman executed by the Federal government).

June 30, 1865

Third, it relates to the large mansion seen on top of the hill in Arlington National Cemetery. The large, cream colored Greek revival style mansion was the home of General Robert E. Lee before the Civil War (actually his wife, Mary Custis, had inherited the property. It’s a fascinating tale; maybe another month will get the whole story.) During the War, the government seized the property, and in a bitter act of retribution against being snubbed by Lee (Lee, a West Point graduate and 35 year veteran of the US Army by that time, was offered command of the Union Army. He declined, stating that his allegiance was with his fellow citizens of his home state instead), transformed their property into a cemetery, attempting to insure that Lee would never again reside there (it worked; he never lived there again). It was eventually transferred from the War Department to the National Park Service in 1933. The beautiful mansion can be seen from downtown DC as you head west towards Arlington Cemetery.

Custis House (now known as Arlington House)

No comments: