C. B. (Charles Baldwin) Sedgwick.

An eulogy on Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States : pronounced by the Hon. Charles B. Sedgwick, on the occasion of the obsequies at Syracuse, April 19th, 1865 online

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Online LibraryC. B. (Charles Baldwin) SedgwickAn eulogy on Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States : pronounced by the Hon. Charles B. Sedgwick, on the occasion of the obsequies at Syracuse, April 19th, 1865 → online text (page 1 of 2)
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-A.pril lUtlx, l«Oo.










^pril 19th, 1865.




• ^V ' ' ^.



Fellow Citizens: —

On this day the obsequies of Abraham
Lincoln, late President of the United States, are being
celebrated in the Capital of the Nation, Slowly and sadly,
amid the tears and lamentations of the people, and the great
throbs of a mighty Republic's heart, the long procession
moves, to bear his mortal remains to their final resting place
in that distant town upon the Western prairies. That to
him greenest spot of all the earth was his home, and there
a little more than four years ago he bade adieu to fireside
enjoyments and home-born happiness, to assume the robes
of office and the cares of state. His touching farewell to
his friends and neighbors at his departure, was full of pa-
thetic tenderness and prophetic sadness. He foresaw too
plainly that he was launching his frail bark upon a sea at
all tiiiies treacherous and troubled, but then lashed into ten-
fold fury by the storm. He went at the call of duty to
the post of danger, and although wrecked, his life is by no
means lost.

One week ago, full of life and hope, he was laboririg with
cheerful heart for the public welfare, and the dark clouds
of rebellion and treason, which during his whole administra-
tion Jiad lowered al)oVe, were just beginning to lift and give
assurance that the stars were shining beyond. To-day —

" Two bands upon the breast,
And labor's done ;
Two pale feet crossed in rest —
The race is won."

To-day labor ceases in every department of public busi-
ness ; from every fortress and military post the loud-mouthed
cannon bellow ibrtli the sounds of sorrow ; from every ship
and naval station float the drooping emldems of mourning \
to-day a great peojile, flocking to the tcm])les and altars of
their religion, humble themselves before the Almighty Fa-
ther, who has afHi(!ted them with this great sorrow ; to-day
from the lowly cabins of labor, from the huts of the oppress-
ed, break forth lamentations and sorrow for him who has


been the humble instrument of Providence in the salvation
of the state, and in breaking the heavy yoke of bondage.

To-day, too, we have assembled to mingle our tears with
the Nation's — to pay the last sad tribute to a public bene-
factor — to help build that great monument of grateful but
broken hearts to his memory, which shall

" To such a name, for ages long
To sucli a name,

Preserve a broad approach of fame
And ever-ringing avenues of song."

Five years ago a party convention assembled at Chicago
and presented Abraham Lincoln as a candidate for Presi-
dent of the United States. lie was a man of humble origin
— of limited education — of unpolished manners. Although
he had been several times elected to the Legislature of his
adopted State, and had held for a single term a seat in
Congress, he was comparatively inexperienced in politics
and unknown as a politician to the body of electors. He
was better known as an able debater before popular assem-
blages by his canvass for the Senatorship of Illinois against
another distinguished citizen of the State.

His principal rival before the convention was an eminent
citizen of our own State, strikingly unlike Mr. Lincoln in
many respects. lie was a trained, experienced and educated
politician. Born in affluence — liberally educated, culti-
vated by study and travel, polished by much intercourse
with refined society, and familiar from long use with public

The state of the country at the time of Mr. Lincoln's first
election was peculiar. Unwisely, as I think it will now be
generally conceded, our fathers had failed in courage to carry
their declared principles to their logical conclusion in fram-
ino; their constitution of government. That weakness re-
suited in the establishment of an aristocratic class. That
class, weak at first and barely tolerated from the supposed
necessities of our condition, as time progressed became strong
and insolent. Tliey became rich and prosperous upon the
labor and acquisitions of an enslaved class. The acquisition
of territory increased their political power, and the mono-
poly of a great commercial staple continually added to their
wealth. They crowded the navy and army with officers,
filled all the avenues to civil promotion, and finally acquired
and for many years maintained the absolute control of po-
litical affairs. AVith- increasing power came increased de-
mands, until finally absolute protection for slavery under
the Federal Constitution and laws was aiinounced to be the
price of continued Union and peace.


