Edward S. Johnson.

Abraham Lincoln & his last resting place : a leaflet published for distribution at the National Lincoln monument in the city of Springfield, Illinois online

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in 2010 with funding from

The Institute of Museum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant


Abraham Lincoln

& His Last Resting Place

A Leaflet Published for
Distribution at the National
Lincoln Monument in the
City of Springfield, Illinois

^^^^^ I ^^^^

Compiled hy EDWARD S
JOHNSON, Custodian

THE Life of Abraham Lincoln has been written by many
men in many tongues. The resources of rhetoric and
eloquence have been exhausted in heir portrayal of this
character that however viewed holds a lesson for all mankind.
In this brief space and for the purpose which this leaflet is
designed to serve, the simple homely details ot the martyred
President's early life could not be better told than in his own
words. No polished recital could be so prized by the great
multitude who hold his memory dear as this transcript of a
letter written in 1859 to his friend the Hon. Jesse W. Fell, ot
Bloomington, Illinois:

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and HIS LAST resting place


ABRAHAM LINCOLN little thought as he pennc^d the words,
"What I have done since then is pretty well known," that a
world would one day listen enthralled to the tale of what he had
done and should do in the decade from 1855 to 1S65.

In LS54, the repeal of the Missouii Compromise, of LS20 opened a
new political era, and an agitation of the slavery question was begun
which was destined to grow until the shackles were struck forever from
the hands of the slave.

By this repeal slavery claimed protection everywhere; it sought to
nationalize itself. At this time the question of "popular sovereignty"
arose, the right of the people of a territory to choose their own institu-
tions, and upon this question Mr Lincoln and Mr. Douglas fought the
"battle of the giants," and Mr. Lincoln's signal abilit}^ as an orator
was forever established. He became at once the leader of his party in
the West and the foremost champion of the liberties of the oppressed.

In a private letter, written at this time, Mr. Lincoln defines his
position on the great question of the day as follows :

"I acknowledge 3^our rights and my obligations under the consti-
tution in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor crea-
tures hunted down and caught and carried back to their stripes and
unrequited toil, but I keep quiet. You ought to appreciate how much
the great body of the people of the North crucify their feelings in order
to maintain their loyalty to the Constitution and the Union. / do
oppose the extension of slavery because my judgment and feelings so
prompt me, and I am under no obligations to the contrary. As a na-
tion w^e began b}' declaring ' all men are created equal. ' We now prac-
tically read it, 'all men are created equal except negroes.' When it
comes to making wholesale exceptions I should prefer emigrating to
some country where they make no pretense of loving liberty, where
despotism can be taken pure without the base alloy of h3'pocrisy.

A^our friend, A. Lincoln."

May 29, 1S56, the Republican party of Illinois was organized, and
he was now the leader of a party whose avowed purpose it was to re-
sist the extension of slavery. At the national convention his name
was presented as a candidate for vice-president. He did not receive
the required number of votes, but the action was complimentary and
served as Mr. Lincoln's formal introduction to the nation.

The senatorial campaign of 1858 in Illinois was memorable for the
questions involved and for the debates between Douglas and Lincoln
upon the great issues that were even then distracting the nation.
When these two met in intellectual combat the nation paused to listen.


6 and HIS LAST resting place

" The eyes of all the Eastern states were turned to the west where young-
republicanism and old democracy were establishing the dividing lines
and preparing for the great struggle soon to begin.

To say that Mr. Lincoln was the victor in the contest morally and
intellectually is simply to record the judgment of the world.

His speeches were clear, logical, powerful and exhaustive. On
these his reputation as an orator and debator rests. They defined the
difference between the power of slavery and the policy of freedom
which ended, after expenditures of uncounted treasure and unmeasured
blood, in the final overthrow of the institution of slavery.

Mr. Lincoln was defeated in this campaign and Mr. Douglas was
returned to the Senate, but Mr. Lincoln was now thoroughly committed
to politics. In 1859 and 1860 he journeyed in the Eastern states,
making speeches that thrilled and electrified the audiences which he
had expected to find cold and critical.

The mutterings of secession already filled the land. The spirit of
unrest and rebellion was gaining ground; but wherever the voice of
Lincoln was heard it was pleading for union, for peace, for the Consti-
tution, deprecating the evils of slavery as it existed and protesting
against its extension into free states and territories.

