Alexander H. (Alexander Hamilton) Bullock.

Abraham Lincoln: the just magistrate, the representative statesman, the practical philanthropist (Volume 1) online

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^LEX. H. bullock:,

Before the City Coimcil and Citizens of Worcester,

JUNE 1, 1865.



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In City Councii,, June 1st, 1865.

Resolyed, That the unanimous thanks of the City Council are
hereby tendered- to the Hon. Alexandek H. BuiiLOCK for his
able and eloquent Eulogy upon the Life and Services of the late
Pkesident Lincoln, delivered, at the request of the Council, in
Mechanics Hall this day, and that he be requested to furnish a
copy for publication.

A copy. Attest,




TT would be a painful suppression of one of the
-^ finest of human instincts and an unbecoming dis-
regard of the official proclamation of the chief magis-
trate, if this city were not among the foremost to
accord its voice to the funeral cry of the nation.
Never before, in high joy or deep grief, has the nor-
mal simplicity of America given way to such pageant
grandeur. The great fountains of public sorrow have
been broken up, and a whole people have turned out
to herald their President returning in silence to the
dust of the prairie. I look back over forty cen-
turies for the like of this. My eye discerns no fit
resemblance in anything which the conceits of heathen
mythology have transmitted, — not in that mythical
sympathy of the Tiber for Marcellus, fortunate
recipient of such honor, — nor in the many memorial
Italian marbles and temples — nor in all the tasteful

pomp which has conducted French khigs to their
imperial sleep, and has made their capital a vast
lettered monument to its one great departed, — nor in
the drum-beat, and cathedral service, and royal guard,
which have escorted English monarchs from the
palace to the Abbey. The earliest and Jatest age
alone meet now in comparison of mournful pageantry.
The Orient and the West, the third of Hebrew
patriarchs and the sixteenth President, four thousand
years apart, are pictured before us to-day in the same
spectacle and lesson of a nation following a just and
true ruler to his tomb.

I do not suppose that in all the intervening period,
fretted and gilded as it has been with art and culture,
anything like the passage of the herald-corpse of
Jacob from his death-bed to the field and cave of his
fathers, in public turn-out, and general lamentation,
and sincerity of grief, has occurred before until now.
To the two thousand dependants of that deceased, to
all those sent forth by his premier-son, the most
munificent of the line of Egyptian kings ordered all
the public men of his country to report for additional
escort on the long and patient and solemn march.
Chariots and horsemen, men and maidens, the grim
visages of age and the dusky beauty of youth, in
lengthened procession, with palms, and music, and
benediction, in behalf of that early world paid the
last tribute to a great and just benefactor, to a builder

of empire. Measuring the days by their solemn tramp
and their halts for local condolence, the swarthy col-
umn moved on over two hundred miles, and laid their
treasured hero in the august depository of the first
and second of his line.

That oriental retinue of bereavement and sublimity
has been matched and eclipsed within this last lunar
month. Dying without the consciousness but amid
all the pathos of his Eastern exemplar and progenitor,
the foremost man of this western world has been
carried to his rural rest beyond the mountains and
near the great river. Awhile he lay in state at the
capital where he fell, that all classes might gather
about, to learn the lessons of historical providence
and witness the presence of God. His dust, garnered
beneath richest canopies, preceded by raven waving
plumes, and flanked by reverse arms of the flower
youth of the land, has been borne on triumphal route
through the chief cities of a continent. The Monu-
mental City opened her gates in love, which four
years before would have closed them against him, if
she had known his coming. Independence Hall
struck its bell, and the dismal undulations spread
through half-a-million of hearts as he passed by.
The great Emporium of the North, which had made
a jest of much of his life in office, bowed as a unit,
like a stricken child, and paid such honors to his
passing shade as no where have been witnessied on


the earth. Still onward and westward, a thousand
miles yet to go, surrounded by vast throngs, all and
everywhere reverential, all and everywhere casting
choicest flowers upon the pathway of the dead, — as if
twenty millions had assembled to make ovation before
the corporeal symbol of a benefactor — your President
was taken to his last abode, where he shall rest till
the dead shall rise at the call of the archangel.

