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Author Topic: Lincoln's funeral  (Read 1235 times)
Joe Gleason
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« on: June 29, 2012, 10:04:53 PM »

Wednesday had been chosen for the funeral, and every devise was employed by the Government to make the ceremony fitting in pomp and solemnity. The greatest of the nation, members of the cabinet, senators, congressman, diplomats; representatives of the churches, of the courts, of commerce, of all that was distinguished and powerful in the North, were present in the East Room. Mr. Lincoln's friend, Bishop Simpson, and his pastor, Dr. Gurley, conducted the services. More than one spectator noted that in the great assembly there was but one person bearing the name Lincoln and related to the President - his son Robert. Mrs. Lincoln was not able to endure the emotion of the scene, and little Tad could not be induced to be present. At two o'clock in t he afternoon, the booming of cannon and the tolling of bells announced that the services were ended. A few moments later, the coffin was borne from the White House and placed in a magnificent funeral car, and under the conduct of a splendid military and civilian escort, conveyed to the Capitol, attended by thousands upon thousands of men and women. At the east front of the Capitol, the procession halted, and the body of Abraham Lincoln was borne across the portico, form which six weeks before in assuming for the second time the presidency, he had explained to the country his view upon reconstruction.
 
The rotunda of the Capitol, into which the coffin was now carried, was draped in black, and under the dome was a great catafalque. On this the coffin was placed, and after a simple service there left alone, save for the soldiers who paced back and forth at the head and foot. But it was not in Washington alone that funeral services were held that day. All over the North, in Canada, in the Army of the Potomac, even in Richmond, business was suspended, and at noon people gathered to listen to eulogies of the dead. Twenty-five million people literally participated in the funeral rites of that Wednesday. On Thursday the Capitol was opened, and her again, in spite of steady rain, were repeated the scenes at the White House, thousands of persons slowly mounting the long flight of steps leading to the east entrance and passing through the rotunda. At six o'clock on the morning of April 21, there gathered in the rotunda the members of the cabinet, Lieutenant-General Grant and his staff, many senators, army and navy officials, and other dignitaries. After a prayer by Dr. Gurley, the party followed the coffin to the railway station, where the funeral train which was to convey the remains of Abraham Lincoln from Washington to Springfield now stood. A great company of people had gathered for the last scene of the tragedy, and they waited in absolute silence and with uncovered heads while the coffin was placed in the car.
 
At its foot was placed a smaller coffin, that of Willie Lincoln, the President's beloved son, who had died in February, 1862. At Mrs. Lincoln's request, father and son were to make together this last earthly journey.

                                      

Following the remains of the President came the party which was to serve as an escort to Springfield. It included several of Lincoln's old-time friends, among them Judge David Davis and Ward Lamon; a Guard of honor, composed of prominent army officers; a large congressional commitee, several govenors of States, a special delegation from Illinois, and a bodyguard. From time to time on the journey this party was joined for brief periods by other eminant men, though it remained practically the same throughout. Three of its members- Judge Davis, General Hunter and Marshal Lamon- had been with Mr. Lincoln when he came on to Washington for his first inauguration.

                  
 
Precisely at eight o'clock, the train of nine cars pulled out from the station. It moved slowly, almost noiselessly, not a bell ringing or a whistle sounding, through a mourning throng that lined the way to the boarders of the town. The line of the journey begun on this Friday morning was practically the same that Mr. Lincoln had followed four years before when he came to Washington for his first inauguration. It led through Baltimore, Harrisburg, Philadelphia, New York, Albany, Buffalo, Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis, and Chicago, to Springfield. The entire programme of the journey, including the hours when the train would pass certain towns where it could not stop, had been published long enough beforehand to enable the people along the way to arrange, if they wished, to pay tribute to the dead President. The result was a demonstration which in sincerity and unanimity has never been equalled in the world's history. The journey began at six o'clock on the morning of April 21, and lasted and lasted until nine o'clock of the morning of May 3,: and it might almost be said that during the whole time there was not an hour of the day or night, whether the coffin lay in state in some heavily draped public building or was being whirled across the country, when mourning crowds were not regarding it with wet eyes and bowed heads.


