Treasury Guard Flag
When John Wilkes Booth leaped from the Ford’s Theatre Presidential Box after he shot President Abraham Lincoln, the spur of his boot caught on a U.S. Treasury Guards flag adorning the box. You can see the tear from Booth’s spur today.
The Treasury Guards were a militia unit formed by employees of the U.S. Treasury Department to protect Washington against a Confederate attack during the Civil War.
The Treasury Department lent the unit’s flag to Ford’s Theatre to decorate the Presidential Box for Lincoln’s visit. It depicts a Union eagle holding arrows and an olive branch – common national symbols then and now – and a banner reading “E pluribus, Unum” (“Out of Many, One”), the national slogan of the United States until the mid-20th century.
Examine the Evidence: How is the scar on this flag emblematic of the events it witnessed on April 14, 1865? Which other object or objects in the Ford’s Theatre collection alludes to the idea of “E Pluribus, Unum?”
A regular military flag from the Presidential Box at Ford’s Theatre shows a scar on the right side from the Lincoln assassination.
The 34 stars represent the 34 states–including those that had attempted to secede–of the United States from 1861 to 1863. At the time of the Lincoln assassination, there were 35 states in the United States.
As he leaped to the Ford’s Theatre stage, Booth’s spur got caught in this flag. The rip in the flag remains.
All male Treasury Department employees between ages 18 and 45 were required to join the Treasury Guards, a militia unit, to protect the capital city from Confederate attack.
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.