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Archive for 'Abraham Lincoln'

On Exhibit: John Wilkes Booth’s Calling Card

Today’s post comes from Emma Rothberg, intern in the National Archives History Office. 

John Wilkes Booth's Calling Card, 04/14/1865. (National Archives Identifier 7873510)

John Wilkes Booth’s Calling Card, 04/14/1865. (National Archives Identifier 7873510)

Tucked in a corner in the Lawrence F. O’Brien Gallery at the National Archives in Washington, DC, is a rectangular piece of paper faded grey with time. It is unobtrusive and, due to its small size, could easily be missed among the larger and flashier documents and artifacts. But this card is a reminder of one of the most resonant and well known stories of American history—that of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination by the actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth.

Vice President Andrew Johnson, undated. (National Archives Identifier 530496)

Vice President Andrew Johnson, undated. (National Archives Identifier 530496)

On April 14, 1865, Vice President Johnson was staying at the Kirkwood House—a hotel that stood at the corner of 12th Street and Pennsylvania Avenue, NW.  Also in the hotel, and in a room directly one floor above the Vice President’s suite, was George Atzerodt. He was a fellow conspirator in Booth’s larger plot to murder President Lincoln, Secretary of State William H. Seward, and Vice President Johnson and thus throwing the recently victorious North into chaos and disarray. Atzerodt—a German carriage painter from Maryland who had spent the Civil War years ferrying Confederates across the Potomac—arrived at the Kirkwood House on the morning of the 14th. His task: to assassinate Vice President Johnson.… [ Read all ]

The Name Speaks for Itself

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, front, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, front, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

Today’s post comes from Dan Ruprecht, intern in the Center for Legislative Archives at the National Archives in Washington, DC. 

On September 11, 1789, President George Washington sent the first cabinet nomination under the new U.S. Constitution to the Senate. Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gave the power to determine federal officers to both the executive and legislative branches:

[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law.

Washington’s message was brief and to the point: “Gentlemen of the Senate, I nominate. . .” followed by a list of names and their respective positions, establishing a precedent for brief nominations that continues today.

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, back, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

George Washington’s nomination of Alexander Hamilton and others, back, September 11, 1789. (Records of the U.S. Senate, National Archives)

The President’s message did not list the credentials of the nominees nor did it include any comments from Washington regarding his choices; it simply listed the names.

It was then up to the Senate to debate each candidate’s ability and … [ Read all ]

Loan to Nevada Museum of Art

Today’s post comes from James Zeender, Senior Registrar at the National Archives. 

Governor Brian Sandoval and Curator Ann Wolfe at Nevada Museum of Art press conference, July 29, 2014. Courtesy Nevada Museum of Art.

Governor Brian Sandoval and Curator Ann Wolfe at Nevada Museum of Art press conference, July 29, 2014. Courtesy Nevada Museum of Art.

The Emancipation Proclamation will be on exhibit at the Nevada Museum of Art for 36 hours from October 30 to November 2, 2014.

This will be the capstone to the museum’s exhibition “The 36th Star: Nevada’s Journey from Territory to State,” which opened on August 2. It features other original documents from the National Archives, including President Abraham Lincoln’s proclamation establishing Nevada as the 36th state in the Union and the state’s constitution transmitted by the Nevada Governor to Secretary of State William Seward. (The Governor sent the constitution in a 175-page telegram that cost $4313.27 at the time (over $60,000 in 2014 dollars).

Nevada became the 36th state in the Union just before the 1864 Presidential election. Its two Electoral College votes for Lincoln played little role in the outcome of the election—Lincoln handily defeated his opponent, Gen. George McClellan, in the popular vote, getting 55% of the popular vote to McClellan’s 45%, and overwhelmed him in the Electoral College vote of 212 to 21.

Governor Brian Sandoval speaks at the press conference. July 29, 2014. Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art.

Governor Brian Sandoval speaks at the press conference. July 29, 2014. Courtesy of Nevada Museum of Art.

However, Nevada’s votes in Congress for the 13th Amendment—where Lincoln’s opponents posed more of … [ Read all ]

Civil War Fashion: A Facial Hair Frenzy

Today’s post comes from Marisa Hawley, intern in the National Archives Strategy and Communications office.

Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865. (National Archives Identifier 528717)

Gen. Ambrose E. Burnside, ca. 1860 – ca. 1865. (National Archives Identifier 528717)

As part of the “six weeks of style” celebration to recognize the Foundation for the National Archives’ partnership with DC Fashion Week, we are showcasing fashion-related records from our holdings. This week’s fashion theme is Classy Women (and Men) of the 19th Century.

The 1860s was unquestionably one of the most turbulent decades in our nation’s history. The tension between the North and South states over issues like slavery, states’ rights, and economic disparity had been simmering for nearly half a century. In 1861, the conflict reached a boiling point as the Southern states seceded from the Union and the country engaged in the Civil War.

Despite their numerous ideological, political, and social differences, the North and South certainly had one thing in common: a flair for facial hair.

After the failure of many liberal revolutions in Europe in the late 1840s, beards quickly lost their association with radicalism. In fact, from the mid- to late 19th century, hairiness became synonymous with masculinity, dignity, and power.

Gen. Chris. C. Augur, ca. 1860 - ca. 1865. (National Archives Identifier 528484)

Gen. Chris. C. Augur, ca. 1860 – ca. 1865. (National Archives Identifier 528484)

Men of varying political and social statuses started to embrace all sorts of fascinating facial hair styles: long, … [ Read all ]

John Russell Pope’s Lincoln Memorial designs

Today’s post comes from Christina James, intern in the National Archives History Office. 

John Russell Pope's Competition Proposal for a Monument to Abraham Lincoln on Meridian Hill, Detail from North, 1912. (National Archives Identifier 6087981)

John Russell Pope’s Competition Proposal for a Monument to Abraham Lincoln on Meridian Hill, Detail from North, 1912. (National Archives Identifier
6087981)

Walking through our nation’s capital, you will inevitably come across at least one structure adorned with triangular pediments, massive columns, or a majestic dome. Many of Washington, DC’s most iconic buildings and monuments feature these elements and exemplify neoclassical architecture.

John Russell Pope, one of the most famous American neoclassical architects, believed that a democracy’s public buildings should be designed in the style of the ancient Greeks and Romans. Today, Pope’s designs are scattered throughout the city and include the Jefferson Memorial, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Archives.

However, one of the most recognizable neoclassical structures in the capital, the Lincoln Memorial, is not one of Pope’s designs. If Pope had been chosen to design the memorial, the National Mall would look very different.

The construction of a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln in Washington, DC, was first approved by Congress in 1911. The bill authorizing the construction created the Lincoln Memorial Commission to approve a site and a design for a memorial honoring the 16th President. The Committee was given a budget of $2 million dollars, the largest amount to ever be provided for a national memorial at … [ Read all ]