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Ford's Theatre, where Abraham Lincoln was shot, accused of trying to 're-assassinate Abe' with tweet questioning his legacy

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Alexander Gardner/Getty Images (left), MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images (background)

Ford's Theatre lives in American infamy as the site where Abraham Lincoln, the 16th United States president, was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865. The theatre is now a national historical site managed by the National Park Service.

However, an official social media account belonging to Ford's Theatre incited mockery over the weekend after seemingly questioning why Lincoln has been put "on a pedestal" in American history.

What did Ford's Theatre say?

The Twitter account for Ford's Theatre solicited suggestions from social media users on Saturday "a more useful, more complex, or more realistic" to remember Lincoln.

"Do you ever feel we, as a nation, put Abraham Lincoln 'on a pedestal'?" the account said. "What do you think might be a more useful, more complex, or more realistic way to think about or memorialize the 16th president?"

Lincoln is consistently remembered as one of America's best presidents. Not only did he lead the U.S. through the American Civil War — with the Union defeating the confederacy — but he was responsible for the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared freedom for all slaves in confederate states. Lincoln's legacy remembers him as someone who fought for freedom for enslaved Americans.

Lincoln, in fact, has been named the greatest president in American history by C-SPAN for decades.

What was the reaction?

Considering Lincoln's status in American history, Ford's Theatre was raked over the coals for the tweet.

  • "John Wilkes Booth assassinated Abraham Lincoln in the Ford Theatre in 1865 so that the Ford Theatre could assassinate his character 156 years later," Siraj Hashmi reacted.
  • "Next up on Revisionism Hour, we have contributions from Dealey Plaza, the Buffalo Pan-American Exposition, and the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad Station, along with minor presentations from the Palace Hotel, San Francisco and Warm Springs, Georgia," National Review's Charles Cooke mocked.
  • "Trying to re-assassinate Abe I see," another person said.
  • "I feel that Abraham Lincoln belongs on a pedestal and that it is both useful and realistic to recognize him as one of the greatest political leaders in human history," The Atlantic's Conor Friedersdorf said.
  • "On the other hand, it's entirely on-brand for Ford's Theatre to take a shot at Lincoln," The Atlantic editor Yoni Appelbaum said.
  • I feel that you, as a Twitter account, shouldn't diminish the president who was murdered while patronizing your theater—a tragic fact that is the only reason anyone cares about your theater," Christopher Scalia, son of the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, said.
  • "If it weren't for Lincoln you'd be condos right now," another person mocked.
  • "Did John Wilkes Booth tweet this?" Fox News radio host Guy Benson mocked.
  • "we should build a temple to Lincoln on the National Mall," Washington Examiner reporter Jerry Dunleavy reacted.
  • "If I were Ford's Theatre, I would probably be quiet on Lincoln," another person said.
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