The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 21


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THE war was over. The great rebellion which, for  four long years, had been assailing the nation's life, was  quelled. Richmond, the rebel capital, was taken, Lee's  army had surrendered, and the flag of the Union was  floating, in reassured supremacy, over the whole of the  National domain. Friday, the 14th of April, the anniversary of the surrender of Fort Sumter in 1861, by  Major Anderson to the rebel forces, had been designated  by the Government as the day on which the same officer  should again raise the American flag upon the fort, in  presence of an assembled multitude, and with ceremonies  befitting so auspicious an occasion. The whole land rejoiced at the return of peace and the prospect of renewed prosperity to the whole country. President Lincoln shared this common joy, but with a deep intensity  of feeling which no other man in the whole land could  ever know. He saw the full fruition of the great work  which had rested so heavily on his hands and heart for  four years past. He saw the great task--as momentous  as had ever fallen to the lot of man--which he had approached with such unfeigned diffidence, nearly at an  end. The agonies of war had passed away--he had won  the imperishable renown which is the high reward of those  who save their country, and he could devote himself  now to the welcome task of healing the wounds which  war had made, and consolidating, by a wise and magnanimous policy, the severed sections of our common  Union. Mr. Lincoln's heart was full of the generous  sentiments which these circumstances were so well calculated to inspire. On the morning of Friday, a Cabinet  meeting was held, at which he was even more than  usually cheerful and hopeful, as he laid before the Secretaries his plans and suggestions for the treatment of the  conquered people of the Southern States. And after the  meeting was over he talked with his wife, with all the  warmth of his loving nature, of the four years of storm  through which he had been compelled to pass, and of  the peaceful sky on which the opening of his second  term had dawned. His mind was free from forebodings,  and filled only with thoughts of kindness and of future  peace.

But Mr. Lincoln had failed to estimate aright one of the  elements inseparable from civil war--the deep and malignant passion which it never fails to excite. Free from  the faintest impulse of revenge himself, he could not appreciate its desperate intensity in the hearts of others.  Mr. Seward, with his larger experience and more practical knowledge of human nature, had repeatedly told him  that so great a contest could never close without passing  through an era of assassination--that if it did not come as  a means of aiding the rebel cause, it would follow, and  seek to avenge its downfall, and that it was the duty of all  who were responsibly and conspicuously connected with  the Government, to be prepared for this supreme test of  their courage and patriotic devotion. Mr. Seward himself,  had acted upon this conviction, and had stood at his post  always prepared for sudden death. Mr. Lincoln was unwilling to contemplate the possibility of such a crime.  To all remonstrances against personal exposure, he replied  that his death could not possibly benefit the rebel cause,  but would only rouse the loyalty of the land to fresh indignation, and that no precautions he could take would  defeat the purpose of his murder, if it were really entertained. He continued, therefore, his habit of walking  alone from the Executive Mansion to the War Department late at night, and of riding unattended to his summer  residence, the Soldiers' Home, four or five miles from the  Capital, until the Secretary of War finally forced his  reluctant assent to the presence of a guard. From time  to time during his Administration, he had received letters  threatening him with assassination, but as they were anonymous, and couched in language of bravado, he put them  aside without remark.

As the war drew towards its close, and the rebel cause  seemed tottering to its fall, warnings of more significance  reached the Government, and arrested the attention of its  leading members. Hints of plots against the President's  life, among the rebel agents abroad and in Canada, began  to multiply, and towards the last of March, Secretary  Seward received from our consuls in London and Liverpool detailed reports of revelations, made to their secret  agents in France, of a comprehensive conspiracy against  the lives of the President and Generals Grant and Sherman, assumed to be the main bulwarks of the National  cause. 1 These warnings were so distinct and direct, that  Mr. Seward consulted Secretary Stanton in regard to  them, and it was agreed that he should lay the subject  before the President the next day, and earnestly represent  to him the expediency of avoiding, for a time, all public  gatherings, and all needless exposure to possible assault.  But the next day Mr. Seward was thrown from his carriage and, his foot catching in the steps, he was dragged  for some distance, and so seriously injured, that he was  compelled to dismiss all thought of public matters from  his mind. Mr. Lincoln's visit to Richmond had led to  remonstrances from friends, who feared that some rebel  fanatic, frenzied by the overthrow of the rebel cause,  might seek revenge in the murder of the President, and  he had, in reply, given assurances that he would take  all due precautions. But the matter evidently made but  a momentary impression upon his mind, and his personal  demeanor in all respects remained unchanged.

On Friday, the 14th, he breakfasted with his son, Captain Robert Lincoln, who was on the staff of General  Grant, and from whom he heard full details of the surrender of General Lee, of which Captain Lincoln had  been an eye-witness. He received various public men  after breakfast, among whom were Speaker Colfax and  ex-Senator J. P. Hale, and conversed freely, in a tone  of high and hopeful courage, of the immediate political  future. Nothing can indicate more clearly the elation of  mind with which the President regarded the future of the  country, now that its safety had been assured, than the  language he addressed, in conversation at this interview,  to Mr. Colfax, who was at this time preparing for a journey overland to the Pacific coast. Said he:--

"Mr. Colfax, I want you to take a message from me to the miners  whom you visit. I have very large ideas of the mineral wealth of our  nation. I believe it practically inexhaustible. It abounds all over the  Western country, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, and its development has scarcely commenced. During the war, when we were adding a couple of millions of dollars every day to our national debt, I did  not care about encouraging the increase in the volume of our precious  metals. We had the country to save first. But now that the rebellion  is overthrown, and we know pretty nearly the amount of our national  debt, the more gold and silver we mine, we make the payment of that  debt so much the easier. Now," said he, speaking with more emphasis,  "I am going to encourage that in every possible way. We shall have  hundreds of thousands of disbanded soldiers, any many have feared that  their return home in such great numbers might paralyze industry, by  furnishing, suddenly, a greater supply of labor than there will be demand  for. I am going to try to attract them to the hidden wealth of our mountain ranges, where there is room enough for all. Immigration, which  even the war has not stopped, will land upon our shores hundreds of  thousands more per year from overcrowded Europe. I intend to point  them to the gold and silver that wait for them in the West. Tell the  miners for me, that I shall promote their interests to the utmost of my  ability; because their prosperity is the prosperity of the nation; and,"  said he, his eye kindling with enthusiasm, "we shall prove, in a very few  years, that we are indeed the treasury of the world."

At eleven o'clock he attended the meeting of the Cabinet,  already referred to, which was rendered more than usually interesting by the presence and report of General  Grant, who had come direct to Washington from the field, without even entering the rebel Capital he had conquered, forgetful of himself, and eager only to secure to the country the best fruits of the victory he had achieved. At this meeting the policy to be adopted towards the rebel States. was freely canvassed--all the leading points, submitted by the President, commanded the hearty acquiescence of the Cabinet and of General Grant, and, as the result of the interview, Secretary Stanton says he felt that the Government was stronger than at any previous period since the rebellion began. After the meeting was over, President Lincoln arranged to attend the theatre in the evening, expecting to be accompanied by General Grant, and sent his messenger to Ford's Theatre to engage a box. In the afternoon he received and conversed for a long time with several public men from his own State, and in the early evening had an interview with Speaker Colfax and Hon. George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, for whom, as an old friend, he had a warm regard. The conversation fell upon the apprehension widely felt for his life during his visit to Richmond, and he said that he should have felt the same fears concerning any one else under the same circumstances, but he could not feel that he himself was in any danger whatever. He afterwards gave Mr. Ashmun a card, directing his immediate admission the next morning, when Mr. Ashmun wished to see him upon business -- and, turning to Mr. Colfax, said, "You are going to the theatre with Mrs. Lincoln and me, are you not?" Mr. Colfax, however, had other engagements for the evening, and could not go. Mr. Lincoln told him he would be glad to stay at home, but the people expected both General Grant and himself, and as General Grant had left town, he did not like to disappoint them altogether. He then again urged both Mr. Ashmun and Mr. Colfax to accompany him, but they both excused themselves on the score of previous engagements. At a little after eight o'clock the President, with Mrs. Lincoln, entered their carriage, and halting at the residence of Senator Harris, where they were joined by Major H. R. Rathbone, the step-son, and by Miss Clara W. Harris, the daughter, of the Senator, they proceeded to Ford's Theatre, in  Tenth Street, and immediately entered the box prepared  for their reception.

