Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Contents of Lincoln's Pockets

One hundred and forty-nine years ago today, the nation awoke to the horrible news that Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.

These were the contents of his pockets: a leather wallet, a handkerchief, a confederate 5-dollar bill, a pocket knife, a watch fob, and two pairs of gold-rimmed spectacles. He also had several newspaper clippings not shown here. I think this might be fascinating even if you are not obsessed with Lincoln.

Interesting that he had a confederate five dollar bill on him. It would have been an enormous sum of money before the war ended, and worthless upon defeat of the confederate army. Most historians speculate that he carried it as a souvenir of victory, or as a reminder of the noble struggle for unity and justice, but no one really knows. (And no, imaginary readers, this has nothing to do with why he was later depicted on the modern fiver -- that was an honor bestowed upon him to coincide with the opening of the Lincoln Memorial).

As Lincoln's image is claimed by history, a mere icon of another time, I think this small display of his personal artifacts serves to humanize him, and to keep his noble spirit with us in the present.

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