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D.C. Site Shows Lincoln in a Human Light

Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call
President Lincoln’s briefcase and son Tad Lincoln’s photo album are on display in the visitors center of President Lincoln’s Cottage in D.C.

And coming in July, there will be an even more prosaic exhibit. The “carpet slippers” Lincoln wore to putter around in will be on loan from the Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center in Fremont, Ohio. One of the cottage’s primary source recollections — which cites the slippers — is by George Borrett, an Englishman who visited Washington in October 1864.

Borrett arrived late in the evening “considerably past eight” to meet the president, who had already slipped into something more comfortable.

“We had sat there a few minutes, when there entered through the folding doors the long, lanky, lathy-like figure ... with hair ruffled, and eyes very sleepy, and — hear it, ye votaries of court etiquette! — feet enveloped in carpet slippers. We all rose somewhat confused by this abrupt introduction to the presence of the highest in the land,” Borrett recounted.

“It’s evocative of how accessible Lincoln is,” Mast said.

Borrett, among other things, discussed the poet Alexander Pope with Lincoln, specifically Pope’s “Essay on Man.” The president said he was “deep in” Pope when Borrett came calling.

“Essay on Man and Other Poetical Works” by Pope is also among the items on display in the cottage. Just a little bedtime reading for the guy who saved the Union.

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