This box was on the second floor of the theatre, looking  down upon the stage, and on its right as the spectator enters  the building. A narrow passage-way from the front behind  the dress-circle leads to a door, which opens inwardly into  an entry about eight feet long and four feet wide; from  which, at its farther end, another door opens directly into  the box. The President, passing through these doors, seated himself in a high-backed rocking-chair, placed for him  at the corner of the box nearest the audience, Mrs. Lincoln sitting next to him on his right, Miss Harris sitting  next, in the corner of the box farthest from the audience,  and Major Rathbone sitting on a sofa just behind Miss  Harris. The box was a double one, with a front of about  ten feet looking upon the stage, a small pillar rising from  the centre of the railing to the ceiling above. An American flag had been hung in front, in honor of the President's attendance. The door which entered the box was  directly behind the President, and about five feet from  his chair; it was left standing open daring the evening.

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The play for that evening was the American Cousin.  During the performance the attendant of the President  came out from the box and sat a few feet from the outer  door leading to it. At about nine o'clock a man came to  the vicinity, with a large official envelope in his hand, addressed, as is believed, to General Grant, and inquired  for the President's messenger, to whom he exhibited the  envelope, and of whom he made some inquiry, and then  went away. At fifteen minutes after ten, John Wilkes  Booth, an actor by profession, passed along the passage  behind the spectators in the dress-circle, showed a card  to the President's messenger, and stood for two or three  minutes looking down upon the stage and the orchestra  below. He then entered the vestibule of the President's  box, closed the door behind him, and fastened it by bracing a short plank against it from the wall, so that it could  not be opened from the outside. He then drew a small silver-mounted Derringer pistol, which he carried in his  right hand, holding a long double-edged dagger in his  left. All in the box were intent on the proceedings upon  the stage; but President Lincoln was leaning forward,  holding aside the curtain of the box with his left hand,  and looking, with his head slightly turned, towards the  audience. Booth stepped within the inner door into the  box, directly behind the President, and, holding the pistol just over the back of the chair in which he sat, shot  him through the back of the head. Mr. Lincoln's head  fell slightly forward, and his eyes closed, but in every  other respect his attitude remained unchanged.

The report of the pistol startled those in the box, and  Major Rathbone, turning his eyes from the stage, saw,  through the smoke which filled the box, a man standing  between him and the President. He instantly sprang  towards him and seized him; but Booth wrested himself  from his grasp, and dropping the pistol, struck at him  with the dagger, inflicting a severe wound upon his left  arm, near the shoulder. Booth then rushed to the front  of the box--shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!"--put his  hand upon the railing in front of the box, and leaped  over it upon the stage below. As he went over his spur  caught in the flag which draped the front, and he fell;  but recovering himself immediately, he rose, brandished  the dagger, and facing the audience, shouted "The South  is avenged!" He then rushed across the stage towards the  passage which led to the stage-door in the rear of the  theatre. An actor named Hawke was the only' person  on the stage when Booth leaped upon it, and seeing  Booth coming towards him with the dagger in his hand,  he ran off the stage and up a flight of stairs. Booth ran  through the passage-way beside the scenes, meeting one  or two persons only, whom he struck from his path, went  out at the door which stood open, and which he closed  behind him, and mounting a horse which he had brought  there, and which a lad was holding for him, he rode over  the Anacosta bridge, across the east branch of the Potomac, giving his real name to the guard who challenged him, and found a temporary refuge among the rebel sympathizers of Lower Maryland.

The discharge of the pistol had not apprised the audience of the real nature of the transaction. By many  it was supposed to be an incident of the play, and it was  not until Booth had leaped from the box and crossed the  stage, that there was any general suspicion of what had  taken place. Mr. J. B. Stewart, who was seated in the  orchestra stalls, leaped upon the stage and pursued the  flying assassin, but he reached the stage-door only in  time to see him riding off on the horse he had mounted.  Major Rathbone, seeing that the President was unconscious, started for assistance through the door which  Booth had barred. Miss Laura Keene, the leading actress in the play, came upon the stage, entered the  box, and calling on all in the house to keep quiet,  bathed the head of the unconscious victim, and required  the crowd to fall back and give him air. The house was  speedily in confusion--the lights were turned off, and  the multitude dispersed. Several surgeons soon came  forward and made an examination of the President's person, and as soon as the wound was discovered, he was  removed from the theatre to the house of Mr. Peterson,  on the opposite side of Tenth Street, where, in a small  room on the first floor, he was laid diagonally across a  large bed. He was at once divested of his clothing; the  surgeons in attendance, Surgeon-General Barnes presiding, examined the wound, and it was at once seen that  he could not possibly survive many hours. The ball  had entered on the left side of the head, behind the left  ear, and three inches from it. Its course was obliquely  forward, traversing the brain, and lodging just behind  the right eye. The President was at once surrounded by  the prominent officers of the Government. Mrs. Lincoln,  overcome with emotion, was led from the theatre to the  house where her husband lay. Secretary McCullough,  Attorney-General Speed, Secretary Welles, Senator Sumner, and other distinguished gentlemen, remained in the  room through the night. When first brought into the house the President's breathing was regular, but difficult. This  continued throughout the night, he giving, with occasional exceptions, no indications of suffering, and remaining, with closed eyes, perfectly unconscious. At about  seven in the morning his breathing became more difficult,  and was interrupted at intervals sometimes for so long a  time that he was supposed to be dead. At twenty-two  minutes past seven he ceased breathing, and thus expired.  There was no convulsive action, no rattling in the throat,  no appearance of suffering of any kind--none of the  symptoms which ordinarily attend dissolution and add  to its terrors. From the instant he was struck by the  ball of the assassin, he had not given the slightest indication that he was conscious of any thing that occurred  around him.