The i>urty M'liich supported Mr. Lincoln for the Presidency
ill 1860, held no radical or extreme opinions on the subject
of slavery. Their avowed policy was to restrict it to its then
limits, and to maintain the freedom of the National Territo-
tories. ]\Iany adherents and supporters of the Kepublican
party were much more radical in their sentiments ; but Mr.
LiNcx)LN himself, as he clearly announced in the debates to
which allusion has been made, held the most moderate
views, and was disposed, although he had the clearest con-
victions of the dangers and wrongs of slavery, to yield to it
all its constitutional rights.

There wa^ another party, under the lead of Mr. Douglas,
standing upon the middle ground that the people of the
Territories themselves should be at liberty to choose and
regulate their own condition in respect to slavery.

The result of the election was the choice of Mr. Lincoln
as President, and he was so declared under the forms of the
Constitution and laws.

Immediately upon the announcement of this result, the
aristocracy proceeded to carry their threats into execution.

On the 20th day of December, 1800, the South Carolina
Convention passed an ordinance repealing the ordinance of
1788, by which that State adopted the Constitution of the
United States, and declared the Union dissolved, and that
State sovereign and independent.

In January succeeding, this example was followed by a
convention of the people of the State of Alabama, which, by
a like ordinance, declared her withdrawn from the Union,
and resumed and vested in the people of the State of Ala-
bama all the powers theretofore delegated by her to the
General Government. At the same time they invited a
convention of the slave States to assemble at Montgomery
on the succeeding 4th of February to form a provisional or
permanent government.

During the same month the States of Georgia and Loui-
siana passed ordinances of secession, repealing the laws and
ordinances by which the Federal Constitution had been
adopted, and declaring the Union dissolved.

Texas, Florida and Mississippi soon followed, and the re-
presentatives from these several States and their Senators
in the Congress of the United States soon withdrew from
their places, leaving these States unrepresented.

In February a Convention met at Montgomery, under the
invitation of the Alabama Convention, and there framed a
Constitution fur a provisional government, to continue one
year from the inauguration of their President, or until a
permanent Constitution should be framed and a government
put in operation.


Under this Constitutiou they proceeded to organize a
provisional government, and elected and inangurated Jeffer-
son Davis as President, and elected the officers provided
for, and put in operation all the departments of government.

Afterwards a permanent government was organized and a
constitution adopted, including several other States, M'hich,
by the consent of their people, had joined this Confederacy,
and that government has maintained itself by force of arms
until this day.

Simultaneous with these movements for the foundation of
a new government, the State authorities favoring this insur-
rectionary movement seized all or nearly all the fortresses,
arsenals, ship-yards, custom-houses, and- other public pro-
perty of the Federal Government, and held them by force
as against the General Government until they were turned
over to the possession of the rebel government.

Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, was occupied
by the brave Major Anderson, with an insufficient and poorly
supplied garrison. As early as the 9th of January, 1861.
an unarmed steamer, the Star of the West, sent by the Gen-
eral Government with ];)rovisions and reinforcements under
the American flag, was fired upon by batteries under the
Palmetto flag and driven back.

The result of these treasonable proceedings, which met
with no resistance, and hardly with a remonstrance from the
timid, feeble, irresolute, if not corrupt and traitorous Presi-
dent Buchanan, was —

1st — The complete organization of a separate and de facto
independent government, with legislative, executive and
judicial departments, founded apparently upon the popular
will, and in full and harmonious operation.

2d — The entire exclusion from all the States of this Con-
federate government of all Federal authority. There were
neither i ederal officers, nor were any courts open, nor reve-
nues collected, nor w^as there any sway of Federal laws or

3d — The subversion of the military authority of the Gov-
ernment was accompUshed by the seizure of their forts,
arsenals, navy yards, and the destruction or seizure of our

This, then, was the condition of our country at the begin-
ning of Mr. Lincoln's first term.