The first shock of our calamity, the deep sensation
of horror which pervaded all our hearts when the
" couriers of the air " told us at midnight how
suddenly and in what manner President Lincoln had
a few hours before been snatched away, has now
subsided, and we naturally pause and deliberate upon
those qualities of character and service, which, in the
apparent judgment of this country, have already
assigned him a place only second in the long lineage
of its magistrates. However simple this analysis may
seem, it falls entirely outside the common range of
our study of public men and events, and does not
belong to the usual analogies of biography or history.
It would be scarcely more ii:rational to compare the
developments and stages through which we have just
passed with any or all the unlike periods before, than
to measure him who has been the central figure in
these civic and martial achievements by the personal-
ities of the past. He will be known and judged by
the next age, not indeed without regard to his abstract

quality, but more conspicuously and vividly as the one
man, who, in the unfolding of the panorama of these
four years, everywhere appears in front and in chief.
Under the limitations of a single Presidential term he
must pass to his place among critics and annalists ;
but that Presidential term was enough to have en-
circled an historic generation in other ages, and to
have circumscribed the life-long renown of other
statesmen. Safely then may we trust him to that
judgment which shall fall upon his own brief
career of rule. Never any man, without public
thought or remembrance of his youth, or early life,
or disciplinary training, has mounted so quickly to
the empyrean of fame. Think, for example, in what
manner we usually estimate Napoleon or Washington.
Their distinction dates from the beginning. The
genius of Napoleon is nearly the same to us whether
we remember him as a child playing with a cannon,
or as a youth in the Academy, or at twenty-eight
dazzling the nations with his unprecedented victories.
Washington the youth is familiar to our school boys,
appears great in the French war, only greater in the
Revolutionary and Constitutional period which
followed. But here is a plain man, since April
opened, gone into the alcoves of all generations to
come and of every race, as to all of his life save the
last five years unknown to half his countrymen and
to the whole world beside. Such and so exceptional

is our country and our time, such and so exceptional
is Abraham Lincoln.

And yet he had a childhood and a youth. In that
which I call the first stage of his life, ending when
he settled down as a lawyer in Springfield, I think we
may see that fitting, that preparation, that nascent
destination, which was the providential prelude to the
ultimate work. Cast into a sparsely inhabited wild
at eight years, fulfilling the measure of maternal
ambition when at ten he could read the sacred volume,
exercising his first conscious power in writing to his
mother's traveling preacher to come and preach over
her grave, writing letters for the neighbors, attending
the first school in that country clad in buckskin, only
too happy at length when he could count as his prop-
erty a copy of Bunyan and J^sop, a life of Washing-
ton and Clay, behold him whose death forty-five years
later brought autograph letters from every crowned
head of Europe. His library might have been larger,
but could it have been better 1 To his apprehension
of the Divine Word, learned when that was the only
volume in the cabin, we may owe the Cromwell-like
second Inaugural, which was only half appreciated
by his countrymen until the praise of it came from
the other side of the water. Did a man ever reflect
better the light of youthful studies, than the President
reflected ^sop and Bunyan? No books are more
likely to be remembered than they ; Cowper said that

his child-readings of the Pilgrim's Progress would
abide with him till memory should perish. And I
confess it is to me a grateful fancy, in looking back
for the formative influences in the life of Lincoln, to
perceive in these two masterpieces of inventive and
natural conception such sources of thought and
impression as would be best calculated to produce
that combination, which he so remarkably illustrated,
and which was not unrequisite for our time, the
Puritan and the Hoosier. Then we are to remember
that in this school of Western life, with books so few
but so good, he acquired what Mr. Burke would call
" the rustic, manly, home-bred sense of this country,"
— to have polished whose ingenuous roughness would
have cost us half the power he has had during this
war over the mass of his citizens. They have liked
him all the better, that his wisdom and speech were
elementary and enabled him to speak directly to their
hearts. They have liked him so much the more, that
he did not pretend to be learned, while they knew
him to be original and wise. Paucity of opportunities
in youth favored modesty in high position. How
many members of Parliament, asked an English jour-
nal, would imitate the modest honesty of the President
and acknowledge that they had never read all parts of
Shakespeare 1 But he understood and remembered
all that he had read.

