Why the bullet that killed President Lincoln is in Silver Spring, Maryland

WASHINGTON – It was on this day, April 14, 150 years ago that President Lincoln was assassinated. While many have visited Ford’s Theatre and its museum, the bullet that killed the president is not there.

Instead, it’s in Silver Spring, Maryland after being preserved by the doctors who tried to save his life.

“It is small. When you see it, it’s probably smaller than most people’s thumb nails,” says Tim Clarke with the National Museum for Health and Medicine.

The bullet John Wilkes Booth used to assassinate President Lincoln is on display at the National Museum for Health and Medicine, in what used to be a Civil War medical museum says Clarke. 

“We are the successor to this organization that played a critical role in this momentous event all those years ago,” he says.

Also on display, the attending surgeon, Dr. Edward Curtis’ letter to his mother describing the president’s autopsy.

“He says, ‘There it lay upon the white china, a little black mass no bigger than the end of my finger; dull, motionless, harmless, yet the cause of such mighty change in the world’s history like we may never realize.'”

The museum has changed locations and is now in Silver Spring.

Also on display, pieces of Wilkes Booth’s vertebrae, shards of the president’s skull, bits of his hair and Dr. Curtis’ cuffs which are soaked with the president’s blood.

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Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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