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In memoriam. Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Washington, April 14, 1865; online

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Abraham Lincoln


At Washington, Ajyril 14, 1865:









Office of the Buffalo Commercial Advertiser.




Assasdnated Good Friday, 18G5.

^'Forgive them, for they know not lohat they do!"

He said, and so went shriven to his fate —
Unknowing went, that generous heart and true.

Even while he spake the slayer lay in wait,

And when the morning opened Heaven's gate
There jjassed the whitest soul a nation knew.

Henceforth all thoughts of pardon are too late ;
They, in whose cause that arm its weapon drew,

Have murdered Mercv. Now alone shall stand
Blind Justice, with the sword unsheathed she wore.

Hark, from the eastern to the western strand
The swelling thunder of the people's roar :

What words they murmur — Fetter xot her haxd !


— Edmund 0. Stedman.

fit gcttt0i'iirm.

Saturday, April 15tli, 1865, was a clay of mourning in
Buffalo. The direful news of tlie assassination of the
President, and the attempted murder of Secretary Seward,
passed from mouth to mouth, until within a space of time
almost incredibly short, it was diffused over the entire
city. Workmen on their early way to the forges and
shoj)S spoke of the awfiil calamity with blanched faces ;
friends met and shook hands in silence or conversed with
quivering lips and choked utterance ; bells tolled ; the
usual sounds peculiar to a busy city on the busiest day
of the week were hushed, and it seemed that a pall had
been spread over all.

With one accord, as it ^vere, the stores were closed, all
traffic was suspended, and the sable emblems of woe ap-
peared on every hand. From the dwelling of the hum-
blest colored family to the mansion of the most opulent
citizen, fluttered the half-mast flag, and there were few

localities were some manifestations of sorrow were not ap-
parent. All business was suspended. Tlie streets were
crowded, and tlie telegraj)li offices were besieged by those
eager to obtain the latest tidings ; men stood in knots
and conversed upon tlie sad event, and told their hopes
and fears for the future; and the usual avocations and
pastimes w^ere forgotten in the contemplation of the over-
whelming calamity.

On receiving the despatch which announced that the
President had breathed his last, a large placard, of which
the following is a copy, was printed at the office of the
Commercial Advertiser^ and distributed gratuitously :



Washington, April 15, 1865.


Abraham Lincoln died this morning at twenty-
two minutes after Seven o'clock.

E. M. STANTON, Sec. of War.

These were placed in the windows of very many hoases
and stores.

The citizens, the Board of Trade, the Masonic order,
the Churches, all took proper action on the occasion.

The followino; was the leadino; editorial in the Com-
mercial Advertiser, on the afternoon of Saturday :


TTTE stand in tlio presence of a sudden and terrilble national ca-

* * lamity. Like thunder from a clear sky, the intelligence of
the assassination of the President of the United States has fallen
uj^on the unprepared ears, and has sunk deep into the hearts of the
people. From the summit of our great joy over the near presence
of peace through victory, ^xe have been suddenly cast down into
mourning. For the third time within less than a quarter of a cen-
titry, death has smitten the representative head of the nation; but
this time he has come in a shape which will create a sensation all
over Christendom, infinitely more profound than attended the death
of Plarrison or Taylor.

The shock of the terrible event is still so fresh upon all, and the
results so full of apprehension and conjecture, that we stand appalled.
It has come upon us at a time so ripe with the consummations of a
great struggle, and so deeply freighted with the destinies of our na-
tion, that words are but vanity, and thoughts are too tumultuous for
deliberate expression. It comes "in the days wlien the keepers of
the house shall tremble, and the strong men bow themselves."
Truly, " the mourners go about the streets." "VVe mourn the loss
of one who w^as a stalwart reaper in the harvest field of the world's
progress; one who had "borne his faculties so meek, and had been
so clear in his great ofiice, that his virtues will plead like angels,
trumpet-tongued, against the deep damnation of his taking off."
Although his mortal remains now lie inanimate in the White House,
yet Abraham Lincoln is not dead ! He still lives, and will live " to
the last syllable of recorded time " in the mighty accomplishments
which he achieved, as God's chosen instrument. His death -sy^as his
apotheosis. He has been promoted to the sublime rank of The
American Martyr. He has but gone forward to take command of
the silent soldiers of the Republic, whose invisible hands shall here-
after reach out from the Eternal, and sustain and protect our gov-

We mourn for him as a man, as a fither, as a husband ; we mourn
for him as the political architect, who was called to the second build-
ing of our temple, the completed glories of which it was forbidden
that he should witness. We mourn for the unacliieved possibilities
of his fame; but we mourn not without hope. Wherefore ?