Night and darkness in no way lessened the number of the mourners. Thus it was not until eight o'clock on Sunday evening (April 22) that the coffin was placed in Indepenence Hall at Philadelphia. The building was at once opened to the public, and through the whole night thousands filed in to look upon the dead man's face. It was at one o'clock in the morning, on Monday, that the coffin was carried from Indepedence Hall to the train, but thousands of men, women and children stood in the streets while the procession passed, as if were day. In New York, on the following Tuesday, City Hall, where the coffin had been placed in the afternoon, remained open all night. The crowd was even greater during the day, filling the side streets around the square in every direction. It was more impressive, too, for the men and women who were willing to watch out the night in the flare of torches and gaslights were laborers who could not secure release in the daytime. Many of them had come great distances, and hundreds were obliged, after leaving the hall, to find a bed in a doorway, so overfilled the town. The crowd was at its greatest at midnight, when, as the bells were tolling the hour , a German chourus of some seventy voices commenced suddenly to sing the Integer vitae. The thrilling sweetness of the music coming unexpectedly upon the mourners produced an effect never to be forgotten. Nor did rain make any more difference with the crowd than the darkness. Several times during the journey there arose heavy storms, but the people, in utter indifference, stood in the streets, oftren uncovered, to see the catafalque and its guard go by or waiting their turn to be admitted to see the coffin. The great demonstrations were, of course, in the cities where the remains lay in state for a few hours. These demonstrations were perforce much alike. The funeral train was met at the station by the distinguished men of the city and representatives of organizations. The coffin was transferred quickly to a hearse, draped in velvet and crepe, surmounted by heavy plumes, ornamented in silver, and drawn by six,eight, ten, or more horses. Then, to the tolling of the bells and the regular firing of minute guns, followed by a vast concourse of people, it was carried to the place appointed for the lying in state. Here a crowd which seemed unending filed by until the time came to close the coffin, when the procession reformed to attend the hearse to the funeral train. The first of these demonstrations was in Baltimore, the city which a little over four years before it had been thought unsafe for the President to pass through openly, the city in which the first troops called out for the defense of the Union had been mobbed. Now no offering was sufficient to express the feeling of sorrow. All buildings draped in black, all business suspended, the people poured out in a driving rain to follow the catafalque to the Exchange, where for two hours, on April 21, the public was admitted.
                                                            
As was to be expected, the most elaborate of the series of funeral ceremonies was in New York There, when the funeral train arrived on Tuesday, April 25, the whole city was swathed in crepe, and vast crowds filled the streets, The climax of the obsequies was the procession which, on Wednesday, followed by the hearse up Broadway and Fifth Avenue to Thirty -fourth Street and thence to the Hudson River station, For a week this procession had been preparing, until finally it included representatives of almost every organization of every nature in the city and vicinity, The military was represented by detatchments from scores of different regiments, and by many distinguished officers of the army and navy, among them, General Scott and Admiral Farragut. Companies of the Seventh regiment were on each side of the funeral car. The city sent its officials- educational, judicial, protective. The foreign consults marched in full uniform. There were scores of societies and clubs, including all the organizations of Irish, German, and Hebrews. The whole life of the city was , in fact, represented in the solid colum of men which marched that day through the streets of New York in such numbers that it took four hours to pass a single point. Deepest in the significance of all the long rank was the rear body in the last division; 200 colored men bearing a banner inscribed with the words, "Abraham Lincoln- Our Emancipator." A platoon of police preceded, another followed the delegation, for the presence of these freedman would, it was believed by many, cause disorder, and permission for them to march had only been obtained by an appeal to the Secretary of War, Mr. Stanton. Several white men walked with them, and at many points sympathizers took pains to applaud. With this single exception, the procession passed through a silent multitude, the only sound the steady tramp of feet and the music of the funeral dirges. At four o'clock the funeral car reached the station, and the journey was continued toward Albany. But the obsequies in New York did not end then. A metting was held that night at Union Square, at which George Bancroft delivered an oration that will remain as one of the great expressions of the day upon Lincoln and the ideas for which he worked. Imposing, solemn, and sincere as was this series of municiple demonstrations over the bier of Lincoln, ther was another feature of the funeral march which showed moer vividly the affectionate reverence in which the whole people held the President.

This was the outpouring at villages, country cross-roads, and farms to salute as it passed, the train bearing his remains. From Washington to Springfield the train entered scarcely a town that bells were not tolling, the minute guns firing, the stations draped, an all the spaces beside the track crowded with people with uncovered heads, At many points arches were erected over the track; at others the bridges were wreathed from end to end in crape and evergreens and flags. And this was not in the towns alone; every farm-house by which the train passed bacame for the first time a funeral house; the plow was left in the furrow, crape on the door, the neighbors were gathered, and those who watched from the train as it flew by could see groups of weeping women, of men with uncovered heads, sometimes a minister among them, his arms in prayer. Night did not hinder them. Great bonfires were built in lonely country-sides, around which the farmers waited patiently to salute their dead. At the towns the length of the trian was lit by blazing torches. Storm as well as darkness was unheeded. Much of the journey was made through the rain, in fact, but the people seemed to have forgotten all things but that Abraham Lincoln, the man they loved and trusted, was passing by for the last time. At eleven o'clock on the morning of Monday, May 1, the funeral train reached Chicago, and here the mourning began to take on a character distinctly different from what had marked it through the East. The people who now met the coffin, who followed it to the courthouse, who passed in endless streams by it to look on Lincoln's face, dated their trust in him many years earlier than 1861. Man after man of them had come to pay their last tribute, not to the President of the United States but to the genial lawyer, the resourceful, witty political debater who had educated Illinois to believe that a country could not endure half slave and half free, and who, after defeat, had kept her faithful to the " durable struggle" by his counsel. The tears these men shed were the tears of long-time friends and personal followers.
 