The news that the President had been shot spread at  once through the town, and was instantly followed by  tidings of a murderous assault, still more terrible in its  details, upon the Secretary of State. We have already  mentioned the accident by which Mr. Seward was thrown  from his carriage, and seriously injured. His right arm  was broken above the elbow, his jaw was fractured, and  his whole system seriously shattered. For nearly a fortnight he had been confined to his bed, unable to swallow  any thing but liquids, and reduced, by pain and this  enforced abstinence, to a state of extreme debility. His  room was on the third floor of his residence in Madison  Place, fronting on President Square, and the bed on which  he lay stood opposite the door by which the room was  entered, and about ten feet from it. At a few minutes  past ten--within five minutes of the time when the President was shot--a man, proved afterwards to be Lewis  Payne Powell, generally known as Payne, rang at the  door of Mr. Seward's residence, and said to the colored  lad who opened it that he had some medicines prescribed  for Mr. Seward by Dr. Verdi, his family physician,  which he must deliver in person. The lad said that  no one could go up to Mr. Seward's room; but Payne  pushed him aside and rushed up stairs. He had reached the third floor, and was about to enter Mr.  Seward's room, when he was confronted by Mr. Frederick  W. Seward, the Secretary's son, to whom he made the  same statement of his errand. He was refused admission, when he drew a pistol and snapped it at Frederick  without effect; he then struck him with it upon the head  twice, with such force as to break the pistol and prostrate  his victim, fracturing his skull. Hearing the noise, Miss  Fannie Seward, who was in her father's room, opened the  door, into which Payne instantly rushed, and, drawing a  bowie-knife, threw himself upon the bed, and made three  powerful stabs at the throat of Mr. Seward, who had  raised himself up at the first alarm, and who instantly  divined the real nature and intention of the assault.  Each blow inflicted a terrible wound, but, before the  assassin could deal another, he was seized around the  body by an invalid soldier named Robinson, who was in  attendance as nurse, and who strove to drag the murderer  from his victim. Payne at once struck at Robinson  and inflicted upon him several serious wounds, but  did not succeed in freeing himself from his grasp.  Mr. Seward, the instant his murderer's attention was  withdrawn from him, threw himself off the bed at the  farther side; and Payne, finding that his victim was  thus beyond his reach, broke away from Robinson,  and rushed to the door. The colored lad in the lower  hall had run into the street for help, and Miss Fannie  Seward shouted "Murder!" from the upper window. The  assassin, on reaching the upper hall, met Major Augustus  Seward, another son of the Secretary, whom he struck  with his dagger, and on the stairs encountered Mr. Hansell, one of the Secretary's attendants, whom he  stabbed in the back. Forcing his way through all these  obstacles, he rushed down the stairs, and finding, to his  surprise, no one there to oppose his progress, he passed  out at the front door, mounted a horse he had left standing in front of the house, and rode leisurely away.

When the news of this appalling tragedy spread through  the city, it carried consternation to every heart. Treading close on the heels of the President' s murder--perpetrated, indeed, at the same instant--it was instinctively  felt to be the work of a conspiracy, secret, remorseless,  and terrible. The Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton, had  left Mr. Seward's bedside not twenty minutes before  the assault, and was in his private chamber, preparing to retire, when a messenger brought tidings of the  tragedy, and summoned his instant attendance. On his  way to Mr. Seward's house, Mr. Stanton heard of the  simultaneous murder of the President, and instantly felt  that the Government was enveloped in the meshes of a  conspiracy, whose agents were unknown, and which was  all the more terrible for the darkness and mystery in  which it moved. Orders were instantly given to close all  drinking-shops and all places of public resort in the city,  guards were stationed at every point, and all possible  precautions were taken for the safety of the Vice-President and other prominent Government officials. A vague  terror brooded over the population of the town. Men  whispered to each other as they met, in the gloom of  midnight, and the deeper gloom of the shadowy crime  which surrounded them. Presently, passionate indignation replaced this paralysis of the public heart, and, but  for the precautions adopted on the instant by the Government, the public vengeance would have been wreaked  upon the rebels confined in the Old Capitol Prison. All  these feelings, however, gradually subsided, and gave  way to a feeling of intense anxiety for the life of the  President. Crowds of people assembled in the neighborhood of the house where the dying martyr lay, eager for  tidings of his condition, throughout the night; and when,  early in the morning, it was announced that he was dead,  a feeling of solemn awe filled every heart, and sat, a  brooding grief, upon every face.

And so it was through all the length and breadth of  the land. In every State, in every town, in every  household, there was a dull and bitter agony, as the  telegraph bore tidings of the awful deed. Everywhere  throughout the Union, the public heart, bounding with exultation at the triumphant close of the great war, and  ready to celebrate with a mighty joy the return of peace,  stood still with a sacred terror, as it was smitten by the  terrible tidings from the capital of the Nation. In the  great cities of the land all business instantly stopped--no  man had the heart to think of gain--flags drooped half-mast from every winged messenger of the sea, from every  church spire, from every tree of liberty, and from every  public building. Masses of the people came together by  a spontaneous impulse, to look in each other's faces, as  if they could read there some hint of the: meaning of these  dreadful deeds--some omen of the country's fate. Thousands upon thousands, drawn by a common feeling,  crowded around every place of public resort, and listened  eagerly to whatever any public speaker chose to say.  Wall Street, in New York, was thronged by a vast multitude of men, to whom eminent public officials addressed  words of sympathy and of hope. Gradually as the day  wore on, emblems of mourning were hung from the windows of every house throughout the town, and before the  sun had set every city, throughout the length and breadth  of the land, to which tidings of the great calamity had  been borne by the telegraph, was enshrouded in the  shadow of the national grief. On the next day, which was  Sunday, every pulpit resounded with eloquent eulogies  of the murdered President, and with such comments on  his death as faith in an overruling Providence alone could  prompt. The whole country was plunged into profound  grief--and none deplored the crime which had deprived  the Nation of its head with more sincerity than those who  had been involved in the guilt of the rebellion, and who  had just begun to appreciate those merciful and forgiving  elements in Mr. Lincoln's character, whose exercise they  themselves would need so soon.

Immediately after his death, the body of the President  was removed to the Executive Mansion, embalmed, and  placed in the Green Room, which had been prepared by  suitable emblems of mourning for its reception. Near  the centre of the room stood the grand catafalque, four feet high, upon which rested the mahogany coffin, covered with flowers--the last sad offerings of affection--in which the body was placed for its final rest. The funeral services took place on Wednesday the 19th, and were held in the East Room. They were attended by representatives of every department of the Government, and were exceedingly impressive and touching. The guard of honor, which had watched over the remains of the illustrious dead, still maintained its place, with Major General Hunter at its head. Nearest the coffin sat the relatives of the President--his children and his wife's connections--his widow being too utterly prostrated by her grief to leave her room. Deputations from different sections of the country,--Governors of States, Members of the Senate and House of Representatives,--the Heads of the several Executive Departments, with their assistants and clerks, the diplomatic corps and their attaches, the Judges of the Supreme and the local Courts, representatives from the Sanitary and Christian Commissions-- these and many others, whom respect for the departed President had brought to his funeral, entered the room and took the places assigned them. At twelve o'clock, ANDREW JOHNSON, who had become, in consequence of this murder, President of the United States, came forward, followed by all the members of the Cabinet, except Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, who lay unconscious of the fate of his beloved and revered chief, himself the prostrate victim of the same daring and remorseless crime. Rev. Dr. Hall, of the Episcopal Church in Washington, read the Episcopal Service for the Dead; a fervent prayer was offered by Bishop Simpson of the Methodist Church, and a funeral discourse was pronounced by Rev. Dr. Gurley, pastor of the new Presbyterian Church in New York Avenue, which the President and his family were in the habit of attending. At the conclusion of the sermon, the Chaplain of the Senate, Rev. Dr. Gray, made a prayer, and the religious ceremonies were closed. The body of the President was then removed and placed upon the lofty hearse, surmounted by a canopy, and covered with black velvet, which stood in  front of the Executive Mansion.