Because every drop of Abraham Lincoln's blood has been sancti-
fied to tlie perfect work of our regeneration ; and will be the talis-


man of an inexorable purpose all tliroiigli the land. Every Ameri-
can heart that beats worthily and honestly, to-day beats higher and
foster, with a steadfast purpose of perseverance, and a more unyield-
ing endeavor. We accept, as a sacred inheritance, the precious
legacy of his unfinished labors : and, by God's grace, we will com-
plete them.

To the dead, we say: "Hail! and farewell ! " Reverently lifting
up his fallen mantle, we pray for the Divine guidance to him who
has fallen heir to it.

Abraham Lincoln died upon the eve of the anniversary of the Cru-
cifixion. His soul took its flight amid the echoes of solemn praises
wl^ch accompanied the raising of the old flag over Sumter. Both
are significant. The nation has completed its atonement; let the
New Man and the People see to it that the New Dispensation shall

The Courier, in its first issue after tlie death of Mr.
Lincoln, spoke as follows:

/^VER the bier of the murdered President, his political friends
^-^ and political enemies clasp hands, in common execration of the
crime, and common grief over the national calamity, of his assas-
sination. The event is utterly without parallel in our own history,
and we doubt whether the annals of a thousand years furnish a
precedent for a deed so monstrous and fraught with so momentous
consequences. The heart of the country was the mark of the assas-
sin; civilization, not in this hemisphere only, but everywhere, felt
the shock of the murderous blow.

Words are vain to comment adequately on the tragedy itself ; we
can only follow imperfectly, in expression, some of the thoughts it
suggests. Abraham Lincoln, on the flital night of his murder, held
relations to the country and to the world, the importance of which
it is impossible to calculate. Compelled during a part of his ad-
ministration to oj^pose his 2)olicy, we yet realize that not only was
he at this time peculiarly the embodiment of the " American idea,"
but in him and his action, as developed during the later days of his
life, was centered the hope of the people. The germ of pacification
— of a return on the part of a distraught and divided country, to
unity, peace and prosperity — lay in the brain which was pierced


with a mortal Avound ou Friday night. If they mourn him who
have gloried in him as their leader in war, much more should they
grieve, who, in the midst of Avar, have been most Avearily sighing
for peace.

Tliere was a time after the fearful news came, Avhen it seemed
that the hand of sacrilege had effectually shaken the very altar of
our country's liberties — tliat the foundations of. the political and
social structure had been stricken with its head. Confusion, an-
archy, revolution, seemed to follow in the ti'ack of the assasshi. But
we liave faith in the soundness and saneness of the heart of the
American people. Even froni this staggering stroke it Avill recover,
and address itself, we earnestly believe, as calmly as before, to the
great work of composing the disordered and embittered elements of
our national life to peace and harmony.

Andrew Johnson is President. Let us hope that the men of rea-
son and statesmanship around him, rather than the men of passion
and extreme opinions, will be chosen as his influential counsellors ;
that the sacred obligation upon him to follow the path indicated and
entered upon by his dead predecessor, will be sacredly honored.
His antecedents were formed among associations which tended to
make the Constitution and tlie fundamental principles of American
government and liberty, paramount and dear to his mind. We
hope and believe he will be true to these. We trust him. Let all
true men and patriots, forgetting, in this dark hour of the Republic,
party prejudices and proclivities, give him their support and prayers.

The chief danger attending the assassination of President Lincoln,
was that the madness of the murder Avould stir up a counter-mad-
ness in the minds of the loyal people. We rejoice to believe that
the danger is past. Sorrow is the master passion of the country,
and the moment cannot come now, Avhen grief might be transformed
into the hideous spirit of uiuliscriminating revenge. L^niversally
the childishness, the Avickedncss, is recognized, of those few Avho
would make the awful crime of one or two or a score of persons a
pretext for wholesale vengeance toward a people — a plea for re-
versing a policy established by tlie lamented dead and for inaugu-
rating a course which would entail a generation of strife and misery
upon the country, and disgrace upon the American name.

