The Battle of Fort Fisher, N.C.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whatever Happened to Lincoln's Chair at Ford's Theatre?-- Part 2

In 1893, the chair was sent to a museum at 516 10th Street, the house where Lincoln died where it was shown for four years before being returned to the Smithsonian. In 1902, it finally received an accession number, 38912, meaning it was officially logged in, and catalogued.

A celebrated legal case developed with Lincoln's stovepipe hat. The descendants of Phineas Gurley, the minister who gave Lincoln's eulogy, claimed that Mary Todd Lincoln had given the hat to him. This was apparently true, but the Smithsonian won and retained possession.

In the meantime. the chair remained in storage.

In 1928, Blanche Ford, the widow of Harry Clay Ford wrote the Smithsonian and asked if they had the chair and if so, why it wasn't on display. She added that if it was not in use, she'd like to have it.

The Smithsonian's curator, Theodore Belote, said it was not their policy to show objects "directly connected with such a horrible and deplorable event.' Some say he was no fan of Lincoln's and as such more than happy to get rid of it.

So, in the spring of 1929, Blanche Ford got it and by December sold it at auction for $2,400 to Isaac Sack, a Boston antiques dealer who conveyed it to Henry Ford for his new museum.

A Well-Traveled Chair. --B-R'er

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