At two o'clock the grand procession started. Pennsylvania Avenue was completely cleared, from the Executive  Mansion to the Capitol. Every window along its whole  length--all the roofs of all the houses--the sidewalks, and  every accessible spot along the route, were crowded with  a living throng, awaiting in sad and oppressive silence  the approach of the funeral-car. The soft, sad strains of  funereal music soon broke the stillness of the summer air,  and marshalled the grand military cortège which led the  way. Then came the hearse, drawn by six gray horses,  draped in black, and preceded by twenty pall-bearers,  selected from both Houses of Congress, from the Army  and Navy, and from civil life, and followed by a great  throng of the most eminent officers of the Government,  and of deputations from every State and section of the  country, and from benevolent, industrial, and political  societies throughout the land. Filling Pennsylvania  Avenue through its whole extent, this great procession-marshalled with military precision, and marching to the  cadence of slow music from many bands--escorted, with  becoming pomp, the remains of the martyred President  to the National Capitol, which rose in white grandeur,  clad, from basement to the summit of its lordly dome, with  garments of woe, to receive the precious gift. The whole  vast building was draped in black. All the pillars were  entwined with crape,--from all the windows hung emblems of mourning, and a black canopy surmounted the  Eastern door, by which the great concourse was to enter.  Minute-guns from all the forts around the city thundered  forth their sad salutations,--the bells from every tower  and spire rang out in muffled tones their chronicle of the  stately march. At a little after three o'clock the military  cortège, which led the procession, entered the open space  in front of the Eastern entrance. Filing past in proper  order, the infantry, wheeling, faced the Capitol,--the artillery took position on the hill opposite the entrance,--the  cavalry remained in the street, and a great throng of spectators gazed in silence upon the grand display. As  the funeral-car approached, all the military bands burst  into a solemn requiem,--the artillery thundered out their  stormy greeting,--the vast crowd, as by a common impulse, uncovered,--and as Rev. Dr. Gurley, in deep and  impressive tones, recited the grand sentences in which the  Church signalizes the departure of her dead, the body of  President Lincoln was borne into the rotunda and placed  upon the lofty catafalque prepared for its reception. As  the recitation closed, President Johnson entered the hall,  followed by several Senators. Captain Robert Lincoln  and the family relatives came forward. The President's  body-guard formed in double column near the body.  Dr. Gurley made a closing prayer and pronounced the  benediction. All then left the Rotunda: guards were stationed at all the doors. General Augur and his staff took  charge of the remains, and with drawn swords the officers  detailed for the service mounted guard over them. As  night came on, the jets of gas concealed in the height of  the dome were lighted up, and cast their softened glare  upon the vigil that was kept below.

The body of the President remained in the Rotunda,  exposed to public view, during the night of the 19th, and  until nine o'clock at night of the succeeding day. Thousands upon thousands visited the Capital to take a last  look at his features, and among them were many wounded soldiers, hobbling from the hospitals, to gaze for the  last time upon the face of the late Commander-in-Chief.  A guard of honor remained during the night, and at six  o'clock on the morning of the 21st, the members of the  Cabinet and distinguished officers of the army, and many  members of Congress, paid their final visit to the remains.  The coffin was then prepared for removal, and closed.  It had been decided to transfer the President's remains  to Springfield, Illinois, the place of his residence, for  final interment; and the original purpose had been to  make the transit as rapidly as was convenient, and without exposure of the body to public view. But this design could not be carried out. From every city and town along the extended route came up a cry of the people to  be allowed to look upon the face of the great martyr to  their principles and their national life. This demand  was conceded, and arrangements were made for a special  funeral train over all the roads. A car was fitted up with  great taste and elegance, for the reception of the remains.  The whole car was draped in black, the mourning on the  outside being festooned in double rows above and below  the windows. At seven o'clock, after a prayer by the  Rev. Dr. Gurley, the coffin containing the remains was  removed from the Rotunda, and escorted to the railroad  dépôt, without music, by companies of the Twelfth Veteran  Reserve Corps, and followed by Lieutenant-General  Grant, members of the Cabinet, and other distinguished  personages. At the dépôt it was received by President  Johnson and others, and placed in the rear of the car designed for its reception. A guard of twenty-one first sergeants of the Veteran Reserve Corps had been detailed to  accompany the train; a large number of gentlemen, who  had been invited to attend, entered the cars, and at eight  o'clock, after another prayer by Dr. Gurley, the train,  embracing seven carriages, all in mourning, and drawn  by a locomotive also draped with black, slowly moved,  amid a vast crowd of silent and sad spectators, out of the  dépôt towards Baltimore. Under the direction of the  War Department, a schedule of times of arrival at and  departure from every place along the route, for the  whole distance, had been marked out with great precision, and was rigidly adhered to. The rate of speed was  restricted, a pilot engine was sent in advance to observe  the road, and every possible precaution was adopted for  the prevention of accidents. As the train moved out of  the dépôt, the great multitude reverently uncovered their  heads, and stood fixed in their grief some moments after  it had passed away.

The passage of this great funeral procession, a distance  of more than a thousand miles, through the largest and  most populous States and towns of the Union, was one of  the most remarkable spectacles ever seen on the face of the earth. At every point, for all that great distance, vast gatherings of the people assembled to catch  a glimpse of the passing train; and at every place where  it stopped, and the remains were exposed to view, great  crowds, such as no other occasion had ever brought together before, came to look upon the features of their  murdered chief. The great cities poured forth their  population in uncounted masses. In town and country  every house was hung with mourning--flags drooped at  half-mast, and inscriptions, filled with touching expressions of the nation's sorrow, or glowing with eulogy of  the departed leader, greeted the eye, and renewed the sorrow, of the spectator everywhere.

At ten o'clock the train entered the dépôt at Baltimore,  where, in spite of inclement weather, it was met by an  immense procession of all ages and classes of people:-the coffin was borne through the vast crowd, who stood  with uncovered heads, to the funeral-car, elegantly  draped, and its sides composed of plate-glass, which  awaited its reception in Camden Street. A large and imposing military display, under command of Brigadier-General H. H. Lockwood, escorted the remains to the  Exchange, which had been prepared to receive them, and  where they were placed upon a raised dais, covered by  a canopy of black and strewn with rare and choice  flowers, as a fit resting-place for the illustrious dead. An  immense crowd surrounded the building, only a small  portion of whom could possibly gain admittance to look  upon the corpse. At half-past two the coffin was closed,  and removed, a largo procession following it to the dépôt  of the Northern Central Railroad Company, from which  the funeral train departed at three for Harrisburg, the  capital of Pennsylvania, the Governor of that State being  one of the attendant mourners.

