Map 1b: Lincoln's commute from the White House to the Soldiers' Home: southern portion.
President Abraham Lincoln and his family spent the summers of 1862, 1863, and 1864 living in a cottage on the grounds of the Soldiers’ Home, a home for elderly and disabled army veterans. Even when he was staying at the cottage, President Lincoln commuted to and from the White House every day, either on horseback or in a carriage, escorted by soldiers for protection. During his commute, President Lincoln passed many sites that reminded him of the ongoing Civil War.
Please note: On Map 1a, the diagonal lines not labeled as streets are folds on the original map. On Map 1b, the two diagnoal lines forming a point at the top of the page also show folds on the original map.
Questions for Map 1a and 1b
1. Trace the route that Lincoln traveled between the White House and the Soldiers’ Home. What types of places did Lincoln pass? Based on the map scale in the lower left corner of Map 1b, what was the distance between the Soldiers’ Home and the White House? How many miles did Lincoln ride from the White House before he left the city? (Hint: the toll gate marks the edge of the city.)
How long might Lincoln’s commute have taken by horseback, assuming that his horse traveled at about 6 miles an hour? At www.wmata.com, use the trip planner to find out how long the same trip would take today via public transportation. The White House street address is 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW and the Soldiers’ Home is at the intersection of Rock Creek Church Rd. and Upshur St., NW.
On Map 1b, locate the contraband camps (which were temporary shelters built to house the thousands of former slaves that escaped to freedom behind Union Army lines). These usually were built in great haste, overcrowded and unsanitary. Lincoln probably could see the closest one to his route. How do you think he would have felt as he passed it? What people or places do you pass on your way to school? What do they make you think about?
Find the Seventh Street Turnpike. This was one of the main routes into Washington from the North. How do the locations of forts built to protect the city during the Civil War relate to the Seventh Street Turnpike? Why might that be the case? How close are they to the Soldiers’ Home?
Find a map of Washington, DC today in an atlas or online. What streets did Lincoln travel on the historical map? Can you find those same streets on the current map? Compare the two maps. What has changed? What has stayed the same?