Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and one of the country's most admired, rising from humble roots in a frontier cabin to become a self-educated lawyer and brilliant politician.
As president, he ended slavery by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation and preserved the nation despite the Civil War.
The story of his assassination is one of the best-known chapters of American history.
Many museums are offering special exhibits for the 150th anniversary of the Civil War and the Emancipation Proclamation. Other sites can be visited any time.
Lincoln Memorial: This larger-than-life white marble statue of Lincoln, completed in 1922, sits inside a massive columned building inspired by the Parthenon. Located on the National Mall, www.nps.gov/linc/.
Ford's Theatre And Petersen House: Lincoln was shot at Ford's Theatre in 1865 while watching a play with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. He was brought to a house across the street, now a museum and historic site called the Petersen House.
A visit to Ford's and the Petersen House reveals fascinating details of the crime: John Wilkes Booth walked right up to the box where Lincoln was sitting and shot him in the head.
A plaque marks the site of a nearby boardinghouse where conspirators were said to have plotted the assassination.
Located at 511 10th St., NW, www.fordstheatre.org/.
President Lincoln's Cottage: This was Lincoln's summer home, where he and his family escaped Washington's heat and humidity.
Through April 30, an exhibit here displays one of just 26 existing signed copies of the Emancipation Proclamation. http://lincolncottage.org/.
Other stops on a Lincoln tour:
- Smithsonian's National Museum of American History: "Changing America: The Emancipation Proclamation, 1863 and the March on Washington, 1963" exhibit through Sept. 15; and "The First Ladies" exhibit with Mary Todd Lincoln's purple velvet gown made by her seamstress and confidante, Elizabeth Keckley, an African-American woman who had purchased her own freedom. http://americanhistory.si.edu/.
- Smithsonian American Art Museum And National Portrait Gallery: "The Civil War and American Art" through April 28, including plaster casts of Lincoln's face along with casts of his hands http://npg.si.edu.
- Newseum: An exhibit here called "Blood and Ink: Front Pages From the Civil War" displays more than 30 front pages from the era, www.newseum.org/.
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