And now, before he opens his office of law, we


catch a glimpse of the young man of nineteen floating
as super-cargo on a flat-boat to New Orleans. It was
his last act of rusticity and adventure. He was now
unconsciously completing that democratic type of
character which in its subsequent expansion and use
has contributed so largely to save the union of these
States. It was indeed a typical enterprise, for that
voyage represented the unity of interest and welfare
which connects the North-west with the Gulf, and
all the States together from the Crescent round to
Malabar. Upon his return he would enter the gates
of productive life, how eventful he then knew not,
nor any one of you. Suppose that in one of those
transition hours, as he was borne lazily on the great
currents and by the solemn forests, his unlettered mind
rapt in the rhapsodies of the Prophets, or the dreams
of Bunyan, or the wit of .^sop, or the grandeur of
Washington, the angel of this dedicated youth had
raised the curtain and revealed to him, that before he
should pass the ordinary prime of life he should be
elevated to the highest trust of this empire, lifted on
the shoulders of the people in ecstacy at the thought
his own words had kindled of making it all free, —
that under his presiding the issues of life and death
to this Union should be unrolled on every field of a
continental war, — that he himself should sit in control
over larger armies than Europe north or south had
ever seen, — that his hand should touch the electric


wire which should awake four millions of the children
of men to liberty and immortality, — that the govern-
ment of his country should at last be sealed in his
own blood to eternal security and glory, and that he,
almost yet young, should return to sleep with his
fathers, leaving to both hemispheres a name that
shall be hailed with that of Washington whose history
he was even then reading, till time shall be no more !
He would have fallen prostrate before the vision !
And yet under the beneficence of our institutions if
this was to happen at all it was as likely to happen
to him as to any other, and he lived to behold it, and
died in an untimely hour at fifty-seven !

Upon the second period, that which I call the
brawn in his life, these exercises will not permit me
long to dwell. It bears the journals of twenty years,
from the raising of the attorney's sign in '37 till he
gave himself without reclamation to his country at the
opening of '58. They tell us he was an able lawyer,
and I can believe that ; but he must have been
elementary, not learned. They give us good accounts
of his professional successes ; but other and greater
scenes make us forget them. The jurisprudence of
the West in his day has entitled few men to enduring
distinction. We know, however, that he distinguished
himself in his own cases, and that he was a favorite
sought to manage the causes of the clients of others.
In the Legislature of his State he measured lances


with the rising Douglas and there for the first time
caught the gleam of his own future. Once he went
into Congress, and left it without great distinction, —
but that should not be counted largely against him.
Yet it was then that he became considerably known
in the country. At that time I met him in the
streets of Worcester. Congress had just adjourned
when our Whig State Convention assembled here in
1848. As the chosen head of the city committee of
the party with which he acted, I had called a public
meeting in yonder hall for the evening preceding the
convention and had invited several gentlemen of note
to make addresses. None of them came. But as the
sun was descending I was told that Abraham Lincoln,
member of Congress from Illinois, was stopping at
one of the hotels in town. ' I had heard of him before
and at once called upon him and made known my
wish that he would address the meeting in the even-
ing, to which he readily assented. I further suggested
to him that as the party in whose cause we were then
united was largely in a minority here, and as there
was an unusual bitterness in the antagonistic politics
of this community, he should practice much discre-
tion and leave our side as well in its prospects as he
could. His benignant eye caught my meaning and
his gentle spirit responded approval. His address was
one of the best it has ever been my fortune to hear,
and left not one root of bitterness behind. Some of