Arriving at Harrisburg at eight o'clock in the evening,  the streets were thronged, in spite of a heavy rain, with  great crowds of people, who followed the remains to  the Capitol, where the body lay in state, upon a catafalque  surmounted by a wreath of flowering almonds. It was exposed to public view from nine o'clock to midnight,  when the coffin was closed until seven in the morning.  It was then again opened, and thousands of citizens  passed in to view the body. At nine o'clock, amid the  thunder of artillery, a long column of soldiers entered the  hall for the same purpose. At eleven o'clock the coffin  was replaced upon the funeral-car, and the train departed

All along the route, in the villages, and along the roadside in the country districts, the people gathered in large  numbers, merely to view the passing train. At Lancaster, not less than twenty thousand were thus assembled. On either side of the road stood benevolent, religious, and working associations, dressed in mourning,  standing in long lines, and reverently uncovering their  heads as the funeral-car passed by. As the train approached Philadelphia, these demonstrations of respect  increased. Private residences were draped in mourning,  and flags drooped from every eminence. At half-past  four the train reached the dépôt in Broad Street, and at  six the majestic procession, formed to escort the remains  to Independence Hall, commenced its arch through  streets densely filled with people who had gathered from  every part of the surrounding country; and at half-past  nine, before the rear of the procession had left the dépôt,  the body of the President was deposited in the hall,  which flint echoed the Declaration of Independence, and  which was now prepared, with exquisite taste, to receive  to its sanctuary the great martyr of the Liberty which was  then proclaimed. In the morning the doors were opened  for the public, and before daylight lines were formed,  extending from the Delaware to the Schuylkill, at least  three miles, of persons awaiting their chance to see the  corpse. This continued all through the day, and deep  into the succeeding night. Scenes the most touching and  impressive marked this farewell visit. The wounded  soldiers limping in to look at their late commander-negroes, old and young, flocking in to see him whom  they deemed the great deliverer of their race--citizens of every class, of every political party, of every variety of  opinion on every subject, gathered by a common impulse  of love and pity, to look upon him whom God had made  the great leader of the nation in the most perilous crisis  of its fate.


At four o'clock, on the morning of the 24th of April,  the funeral train took its departure for New York. Marching in solemn state through the crowds of people, which  seemed to line the track all along the route, it reached  Jersey City, opposite New York, and passed into the  spacious dépôt, which had been clad in mourning, to the  music of a funeral dirge, executed by a choir of seventy  singers, and under the roar of heavy and loud artillery.  The coffin was lifted from the car and borne on the  shoulders of ten stalwart veterans, followed by a procession of conspicuous officials, marching to the music of  "Rest in the Grave," sung by the choral societies, to the  hearse prepared for its reception. Passing then to the  ferry-boat, which at once crossed the river, the hearse,  drawn by six gray horses, heavily draped in black, took  its place in the procession, headed by General Dix and  other officers, escorted by the Seventh Regiment, and the  Whole cortège moved, through densely-crowded streets  and amidst the most impressive display of public and private grief, to the City Hall. At half-past eleven the head  of the procession entered the Park, and while cannon  thundered from every fort in and around the harbor, while  church-bells from every spire pealed out the nation's  sorrow, and while eight hundred choristers chanted the  "Chorus of the Spirits" and filled the charmed air with  its sadly enchanting melody, the coffin was borne up the  steps of the City Hall; and placed under the dome, draped,  decorated, and dimly lighted, upon the plane prepared for  its reception. The troops then retired; guards were stationed at the head of every stairway and sentries at every  door. From this time five officers, relieved every two  hours, kept immediate watch over the body, clay and night.  Soon the doors were opened, and entering, one by one, in  proper order, the citizens of the great metropolis came to look upon the illustrious dead. All through that day and  the succeeding night the endless stream poured in, while  Outside the Park, Broadway, and the entire area of Printing-House Square, reaching up Chatham Street and East  Broadway as far as the eye could see, a vast throng of  people stood silent and hopeless, but still expectant, of a  chance to enter and see the body of the murdered President. Not less than one hundred and fifty thousand persons obtained admission, and not less than twise that number had waited for it in vain. At twenty minutes to  twelve on the 25th, the doors were closed. The appointed pall-bearers took their place beside the coffin,  which at one o'clock was lifted and carried, to the  tolling of the bell and the tap of the drum, out through  the double line of the Seventh Regiment, and placed  upon the funeral-car. Escorted by the finest military  display ever seen in New York, and followed in procession by great numbers of her citizens, the car moved  through the principal streets, in view of a vast concourse of people, to the dépôt of the Hudson River  Railroad, at the corner of Thirtieth Street and Tenth  Avenue. When the heart of the procession reached the  dépôt the column halted and faced to the west; and as the  car bearing the body came up, the solemn strains of the  military bands broke forth, the troops presented arms,  the vast crowd kept the most profound and impressive  silence, the coffin, with due ceremonies, was placed upon  the railway-car, and at four o'clock, to the sound of a  funeral dirge, the train took its departure.

It is scarcely worth while to note m detail the demonstrations and observances which followed the President's  remains to their final resting-place. At every point there  was substantially the same spectacle. Everywhere the  people gathered in vast numbers to greet the sad procession.  Everywhere the same sorrow, seeming to be almost the  expression of a personal and household grief, was shown  by drooping flags, by houses draped in mourning, by  touching inscriptions and memorials of the nobleness, the  integrity, the purity of the departed chief.


At Albany not less than fifty thousand people visited  the capitol to view the remains, which were escorted by  an imposing procession of soldiers and civilians to the  dépôt of the Central Railroad. At four o'clock on the  evening of the 26th the train left for the West. At Utica,  at Syracuse, at Rochester, at Buffalo, and at every village along the route, crowds of people were assembled.  At seven o'clock on the evening of the 27th the train  reached Cleveland, where a procession was formed, religious services were held, and the remains were exposed to  public view. Similar ceremonies attended the arrival at  Columbus, and at every point of the route, through Indiana, the same great demonstrations of popular interest and  sorrow were observed. At Chicago the most extensive  preparations had been made for the reception of the remains. On the 1st of May, as the train approached,  minute-guns and the tolling of bells signalized the event.  The great multitude stood with uncovered heads as the  coffin was borne, between the open ranks of the military,  under the magnificent Gothic arch, which had been erected across Park Place, and placed upon the funeral-car.  Thence it was escorted, by thousands of those who in life  had known Mr. Lincoln best, marching in procession, to  the Court-House, where the remains lay in state, and were  exposed to public view. Thousands upon thousands  flocked from the surrounding country to look upon them.  Fresh flowers, the sweet offerings of woman's love, from  time to time were strewn upon the coffin. Sad strains of  music gave voice to the public woe. Addresses were  made, eulogies pronounced, and in every way and by  every form the great city of his own State sought to tell  the world how much she loved and revered the memory  of her illustrious son.

On the 3d of May the President's remains reached  Springfield, which, for so many of his active years and  before the nation claimed him, had been his home. They  were escorted to the State House, borne into the hall of  the House of Representatives, which had been appropriately decorated for the occasion, and placed upon a catafalque prepared for its reception. All day and all night  long the streets of that quiet town resounded with the  footsteps of the thousands who came to look upon the  corpse of him they loved as a neighbor and friend, and  whom they now revered as foremost among the mighty  martyrs of the earth. In the morning minute-guns were  fired--and, as a choir of two hundred and fifty voices  sang "Peace, troubled soul," at ten o'clock the coffin  was closed forever. The remains were then placed in the  hearse, the procession moved, under command of Major-General Hooker, to Oak Ridge Cemetery, and there,  while the choir sang "Unveil thy bosom, faithful tomb,"  the sepulchre received to its final rest all that was mortal  of Abraham Lincoln. Religious exercises were then  held, Bishop Simpson pronouncing an eloquent and  appropriate funeral oration, and Rev. Dr. Gurley, of  Washington, making a closing prayer.

