Laura Keene's Bloodstained Cuff

Description
On the evening of Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln decided to spend a relaxing evening at the theater. The Lincolns and their two guests, Clara Harris and Maj. Henry Rathbone, arrived late to Ford’s Theatre for a production of Our American Cousin. As the president entered the theater, the crowd wildly cheered and the orchestra played “Hail to the Chief.” Lincoln set his silk hat on the floor, and the actors resumed where they had left off.
At about 10:15 p.m., John Wilkes Booth entered the presidential box, pointed a derringer pistol at the back of the president’s head and fired. Booth then pulled out a knife, slashed Rathbone, and jumped onto the stage, declaring “Sic semper tyrannis”—“Thus always to tyrants,” the Virginia state motto. Despite breaking his leg as he hit the stage, Booth escaped backstage and onto a waiting horse.
The play’s leading actress, Laura Keene, rushed with water to the president’s box. As she cradled the president’s head, drops of his blood stained her cuff. She gave the cuff to her niece who preserved it throughout her life.
Bequest of Virginia Adler Thompson, niece of Laura Keene, 1962
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
sleeve cuff
associated person
Keene, Laura
Lincoln, Abraham
Physical Description
fabric (overall material)
white (overall color)
Measurements
overall: 3 in x 9 in; 7.62 cm x 22.86 cm
Associated Place
United States: District of Columbia, Ford's Theater
ID Number
PL*242707.01
catalog number
242707.01
accession number
242707
subject
Government, Politics, and Reform
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
See more items in
Political History: Political History, General History Collection
Selections from the Abraham Lincoln Collection
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Related Publication
Rubenstein, Harry R.. Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life

Visitor Comments

Add a comment about this object

**Please read before submitting the form**

Have a comment or question about this object to share with the community? Please use the form below. Approved comments will appear on this page and may receive a museum response (but we can't promise). Please note that we generally cannot answer questions about your own artifacts or tell you how much they are worth.

Have a question about anything else, or would you prefer a personal response? Please visit our FAQ or contact page.

Personal information will not be shared or result in unsolicited e-mail. See our privacy policy.

Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.