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The Curious Abraham Lincoln Confederate Note

Lincoln’s $5 CSA Note  - Littleton Coin Blog
Lincoln’s $5 CSA Note
Credit: Library of Congress

April 14, 1865 was a date that changed American history.

Just five days earlier, Confederate General Robert E. Lee had surrendered his forces. The Civil War was effectively over. But on that night, 16th U.S. President Abraham Lincoln was shot while attending a play at Ford’s Theatre with his wife.

The wound proved fatal. Lincoln died the following morning. And with him, his hope for a compassionate and healing reunification after the war.

Following Lincoln’s death, a curious item was found among the items he carried on the night of his assassination. In his wallet, the man who guided the Union to victory in the Civil War had carried a $5 currency note issued by the very rebels he had defeated.

Abraham Lincoln’s $5 Confederate Note

The contents of President Lincoln’s pockets on the night of his assassination remained in his family for over seventy years. Then, in 1937, his granddaughter Mary Lincoln Isham donated them to the Library of Congress.

Lincoln’s wallet
Credit: Library of Congress

The collection includes two pair of spectacles, a pocket knife, a watch fob, a monogrammed handkerchief, a sleeve button and a brown leather wallet. The wallet contained a pencil, compartments for U.S. currency and railroad tickets, eight newspaper clippings and a $5 currency note.

But the note wasn’t issued by the United States. Rather, it was printed by the rebellious Confederate States of America!

Why did Lincoln carry a Confederate Note?

President Lincoln - Littleton Coin Blog

It’s not certain why the U.S. president kept a Confederate currency note in his wallet. Some historians believe Lincoln may have picked it up as a souvenir earlier that month while visiting Petersburg and Richmond.

Personally, I believe it was more than a novelty or token of victory.

It’s widely documented how keenly Lincoln felt the weight of his office. And how deeply he was affected by the high cost of the war between the states. So it’s very possible the Lincoln Confederate note was more of a somber memento.

One he carried as a reminder of the war’s tragic loss of life… of how close the Union had come to breaking apart…

…and of the price of failure should he fail in his duties as president of the nation.

Want your own Lincoln Confederate Note?

The note Lincoln kept in his wallet was an 1864 $5 Confederate States of America Note. Authorized in February of 1864, it was from the Confederacy’s seventh and final issue of currency.

Purchase an 1864 $5 Confederate Note, like the one Lincoln carried, from Littleton Coin Company while supplies last.

On its face, the note depicts the Confederate Capitol at Richmond Virginia, along with a portrait of Confederate Secretary of the Treasury C.G. Memminger. On the back, a stylish design shows the note’s denomination.

Want one for your own collection? You may be in luck.

Littleton Coin Company currently has a supply of 1864 $5 Confederate Notes just like the one found in Abraham Lincoln’s wallet. And like the Lincoln Confederate Note, each one is individually signed and numbered.

You can purchase them through the company’s website here while supplies last.

Of course, these notes are prized by currency collectors, Civil War buffs and history lovers alike. So if you want one for your own collection, you should grab it now.

Frankly, I might even pick one up myself…

Until next time,

Happy Collecting!

This article was written by Len B.

A lifelong writer and collector, Len is a USAF veteran, New Hampshire native and member of the American Numismatic Association.


Library of Congress. ” The contents of Abraham Lincoln’s pockets on the evening of his assassination.” Accessed 4/3/24.

The White House. “Abraham Lincoln.” Accessed 4/3/24 “Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.” Accessed 4/3/24

Littleton Coin Company. “1864 $5 Confederate Note.”$5-confederate-note-t69-wc. Accessed 4/3/24.

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