In addition to this, the army and navy had been corrupt-
ed and destroyed by the treason of its officers. Our ships
were scattered or destroyed ; our army traitorously surren-
dered or. disarmed ; our arsenals stripped, and our Treasury
robbed of money and our credit destroyed.


Mr. Lincoln's approach to the capital was beset by peril,
and disguise and secrecy were necessary to preserve him
from threatened violence and assassination.

His tirst step was to call to his aid, as the chief of his
Cabinet, the distinguished and accomplished statesman, who
liad been his rival before the convention, who magnani-
mously accepted, and who has been from that day his most
trusted counsellor, whose wisdom and skill hfis preserved us
from the dangers of foreign intervention, and who now lies
in extreme peril, struck down if not by the same weapon,
by the same brutal, cowardly and ferocious c-onspiracy,
which aimed a surer blow at the life of the Chief Magistrate.

It may not be inappropriate here to say, that of the other
candidates for the Presidency, the noble and lamented
Douglas came at once and most heartily to the support of
the Government, evincing a spirit of patriotism which was
the crowning glory of his life, and that the false and traitor-
ous Breckinridge hastened to the support of the rebel stand-
ard, and is now with its desperate chief calling upon the
caverns to hide him, and the mountains and the rocks to fall
upon him.

The administration of the President was from the outset
distinguished lor its moderate policy. In his first Inaugu-
ral he announced that no constitutional rights were to be
invaded, but that the integrity of the country was to be re-
stored and preserved — that the forts and strong places which
had been wi-ested from the Government by violence and
treason, were to be re-possessed and occupied. How nobly
and with what steadfast courage he proceeded to fulfil that
promise, the future historian will record with pride ; and
how by the heroic valor of our soldiers and sailors, under the
inspiration of such great and skilful captains as Foote and
Porter and Farragut, and Thomas and Shernum and Grant,
and a host of worthy compeers by land and sea, the author-
ity of the Federal Government has been restored on the
Chesapeake and Roanoke and Mississippi, at Charleston and
Savannah and Richmond, until the last echoes of victory at
Mobile sounded in the ears of the dying President, will be
the theme of story and song and tradition, throughout this
wide Republic.

It was apparent to every reflecting man at the outset, and
to no one more clearly than to the President, that treason
was coextensive with the power and influence of the aristo-
cratic class, and that slavery was the measure of the force of
the rebellion. It was early seen tliat it was impossible to
restore the Unio'n and to preserve slavery. The question
was, however, complicated by the fact that in some of the


border States the aristocracy were not strong enough to
overthrow the authority of the Federal Government, and in
these States a considerable body of influential slaveholders
pretended to be firm friends of the Government. To con-
ciliate this class it was necessary to proceed with caution.

The flrst step of the President was to advise the States so
situated to adopt some scheme of gradual emancipation and
colonization, in which they might be aided by compensation
to a reasonable extent by the General Government. In the
early stages of the war this policy would have met the ap-
proval of Congress and the country. On this plan of com-
pensation slavery was al)olished in the District of Columljia.
The States interested, however, failed to adopt the recom-
mendation. Maryland preferred to catch a few negroes
under the fugitive slave law in the District of Columbia,
and was soon after forced by the progress of events to adopt
uncompensated emancipation.

The next step was the proclamation, in which, referring
to this profi'er of national aid and its refusal by the States,
the President warns the rebellious States that if tliey persist
in their rebellion an hundred days, he will be compelled to
declare the freedom of the slaves in all States and parts of
States continuing in rebellioii.

At the expiration of the time limited the President did
issue his Emancipation Proclamation, upon his own judg-
ment and responsibility, and upon it, as the most important
act in his illustrious career, he might well rest his reputa-
tion as a statesman, and fearlessly invoke the favor of heaven.

As a necessary sequence the policy of arming the negroes
to tight for the freedom which was promised them, was
adopted. It encountered strong opposition and deep preju-
dice, but its wisdom and necessity have been most amply
vindicated. This great epic would have been quite incom-
plete if we had not seen the negro soldiery guarding rebel

The amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery
forever, is the crowning act in this grand series of events.
That it will be adopted by the States and become a part of
the Constitution, there is no longer room to doubt — a con-
summation devoutly to be wished.

