The Tsar and the President: Alexander II and Lincoln, Liberator and Emancipator

April 15, 2011
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Tsarskoye Selo State Museum
St. Petersburg, Russia
April 2011 - July 2011


Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the abolition of serfdom. Although Tsar Alexander II and President Abraham Lincoln came from very different backgrounds, they led eerily parallel lives. The United States President proclaimed the emancipation of slaves in the territories of the Confederation in 1863. The Russian emperor signed the liberation of the serfs in 1861. Freedom, however, came at a cost. Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 and Alexander II assassinated on March 13, 1881. The St. Petersburg exhibition displays more than 200 objects from Russian and American collections. This virtual exhibit includes some select items on display at the exhibition.

Pass to President Abraham Lincoln’s Funeral in the East Room of the Executive Mansion. Shapell Manuscript Collection. ©Shapell Manuscript Foundation. All Rights Reserved. For more information, please contact us at

Sometime before noon on Wednesday, April 19, 1865, some six hundred mourners entered the Executive Mansion to attend, in the East Room, the funeral of Abraham Lincoln. The notation “East” at the top of the card refers to the section of the room where the bearer was to sit.

Cassuis Clay, an enthusiastic but undisciplined Kentucky abolitionist, thought he should be the next president of the United States. Aware that Clay lacked the necessary judgment to manage a high office, Lincoln sidestepped Clay’s direct solicitation for a prominent place in the possible future Republican administration.

(C) Shapell Manuscript Foundation. All Rights Reserved. For more information, please contact us at

On the evening of April 14, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln attended a performance of the drawing room comedy, “Our American Cousin,” at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. Half way into the 3rd act, John Wilkes Booth slipped unnoticed into the Presidential box and, standing four feet away from the President, discharged a single bullet into the back of Lincoln’s head. . It was enough, however, to render Lincoln unconscious and paralyzed.

When Lincoln died the next morning, he became the first president to be assassinated.  He would not be the last. Three more presidents would be assassinated – and yet another eleven the objects of assassination attempts.