Let the nation sorrow, though not without hope, for one wlio
served it, to the best of his ability and knowledge, faithfully. Let


it cherish the memory of the dead, and vindicate outraged justice
and humanity in the person of his murderer. But above all, let it
take the spirit of its departed leader to be its guide in the difficult
and stormy future before it. " lie, being dead, yet speaketh." In
the name of the murdered Abraham Lincoln, we conjure the loyal
people to imitate the calmness, the kindness, the quiet wisdom he
exemplified — to pursue the generous, enlightened, politic course he
had inaugurated Avith reference to the great problem now confront-
ing the country.

The following formed tlie leading article in the Exjpress
on Monday, April I7tli:

XXOW reverently Abraliam Lincoln was loved by the American
-^^ People ; how much they had leaned upon the strengtli of his
heroic character, in the great trial through which he led them ; how
perfect a trust they reposed in his wisdom, his integrity, his patriot-
ism and the fortitude of his faithful heart ; how great a space he filled
in all the constitution of their hopes, they ha^e 'now been made to
know as they did not know before. The shock of consternation,
grief, and horror, which revealed it to them, was undoubtedly the
most profound that ever fell upon a peoj)le. It shook this nation
like an earthquake. The strong men of America we])t together like
children. Never, do we believe, was there exhibited such a spec-
tacle of manly tears, wrung from stout hearts by bitter anguish, as
every street of every city, town and hamlet, in these LTnited States
presented on Saturday last. Ah, there Avas a deep iilauting of love
for Abraham Lincoln in the hearts of his countrymen ! Xoble soul,
honest heart, wise statesman, njiright magistrate, braA^e old patriot,
the nation Avas orphaned by thy death, and felt the grief of

But grief is only half the bitter passion that thrills the country
under the aAvful blow of murder which struck down its Chief. It
brings a fierce accomj^animent — fierce, but not altogether fierce, for
it wears a stern solemnity. All the tender sentiment that had been
growing up in the popular heart, under the magnanimous influence
of victory, was steeled and hardened upon the instant. Each man
felt, as though the assassin hand of treason was at his own throat,


the deadliuess of the conflict, and the temper of the nation under-
went a total cliange.

A new aspect is put upon the contest by tliis tremendous tragedy.
Witli all that we had learned of the fiendish andim})lacable ferocity
of the slavery-begotten treason with which we are at war, we have
learned more in a single hour tlian all before. For this most hellish
act is its exponent. In this murder of men, we taste biit the con-
centrate essence of the venom which inspired the whole attempt of
the murder of the nation. We know it now. We know now what
the Richmond editor meant, two months ago, when he spoke with
mystery of a blow to be struck that should " astound the world."
We kftow what George Sanders meant, Avhen he whispered in the
ear of Sala a prophecy of deeds that should " make civilization
shudder." They meant these murders. They meant more than
these. They meant an organized sclieme of assassination, larger
than devilisli hate or devilish treason ever conceived before — aimed
at the cutting down of all the nation's heads in government.

It was Rebellion, in its corporate character, that moved and
nerved and armed the assassins. Booth and his confederates of the
inner circle of the monster plot Avere but the representatives and
agents of the great Confederacy behind them. The death to which
they have doomed themselves is but the penalty which the whole
rebellious race invoke upon their heads by this foul deed. It is im-
becile to talk of conciliatory lenience to such a race, and only im-
beciles talk it any longer. Men feel that tlie iron hand of justice
must be clenched against tliem, ungloved with any tenderness what-

Perhaps, in the great design of Providence, for the working out
of the consequences of this tremendous struggle to their utmost
end, it was needful that this awful tragedy should be enacted, to
steel the softened temper of the people, and that Abraham Lincoln,
his own great part performed, his fame complete, was laid a costly
sacrifice upon the altar of that stern need. There is this thought
in many a reverent mind ; but with this, or without it, the martte-
DOM of Abraham Lincoln gives him a sacred memory forever.