you will remember all this, but not so distinctly as I
do. I never saw him afterwards. The next day the
convention came ; the genius-eloquence of Choate, of
blessed memory, was applauded to the echo, and the
stately rhetoric of Winthrop received its reward ; but
the member from Illinois, though he remained in town
surrounded by associate congressmen, was that day
and in that body unknown and unheard. But where
are they all now, — and where is he, — in the benedic-
tions of his countrymen, in the gratitude of an
enfranchised race, in the love of mankind !

In 1858, only seven years ago, Mr. Lincoln was
selected by the Republicans of Illinois as the com-
petitor of Mr. Douglas for a seat in the Senate of the
United States. Thus opened the third and last period
of his life. How strong he was at that time in the
empire-state of the West, is well shown by his having
received every vote in a ballot of twelve hundred
chosen delegates in a state convention. That was the
hour of his consecration, of his sacramental vow, in
the service of the country. Then and there he
became the representative man. And now, after
reading for the second time his discussions with
his eminent rival in that canvass, I can declare my
conviction that to the clear analysis which he con-
stantly presented of the purposes and the teachings
of the founders of this government, to the reverence
with which he impressed the people for the humane


and benevolent intent of the Constitution, to the
exalted moral reasons upon which he predicated the
new coming era, we are more largely indebted, than
to any other person, for the firm purpose and high
resolve which, two years later, united and inflamed
the free states against the further encroachments of
slavery in this country. You will consider the
honorable courage of the man in the positions he
then took. The laws, the traditions, the systems of
Illinois, her southern geography and settlement, the
memories and prejudices of her people, were all
against the theories and humanities which he deter-
mined in the fear only of God to proclaim. But his
soul was ablaze with the enthusiasm of a christian
statesmanship, and he went forth in the panoply of
immortal truth, which neither the timidity of friends
could strip from him, nor the darts of opponents could
penetrate. He sounded at the opening the bugle
note of omen which rang through the land ; " A
house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe
this government cannot permanently endure half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be
dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall, but I do
expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all
one thing or all the other." Many elsewhere, some
there, hesitated over the high doctrine ; large num-
bers of Republicans in the North were not unwilling
to see Mr. Douglas successful as a reward for his


brave contest with Buchanan. I confess that I felt so
myself. 13ut the newly invested champion looked
over the fleeting hour and the mere question of a
senatorial chair, he saw farther than times or localities,
and pierced beyond the veil which too often shuts off
administrations from the vision of the beatitudes and
the ages ; he knew the importance that the banner of
anew party, which bore the name of Freedom, should
carry radiant inscriptions, and over all the state, from
her frozen springs to her Egyptian heats, he upheld

" Th' imperial ensign, which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind."'

By this unwavering fidelity to his convictions, his
hour having not yet come, under the over-ruling of
Providence he accomplished both more and less than
he set out for ; he made his rival Senator, himself
President, and his country Free. As I look backward
over the events of that year which he so largely
controlled ; as I follow him sixty times to the hustings,
and hear him in language not one word of which, so
far as I can judge, he would wish to blot, urging those
lessons which the nation must then have received or
have passed beneath the yoke of perpetual humilia-
tion, — as I see him rising from the autumn of '58 to
the spring of '60 to an ascendency over all others as the
advocate of the primal principles of a free republic,
and so recognized across the whole northern belt from
the great plains to the Atlantic frontier, — I not only


count him most fortunate of men in the height to
which all these things soon after conducted him and
us, but I conclude that if he had gone then to the
sleep in which he now reposes, he would have been
embalmed statesman -father of a new dispensation.
The year eighteen hundred fifty-eight had established

" The boundless prairies learned his name,
His words the mountain echoes knew,
The Northern breezes swept his fame
From icy lake to warm bayou."

