Edward S. Johnson.

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Abraham Lincoln

and His Last Resting Place

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

Compiled by EDWARD S.
JOHNSON, Custodian

HON. FRANK O. LOWDEN, : : Governor
HON. FRANCIS G. BLAIR, Supt. Pub. Instruction
HON. LEN SMALL, : : Treasurer



HE Life of Abraham Lincoln has been written
by many men in many tongues. The resources
of rhetoric and eloquence have been exhausted
in their 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 ser\ e,
the simple homely details of 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, of Bloomington, Illinois:

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and ins last i;i:sting place

ABRAHAM LINCOLX little thought as he penned the words,
"What I have done since then is pretty vv'ell known," that a
world would one da}' listen enthralled to the tale of wliat he had
done and should do in the decade from 18.")5 to 18G5.

In 1854, the repeal of the JMissouri Compromise of 1820 opened a
new political era, and an agitation of the slaver}' question was hegun
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 tlie people of a territory to choose their own institu-
tions, and upon this question ]\Ir. Lincoln and Mr. Douglas fought the
"battle of the giants," and Mr. Lincoln's signal ability 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 oppressd.

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

I acknowledge your rights and my obligations under the Constitution
in regard to your slaves. I confess I hate to see the poor creatures 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. I do oppose the extension of slavery
because my judgment and feelings so prompt me, and I am under no obli-
gations to the contrary. As a Nation we began by declaring "all men are
created equal." We now practically 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

Your friend,

A. Lincoln.

May 29, 1856, the l\epublican party of Illinois was organized, and
he was now the leader of a party whose avowed purpose it was to resist
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. "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 debater rests. They defined the
difference between the power of slavery and the policy of freedom


8 and his last resting place

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, mak-
ing 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 the 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, I860, Mr. Lincoln received the nom-
ination of the Eepublican Convention held at Chicago for President of
the LTnited 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
regarded as the guiding of that Providence that had brooded over
the life of the Eepublic 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

At eight o'clock Monday morning, February 11, 1861, j\Ir. Lincoln
left Springfield for the National Capitol 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 tlie sadness 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 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 T may receive that
Divine assistance 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 his election pleased and united the North while it
angei-ed the South. 'J'o tlu' more tlioughtful men of both parties a crisis
seemed imminent. The Southern states immediately seceded ; the
Southern Confederacy was formed with Jefferson Davis as President;
forts and arsenals were seized and the war of the rebellion fairly inaugu-
rated. It was this disrupted unimi. this all bill sliaitored government,
which waited for the man wIki iiiton the lili day of ^larch, 1861,
took the oatli (d' olllcc and became tlx' ri'csidciit of the United States.



and HIS LAST resting place






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and HIS LAST resting place

The closing words of his iiiL'iiiu ruble iiuuigurul 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, protect and defend it. I am loath
to close. We are not enemies, but friends. The mystic cords of memory,
stretching from every battlefield 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 stiove to aveit war, but wlien, on April 12, 1861, the rebel


The remains of President Lincoln and his son, Willie, who died in Washington,

were placed in tliis vault May 4, 1865.

batteries were opened upon Fort Sumter, 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 seventy-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 to be
established: Its successful maintenance against a formidable internal
attempt to overthrow it. Congress ably supported Mr. Lincoln, 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


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and HIS LAST resting place 17

of their I'residcnt, but the crowning personality, the strong, pervading,
directing, controlling spirit was that of Abraham Lincoln, whether
watching the progress of events from his almost beleaguered 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 dodicaiinn of tlio soldiers' graves at Gettys-
burg :

"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 detract. 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 gi-eat task remaining before us,
that from these honored 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, 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 unfail-
ing 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
l)chalf of her people, the Friends, protested against what seemed to
them the great sin of war. To her he writes:

Surely, He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion,
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 oppres-
sion 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
]\Irs. Bixby of Boston, Mass., who had given up five sons wdio had died
in their country's service. Mr, Lincoln wrote her this beautiful letter
of condolence which is said to rank next to his Gettysburg address in
depth of feeling, beauty, and simplicity of diction :




and HIS LAST resting place

Executive Mansion,
Washington, November 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 everwhelming. 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 the 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 ii?sues 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 1862, President Lincoln called a meeting of his
Cabinet and submitted for their consideration the original draft of his
Emanci]3ation Proclamation. On the first day of January, 1863, Mr.
Lincoln issued the final Proclamation of Emancipation, bringing free-
dom to four million slaves and removing forever from the land he
loved the blot of slavery.