His was the voice of one crying in the wilderness, warning the
men of the North and the South that a house divided against itself
cannot stand. On the 18th of May, 1860, Mr. Lincoln received the
nomination of the republican convention held at Chicago for President
of the United States. How this plain, comparatively unknown Illinois
lawyer was chosen in this critical hour before a man like Seward, with
his wide experience and acquaintance, his large influence and surpass-
ing ability, his name and fame of thirty years standing, must be re-
garded as the guiding of that Providence that had brooded over the
life of the republic since it declared itself to be the home of the free,
the refuge of the oppressed. On the 6th of November Mr. Lincoln
was elected, by a handsome plurality, President of the United States.

At eight o'clock Monday morning, February 11, 1861, Mr. Lin-
coln left Springfield for the National Capital to enter upon his duties
as President. With these simple words he took leave of his friends
and neighbors:

"My friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sad-
ness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here
I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were



and HIS LAST resting place


born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall
see you again. A duty devolves upon me which is perhaps greater
than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of
Washington. He never would have succeeded except by the aid of
Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I
cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and
on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support, and I
hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine as-
sistance without which I cannot succeed but with which success is
certain. Again I bid you an affectionate farewell. "

These proved to be his last words to Springfield auditors.

The result of this election pleased and united the North while it
angered the South. To the more thoughtful men of both parties a
crisis seemed imminent. The Southern states immediately seceded;
the Southern Confederacy was formed with Jefferson Davis as Presi-
dent; forts and arsenals were seized and the war of the rebellion fairly
inaugurated. It was this disrupted Union, this all but shattered
government, which waited for the man who upon the 4th day of March,
1861, took the oath of office and became the President of the United

The closing words of his memorable inaugural address must have
convinced his listeners of the wisdom, the strength, the gentleness of
this new incumbent of the chair of State:

"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in
mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not
assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the
aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the
government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, pro-
tect and defend it. I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but
friends. The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battle-
field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over
this broad land will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again
touched, as they surely will be, by the better angels of our nature."

With infinite patience and unequaled forbearance and sagacity,
Mr. Lincoln strove to avert war, but when, on April 12, 1861, the rebel
batteries were opened upon Fort Sumpter, forbearance was no longer
possible, and, on the 15th day of April, the pen that had only been
used to counsel moderation, to urge loyalty, penned a proclamation
calling for sevent3^-five thousand men and the Civil War was begun.
The popular government had been called an experiment. Two points
of the experiment had already been settled: The government had
been established and it had been administered. One point remained


8 and HIS LAST resting place

to be established: Its successful maintenance against a formidable
internal attempt to overthrow it. Congress ably supported Mr. Lin-
coln. It placed at his disposal five hundred million dollars and gave
him liberty to call out half a million men. During all the years of that
long, sad war there were loyal hearts among his admirers that held up
the hands of their President, but the crowning personality, the strong,
pervading, directing, controlling spirit was that of Abraham Lincoln,
whether watching the progress of events from his almost beleagured
capital or while visiting and mingling with his army at the front.

Never for a moment did he lay aside his personal responsibility.
Never did he swerve from his resolve, expressed in the words of his
memorable speech at the dedication of the soldiers' graves at Gettys-

"We have come to dedicate a portion of this field as a final resting-
place for those who here gave their lives that the nation might live.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we
cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here have consecrated it far beyond our power to add or de-
tract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,
but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living,
rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who
fought here have so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us, that from these hon-
ored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave
the last full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that these
dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God, shall
have a new birth of freedom and that government of the people, by
the people and for the people shall not perish from the earth. "

The story of the war and the life of Lincoln are inseparable. The
recital of all those years of marching, camping, fighting, of wounds,
privations, victory, defeat and death cannot be made without the story
of Lincoln interwoven into its warp and woof. In intimate connection
with his life as President, many beautiful letters remain written during
this period of storm and stress, and they attest to his quick and un-
failing sympathy with those in trouble. Such is the line written in
haste carrying pardon to the worn-out lad sentenced to be shot for
sleeping at his post.

