23 die in collapse of Ford’s Theatre, site of Lincoln assassination

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In Washington, D.C. on June 9, 1893, the interior of ramshackle Ford’s Theatre collapses, causing the deaths of 23 people. The building—where President Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865—houses hundreds of clerks employed by the War Department’s Records and Pensions Division. An investigation determines the cause of the tragedy was a pier that had given way during excavation in the basement for an electric-light plant.

Rescue workers quickly arrived on the scene, toiling “like demons” to search for victims and to remove debris. Clerks recalled screams of co-workers. One witness said Civil War veterans who worked in the building were the “wildest and craziest.” In a panic, some employees jumped from the second floor, using an awning to brace their fall.



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