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Abraham Lincoln's Office Suit

National Museum of American History
Abraham Lincoln wore this black broadcloth coat, vest, and trousers, as his office suit during his presidency. The shirt and tie are reproductions.

Lincoln’s office suit was used in a preliminary study for a posthumous portrait by Boston artist William Morris Hunt. In May 1865 Mary Lincoln sent Thomas Pendel, the White House doorkeeper, to deliver the suit. Pendel, being about the same size as Lincoln, posed in the clothing for the artist. Hunt kept the suit, and in 1894 his widow donated the clothing to the Smithsonian.

Gift of Mrs. William Hunt, 1894

Abraham Lincoln's Wedge

National Museum of American History
Lincoln used this iron wedge to split wood while living in New Salem, Illinois in the early 1830s.

In 1885 workers found this wedge during renovations to a house that once belonged to Mentor Graham in New Salem, Illinois. Graham was a friend of Abraham Lincoln’s, and Lincoln gave him the wedge as a token of friendship when he left New Salem to begin his career as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois.

The initials “A L” appear on one side of the wedge. John Spears, a neighbor, recalled the day Lincoln went to a blacksmith and asked to have his initials cut into the wedge. The blacksmith hesitated, claiming he was “no scholar.” Lincoln borrowed the tools and marked the wedge himself.

Gift of Henry W. Allen, 1920

Abraham Lincoln's Shawl

National Museum of American History
In chilly weather, Lincoln often wore a dark wool shawl over his shoulders. Many years later Robert Todd Lincoln gave his father's shawl to his own friend, Washington attorney Frederick Harvey.

Gift of Mrs. John Shirley Wood, daughter of Frederick Harvey, 1967

Abraham Lincoln's Watch, around 1858

National Museum of American History
Lincoln’s English gold watch was purchased in the 1850s from George Chatterton, a Springfield, Illinois, jeweler. Lincoln was not considered to be outwardly vain, but the fine gold watch was a conspicuous symbol of his success as a lawyer.

The watch movement and case, as was often typical of the time, were produced separately. The movement was made in Liverpool, where a large watch industry manufactured watches of all grades. An unidentified American shop made the case. The Lincoln watch has one of the best grade movements made in England and can, if in good order, keep time to within a few seconds a day. The 18K case is of the best quality made in the US.

A Hidden Message

Just as news reached Washington that Confederate forces had fired on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861, watchmaker Jonathan Dillon was repairing Abraham Lincoln's timepiece. Caught up in the moment, Dillon unscrewed the dial and engraved: "April 13, 1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date J Dillon April 13, 1861 Washington" and "thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon."

In 1864 a second watchmaker, L. E. Gross, signed his name. Also, at some point someone etched "Jeff Davis" inside the watch, either as a joke or a statement of support for the Confederacy.

Lincoln never knew about the messages he carried in his watch. The inscription remained hidden behind the dial for over a century. After hearing from Jonathan Dillon's great-great-grandson, the Museum removed the dial on March 10, 2009, to reveal the watchmakers' declarations.

Gift of Lincoln Isham, great-grandson of Abraham Lincoln, 1958

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

National Museum of American History
This portrait of Lincoln was produced shortly after his death. The title printed below the image reads "Abraham Lincoln/ the Nations Martyr/Assassinated April 14th, 1865/New York Published by Currier & Ives 152 Nassau St."

Currier & Ives published about a dozen variants of this portrait to commemorate the martyred president. Like many prints of Lincoln, they were based on a photograph made in the Mathew Brady studio in 1864. They depict Lincoln facing either left or right, with minor changes in costume details and the part of his hair. Given the number produced, this image clearly had signficant meaning for a mourning nation.

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Portrait of Abraham Lincoln

National Museum of American History
Late in 1862, the Union League of Philadelphia commissioned Edward Dalton Marchant to paint Lincoln's portrait for exhibition in Independence Hall as a gesture of support for the president and the Union. Marchant engaged Philadelphia artist John Sartain to engrave the portrait, and mezzotint prints were published by Bradley and Company in 1864 to meet popular demand for the image. The original painting is part of the Union League’s collection, and the Museum owns two copies of the mezzotint print, one an early proof and this one from the standard edition.

The half-length portrait depicts Lincoln seated at a table, holding a quill. A document beneath his arm reads: “Abraham Lincoln, Jan’y 1st, 1863, Will. H. Seward.” It references the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on that date. Part of a large statue is shown at the upper right, a classical figure of Liberty with a broken chain at her feet, another reference to the emancipation of the slaves.

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

Catalog of American Portraits

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

Catalog of American Portraits

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery
This familiar image of Abraham Lincoln, a version of which appears on the copper penny, is easily the most ubiquitous of all Lincoln images. William Willard based this portrait on a photograph taken by Anthony Berger at Mathew Brady's studio in Washington, D.C., on February 9, 1864. The sitting occurred three weeks prior to Lincoln's appointment of General Ulysses S. Grant as commander of all the Union armies. The Lincoln penny was first minted in 1909, on the one-hundredth anniversary of Lincoln's birth.

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery
Portraiture became part of the mourning process that followed Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865. In the ensuing months, print publishers furnished the image of Lincoln in all guises. This simple, black-bordered Memento Mori recalls many Americans’ first grieving response: to drape funereal bunting, crepe, and flags on doors and windows, often tucking a portrait into the decorations.

Los retratos se convirtieron en parte del proceso de duelo que siguió al asesinato de Abraham Lincoln el 14 de abril de 1865. En los meses siguientes, los impresores de grabados reprodujeron la efigie del presidente en todas las formas posibles. Este sencillo memento mori bordeado de negro recuerda las primeras reacciones de dolor de muchos norteamericanos: colocar paños fúnebres, crespones y banderas en puertas y ventanas, a menudo acompañados de un retrato.

Abraham Lincoln

National Portrait Gallery
Alexander Gardner took this portrait of Abraham Lincoln at the last sitting the president gave him, on Sunday, February 5, 1865. That same sitting produced the accidental masterpiece known as the “cracked-plate” portrait. The other photographs from this session had Gardner’s characteristic sharpness and clarity in the president’s face and expression. However, here, the president’s hands were fidgety, as evidenced by the blurring of the eyeglasses and the pencil that he holds as props. From this original image, Gardner and his assistants cleaned up the blurring during post-production editing or retouching, a nineteenth-century version of Photoshop. They also introduced a subtle variation: in some of the prints, instead of spectacles, Lincoln is holding a penknife, with which he would presumably sharpen the pencil.

Flag from Abraham Lincoln's Funeral Train

National Museum of American History
One of two flags that flew from the locomotive of the Lincoln funeral train on the route between Albany and Utica, New York

On April 19, 1865, an estimated 25 million Americans attended memorial services for Abraham Lincoln in Washington and around the country. Lincoln’s body lay in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda and then traveled to Springfield on a funeral train that retraced his route to Washington in 1861.

Newspapers publicized the train’s schedule so that citizens could pay their last respects as it passed. In ten cities, Lincoln’s casket was removed from the train for elaborate memorial services and public viewings. On May 3, 1865, the train reached its final destination. The following day Lincoln’s body was placed in its tomb.

Gift of Walter McCulloch, 1926
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