As a young man, Abraham Lincoln “feared of achieving nothing that would make men remember him.” A single gunshot ensured that he would never be forgotten. He served as U.S. president during the Civil War, the bloodiest conflict to have occurred on American soil. Washington, D.C. was the crucible in which Lincoln’s momentous years in office were cast.
Although downtown adjacent to the White House has retained little of its Civil War-era character, if you know where to look, the events of Lincoln’s time in the city come to life, whether you are studying a 20th-century office building or a Victorian row house. The busy streets filled with Washingtonians going about their business and slow-moving, congested traffic are not that different today than they would have been in the 1860s, when the president himself made his way–except that 21st-century Washingtonians benefit from sidewalks to upon which to tread and paved thoroughfares on which to drive. In Lincoln’s day it would have been a muddy slog. However you make your way, the climax of the Lincoln’s Washington story was tragic: he was the first American leader to be assassinated.