As the train advanced from Chicago toward Springfield the personal and intimate character grew. It was nine o'clock on the morning of May 3 that the funeral train entered the town where, four years and two months before, Abraham Lincoln had bidden his friends farewell as he left them to go to Washington, Nearly all who on that dreary February morning had listened to his solemn farewell words were present in the May sunshine to receive him. Their hearts had been heavy as he departed; they were broken now, for he was more than a great leader, an honored martyr, to the men of Springfield. He was their neighbor and friend and helper, and as they bore his coffin to the State House, in the center of the city, their minds were busy with the greatness and honor that had come to him, but with the scenes of more than a quarter century in which he had always been a conspicuous figure. Every corner of the street suggested the past. Here was the office in which he had first studied law; here, draped in mourning, the one before which his name still hung. Here was the house where he had lived, the church he had attended, the store in which he had been accustomed to tell stories and to discuss politics. His name was written everywhere, even on the walls of the Hall of Representatives in the State House, where they placed his coffin, for here he had spoken again and again.
 
During that time the body lay in state- from noon of May3 until the noon of May4- the place Lincoln held in Springfield and the surrounding country was shown as never before. Their grief at finding him so changed was inconsolable. In the days after leaving Washington the face greatly changed, and by the time Springfield was reached it was black and shrunken almost beyond recognition. To many the last look at their friend was so painful that the remembrance has never left them
 
The writer has seen men weep as they recall the scene, and heard them say repeatedly, " If I had not seen him dead; If I could only remember him alive".

                                                               


"The Life of Abraham Lincoln" by Ida M. Tarbell                                                                                                            
« Last Edit: July 12, 2012, 07:59:34 PM by Joe Gleason » Logged
Nan
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« Reply #1 on: July 08, 2012, 04:21:20 AM »

Neat post Joe!  As an aside, as a child, my Dad's Aunt Lizzie, was at Independence Hall in Philly to witness the funeral procession.  She waited with her mother in the crush of people to view the remains but the crowd was enormous and, after 6 hours or so of waiting in line, they went home.  I wish Dad had gotten her impressions of that event and passed them on to me ......
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Nan
Joe Gleason
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« Reply #2 on: July 08, 2012, 07:45:24 AM »

Thanks Nan,  Smiley 
The book by Ida Tarbell Life of Lincoln is now more than one hundred years old. I particularly liked the chapter covering the events of Lincoln's funeral and
wanted to share them. Although it isn't completed yet, i'm glad your enjoying it so far. I'll post the the last portion of the chapter today.

Thats an interesting story about your gr- aunt Lizzie. Are you sure that she didn't leave a journal or diary lying around somewhere?  Grin

               ....... remember what happened to Ed Isaacs .....  Shocked
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Nan
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« Reply #3 on: July 08, 2012, 07:48:44 AM »

Quote
Thats an interesting story about your gr- aunt Lizzie. Are you sure that she didn't leave a journal or diary lying around somewhere?   

Nope, Aunt Lizzie did not leave a journal but if you give me a quill pen, some period note paper and about 48 hrs, I can come up with a terrific journal.  How much do you think I can get for this "recently discovered artifact" ....... Wink
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Nan
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« Reply #4 on: July 08, 2012, 07:56:53 AM »

Will you be bringing us "cupcakes" as well?  Grin
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Nan
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« Reply #5 on: July 08, 2012, 08:48:45 AM »

No cupcakes, Tastee cakes, sponge cakes, pound cakes or whoopie cakes.  All media inquiries should be directed to my agent and legal advisor, Joe Gleason.
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Nan
Joe Gleason
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« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2012, 11:01:20 AM »

Quote
Thats an interesting story about your gr- aunt Lizzie. Are you sure that she didn't leave a journal or diary lying around somewhere?  

Nope, Aunt Lizzie did not leave a journal but if you give me a quill pen, some period note paper and about 48 hrs, I can come up with a terrific journal.  How much do you think I can get for this "recently discovered artifact" ....... Wink

Randal,
 I think we should let Nan have a crack at this, but only if she's better at it than this guy.   Cheesy Grin Wink
http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2011/01/lincoln-document-altered-by-modern-historian/1

No cupcakes, Tastee cakes, sponge cakes, pound cakes or whoopie cakes.  All media inquiries should be directed to my agent and legal advisor, Joe Gleason.

UH, OH  Undecided  

« Last Edit: July 08, 2012, 11:10:23 AM by Joe Gleason » Logged
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