Thus closed the life and public services of Abraham  Lincoln. As the condition of the country during his  Administration made him the most conspicuous figure in  American history, so did the circumstances of his death  give him a sad and terrible isolation. It was the first  time that assassination had sought to aid, or avenge, a  political cause in the United States, and nothing but the  terrible fever of civil war could have engendered a crime  so abhorrent to the American character and the genius of  republican institutions. The investigation which the  Government at once set on foot, and prosecuted with the  utmost vigor, proved that the abduction and assassination  of Mr. Lincoln had been the topic of speculative conversation, in various portions of the rebel States, for some  months previous to its execution. It did not appear,  however, that the deed was done by direct procurement  of the rebel authorities, though it was made more than  probable that the agents whom they kept in Canada, and  supplied with large sums of money, for what they styled  "detached service"--meaning by that phrase enterprises  of robbery, murder, and arson, over which they vainly sought to throw the protection of the laws of war--were at least acquainted with the horrible plot, and lent it their sanction, if not their aid. But it seems to have originated mainly, if not exclusively, with the man who played the leading part in its execution. Booth was a son of the most distinguished actor of that name, and inherited something of his passionate and peculiar nature. He had been, from the outbreak of the rebellion, one of its most fanatical devotees; and, as its strength and prospects of success began to grow less and less, his mind was absorbed in desperate schemes for reviving its fortunes and securing its triumph. Papers which he left behind him show that he had deliberately dedicated himself to this service, long before the surrender of Lee and the virtual overthrow of the rebel cause; and what was then a desire to aid the rebellion, became, after this was hopeless, a desperate determination to avenge its downfall. He plotted the murder of Mr. Lincoln, and of the leading members of the Government, with the utmost care and deliberation, selecting for his assistants men better fitted to be tools than confederates, and assuming himself entire charge of the enterprise. The meetings of the conspirators were held at the house of one Mrs. Surratt, in Washington; and detailed arrangements had been made, with her assistance, for effecting an escape. Booth accordingly, after shooting the President, and escaping across the eastern branch of the Potomac River, found temporary shelter and aid among the rebel sympathizers of Lower Maryland. His movements, however, were greatly embarrassed and retarded by the fracture of his leg, caused by his fall as he leaped upon the stage after committing the murder; and the agents whom the Government had sent in pursuit soon came upon his track, and on the night of the 26th of April found him, with one of his accomplices, a lad named Harold, who had also been the. companion of his flight, in the barn of a farmer named Garrett, near Port Royal, on the south side of the Rappahannock, and about ninety miles from Washington. Harold surrendered. Booth refusing to do so, and menacing his captors with fire-arms, was shot by a sergeant of the troop, named Corbett. Several persons,  implicated more or less directly in the plot, were afterwards apprehended, and tried before a military commission in the City of Washington. Mrs. Surratt, Harold, a  man named Atzerott, who was to have killed Vice-President Johnson, and Payne, the assailant of Secretary  Seward, were executed on the 6th of July, and several  others were sentenced to imprisonment for life or a term  of years, for their share in the conspiracy. As these  events had nothing to do with the Administration of Mr.  Lincoln, it does not fall within the scope of this work to  narrate them in greater detail.


As might naturally be expected, the horrid crime  aroused the most intense indignation throughout the  country. No man, in either section, ventured to become  its apologist; and public sentiment, overlooking every  thing that was irregular and inconclusive in the proceedings of the military commission by whose sentence the  parties accused of complicity in the murder were convicted and hung, applauded the execution, and gave it  the sanction of a general and emphatic approval.

The murder of the President gave still another evidence  of the stability of our institutions, and of the capacity of our  people to meet any possible emergency in the conduct of  their affairs. It occasioned not the slightest pause in the  stately march of the Government. The Constitution had  provided that, in the event of the President's death, the  functions of his office should devolve upon the Vice-President. Accordingly, at ten o'clock on the morning  of President Lincoln's decease, Andrew Johnson took  the oath of office, and entered upon the discharge of his  duties as President of the United States. Not a word was  uttered, nor a hand lifted, against his accession; and  thus, with the silent and cordial acquiescence of the great  body of the people, a crisis was passed which, in other  countries and in other times, would have shaken governments to their foundation; and the world saw with astonishment and admiration, that, in war as in peace, in the most trying crises of a nation's fate as well as in the  ordinary course of public affairs, a Government "of the  people, and for the people," Was the strongest and the  safest the world had ever known.

It forms no part of the object of this work to deal  eulogy of President Lincoln and his Administration. Its  purpose will have been attained if it places his acts and  words in such a form, that those who read them may  judge for themselves of the merits and defects of the policy  he pursued. It was his destiny to guide the nation  through the stormiest period of its existence. No one of  his predecessors, not even Washington, encountered difficulties of equal magnitude, or was called to perform  duties of equal responsibility. He was first elected by a  minority of the popular vote, and his election was regarded by a majority of the people as the immediate occasion, if not the cause, of civil war; yet upon him devolved the necessity of carrying on that war, and of combining and wielding the energies of the nation for its successful prosecution. The task, under all the circumstances of the case, was one of the most gigantic that ever  fell to the lot of the head of any nation;--the success by  which it was crowned vindicates triumphantly the manner  in which it was performed.

From the outset, Mr. Lincoln's reliance was upon the  spirit and patriotism of. the people. He had no overweening estimate of his own sagacity; he was quite sensible  of his lack of that practical knowledge of men and affairs  which experience of both alone can give; but he had  faith in the devotion of the people to the principles of  Republican government, in their attachment to the Constitution and the Union, and in that intuitive sagacity of  a great community which always transcends the most  cunning devices of individual men, and, in a great and  perilous crisis, more nearly resembles inspiration than the  mere deductions of the human intellect. At the very outset of his Administration, President Lincoln cast himself,  without reserve and without fear, upon this reliance. It  has been urged against him as a reproach that he did not assume to lead and control public sentiment, but was  content to be the exponent and the executor of its  will. Possibly an opposite course might have succeeded,  but possibly, also, it might have ended in disastrous and  fatal failure. One thing is certain: the policy which he  did pursue did not fail. The rebellion did not succeed;  the authority of the Government was not overthrown; no  new government, resting on slavery as its corner-stone,  has been established upon this continent, nor has any foreign nation been provoked or permitted to throw its  sword into the scale against us. On the contrary, the  policy pursued by Mr. Lincoln has been completely and  permanently successful--and that fact is conclusive as to  its substantial wisdom.

In one respect President Lincoln achieved a wonderful  success. He maintained, through the terrible trials of his  Administration, a reputation, with the great body of the  people, for unsullied integrity of purpose and of conduct,  which even Washington did not surpass, and which no  President since Washington has equalled. He had command of an army greater than that of any living monarch;  he wielded authority less restricted than that conferred  by any other constitutional government; he disbursed  sums of money equal to the exchequer of any nation in  the world; yet no man, of any party, believes him in any  instance to have aimed at his own aggrandizement, to  have been actuated by personal ambition, or to have consulted any other interest than the welfare of his country,  and the perpetuity of its Republican form of government.  This of itself is a success which may well challenge universal admiration, for it is one which is the indispensable  condition of all other forms of success. No man whose  public integrity was open to suspicion, no matter what  might have been his abilities or his experience, could  possibly have retained enough of public confidence to  carry the country through such a contest as that from  which we have just emerged. No President, suspected  of seeking his own aggrandizement at the expense of his  country's liberties, could ever have received such enormous grants of power as were essential to a successful  prosecution of the war against the rebellion. They were  lavishly and eagerly conferred upon Mr. Lincoln, because  it was known and felt everywhere that he would not  abuse them. Faction has had in him no mark for its assaults. The weapons of party spirit have recoiled harmlessly from the shield of his unspotted character.