The letter sent to the gentle Quaker, Eliza P. Gurney, who, on be-
half of her people, the Friends, protested against what seemed to them,
the great sin of war. To her he writes:
















































O 03





and HIS LAST resting place


"Svirely, He intends some great good to follow this mighty convul-
sion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay. Your
people, the Friends, have had, and are having, a very great trial. On
principle and faith, opposed to both war and oppression, they can
only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma,
some have chosen one horn and some the other. For those appealing
to me on conscientious grounds, I have done, and shall do, the best I
could and can, in my own conscience, under my oath to the law.
That you believe this I doubt not ; and believing it, I shall still receive,
for our country and myself, your earnest prayers to our Father in
Heaven. "

Only a few months before his death he heard the pathetic story of
Mrs. Bixby of Boston, Mass., who had given up five sons who had died
in their country's service. Mr. Lincoln wrote her this beautiful letter
of condolence which is said to rank next to his Gettj^sburg address in
depth of feeling, beauty and simplicity of diction:

"Executive Mansion,
Washington, Nov. 21, 1864.
"To Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Mass.:

"I have been shown in the file of the war department a statement
to the adjutant-general of Massachusetts that you are the mother of
five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how
weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to
beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot
refrain from tendering you the consolation that may be found in the
thanks of the republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly
Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement and leave only
the cherished memory of loved and lost and the solemn pride that must
be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.
"Yours very sincerely and respectfully,

"A. Lincoln."

The days fraught with the grave issues of the war went by, victory
alternating with defeat until, in the judgment of the commander-in-
chief, the time had come to emancipate the colored race.

Early in August of 1S62, President Lincoln called a meeting of
his Cabinet and submitted for their consideration the orginal draft of
his Emancipation Proclamation. On the 1st day of January, 1863,
Mr. Lincoln issued the final Proclamation of Emancipation, bringing
freedom to four million of slaves and removing forever from the land
he loved the blot of slavery.







and HIS


It seemed fitting that to this man who had blazed the way through
the wilderness for this cause, who had brooded and smarted under the
sense of the sin of slavery from his early untaught youth, who in
clarion tones had declared, at the outset of his career, that he "would
speak for freedom against slavery until everywhere in all this broad
land the sun shall shine, the rain shall fall and the wind shall blow
upon no man who goes forth to unrequited toil." It was meet that
from his lips should fall the words that made four million men free,
and it is in consonance with the character of the great Emancipator
that in this supreme moment of his life he reverently invoked upon
that act "the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor
of Almighty God. "

The latter part of the year 1863 was marked by the success of
Union armies. The Republican National Convention assembled in
Baltimore, June 8, 1864, unanimously nominated Mr. Lincoln as their
candidate for President. His words accepting this nomination were
characteristic :

"Having served four years in the depths of a great and yet un-
ended national peril, I can view this call to a second term in no wise
more flattering to myself than as an expression of the public judgment
that I may better finish a difficult work than could any one less severely
schooled to the task. In this view, and with assured reliance on that
Almighty Ruler who has so graciously sustained us thus far, and with
increased gratitude to the generous people for their continued con-
fidence, I accept the renewed trust with its yet onerous and perplexing
duties and responsibilities. "

During the height of the canvass. President Lincoln issued a call
for five hundred thousand men, also making provisions for a draft if
necessary. His friends feared that this measure might cost him his
election, but he waived that aside as he always did personal considera-
tion that might conflict with duty.

November came, and with it Mr. Lincoln's re-election. His sec-
ond election proved the death blow to the rebellion. From that time
the Southern armies never gained a substantial victory. When the
Thirty-Eighth Congress assembled December 6, 1864, President Lin-
coln recommended an amendment to the Constitution making human
slavery forever impossible in the United States.

The joint resolutions for the extinction of slavery passed Congress
and received the signature of the President January 31, 1865. The
legislature of Illinois, being then in session, took up the question at



■and HIS LAST resting place


once and in less than twenty-four hours after its passage by Congress
Mr. Lincoln had the satisfaction of receiving a telegram from his old
home announcing the fact that the constitutional amendment had been
ratified by both houses of the legislature of his own state February 1,
1865. The action of the legislatures of other states soon followed, and
thus was completed and confirmed the work of the proclamation of

Upon the 4th of March, 1865, Mr. Lincoln was for the second
time inaugurated President of the United States. His inaugural ad-
•dress upon that occasion has become a classic. Its closing words have
been quoted wherever the foot of an American has strayed beneath the

"Fondly do we hope, reverently do we pray that this mighty
scourge of war may speedily pass away, yet, if God wills that it con-
tinue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and
fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of
blood drawn by the lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword,
as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, the judg-
ments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. With malice
toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God
gives us to see the right, let us strive to finish the work we are in, to
bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the
battle, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace
among ourselves and with all nations. "

The closing scenes of the war were being enacted in quick succes-
sion. Richmond had fallen, and on the 4th day of April, just one
month after his second inauguration. President Lincoln, leading his
Httle son by the hand, entered the vanquished city on foot. Never
has the world seen a more modest conqueror, a more characteristic
triumphal procession. No army with banners and drums, only a few
of those who have been slaves escorting the victorious chief with bene-
dictions and tears into the capital of the fallen foe.