Tlie meeting of citizens on Saturday evening at tlie
Merchants' Club Room, tliougli tlie call was not publislied


until late, was very largely attended. The assemblage
was called to order by S. Y. R. WATSOaS", Esq., on whose
nomination, Hon. E. Gr. Spaulding was chosen to preside.
Wm. Thuestone was elected Secretary. In assuming the
chair, Mr. Spaulden-g spoke briefly, but feelingly and elo-
quently, of the occasion which had called the citizens to-
gether. He paid a fi.tting tribute to the memory of the
President, and alluded to his aquaintance with Andi'ew
Johnson ; said he had kuoA\Ti him as a zealous, faithful
and industrious representative, a true and upright man,
and believed he would remain firm and carry out faithfully
the policy of the Administration; that he would never
yield a hair to the rascals who had been lal^oring to de-
stroy the nation; but would stand by the government,
whatever mio-ht betide.

Kev. H. A. Paesons next spoke in vindication of the
character of President Johnson.

Rev. Dr. Heacock was then loudly called, but indisj)o-
sition had prevented his attendance.

Judge Clinton was the next speaker. In answer to
a vociferous call he came forward and took the stand,
though evidently with much umvillingness. " God
knows," he said, " I do not wish to speak this evening."
He was overcome with a blow more terrible than ever
felt l)efore. It had seemed to him for a time that the
hopes of the country had been crushed; but reflection
had sho^vn him that he was mistaken. He did not wish


to make a speecli. He was fearful tliat, in tlie intensity
of his feelings, lie miglit give iitterance to tliat for wliicli
lie miglit afterward be sorry. (Cries of " Go on ! No
danger.") Judge Clinton continued in a strain of impas-
sioned eloquence to portray tlie murderous course pursued
by tliose wlio have arrayed themselves against the gov-
ernment, and concluded by declaring that " come weal,
come woe, what little life there was left in him should be
devoted to the support of Andrew Johnson and his ad-
ministration." His remarks were received with a storm
of applause, and created a profound sensation.

Rev. J. W. Ball followed, and spoke for some time
with eloquence and fervor in relation to the spirit that
had fostered and encourao-ed the assassination of the Pres-
ident. " The same spirit," he said, " had manifested itself
in the Senate Chamber for years before." The reverend
gentleman went on to speak in appropriate terms of the
retril)ution to which the enemies of the country had ex-
posed themselves, and expressed the hope that they might
meet with a j^roper punishment.

S. M. CiiAMBERLAm, Esq., moved that a committee of
ten be appointed to make the necessary arrangements for
the observance of the 20th. day of April in a solemn and
becoming manner.

A. Sheewood, Esq., moved, as an amendment, that a
committee of five be appointed to co-operate with com-
mittees to be appointed by the Board of Trade and Com-
mon Council.


Mr. CiiAMBEELAiN accepted tlie amendment, and tlie
motion as amended was adopted.

The Chair appointed the following gentlemen as such
committee: Brig.-Gen. E,. L. Howard, chairman; Pascal
P. Pratt, George W. Clinton, S. S. Jewett and Wm. H.

After some additional remarks from Mr. Spaulding,
in which all were exhorted to return to their homes with
renewed determination to perform their duties as loyal
citizens, and to stand hj the Government to the last, the
meeting adjourned.

On the Sabbath succeeding the death of the President,
Rev. Dr. Lord delivered the following discourse in the
Central Presbyterian Church. The church was filled to
its utmost caj)acity, and the earnest, impassioned words
of the eloquent divine were such as are seldom heard.

The text selected for the occasion was " The Lord God
Omnipotent reigneth." — Rev. xix. 6.

delivered by eev. de. lord, on the occasion? of the death
op president lincoln", at the central presbyterian church,

APRIL 16, 1865.


~OEH0LD in this sad drapery, in this national flag clad with the
-■^ emblems of Avoe, the outward tokens of the irrejiressible grief
of a great nation weeping over the death of its beloved and vener-
ated President. The words of David concerning Abner, struck
down by an assassin, sound over the chasm of thirty centuries


