The Honor of Your Company Is Requested: President Lincoln’s Inaugural Ball

This is a drawing of President Lincoln's inaugural ball

Lincoln’s inaugural ball, March 6, 1865, Illustration from Illustrated London News, April 8, 1865, National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Travel back 143 years to the revelry of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural ball. This small, focused exhibition celebrates the president’s second inaugural ball, held on March 6, 1865 in what is now the museum’s historic home. 


The ball took place as Lincoln's second term began, with the Civil War in its final stages, and only six weeks before Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theater. The exhibition, which relates the ball to the building and its history, features ephemera from the inaugural ball, including the invitation and menu as well as engravings illustrating the night's events and other artifacts. From pomp and politics to feasting and fights over food, this was one night destined for the history books. Charles Robertson, author of the book Temple of Invention: History of a National Landmark and a specialist in American decorative arts, is the guest curator of the exhibition.

Visiting Information

March 8, 2008 January 18, 2010
Open Daily, 11:30 a.m.–7:00 p.m
Free Admission


The exhibition is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum with support from the Ford Motor Company Fund.