Two 158-year-old used theatre tickets were sold at a Boston-based auction house for $262,500. The tickets were for a play called Our American Cousin held at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C., on April 14, 1865. The reason these tickets are worth so much money has nothing to do with the actual event, but with something unexpected and tragic that occurred during the performance: the assassination of one of the spectators, American President Abraham Lincoln.
At the time, the United States was being torn apart by a bloody civil war between the Union (the North) and the Confederacy (the South). After four years of bloodshed, the North, led by Lincoln, was emerging victorious. However, not all Confederates were ready to surrender. On that fateful night at Ford’s Theatre, an armed confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, entered the building when the play had already started and approached the presidential box. He crept up behind the President and shot him in the head. Lincoln fell into a coma and died a few hours later.
The auctioned tickets were front-row balcony seats, which means that their original holders had a clear view of everything that happened.
A massive manhunt, involving thousands of Union soldiers and civilians, was launched to find Booth, who had escaped from the crime scene. After twelve days, he was tracked down at a Virginia farm. He was shot in the back of the head, just like Lincoln, and died soon after.
Lincoln’s death was a tragic loss. He had governed wisely and had been instrumental in winning the Civil War and abolishing slavery in the United States. Today, most scholars and historians consider him the greatest president in US history.
1) Do you own something that might be worth a lot of money at an auction? Describe this possession and explain why you think it’s so valuable.
2) Is there a political leader, dead or alive, you look up to? Describe what he or she has done to win your respect and admiration.
(Image: Library of Congress, Wikimedia Commons)