Mourning Badge. April-June 1865. 2¼ x 6¼ in.
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865, shocked the nation and the world. Killed in a theatre on Good Friday, on the heels of the fall of the Confederate capital and the surrender of Robert E. Lee's Army of Northern Virginia, the first assassination of an American president instantly turned joy in the northern states and among freedpeople in the South into mourning. Even those who opposed Lincoln politically were shocked by the act and the related near-fatal attack on Secretary of State William H. Seward. White southerners, fearing a more vindictive North led by President Andrew Johnson, also mourned publicly, though many privately rejoiced.
After lying in state in Washington, Lincoln's body departed Washington on April 21, to travel nearly 1,700 miles through seven states to Springfield, Illinois, in a near reversal of his inaugural trip five years earlier. Stopping in Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, Chicago, and finally Springfield, Lincoln's body lay in state in each major city as tens of thousands of mourners filed past the open coffin. Along the rail route, thousands more waited in rain and sunshine, darkness and daylight, to watch the train pass and to pay their respects to their wartime leader.
Many mourners draped their homes in black crepe and wore mourning badges like the one offered here to express their sorrow for the nation's loss. (Inventory #: 24353)