Smithsonian Journeys travelers have enjoyed exploring the past with Civil War historian Ed Bearss, walking the battlefields in real time, picnicking where Union soldiers did, and walking the trails of everyone from presidents to political prisoners. I’ve had the pleasure of working with Ed on Smithsonian tours for many years, and, as the Smithsonian Institution prepares to celebrate Lincoln’s 200th birthday, I recently sat down with Ed to talk about Lincoln’s time in Washington. – Patrick Wagner
Patrick Wagner: Lincoln was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1846 when he was 39 years old. What was his experience as a freshman congressman in Washington, D.C.?
Photo: Robert C. Lautman and the Todd family photo album
Ed Bearss: Lincoln spent two sessions in the 30th United States Congress. In the first session, he was accompanied by his wife Mary Todd and his son Robert. En route to Washington, they made a lengthy visit with Mary’s family in Lexington, Kentucky, where Lincoln got better acquainted with Mary’s father, stepmother, and other Lexington friends. But for his second session of Congress, Mary Todd did not come to Washington. For this trip, Lincoln lived in a modest rooming house with other members of Congress and took his meals at a common table in the establishment. (more…)