It was two days after Confederate forces evacuated the City of Richmond. On April 4, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln and son Tad visited the City. Former slaves greeted them enthusiastically.
Admiral David D. Porter landed with Lincoln and said, “No electric wire could have carried the news of the President’s arrival sooner than it was circulated through Richmond. As far as the eye could see the streets were alive with negroes and poor whites rushing in our direction, and the crowds increased so fast that I had to surround the President with the sailors with fixed bayonets to keep them off…They all wanted to shake hand with Mr. Lincoln or his coat tail or even to kneel down and kiss his boots.!”
Crowds made Lincoln’s short journey to the U.S. military headquarters, the former Confederate White House nearly impossible. There he found a delegation of Southerner seeking to have a discussion with him about ending the war in a swift and peaceful manner.
Lincoln left Richmond the next day never to return. Four days later General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Courthouse. Less than a week later, Lincoln was assassinated. Events at the end of the war and Lincoln’s death drew attention away from the visit.
In April, 2003 the National Park Service rekindled that interest when they unveiled a statue Lincoln and his son Tad depicting the 1865 visit. The sculpture by Louis Frech resides at the Historic Tredegar Iron Works. The words “To Bind up the Nation’s Wounds” from Lincoln’s second inaugural address are displayed behind the sculpture.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. He died on April 15, 1865.