It was this unanimous confidence in the disinterested  purity of his character, and in the perfect integrity of his  public purposes, far more than any commanding intellectual ability, that enabled Washington to hold the faith  and confidence of the American people steadfast for seven  years, while they waged the unequal war required to  achieve their independence. And it certainly is something more than a casual coincidence that this same element, as rare in experience as it is transcendent in importance, would have characterized the President upon whom  devolved the duty of carrying the country through our  second and far more important and sanguinary struggle.

No one can read Mr. Lincoln's State papers without  perceiving in them a most remarkable faculty of "putting  things" so as to command the attention and assent of the  common people. His style of thought, as well as of expression, was thoroughly in harmony with their habitual  modes of thinking and of speaking. His intellect was  keen, emphatically logical in its action, and capable of  the closest and most subtle analysis; and he used language for the sole purpose of stating, in the clearest and  simplest possible form, the precise idea he wished to  convey. He had no pride of intellect--not the slightest  desire for display--no thought or purpose but that of  making everybody understand precisely what he believed and meant to utter. And while this habit may  sacrifices the graces of style, it gains immeasurably in  practical force and effect. It gives to his public papers  a weight and influence with the mass of the people which  no public man of this country had ever before attained.  And this was heightened by the atmosphere of humor  which seemed to pervade his mind, and which was just as natural to it, and as attractive and softening a portion of  it, as the smoky hues of Indian summer are of the charming season to which they belong. His nature was eminently genial, and he seemed to be incapable of cherishing an envenomed resentment. And although he was  easily touched by whatever was painful, the elasticity of  his temper and his ready sense of the humorous broke  the force of anxieties and responsibilities under which a  man of harder, though perhaps a higher, nature, would  have sunk and failed.

One of the most perplexing questions with which Mr.  Lincoln had to deal, in carrying on the war, was that of  slavery. There were two classes of persons who could  not see that there was any thing perplexing about it, or  that he ought to have had a moment's hesitation how to  treat it. One was made up of those who regarded the  law of slavery as paramount to the Constitution, and the  rights of slavery as the most sacred of all the rights  which are guaranteed by that instrument; the other, of  those who regarded the abolition of slavery as the one  thing to be secured, whatever else might be lost. The  former denounced Mr. Lincoln for having interfered with  slavery in any way, for any purpose, or at any time; the  latter denounced him, with equal bitterness, for not having swept it out of existence the moment Fort. Sumter was  attacked. In this matter, as in all others, Mr. Lincoln  acted upon a fixed principle of his own, which he applied  to the practical conduct of affairs just as fast as the necessities of the case required, and as the public sentiment  would sustain his action. His policy from the outset was  a tentative one--as, indeed, all policies of government,  to be successful, must always be. On the outbreak of  the rebellion, the first endeavor of the rebels was to  secure the active co-operation of all the slaveholding  States. Mr. Lincoln's first action, therefore, was to withhold as many of those States from joining the rebel Confederacy as possible. Every one can see now that this  policy, denounced at the time by his more zealous antislavery supporters as temporizing and inadequate, prevented Kentucky, Tennessee, Maryland, Missouri, and  part of Virginia from throwing their weight into the rebel  scale; and, although it is very easy and very common to  undervalue services to a cause after its triumph seems  secure, there are few who will not concede that if these  States had been driven or permitted to drift into the rebel  Confederacy, a successful termination of the war would  have been much more remote and much more doubtful  than it proved to be. Mr. Lincoln did every thing in  his power, consistent with fidelity to the Constitution, to  retain the Border Slave States within the Union; and the  degree of success which attended his efforts is the best  proof of their substantial wisdom.

His treatment of the slavery question itself was marked  by the same characteristic features. There was not a man  living in whose heart the conviction that slavery was  wrong was more deeply rooted than in his. "If slavery  is not wrong," said he, "then nothing is wrong." Nor  was there one more anxious to use every just and lawful  means, consistent with the national welfare, to secure its  extirpation from the soil of the Republic. But in every  thing he did upon this subject, as upon every other, he  aimed at practical results, not the indulgence of any  theory. He used no power over slavery until the emergency had arisen by which alone its exercise under the  Constitution could be vindicated; and he went no further  and no faster in the steps which he took for its destruction, than public sentiment would warrant and sustain  him in going. He wished to take no step backward, and  therefore was doubly cautious in his advance. His policy secured the final abolition of slavery. It not only  decreed that result, but it secured it in such a way, and  by such successive steps, each demanded by the special  exigency of its own occasion, as commanded the acquiescence of the great body of the slaveholders themselves.  The views by which his action was governed are stated  with characteristic clearness and force in his letter of  April 4, 1864, to Mr. Hodges, of Kentucky, 2 and they must commend themselves to the approval of all candid  minds.

Much has been said of Mr. Lincoln's habit of telling  stories, and it could scarcely be exaggerated. He had a  keen sense of the humorous and the ludicrous, and relished jokes and anecdotes for the amusement they afforded him. But story-telling was with him rather a mode  of stating and illustrating facts and opinions, than any  thing else. There is a great difference among men in the  manner of expressing their thoughts. Some are rigidly  exact, and give every thing they say a logical form.  Others express themselves in figures, and by illustrations  drawn from nature or history. Mr. Lincoln often gave  clearness and force to his ideas by pertinent anecdotes  and illustrations drawn from daily life. Within a month  after his first accession to office, when the South was  threatening civil war, and armies of office-seekers were  besieging him in the Executive Mansion, he said to the  writer of these pages that he wished he could get time to  attend to the Southern question; he thought he knew  what was wanted, and believed he could do something  towards quieting the rising discontent; but the office-seekers demanded all his time. "I am," said he, like  a man so busy in letting rooms in one end of his house,  that he can't stop to put out the fire that is burning the  other." Two or three years later, when the people had  made him a candidate for re-election, the same friend  spoke to him of a member of his cabinet who was a candidate also. Mr. Lincoln said he did not much concern  himself about that. It was very important to him and  the country that the department over which his rival  presided should be administered with vigor and energy,  and whatever would stimulate the Secretary to such  action would do good. "R-----" said he, "you were  brought up on a farm, were you not? Then you know  what a chin-fly is. My brother and I," he added, "were  once ploughing corn on a Kentucky farm, I driving the  horse and he holding plough. The horse was lazy, but  on one occasion rushed across the field so that I, with my long legs, could scarcely keep pace with him. On reaching the end of the furrow, I found an enormous chin-fly  fastened upon him, and knocked him off. My brother  asked me what I did that for. I told him I didn't want  the old horse bitten in that way. 'Why,' said my  brother, 'that's all that made him go.' Now," said Mr.  Lincoln, "if Mr. ----- has a presidential chin-fly biting  him, I'm not going to knock him off, if it will only make  his department go." These, which are given as illustrations of very much of his conversation, were certainly pertinent and frank. Oftentimes he would resort to anecdotes to turn the current of conversation from some topic  which he did not wish discussed, greatly to the disgust,  not unfrequently, of the person who had come to extract  information which Mr. Lincoln did not choose to impart.  He had a habit, moreover, in canvassing public topics,  of eliciting, by questions or remarks of his own, the views  and objections of opponents; and, in debate, he never  failed to state the positions of his antagonist as fairly, and  at least as strongly, as his opponent could state them  himself.

