A series of objects laid out on a wooden table: Two cards from Ford's Theatre, a small leather bag, a pair of white gloves, a handwritten invitation, and two theatre tickets.
Photo by Carol Highsmith.

A Night at the Theatre

The night of April 14th, 1865, attendees of Ford’s Theatre expected to see a regular performance of Our American Cousin. Little did they know that what they would see that night would change the course of American history.

Playbills printed on the April 14 announced President Lincoln’s attendance of Our American Cousin. The theatre was packed and tickets were selling out. The President and Mary Todd invited their friends, Major Henry Rathbone and his  fiancée, Clara Harris.

For all attending, that night was supposed to be a night of relaxation and much-needed happiness. 

But after John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln and yelled, “Sic Semper Tyrannis,” Ford’s Theatre and everything in it became a part of history. Mundane, everyday objects inside the theatre immediately became important historic relics by association.

Moments Before Assassination

The night of April 14, 1865, at Ford’s Theatre wasn’t supposed to be tense or suspenseful–just another night at the theatre. Take a closer look at the scene.

Protect Our History

The night of April 14, 1865, forever changed our national history. Together, Ford's Theatre Society and the National Park Service partner to protect the artifacts from that night. Through these objects, we can better understand how that single event transformed our nation. Give to Ford's Theatre to help continue sharing the stories that shaped a nation.