Baltimore Civil War Museum at President Street Station
The Baltimore Civil War Museum is housed in President Street Station, the oldest surviving railroad station in an urban area. An amazing breadth and variety of history occurred in and around President Street Station, including a secret passage used by President Lincoln that ran through the station and the site of the first bloodshed during the Civil War. The museum contains a wealth of historical information, including information on Baltimore’s 19th-century railroads, the Underground Railroad, and Lincoln’s travels through Baltimore. The station was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1992
Backstory and Context
In 1861, the newly elected President Abraham Lincoln traveled through Baltimore in secret at night due to an alleged conspiracy to assassinate the new president on the way to his inauguration in Washington, DC. This conspiracy became known as the Baltimore Plot. Tensions were high in the nation due to the South’s threats of secession following Lincoln’s election. The public was incredibly harsh of the precautions taken by the president. The Baltimore Sun wrote, “Had we any respect for Mr. Lincoln, official or personal, as a man, or as a president-elect of the United States . . . the final escaped by which he reached the capital would’ve utterly demolished it.” Political cartoons of the time depicted Lincoln as ridiculous, sneaking through Baltimore in flamboyant disguises, such as a kilt. However, although scholars are unsure whether or not a real threat existed, these cautionary measures by Lincoln and his staffs were likely practically prudent given the state of a nation on the brink of civil war.
Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton National Detective Agency, was commissioned to provide security for the president. Maryland was a slave state and on the border between the North and the South and thus considered especially contentious and possibly disloyal to the Union. People included in some way with the alleged plot include Kate Warne, one of Pinkerton’s agents credited with collecting the information that convinced Pinkerton there was a plot to assassinate the president, and Cipriano Ferrandini, who was accused, but never indicted, for plotting to assassinate Lincoln.
Stashower, Daniel. "The Unsuccessful Plot to Kill Abraham Lincoln." Smithsonian Magazine. February 2013. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-unsuccessful-plot-to-kill-abraham-lincoln-2013956.