From The Gettysburg Battlefield To The Appomattox Courthouse


Ford’s Theatre....Friday Evening, April 14th, 1865...Our American Cousin. Washington, D.C.: H. Polkinhorn and Son, 1865. Broadside.

With General Lee’s surrender and the Civil War winding down, President Lincoln was looking ahead to a time of peace and reconciliation.  As he had done on many occasions during the war, Lincoln turned to the theater as a means of escape from the physical and emotional strains caused by the conflict.  On Friday evening, 14 April 1865, the president and his wife, accompanied by Major Henry Rathbone (1837-1911) and his fiancée Clara Harris (1845-1883), attended Ford’s Theatre to see the play Our American Cousin, produced by and starring Laura Keene (c. 1826-1873).  The three-act play, a farcical comedy about an awkward and boorish American being introduced to his aristocratic English relatives, was extremely popular in the United States.  This playbill is part of a collection assembled by John B. Wright, who was the stage manager of Ford’s Theatre at the time of Lincoln’s assassination.

*2008T-17  Harvard Theatre Collection   Bequest of Evert Jansen Wendell, 1918.