An impression is quite common that great men, who  make their mark upon the progress of events and the  world's history, do it by impressing their own opinions  upon nations and communities, in disregard and contempt  of their sentiments and prejudices. History does not sustain this view of the case. No man ever moulded the  destiny of a nation except by making the sentiment of  that nation his ally--by working with it, by shaping his  measures and his policy to its successive developments.  But little more than a year before the Declaration of Independence was issued, Washington wrote to a friend in  England that the idea of separation from Great Britain  was not entertained by any considerable number of the  inhabitants of the colonies. 3 If independence had then  been proclaimed, it would not have been supported by  public sentiment; and its proclamation would have excited hostilities and promoted divisions which might have proved fatal to the cause. Time,--the development of  events,--the ripening conviction of the necessity of such  a measure, were indispensable as preliminary conditions  of its success. And one of the greatest elements of Washington's strength was the patient sagacity with which he  could watch and wait until these conditions were fulfilled.  The position and duty of President Lincoln in regard to  slavery were very similar. If he had taken counsel only  of his own abstract opinions and sympathies, and had  proclaimed emancipation at the outset of the war, or had  sanctioned the action of those department commanders  who assumed to do it themselves, the first effect would  have been to throw all the Border Slave States into the  bosom of the slaveholding Confederacy, and add their  formidable force to the armies of the rebellion; the next  result would have been to arouse the political opposition  in the loyal States to fresh activity by giving it a rallying-cry; and the third would have been to divide the  great body of those who agreed in defending the Union,  but who did not then agree in regard to the abolition of  slavery. Candid men, who pay more regard to facts than  to theory, and who can estimate with fairness the results  of public action, will have no difficulty in seeing that the  probable result of these combined influences would have  been such a strengthening of the forces of the Confederacy,  and such a weakening of our own, as might have overwhelmed the Administration, and given the rebellion a  final and a fatal victory. By awaiting the development  of public sentiment, President Lincoln secured a support  absolutely essential to success; and there are few persons now, whatever may be their private opinions on  slavery, who will not concede that his measures in regard  to that subject were adopted with sagacity, and prosecuted with a patient wisdom which crowned them with  final triumph.

In his personal appearance and manners, in the tone  and tendency of his mind and in the fibre of his general  character, President Lincoln presented more elements of  originality than any other man ever connected with the government of this country. He was tall and thin, angular and ungraceful in his motions, careless in dress, unstudied in manner, and too thoroughly earnest and hearty,  in every thing he said or did, to be polished and polite.  But there was a native grace, the out-growth of kindness  of heart, which never failed to shine through all his  words and acts. His heart was as tender as a woman's,-as accessible to grief and gladness as a child's,--yet  strong as Hercules to bear the anxieties and responsibilities of the awful burden that rested on it. Little incidents of the war,--instances of patient suffering in devotion to duty,--tales of distress from the lips of women,  never failed to touch the innermost chords of his nature,  and to awaken that sweet sympathy which carries with  it, to those who suffer, all the comfort the human heart can  crave. Those who have heard him, as many have, relate  such touching episodes of the war, cannot recall without  emotion the quivering lip, the face gnarled and writhing  to stifle the rising sob, and the patient, loving eyes swimming in tears, which mirrored the tender pity of his  gentle and loving nature. He seemed a stranger to the  harsher and stormier passions of man. Easily grieved, he  seemed incapable of hate. Nothing could be truer than  his declaration, after the heated political contest which  secured his re-election, that he had "never willingly  planted a thorn in any human breast,"--and that it was  not in his nature to exult over any human being. It is  first among the marvels of a marvellous time, that to such  a character, so womanly in all its traits, should have  been committed, absolutely and with almost despotic  power, the guidance of a great nation through a bloody  and terrible civil war; and the success which crowned  his labors proves that, in dealing with great communities,  as with individuals, it is not the stormiest natures that  are most prevailing, and that strength of principle and of  purpose often accompanies the softest emotions of the  human heart.

Nothing was more marked in Mr. Lincoln's personal  demeanor than its utter unconsciousness of his position.

It would be difficult, if not impossible, to find another man  who would not, upon a sudden transfer from the obscurity of private life in a country town to the dignities and  duties of the Presidency, feel it incumbent upon him to  assume something of the manner and tone befitting that  position. Mr. Lincoln never seemed to be aware that his  place or his business were essentially different from those  in which he had always been engaged. He brought to  every question,--the loftiest and most imposing,--the  same patient inquiry into details, the same eager longing  to know and to do exactly what was just and right, and the  same working-day, plodding, laborious devotion, which  characterized his management of a client's case at his law  office in Springfield. He had duties to perform in both  places--in the one case to his country, as to his client  in the other. But all duties were alike to him. All  called equally upon him for the best service of his mind  and heart, and all were alike performed with a conscientious, single-hearted devotion that knew no distinction,  but was absolute and perfect in every case.

Mr. Lincoln's place in the history of this country will  be fixed quite as much by the importance of the events  amidst which he moved, and the magnitude of the results  which he achieved, as by his personal characteristics.  The Chief Magistrate whose administration quelled a rebellion of eight millions of people, set free four millions  of slaves, and vindicated the ability of the people, under  all contingencies, to maintain the Government which rests  upon their will, whose wisdom and unspotted integrity  of character secured his re-election, and who, finally,  when his work was done, found his reward in the martyrdom which came to round his life and set the final  seal upon his renown, will fill a place hitherto unoccupied in the annals of the world.

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1 See Appendix.

2 See Appendix.

3 Letter to Captain Mackensie, October 9, 1774.

Book Navigation Title Page Preface Illustrations Memorandum Table of Contents   ► Chapter I.   ► Chapter II.   ► Chapter III.   ► Chapter IV.   ► Chapter V.   ► Chapter VI.   ► Chapter VII.   ► Chapter VIII.   ► Chapter IX.   ► Chapter X.   ► Chapter XI.   ► Chapter XII.   ► Chapter XIII.   ► Chapter XIV.   ► Chapter XV.   ► Chapter XVI.   ► Chapter XVII.   ► Chapter XVIII.   ► Chapter XIX.   ► Chapter XX.   ► Chapter XXI. Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln.   ► Mr. Lincoln's Sadness   ► His Favorite Poem   ► His Religious Experience   ► His Sympathy   ► His Humor, Shrewdness, and Sentiment   ► The Emancipation Proclamation Appendix. Letters on Sundry Occasions.   ► To Mr. Lodges, of Kentucky   ► To General Hooker   ► To John B. Fry   ► To Governor Magoffin   ► To Count Gasparin   ► The President and General McClellan   ► Warnings Against Assassination Reports, Dispatches, and Proclamations Relating to the Assassination.   ► Secretary Stanton to General Dix   ► The Death-Bed   ► The Assassins   ► Reward Offered by Secretary Stanton   ► Flight of the Assassins   ► The Conspiracy Organized in Canada   ► Booth Killed. Harold Captured   ► Reward Offered by President Johnson   ► The Funeral Official Announcements   ► Acting Secretary Hunger to Minister Adams   ► Acting Secretary Hunter to his Subordinates   ► Orders from Secretary Stanton and General Grant   ► Orders from Secretary "Welles   ► Order from Secretary McCulloch   ► Order from Postmaster-General Dennison   ► Proclamation by President Johnson of a Day of Humiliation and Mourning.   ► Secretary Stanton to Minister Adams   ► Important Letter from J. Wilkes Booth   ► Indictment of the Conspirators   ► The Finding of the Court