Lincoln’s Watch and Chain

February 12th, 2010by Olivia MahoneyFiled under: Exhibitions

Lincoln's Watch and Chain

Gold watch and chain, 1861; Gift of Frank G. Logan, 1917.7

On February 11, 1861, one day before his fifty-second birthday, Abraham Lincoln boarded a train bound from Springfield, Illinois to Washington, D.C., where he would be inaugurated president on March 4. Before his departure, Lincoln received this beautiful gold watch from the Illinois State Journal, a staunch Republican newspaper that had backed his candidacy. Although they are not visible in this photograph, Lincoln’s initials are engraved on the watch’s front cover.

En route to Washington, Lincoln stopped in several cities. He was greeted by large crowds and showered with gifts, including a handsome black overcoat made by a Philadelphia seamstress. Lincoln also received fan and hate mail, evidence that many, but not all, approved of the new president. One of the most striking examples is a penciled note Lincoln received in New York City; it reads: “May the hand of the devil strike you down before long—you are destroying this country. Dam you—every breath you take—Hand of God against you.”

The watch, coat, note, and many other treasures are on view in the exhibition Abraham Lincoln Transformed. The exhibition, which explores Lincoln’s changing views on slavery and race, remains open through April 12, 2010.

> Plan a visit to see Abraham Lincoln Transformed

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