Bird's-eye view photograph of a large crowd gathered on 10th street in front of Ford's Theatre. Many people hold candles.
Photo by Gary Erskine.

Night on 10th Street

After soldiers carried President Abraham Lincoln into the Petersens’ boarding house, a crowd gathered outside on 10th Street to await word. What would happen to their beloved leader? What would happen to the country?

As word of Lincoln’s assassination spread, people rushed to 10th Street, congregating between Ford’s Theatre and the house where Lincoln lay dying. That night, rumors flew around Washington. The crowd grew into the night; any time someone came out of the house owned by the Petersen family, people demanded to know what was happening.

Meanwhile, doctors inside the house stepped outside at regular intervals to provide updates on the president’s medical condition.

On this page, explore the only first-person representation of the scene, and see what eyewitnesses had to say.

What would it be like to be out on 10th Street that night? What rumors do you think were flying?

As you look at each testimony, consider:

  • How does this evidence match—or not—with other evidence? Who gave the testimony?
  • What might the person’s motives be for saying what they did?
  • When did this person give the testimony? Was it soon after the event? Much later? How might that affect what they said?

(Note: Original spelling preserved in all quotations.)

An Overnight Vigil

As Lincoln was dying in the Petersen House, a crowd gathered outside. What was it like to be there that night?

Perspectives on the Night

What did witnesses see on the street in front of the Petersen House, and around Washington?

The Painting | Continue Exploring

Lincoln Carried Across the Street

The Painting | Continue Exploring

Carl Bersch’s Lincoln Born by Loving Hands: An Audio-Described Painting

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Black and white photograph of Abraham Lincoln. Written on top of him is "When one man died because he believed in"