150 years ago, as war-weary Americans were celebrating reports that the U.S. Civil War was finally at an end, news arrived that shocked the nation–President Lincoln, who had led the divided country through those long years of bitter conflict, had been assassinated.
Shot by assassin John Wilkes Booth on the evening of April 14th while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, Lincoln succumbed to his injuries in the early morning hours of April 15th, 1865. After lying in state for several days at the White House, Lincoln’s body was placed in an ornate train car to return to Springfield, Illinois, for burial, following essentially the same route that the late president had taken to the nation’s capital in 1861. Over 1,654 miles, the train passed through 180 cities (and over 400 smaller towns) in seven states, attended by mourners at every stop along the way.
Two of the sites where the train stopped for funeral obsequies were Cleveland (7 AM to midnight on April 28th) and Columbus (7:30 AM to 8 PM on April 29th). Over 100,000 mourners paid their respects at Lincoln’s casket in Cleveland’s Public Square–the only city to hold its memorial outdoors, as seen above. In the capital city of Columbus, more than 50,000 mourners viewed the casket during the six and a half hours that Lincoln’s body lay in state in the rotunda of the Ohio Statehouse.
The Ohio History Connection was glad to participate in the Remembering Lincoln project organized by Ford’s Theatre, commemorating this solemn sesquicentennial. You can see the selection of items we contributed to this collaborative collection, and explore what additional material related to Lincoln’s death and funeral is available on Ohio Memory. Of particular interest is the Ohio State Journal article reporting on the funeral in Columbus as well as other incidents along the train’s journey. We also invite you to take a moment to read the featured Remembering Lincoln blog post about the Alice Strickler Keyes diary in our collection and its connection to the Lincoln funeral in Columbus, written by a former Americorps volunteer here at the Ohio History Center. We’re proud to honor Lincoln’s legacy, and to share our collections related to this monumental moment in history.