The Contents of Lincoln’s Pockets

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It’s not surprising that Washington, D.C., has the lion’s share of assassination artifacts. The Library of Congress has contemporary newspaper accounts of the assassination, a playbill from the performance of Our American Cousin which Lincoln saw at Ford’s Theater, and the contents of his pockets that night. These include two pairs of glasses, a lens polisher, a six bladed, pearl handled Congress pattern pocketknife, a watch fob, his wallet and a linen handkerchief. The wallet contained a five-dollar Confederate note and a few newspaper clippings that mentioned him.

The pocketknife may or may not be the same one that was, according to Lincoln mythology, given to him by a man he met on the street. Claiming that he’d been instructed to give the knife to someone uglier than him, the man said that Lincoln was the first man he’d met that fit the bill.

Lincoln’s personal effects were given to his son Robert Todd after his death, and went to the library as part of a 1937 donation by Robert’s daughter, Mary Lincoln Isham, just before her death.

It’s not surprising that Washington, D.C., has the lion’s share of assassination artifacts. The Library of Congress has contemporary newspaper accounts of the assassination, a playbill from the performance of Our American Cousin which Lincoln saw at Ford’s Theater, and the contents of his pockets that night. These include two pairs of glasses, a lens polisher, a six bladed, pearl handled Congress pattern pocketknife, a watch fob, his wallet and a linen handkerchief. The wallet contained a five-dollar Confederate note and a few newspaper clippings that mentioned him.<br />The pocketknife may or may not be the same one that was, according to Lincoln mythology, given to him by a man he met on the street. Claiming that he’d been instructed to give the knife to someone uglier than him, the man said that Lincoln was the first man he’d met that fit the bill.<br />Lincoln’s personal effects were given to his son Robert Todd after his death, and went to the library as part of a 1937 donation by Robert’s daughter, Mary Lincoln Isham, just before her death.

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