A few more days brought the surrender of Lee's army and peace
was assured. Everywhere festive guns were booming, bells pealing,
■churches ringing with thanksgivings.

The 14th of April was the anniversary of the fall of Sumptcr.
President Lincoln had ordered that day to be signalized by restoring
the old flag to its place on the shattered ramparts of Fort Sumpter.
He ordered the same faithful hands that pulled it down to raise it —
•every battery that fired upon it should salute it. Said the Rev. Henry
Ward Beecher upon that occasion: "From this pulpit of broken stone







and HI'S


we send to the President of the United States our solemn congratula-
tions that God has sustained his life and health under the unparalleled
hardships and suffering of four bloody years and permitted him to be-
hold this auspicious consummation of that national unity for which he
has labored with such disinterested wisdom. "

But, before the kindly words had flashed over the telegraph wires
to the ears of the patient man in whose honor they were spoken, the
bullet of the assassin had done its work. The sad words, "I feel a
presentiment that I shall not outlast the rebellion; when it is over my
work will be done," were verified, and all civilized mankind stood
mourning around the bier of the dead President. Then began that
unparalleled funeral procession, a mournful pageant, passing country
and village and city, winding along the territories of vast states, along
a track of fifteen hundred miles, carrying the revered dead back to his
own people, to the scenes of his early life, back to the prairies of Illi-
nois. Said Beecher in his eloquent and touching funeral oration:

"Four years ago, oh, Illinois, we took from your midst an untried
man from among the people. Behold ! we return to you a mighty con-
queror, not ours any more, but the nation's. Not ours but the world's.
Give him place, oh ye prairies. In the midst of this great continent
his dust shall rest, a sacred treasure to the myriads who shall come
as pilgrims to that shrine to kindle anew their zeal and patriotism.
Humble child of the backwoods, boatman, hired laborer, clerk, sur-
veyor, captain, legislator, lawyer, debator, politician, orator, states-
man, president, savior of the republic, true Christian, true man. We
receive thy life and its immeasurably great results as the choicest gifts
that have ever been bestowed upon us; grateful to thee for thy truth
to thyself, to us and to God; and grateful to that ministry of Provi-
dence which endowed thee so richly and bestowed thee upon the nation
and mankind. "


The body of Abraham Lincoln was deposited in the receiving
vault at Oak Ridge cemetery May 4, 1865.

Upon the 11th of May, 1865, the National Lincoln Monument
Association was formed, its object being to construct a monument to
the memory of Abraham Lincoln in the city of Springfield, 111.

The names of the gentlemen comprising the Lincoln Monument
Association in 1865 (now deceased) were as follows:

Gov. Richard Oglesby, Sharon Tyndale,

Orlin H. Miner, Thomas J. Dennis,

John T. Stuart, Newton Bateman,



and HIS LAST resting place


Jesse K. DuBois, S. H. Treat,

James C. Conkling, O. M. Hatch,

John Williams, S. H. Melvin,

Jacob Bunn, James H. Beveridge,

David L. Phillips.

The temporaiy vault was built and the body of President Lincoln
removed from the receiving vault of the cemetery on December 21,
1865. The body was placed in the crypt of the monument September
19, 1871, and was placed in the sarcophagus in the center of the cata-
comb October 9, 1874.

Owing to the instability of the earth under its foundations and its
unequal settling the structure had begun to show signs of disintegra-
tion, necessitating taking it down and rebuilding it from the founda-
tion. The work was begun by Col. J. S. Culver in November, 1899, and
finished June 1, 1901. A cemented vault was made beneath the floor
of the catacomb directly underneath the sarcophagus and in this vault
the body of President Lincoln was placed September 26, 1901, where it
will probably remain undisturbed forever.

The monument is built of brick and Quinc}' granite, the latter
material only appearing in view. It consists of a square base 72^ feet
on each side and 15 feet, 10 inches high. At the north side of the
base is a semi-circular projection, the interior of which has a radius of
12 feet. It is the vestibule of the catacomb, and gives access to view
the crypts in which are placed the bodies of Mr. Lincoln's wife and
sons and his grandson, Abraham Lincoln, son of Hon. Robert T. Lin-


Online LibraryEdward S. JohnsonAbraham Lincoln & his last resting place : a leaflet published for distribution at the National Lincoln monument in the city of Springfield, Illinois → online text (page 1 of 2)