Online Exhibit

Lincoln's Town

Throughout his time in Washington, Lincoln played an active role in town life. Although he was arguably the most important man in America, he wanted to be viewed as accessible. He was often seen stopping on Pennsylvania Avenue to talk to constituents, and frequented many of the shops and theaters throughout the city.


One such business was Riggs Bank located near Fifteenth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. Like many presidents before him, Lincoln chose Riggs & Co. to be his private bank.


Founded by George Washington Riggs and William Corcoran in 1840, the bank catered to the Washington elite and also helped finance a number of federal endeavors including the Mexican-American War and the purchase of Alaska. A small coincidence, in 1851 George Washington Rigg's home was purchased by the Government and established as The Soldier's Home, an important retreat for Lincoln and his family throughout his presidency.


During his infrequent spare time, Lincoln would often take his youngest son, Tad, to A. Stuntz Toy Store located at 1207 New York Avenue. Originally built to be a home, the store was leased by Ulysses Ward to Joseph and Apolonia Stutnz in 1847. When Joseph died during the Civil War, Apolonia took over proprietorship and ran the shop herself.


The little store was one of Lincoln's favorite places to visit. Lincoln would buy little tin and wooden soldiers for Tad, along with miniature cannons and swords. Tad would play with the toys for hours, creating pretend miniature battles, a stark contrast to the brutal ones being fought in the neighboring countryside. Lincoln reportedly once asked Stuntz, "Does it hurt you as much to have your soldiers shot down as it does me to have mine?"










Riggs Bank, ca. 1874


Fascimile of Check signed by Lincoln, ca. 1863


Stuntz Toy Store, ca. 1900