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Grant number: BH-50658-14

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Ford's Theatre Society (Washington, DC 20004-1403)
Sarah Jencks (Project Director: March 2014 to present)

The Seat of War and Peace: The Lincoln Assassination and Its Legacy in the Nation’s Capital

Two one-week workshops for seventy-two teachers to explore events surrounding the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, the political aftermath of the national tragedy, and the enduring legacy of our sixteenth president.

The workshop takes place at the restored Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, on the 150th anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Geographer Kenneth Foote (University of Connecticut) leads a Sunday evening discussion about the history of Ford's Theatre, the assassination on the night of April 14, 1865, and national memory of the event. On Monday, historians Kenneth Winkle (University of Nebraska, Lincoln) and Terry Alford (Northern Virginia Community College) describe the city during the war years, the city's celebration of the South's surrender, and the extent of the conspiracy to kill Lincoln. Participants visit the Ford's Theatre museum, then cross the street to visit Petersen House, where the dying Lincoln was carried. They also visit the adjacent Center for Education and Leadership, which contains exhibits on Lincoln's funeral and artifacts on the hunt for, and trial of, the assassins. On Tuesday, participants retrace the first portion of Booth's escape route through southern Maryland, and visit conspirator Mary Surratt's tavern in Surrattsville (now Clinton), Maryland. Back at Ford's Theatre in the early afternoon, they view and discuss the film The Conspirator, told from the viewpoint of Mrs. Surratt. On Wednesday, historian Martha Hodes (New York University) discusses emotional and personal responses to the assassination across America. Following this, participants reflect on the Civil War's enormous death toll with visits to Arlington National Cemetery, the former site of the Mary Custis Lee plantation, which was home to General Robert E. Lee. On Thursday, historian Kate Masur (Northwestern University) leads a session on African-American politics in the capital city during Reconstruction, after which participants visit Cedar Hill, former home of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, as well as the African-American Civil War Memorial and Museum in the district. In the evening, participants view Steven Spielberg's film Lincoln and discuss its portrayal of the last months of Lincoln's presidency. Friday's activities are organized around the theme "Lincoln's Legacy in Reconstruction," with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial, site of Marian Anderson's 1939 Easter Sunday concert and the 1963 March on Washington. Historian Edward T. Linenthal (Indiana University) leads a wrap-up discussion on Saturday morning, situating the lessons learned during the week in the broader context of U.S. history. Workshop readings include Brian Anderson, Ford's Theatre; Jay Winik, April 1865: The Month That Saved America; Terry Alford, Fortune's Fool: The Biography of John Wilkes Booth; Martha Hodes, Mourning Lincoln; Kate Masur, An Example for All the Land: Emancipation and the Struggle Over Equality in Washington, D.C.; Kenneth Winkle, Lincoln's Citadel: The Civil War in Washington, D. C.; and articles by David Blight, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Thavolia Glymph, James McPherson, Timothy Good, and Gary Zola.

Project fields:
Political History; U.S. History

Landmarks of American History

Education Programs

Total amounts:
$172,039 (approved)
$172,039 (awarded)

Grant period:
9/1/2014 – 12/31/2015