The cloak is heavily stained with residues that vary in color from gray to red-brown.

Some of the stains could be mud splashed up from Washington's unpaved streets, stirred by the passage of theatergoers and carriages on a rainy night. Residues from a particularly large stain have dripped down the front of the cape and left red stains on the cloak tassels. A preliminary analysis indicates the presence of blood in this area; confirmatory tests are pending.

Mary Lincoln may have worn a cloak during the performance at the unheated Ford's Theatre, following a carriage ride through the cold April rain. (HELM 254)

Annie Wright, the stage manager's wife, was sitting across from the presidential box. She remembered that Mary left her bonnet and wrap on. (BRYAN 172) Henry Rathbone, a guest in the presidential box, noted that Lincoln got up from his seat during the performance "for the purpose of putting on his overcoat." (GOOD 42)

Detail from The Assassination of President Lincoln. Lithograph by Currier and Ives, 1865. (ICHi-22121)
Stained tassels from the cloak attributed to Mary Todd Lincoln, 1865 (CHS 1920.976).

Examine the stains on the
Chicago Historical Society's cloak!

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Detail of "The Assassination of President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre--After the Act." Illustration from Harper's Weekly, April 29, 1865. (ICHi-11174)
Mary Lincoln's cloak may have been wet with both Henry Rathbone's and her husband's blood.

Charles Leale, the first physician to reach Lincoln, later wrote "when I entered the box, Mr. Lincoln was sitting in a high backed armchair with his head leaning towards his right-side and which was supported by Mrs. Lincoln who was weeping bitterly." (GOOD 60) Henry Rathbone was slashed with assassin John Wilkes Booth's knife and bled more profusely than the president. Rathbone escorted Mary to the top of the Ford's Theatre stairs, where he asked a fellow army officer to assist her across the street to the Petersen's boarding house. (GOOD 42) Elizabeth Dixon, a friend who comforted Mary at the Petersen's, noted that her dress was "splattered with blood." (KNOX n.p.)