Rocking Chair

Photo courtesy of Chicago History Museum


The rocking chair President Lincoln used at Ford’s Theatre has a a large, dark stain in the head area, but it is not the president’s blood.

President Lincoln bled very little at the theater. The stain, which has turned to a resin in the nearly 150 years since the assassination, was probably hair oil.

The Fords moved the elaborate chair out of the theater because ushers and actors were sleeping in it, and their hair oils and pomades were staining the red silk damask upholstery.

After that, the rocker was used only for special events, such as Mr. Lincoln’s visit.

The black walnut chair was held by the government for many years, until Harry Ford’s widow petitioned the government for its return.

She sold it at auction in New York in 1929.

Henry Ford, the automobile magnate, bought it for $2,400. Today it is on display in a climate-controlled case at the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Mich.

The springs supporting the chair are magnetic. Knotted lashing ties control the tension in the seat. There is some very lightweight blue paper on the bottom of the seat frame.

Source: Henry Ford Museum, Dearborn, MI.