The President’s Pocket

Contents of Lincoln's pocket on display at the Smithsonian

Many Americans know that Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. What many may not know is what Lincoln was carrying in his pockets at the time of his death.

The following items were found in Lincoln’s pocket that night: two pairs of bifocals, a lens polisher, nine newspaper articles, a pocketknife, a watch fob, a linen handkerchief and a leather wallet inside of which was a single, five-dollar Confederate note.

While none of this stuff is of any particular significance, the fact that he carried around a piece of Confederate money is interesting. He surely wouldn’t be using the money to buy anything, and since buying things is generally the purpose of money we have to wonder what Lincoln was doing with it.

Maybe his carrying it didn’t mean anything. Or maybe he kept it as a constant reminder of what was at stake if the Union wasn’t successful in keeping the nation whole. Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting find among the other, everyday items we might expect to find in the pocket of 19th century man.

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2 Responses to The President’s Pocket

  1. Beatrix Hathaway says:

    Fascinating!

  2. Paul says:

    Why would a fella carry two pair of glasses? I’m with you about the Confederate note puzzle. That’s perplexing.

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