Our greatest Olympiad opened in eighteen hundred
sixty. I need not sketch the preceding or attendant
circumstances of the convention and the nomination.
Our first choice was another, and Massachusetts
followed the fine arts of New York to give it success.
They have a better and larger way at the West.
While the men of the East were ciphering at the
hotels in Chicago, the men of the Mississippi, the
Ohio, and the Wabash were packing the wigwam and
filling the square with a myriad of large hearts and
brazen throats ready to sound another and a loftier
chant. Their candidate took the votes, and the
voice of all rose to the sky like a chorus of nature.
It was the echo of the voice of God.

Fortunate, providential selection ! Any other
apparently would have shipwrecked the Ark of the
Covenant. If you consider how inevitable are the
jealousies of the West towards the East, to which we


must always submit and which we must always
palliate since we cannot prevent or remove them, —
if, especially, you reflect what a bond of fate that
Father of Waters is to us all, and how we must keep
peace and conciliation with those River gods if we
expect unity, prosperity, and glory, — if you freshly
remember how, since this war began, the people of
the West, though their sons were dying in the same
trenches and in the same hospitals with ours, have
thought and said that we were reaping the greater
benefits of the sacrifice, — you will agree with me that
none but a Western President could have kept our
armies, our voters, and our hearts united amid the
afflictions and reverses that have rolled their thunders
and their floods over us. And so the hand of our
Fathers' God interposed against our calculations five
years ago at the city of the Lakes.

Our departed hero accepted the nomination in
written words which are a model for practical religion
and modern statesmanship. In language which shows
that the spirit of the Most High was upon him he
wrapped the resolutions around his heart, and in terms
which should have won every citizen from Key West
to Richmond he gave himself to the issue now so
triumphant and so sad. It was an issue worthy of
the best days of any nation. As he received it from
the convention that framed it, and as he stated it in
his letter of acceptance, it was a system of policy and


statesmanship which Daniel Webster even on that
memorable seventh of March would have rejoiced to
acknowledge, which Henry Clay in any of his later and
brilliant years would have gladly made resound as out
of a trumpet from the borders of Virginia through the
length of Kentucky to the River. It was a broad and
generous platform, — such as Jefferson would have
decorated with an hundred theses of his philosox^hy, —
such as Washington would have stood upon and in-
voked the blessings of the Almighty. And I have
the honor to say here, — to be sure it is now after the
fulfillment of the declarations and the prophesies, —
that if Abraham Lincoln had not felt warranted
to justify and stand upon the Resolutions, then the
North American republic was not deserving of salva-
tion. But he thought, as we thought, that there was
a divinity in the impending struggle, and we entered
upon it together, all of us rejoicing to have such a
leader, and he only too willing to stake his life on the
support of such friends and on such a sublime
restoration and reconstruction of nationality.

He was chosen ; the men in the South of our
country had decided that he should be chosen, and
that the precipitation of their designs should attend
with equal promptness the humanity and patriotism
of the North. The work of secession began at the
instant, and before the President elect had reached
the Capital so many of the slave states had already


declared themselves out of the Union as to make it
certain that nearly all the others intended to follow.
Thousrh Buchanan had remained in office four months


since the election, — let the curtain drop over all that
he did and over all that he neglected to do, and let
us behold the new President approaching the frowning
scene which confronted him.

Such work was his as no man had ever put hand to.
A nation was dissolving, and half its territory was
bristling with the arms of revolt. In the loyal sections
there was universal despondency, and among those
upon whom he must rely there was every variety of
counsel, from that which would permit the wayward
sisters to depart in peace, to that which would thrust
the arm of the government in the moment of its
greatest weakness against the thick bosses of a
rebellion of thirty years preparation. The Czar, the
Emperor, the King, would marshal and march out his
army and crush insurgency before the next moon ;
but the constitutional republic had no army. Foreign
nations caught at the defect in a moment as fatal to

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