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The Lincoln AssassinationCrime and Punishment, Myth and Memory A Lincoln Forum Book$
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Harold Holzer, Craig L. Symonds, and Frank J. Williams

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780823232260

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823232260.001.0001

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Lincoln's Deathbed in Art and Memory

Lincoln's Deathbed in Art and Memory

The ‘‘Rubber Room’’ Phenomenon

(p.9) Chapter 1 Lincoln's Deathbed in Art and Memory
The Lincoln Assassination

Harold Holzer

Frank J. Williams

Fordham University Press

This chapter explores the iconography of Lincoln's death. It shows how artists of the day portrayed—and routinely exaggerated—the scene inside the small boarding house bedroom to which the president was carried to die after he was shot across the street at Ford's Theatre. Anxious to know and remember precisely how their president had breathed his last, Americans eagerly purchased these interpretations, however wildly exaggerated. For artists depicting the scene, the death supplied a grand opportunity to memorialize a great historical event (and sell pictures). As one after another of them worked to include more and more bedside mourners, the death chamber expanded to host them—creating a phenomenon modern historians now describe as the “rubber room.” And thus the supposed grandeur of Lincoln's rather plain final surroundings became enshrined in American memory.

Keywords:   Abraham Lincoln, assassination, rubber room, iconography, death chamber

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