A Rare Piece of Lincoln History

lincoln flag
The Lincoln flag at the Cottage.
By Sahand Miraminy

A sense of reverence was manifested as the renowned yet somewhat infrequently noted Lincoln Flag arrived to the grounds of President Lincoln’s Cottage. The large, bloodstained flag is in some ways evocative of the well known Shroud of Turin in that it conjures emotion, legend, and research, and is guarded for its integrity and character. The Flag has brought with it a sense of sorrow as well as pride. Many visitors have been impressed and surprised that the artifact has been preserved and saved.  Curator of Education, Callie Hawkins observes that “It is a whisper worthy piece. There is something about it that inspires the public to partake in an almost hush, vigil like observance.”  It is evident that the assassination of the President draws a great deal of curiosity and is still raw to many today. President Lincoln is oftentimes perceived as a martyr; his political actions and decisions regarding emancipation ultimately posed a threat during his life. We are still moved by the death of Lincoln because our ideals today have been heavily influenced on the decisions made during his presidency and time in residence at the Cottage.

The infamous assassination of President Lincoln is perhaps one of the most well known stories regarding a U.S. President.

-President Lincoln and his wife attended a play on April 14th, 1865 at Ford’s Theater.

-John Wilkes Booth shot the President in the head and fled.

-The President passed away hours later in a small bedroom across the street.

The Lincoln Flag is commonly omitted out of this story. According to recorded history, oral tradition, and the extensive research of Joseph E. Garrera and other scholars, the 36-star flag was draped over the Presidential Box that fateful evening and was used to cushion the President’s head as he lay on the floor following the attack. The stage manager at the time of the incident, Thomas Gourlay, kept the flag in his possession and subsequently passed it to his daughter. It was eventually donated to the Pike County Historical Society in Milford, PA. The flag has been deemed to be authentic through the analysis of the blood stains, the material used for its fabrication, written history, and its comparison to other flags used at the Theater.

The flag will be on display until April 17th in the Robert H. Smith Education Center.

Mr. Miraminy is a Historical Interpreter at President Lincoln’s Cottage.

3 Comments

Filed under Collections, Exhibits, History

3 responses to “A Rare Piece of Lincoln History

  1. john a. miller

    I personally don’t see any point in comparing
    the Lincoln Flag with the Shroud of Turin.
    The difference between the Shroud of Turin
    and the Lincoln Flag is authenticity. The
    Lincoln Flag has been declared authentic.
    The Shroud of Turin is highly controversial
    and suspect. Carbon dating, if accurate, would indicate the face thereon could not possibly be that of Jesus despite legends to the contrary.
    There are no “legends” associated with the Lincoln Flag just well documented and objectively verified historical facts.

    • Emilia L.

      Hi John,

      The author stated that is comparable in that “it conjures emotion, legend, and research, and is guarded for its integrity and character”. These descriptions apply to both artifacts, regardless of the authenticity of either of the two.

      Legend(Merriam Webster)- a story coming down from the past; especially : one popularly regarded as historical although not verifiable

      In relation to that definition….until recent studies, the flag had not been scientifically verifiable. In addition, “Well documented” historical facts are not always completely accurate.

      I hope this gives you another point of view.

  2. Ali

    That’s amazing! I’m sorry I missed it before it left the cottage. I hope you all have it on display next year as well!

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