The Abraham Lincoln Burial Site

While researching the Abraham Lincoln burial site for this post, we were astonished by the multiple exhumations and inspections of Abraham Lincoln’s remains subsequent to his initial burial. In fact, the information we gathered seemed macabre and exaggerated, so we used consulted several sources to verify the details.

The sad fact is that the earthly remains of President Lincoln – most often regarded as America’s greatest president – were accorded very little dignity over several decades.

Those involved were, for the most part, well intended. Yet, there seems to have been an element of morbid curiosity at times, particularly surrounding the 1901 exhumation and some of the people permitted to inspect the president’s remains.


President Lincoln's Funeral Train at Harrisburg

The First Interment

April 18 – May 3, 1865: Following his embalmment, the president’s coffin was opened for viewing at the White House; the Rotunda of the United States Capitol; Merchant’s Exchange Building, Baltimore, Maryland; Pennsylvania State Capitol, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; City Hall, New York City; Old Capital, Albany, New York; St James Hall, Buffalo, New York; Public Square, Cleveland, Ohio; Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio; Indiana Statehouse, Indianapolis, Indiana; Michigan City, Indiana, Old Chicago Courthouse, Chicago, Illinois; Old State Capital, Springfield, Illinois[2].

May 4, 1865: After the torturous journey from Washington to Springfield, Illinois, the coffins of President Lincoln and his son Willie arrived at Oakridge Cemetery for temporary interment in the public receiving vault[1].

The Second Interment

December 21, 1865: the bodies of Lincoln and his son, Willie, were moved to a recently created temporary vault. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains identified [1].

The Third Interment

September 19, 1871: the bodies of President Lincoln and his sons, Edward and Willie were moved into the partially completed, Lincoln Tomb. The remains of Tad Lincoln, (the president’s youngest son who died in July 1971) had already been interred within the tomb. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains were identified [1]

The Fourth Interment

October 9, 1874: the Lincoln Tomb now complete, the president’s remains were removed from his coffin, identified once again, placed within a lead-lined, cedar coffin and sealed within a marble sarcophagus [1].

The Fifth Interment

November 13, 1876: following an attempt by counterfeiters to steal the president’s body, President Lincoln’s coffin was moved to a hidden location within the basement and secretly buried beneath a woodpile. Resealed, the sarcophagus was left empty [1] [2].

The Sixth Interment

November 18, 1878: after spending more than two years hidden in the basement, President Lincoln is secretly reburied in a shallow grave nearby [1] [2].

The Seventh Interment

November 21, 1878: following anonymous threats, President Lincoln’s coffin was exhumed to make certain it was still there and intact [2]. July 19, 1882: Mary Todd Lincoln was buried in the Lincoln Tomb. Shortly thereafter, her remains were exhumed and secretly buried beside her husband [1] [2].

The Eighth Interment

April 14, 1887: the remains of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were exhumed. Lincoln’s coffin was opened and his remains identified. Both coffins were reinterred within a new brick burial vault [1] [2].

The Ninth Interment

March 10, 1900: all the Lincolns’ coffins were exhumed and reinterred in an underground vault close to the Lincoln Tomb during its reconstruction [1] [2].

The Tenth Interment

April 24, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was exhumed and placed within a sarcophagus in the reconstructed Lincoln Tomb. This created immediate security concerns due to the ease with which the counterfeiters had accessed and opened the sarcophagus in 1876 [1] [2].

The Eleventh Interment

April 24, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was removed from the sarcophagus and reinterred in an empty crypt within the burial vault of the Lincoln Tomb. Plans were made to construct a secure, permanent crypt beneath the floor of the Lincoln Tomb [1] [2].

The Twelfth Interment

April 24, 1901: President Lincoln’s coffin was removed from its crypt. The coffin was opened and the president’s remains were identified by twenty-three people including a child [1] [2].

The coffin was placed into a steel cage and sealed within three metres of concrete beneath the burial vault of the Lincoln Tomb.

The tomb underwent a major reconstruction from 1930 to 1931 during which there was no further need to disturb the remains of the slain president.


1. (2019). Abraham Lincoln Tomb Highlights. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Mar. 2019].

2. (2019). Funeral and burial of Abraham Lincoln. [online] Available at: [Accessed 31 Mar. 2019].

6 thoughts on “The Abraham Lincoln Burial Site”

  1. Michael J. Shire

    For some reason no one seems to have ever commented upon the fact that Robert Lincoln’s entombing his father’s remains in a steel cage work and pouring tons of cement through it would have pancaked the coffin and the body within. To preserve it from theft, the result would have been the destruction of it.

    1. Edward was reinterred at the Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery. Robert is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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