2015 Press Releases

National Archives Remembers Lincoln with Programs and Document Display
Press Release · Monday, March 23, 2015

Washington, DC

The National Archives marks the 150th Anniversary of President Abraham Lincoln’s death with featured programs and book talks, and a document display of Dr. Charles A. Leale’s report from the night of the President’s death. These programs and display are free and open to the public at the National Archives Museum in Washington, DC. The Museum is located on Constitution Avenue at 9th Street, NW. Metro accessible on Yellow or Green lines, Archives/Navy Memorial station.

FEATURED DISPLAY:  A Doctor in the House – Dr. Charles Leale’s report on the death of President Lincoln
East Rotunda Gallery, through April 29, 2015

There was a doctor in the house the night President Lincoln was assassinated—Dr. Charles A. Leale, a recently employed surgeon at the U.S. Army General Hospital. Six weeks out of medical school, the 23-year-old doctor went to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865, hoping to catch a glimpse of President Lincoln. In the course of the evening, he found himself attempting to remove a bullet from the President’s skull. Leale was the first medical professional to arrive at the wounded President’s side. His report of the events of that evening takes us to the scene of a crime that irreversibly altered the future of the United States. Leale’s eyewitness report takes us to the scene of a crime that irreversibly altered the future of the United States.

I immediately ran to the Presidents box and as soon as the door was opened was admitted and introduced to Mrs. Lincoln when she exclaimed several times, “O Doctor, do what you can for him, do what you can!”

This document, signed by Dr. Leale, is believed to be a copy of the report he wrote immediately afterward. National Archives, Records of the Adjutant General’s Office. The National Archives Museum’s “Featured Documents” exhibit is made possible in part by the National Archives Foundation.

All programs will take place in the William G. McGowan Theater of the National Archives Museum and on YouTube. Book signings will follow each book talk.

BOOK TALK: Fortune’s Fool: The Life of John Wilkes Booth
Tuesday, April 7, noon

John Wilkes Booth catapulted into history on the night of April 14, 1865, when he assassinated President Lincoln. Historian Terry Alford looks at the man whose life has been overshadowed by his final, infamous act. A book signing will follow the program.

BOOK TALK: President Lincoln Assassinated!!: The Firsthand Story of the Murder, Manhunt, Trial, and Mourning
Thursday, April 16, at noon

Historian Harold Holzer recaptures the drama of Lincoln’s assassination, the hunt for the conspirators and their military trial, and the nation’s mourning for the martyred president. Using original eyewitness reports, medical records, trial transcripts, newspaper articles, speeches, diary entries, and poems, Holzer reveals of one the most shocking and tragic events in our history.

PANEL DISCUSSION: DC Emancipation and 19th-Century Life
Thursday, April 16, at 7 p.m.

What was 19th-century life like for enslaved and free African Americans in Washington, DC? What was the impact of DC Emancipation in and around the city? A panel discusses these topics as well as how the assassination of President Lincoln was observed after the Civil War. John Franklin of the National Museum of African American History and Culture moderates Elizabeth Clark-Lewis, Howard University; George Musgrove, UMBC; and Chris Myers of Washington History. This event is presented in partnership with DC City Government and NMAAHC.

Saturday, April 18, 11 a.m.–4 p.m.

11 a.m.
A Finger in Lincoln’s Brain: What Modern Science Reveals about Lincoln, His Assassination, and Its Aftermath
E. Lawrence Abel sheds light on the details surrounding the death of Abraham Lincoln, including John Wilkes Booth's illness, the alleged medical treatment the wounded President received, and the significance of his funeral for the American public.

12:30 p.m.
Marching Home: Union Veterans and Their Unending Civil War
Civil War historian Brian Matthew Jordan describes how veterans—left tending rotting wounds, battling alcoholism, and campaigning for paltry pensions—realized that they stood as unwelcome reminders to a new America eager to heal and forget.

2 p.m.
Their Last Full Measure: The Final Days of the Civil War
Historian Joseph Wheelan relates the dramatic events which followed one after another, leading ultimately to Lee’s surrender at Appomattox and Lincoln’s assassination. Book signings will follow each discussion.

BOOK TALK: Capital Dames: The Civil War and the Women of Washington, 1848–1868
Monday, April 20, at 7 p.m.

Cokie Roberts and Presidential historian Michael Beschloss mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War with a riveting look at the experiences, influence, and contributions of the women of Washington, DC, during this momentous period of American history. Using newspaper articles, government records, and private letters and diaries—many never before published—Roberts brings the war-torn capital into focus through the lives of its formidable women.

BOOK TALK: Lincoln’s Autocrat: The Life of Edwin Stanton
Wednesday, April 22, at noon

Edwin Stanton wielded enormous influence and power as Lincoln's Secretary of War during the Civil War and under Johnson during the early years of Reconstruction.William Marvel reexamines Stanton's life, career, and legacy. A book signing follows the program.

Related online resources:

  • The National Archives holds the investigation and trial papers relating to the assassination. Read the eyewitness account by Robert King Stone, the Lincoln family physician, and the only one of the 14 doctors who treated Lincoln that night who presented testimony on the President’s condition.
  • See “The Night of Lincoln's Assassination,” Henry Rollins’ 10 Things You Don’t Know About interview with National Archives Chief of Reference Trevor Plante.
  • See the DC Police blotter listing Police blotter listing Lincoln’s assassination.
  • Discover John Russell Pope’s other Lincoln Memorial designs.

Related Teaching with Documents online educational resources:
Teaching with Documents uses National Archives primary sources to explore Civil War themes including the following topics:

Related exhibition:

The Public Vaults exhibition at the National Archives Museum features a Lincoln telegram, an image of Lincoln and his general after Antietam, a facsimile of all five pages of the Emancipation Proclamation, and an interactive exhibit about the Lincoln assassination and the Booth conspiracy.

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