President Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball was held on March 6, 1865 in this room on the top floor of what was then the United States Patent Office. It was an elegant night with people dressed in the finest clothes of the day. There were toasts and laughter, and dancing swirled throughout the ballroom that was decorated in red, white and blue bunting. But the celebratory occasion was tempered by great sadness, grief and doom. During Lincoln’s first term he presided over the Civil War, a war that was still being fought on the night of his second inauguration. About 620,000 people had already died in the war, which is the highest loss of life for any war in American history. It was a war among Americans, fought on our homeland with the blood of the dead and wounded soaking our soil. But victory was in the air this inaugural night for the war was expected to end soon, which it did on April 9th of the following month. Then tragically a few days later, on April 15, 1865, the last major casualty of the Civil War would occur with the assassination of President Lincoln as he sat in a theater one block from where his inaugural ball was held the month before.
Camera: Canon Rebel XTi 400D
(ISO: 800; SS: 1; AV:14.0; Lens: 17-85mm)