March 12, 2009

In History’s Spotlight: The Secret of Lincoln’s Watch

Worldwide media focus on the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and its director, College Trustee Brent Glass ’69

Worldwide media focused on the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History, led by director Brent Glass ’69, on Tuesday as the museum opened a watch that once belonged to Abraham Lincoln and discovered a message secretly engraved on the metal plate beneath its face by the watchmaker who repaired it in 1861.

Using tiny screwdrivers, tweezers, and levers, a jeweler opened the watch, and a descendent of the watchmaker read the message, which made reference to the attack on Ft. Sumter that began the Civil War. Two other messages left by others also were found.

The event coincided with an exhibit showing at the museum, “Abraham Lincoln: An Extraordinary Life.”

A Lafayette trustee, Glass commented to the The New York Times, “Does it change our view of history? No. But it adds to our understanding of how an ordinary person was affected by the events of the day.”

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