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Lincoln (right) poses with Pinkerton, 1862

Railroad detective Allan Pinkerton met with Abraham Lincoln in Philadelphia and informed him of the plot he had discovered in Baltimore, to assassinate the President-elect as he passed through that city on the way to his inauguration in Washington. Pinkerton persuaded Lincoln to slip away from his entourage and secretly pass through Baltimore before the publicized time of his arrival.

On February 22, 1861, Lincoln traveled from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and made his scheduled appearances. But that night, as citizens of the state capital waited for him at a ball given in his honor, Lincoln was speeding eastward on a secret presidential express train while Pinkerton's agents cut the telegraph lines behind them.

Shortly after 11:00 P.M., Lincoln's train pulled into Philadelphia. Wearing a large overcoat and a beaver cap to try to disguise himself, Lincoln and Ward Hill Lamon, Lincoln's friend and self-appointed bodyguard, met Pinkerton, who took them a short distance to the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore station. There they boarded a sleeping car to continue the trip, arriving in Baltimore around 3:30 A.M. on February 23. While Lincoln slept, his car was pulled by horse and connected to the last car of the train bound for Washington and the last leg of the journey. By 6:00 A.M., Lincoln had arrived safely and secretly in Washington and proceeded to his room in Willard's Hotel.

Later that day, the soon-to-be First Lady, Mary Todd Lincoln, arrived in Washington according to the published schedule. While passing through Baltimore, her train had been mobbed by a loud, mean crowd, but she had passed through unscathed, causing Lincoln to believe Pinkerton's fear of a plot to be illusionary and the secret trip to have been unnecessary.