tlirougli this church and ten thousand churches over all the land,
" Know ye not that there is a great man fallen this day in Israel ?
Who was like to him in Israel ? How are the mighty fallen and
the Aveapons of war perished." From the height of gladness, in
the midst of joyful tidings the nation is plunged into the deepest
grief We looked for joy, but behold sorrow, — for judgment and
behold a cry, — for peace and lo ! not war alone, but murder, most
foul, most horrible. We thought we saw out of a darkness of four
years' duration, the beams of the rising sun, and lo ! the pall of
midnight gathers over the sky, and instead of thanksgiving and
praise, we are called to mourning, lamentation and woe. THE
BY THE BLOW OF AN" ASSASSIN ; the sick chamber of the
Secretary of State has been invaded, and a dagger thrice thrust into
his body after the murderous felling of his attendants. No wonder
the nation is horrified as these tidings pass along from city to city,
from hamlet to hamlet. No wonder the stoutest-hearted tremble,
and the strong man bows himself to conceal his tears, and the cry
of a whole people goes up to God, " How long, O Lord, will thou
not judge and avenge their blood? " Three hundred thousand mar-
tyrs fallen in this war for law and liberty greet the advent of their
chief in the world of spirits and hail him as the noblest victim of
them all. God grant he may be the last.

I do not believe such a crime has been committed in a thousand
years, perhaps not since the day of the murder on Calvary, when
the heavens darkened and the earth staggered, and the dead arose
as the God-man Mediator hung upon the cross. No human death
can, indeed, be likened to that of Him who died for our sins upon
the cruel Tree, but it may serve as a comparison to mark degrees of
guilt in all lesser crimes.

" Besides this man
Hath borne his faculties so meek, hath been
So clear in his great office, that his virtues
Will plead like angels, trumpet-tongued, against
The deep damnation of his taking off ;
And pity, like a naked new-born babe.
Striding the blast, or heaven's cherubim, hors'd.
Upon the sightless couriers of the air.
Shall blow the horrid deed in every eye,
That tears shall drown the wind."


I do not look xxpon the murder of the President as an act of mere
private vengeance; it was a blow aimed at the people who elected
him and at the principles he represented. He could not have had a
personal enemy. He was among the mildest and most humane of
men, genial, generous, unwilling to shed blood, interposing his pre-
rogative of mercy when he possibly could without danger to the
country, and erring, when he did err, on the side of compassion ; a
man of unassuming manners, without pride or haughtiness, acces-
sible always to the poorest suppliant, harboring no revengeful feel-
ing toward any, incapable of a cruel word or act, — such a man
could have no personal enmities. He was hated as the representa-
tive of Northern men, of free principles, as the head of a nation de-
fending its life against an unprovoked and utterly wicked rebellion,
whose sole ol)ject was to perpetuate a detestable slave Oligarchy
which sought to enthrone itself upon the ruins of free institutions,
free labor, free soil, and free speech, Mr. Lincoln was threatened
with assassination on his way to Wasliington at his first inaugural,
before he could have done any act to excite personal enmity.

The threat has hung over him ever since, not so much as the man
Abraham Lincoln, as the President of the United States, and now
the blow has fallen after four years of unparalleled trial and labor,
after wearisome days and wearisome nights, and all the perplexity
of a doubtful war; after having endured burdens which would have
killed most men, and exhibited a devoted patriotism and an unex-
pected and extraordinary ability, which twenty years hence will be
acknowledged by his bitterest political opponents. After the suc-
cessful termination of the war by the surrender of Richmond and
the capture of Lee's whole army, and while he was revolving
measures for the restoration of the South, his heart full of kind-
ness and good-will to the fallen foe, while he was engaged in
making their fall as light as possible, he is basely assassinated in
the presence of a thousand people, the miirderer crying out the
ancient motto of Virginia, with au open dagger in his hand, " sic
semper tyrannis f^

What a grim burlesque was this ! It was the tyrant who held
the dagger, it was Hampden who fell. " Sic semper tyrannis " is
the proper motto to be inscribed upon the tomb of the slaveholders'
rebellion, while round the monument of our martyred President a
grateful people will hang the broken chains of four millions of


slaves, and pilgrims of freedom from every laud of every coming
age will crown it Avith their votive oiferings.

The President's recent inaugural seems now to have heen a pro-
l^hetic utterance of one apjiointed to die. Its solemn religious tone,
its abnegation of all personal merit or praise, its sublime reference

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Online LibraryBuffalo. CitizensIn memoriam. Abraham Lincoln assassinated at Washington, April 14, 1865; → online text (page 1 of 6)