The Lincoln Hitching Post

There is a small post protruding from the sidewalk in front of D.C.’s New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, and most people walking by are more likely to trip over it than know what it is.  In fact, if you didn’t stop to read the brass plaque attached to it you might not ever realize that the inconspicuous little post actually has historical significance.  Located at 1313 New York Avenue near its intersection with H Street in northwest D.C. (MAP), the post was used by President Abraham Lincoln to hitch his horses to while attending services at the church.

President and Mrs. Lincoln first visited the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church shortly after he took office in March of 1861.  The building was new when the Lincolns first visited, with the church having just formed as the result of a merger between the Second Presbyterian Church and the F Street Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.  The Second Presbyterian Church owned a small building at the 14th Street site where the new church building was constructed.  The F Street Church met a few blocks away, and sold their building to The Willard Hotel where, coincidentally, the Lincolns had just recently run up a large tab, having stayed there prior to moving into The White House.

The Second Presbyterian Church included many prominent political and public figures, such as Presidents John Quincy Adams, James Buchanan and Andrew Jackson.  During the time Lincoln attended the New York Avenue church, members and regular attendees included: Edward Bates and Simon Cameron of Lincoln’s cabinet; Joseph Henry, the first Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution; Senator Orville Browning of Illinois, and; famous Civil War photographer Mathew Brady.

Located just three blocks east of The White House, curious or admiring spectators would often gather and greet the first family as they arrived, whether it was by their small horse-drawn carriage or, occasionally, on foot.  Although the Lincolns did not join the church, the family attended services there regularly until the President’s death on April 15, 1865.  Almost a century and a half later, the hitching post still remains.

LincolnHitchingPost02     NYAPC01
[Click on the thumbnails above to view the full size photos]

  1. Cool. I had no idea.


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