As the taxi pulled up to my hotel on President Street, I was intrigued by this little building which was across the street. It was dwarfed by the high-rises surrounding it, and looked very out of place.
But what really made this building special was not its architecture so much as the historical events that happened in it. The President Street Station was witness to a lot of Civil War history.
Originally Lincoln had planned to stop and give a speech. However, warned by the Pinkerton Dectective Agency of an assassination plot, he slipped through town in the pre-dawn hours wearing a cap rather than his recognizable stove-pipe hat.
If Lincoln had chosen to brave the gangs of pro-secessionists who intended to prevent his safe passage to the capital, President-elect Lincoln might never have lived to become President.
Most people consider the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861 as the beginning of the Civil War, but the first blood was spilled on April 19, 1861, when the 6th Massachusetts Infantry, debarking at the President Street Station enroute to Washington D.C. were accosted by southern sympathizers who blocked their path and pelted the soliders with rocks and bricks. By the end of what became known at the Pratt Street Riots, four soldiers and nine civilians lay dead in the streets.
For a first hand account of the Pratt Street Riot, click here.