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 the act "the
considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almightv

The latter part of the year 1863 was marked by the success of the
Union armies. The Eepublican National Convention assembled in
Baltimore, June 8, 1864, unanimously nominating 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 unended
national peril, I can view this call to a second term in no wise more flatter-
ing to myself than as an expression of the public judgment that I may better
finish a difl^cult 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 gen-
erous people for their continued confidence, 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 tliousand men; also making provisions for a draft if


and ins last resting place 19

nccL'ssaiT. His Irieiids 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 witii it Mr. Lincoln's reelection. His second
election proved the death l)lo\v to the rebellion. From that time the
Southern armies never gained a substantial victory. When the Thirty-
eighth Congress assembled December 6, 1864, President Lincoln recom-
mended an amendment to the Constitution making human slavery for-
ever impossible in the United States.

The joint resolution for the extinction of slavery passed Congress
and received the signature of the President January 31, 1865. The
Legislature in Illinois, being then in session, took up the question at
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 ]\[arch, 1865, Mr. Lincoln was for the second time
inaugurated President of the United States. His inaugural address
upon that occasion has become a classic. Its closing words have been
quoted wherever the foot of an American has strayed beneath the sun :
Fondly do we hope, reverently do we pray that this mighty scourge
of war may speedily pass away, yet, if God wills that it continue until all
the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequitefl
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 judgments 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. Eichmond had fallen, and on the 4th day of April, just one
month after his second inauguration. President Lincoln, leading his
little son hj the hand, entered the vanquished city on foot. Never has
the world seen a more modest conqueror, a more characteristic tri-
umphal 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 thanksgiving.

The 14th of April was the anniversary of the fall of Sumter.
President Lincoln had ordered that day to be signalized by restoring
the old flag to its place on the shattered ramparts of Fort Sumter. He
ordered the same faithful hands that pulled it down to raise it — every




and HIS LAST resting place

battiTv tliat iiicd u})oii it should buluto it. Said the Eev. Henry Ward
Beecher upon that occasion : ''From this pulpit of broken stone we send
to the President of the United States our solemn congratulations that
God has sustained his life and health under the unparalleled hardships
and suffering of four bloody years and permitted him to behold 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," Avere 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
OAvn people, to the scenes of his early life, back to the prairies of Illi-
nois. Said Boeclier in bis 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 conqueror, 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, surveyor, captain, legislator, lawyer, debater,
politician, orator, statesman. 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
Providence 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 Eidge 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, Illinois.

The names of the gentlemen comprising the Lincoln Monument

Association in 1865 (now deceased) Avere as follows:

. Gov. EiCHARD Oglesby, Siiahon Tyndale.

Orlin n. Miner, Thomas J. Dennis,

John '\\ Stuart, Xeavton Bateman,

Jesse K. DuBois, S. H. Treat,

J.\:\rES C. Conklixg, 0. M. Hatch,

.loiix Williams, S. H. Melvin,

.Iacoi! Buxn, JA]\rES H. Bevkridge^

David L. Phillips.


and HIS LAST resting place 21

The tcni])Oiarv vault was l)iiilr and llie butly ol' rrcsiileiit Lincoln
removed IKtm the receiving vault of the cemetery on December 21,
18G5. The Ixidy was placed in the crypt of the monument September
19, 1871. and was placed in the sarcophagus in the center of the cata-
comb Octol)er !». 1874.

Owing to the instability of the earth under its foumlation ami its
nnequal settling the structure had begun to show signs of disintegration,
necessitating taking it down and rebuilding it from the foundation.
The work was begun by Col. J. S. Culvi r in Xovember, 1899, and fin-
ished 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 2n, 1901, where it
will probably remain undisturbed forever.

The monument is built of brick and Quincy granite, the latter

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Online LibraryEdward S. JohnsonAbraham Lincoln and his last resting place (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 3)