In 1931, the U.S. Army Adjutant General denied permission to display John Wilkes Booth’s deringer pistol at a new museum at Ford’s Theatre. Today the gun is on display—but with a new sign that asks visitors to consider the ethics of displaying a murder weapon.
Euphoria and relief engulfed Washington City following Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s surrender to United States General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House on April 9, 1865. When Lee signed the surrender documents, the immediate threat to Washington was over. The Civil War officially ended just over a month later. The mood this struck must have been similar to when sports fans watched Nationals’s second basemen, Howie Kendrick, hit a two-run homer in the seventh inning of Game 7 of the 2019 World Series to put the Nationals ahead for good. The game wasn’t officially over, but victory was soon to come. It was time to party.
Since our History on Foot tours began in 2008, more than 28,500 patrons have patrolled the streets of downtown D.C. as deputies with Detective James A. McDevitt as their guide. In September 2019, our tour celebrated 1,000 performances!
Questions abound about which knife John Wilkes Booth used to stab Major Henry Rathbone after he assassinated President Abraham Lincoln. Read on to see what evidence exists in the curatorial files and what our conclusion is.
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