That the President was slow and cautious in taking the
several steps towards this logical conclusion is true ; but
when taken he has been as firm as adamant — no persuasion
or threat has ever induced him to take a single step back-
ward. No man ever held more tenaciously to a proposition
which he believed to be just and right than Abraham Lin-


Tlie war has been waged by the rebels with characteristic
(•nielty. PubHc opinion within the limits of their States
has been controlled by violence and murder. No adherent
of the Government could express a loyal sentiment and be
safe in his person or his property. Untold enormities and
outrag-es have been connnitted upon the loyalists of the bor-
der States — outrages which shock the moral sense and are
past human belief. The treatment of the colored troops
taken in battle has rivalled in cruelty the treatment of pris-
oners in the most barbarous lands. The enormities at Fort
Pillow and Fort Wagner are a disgrace to human nature.

The deliberate starvation of prisoners — not excused by
any necessity — but starvation in the midst of abundance, is
unjiaralleled in the history of modern warfare. The cruelty
which begets idiocy and madness— the loathsome and pesti-
lential dungeon — the foul air — the criminal neglect which
makes the returned prisoners mere wrecks of humanity,
should make the leaders of this rebellion accursed wherever
civilization is known. Yet, notwithstanding all this, and
the superadded insolence of the rebel government, retalia-
tion has not l^een resorted to, although it would have been
most amply justified.

The moderation of the President was no less conspicuous
in the treatment of Northern sympathizers with this re-
bellion. From the outset there has been a party at the
North whose sympathy with the aristocracy was notorious
and unconcealed. They have spared no effort to weaken
the power and authority of the Government, to destroy the
public credit and to compel a disastrous and dishonorable
peace.- They have been at all times ready to sacrifice our
nationality and consent to a hollow aiul delusive truce, leav-
ing all the elements of discord in full force and vitality.
They have cheated the people with the false and delusive
cry that their liberties were in danger, that the safeguards
uf civil rights were ])eing overthrown, that the laws were set
at defiance by our rulers, and that revolutiorrary resistance
was necessaiy to lire vent the Government from assuming
despotic power. They have stigmatized the Picsident and
his advisers as corrupt and tyrannous, — accusing him aiul
them of rioting upon the s])oil of an oppressed and plundered
])cople. Liberty of speech a,nd of the press were said to be
threatened, while every day the one was noisy, slanderous
and vehement, and the other running to the extremes of the
most unrestrained license.

It was in the face of sucli accusations that the President
ajjpealed to the people for the approval of a second election,
and their unshaken confidence was expressed by a triimiph-
ant re-election.


Meantime there lias been no noisy advocate of peace so
sincerel}' desirous of securing; a safe and honorable one as
the President. He has suffered no passion and no resent-
ment to stand in the way. The door has been always open.
Submission to the laws has been the only condition. Could
any representative of a rightful Government demand less ?
He was always ready to meet any advances, formal or in-
formal, with frankness and cordiality. When he had pro-
claimed the freedom of the slaves in rebel States, and had
invited them to take arms in defence of promised freedom,
was it possible for an honest ruler to accept any terms, or
listen to any terms which did not secure to them this right 'i
Most certainly not. He insisted upon the same terms when
the rebel power was apparently unbroken, which he was
ready to grant when the rebel capital was in his power, and
the rebel armies scattered in defeat.

The second inaugural of Mr. Lincoln attests his modera-
tion, humility and justice. There is nothing in it boastful,
arrogant or menacing. There is no rancor, no unkindness
to enemies ; but there is the same fixed determination never
to yield until the integrity of the nation is restored and
acknowledged. It seems to us now to have been pronounced
under the deep shadow of his impending fate.

But success has finally crowned our arms. No consider-
able or formidable rebel army remains in the field. One
by one their strongholds have been yielded up to our victo-
rious leaders. The rebel capital, fortified with the utmost
care and skill — defended with desperate courage — in hold-
ing which to the last extremity, both pride and safety were
involved, is at last in our hands — the prize'jof equal valor —
equal skill — greater pertinacity and superior power. The
rebel armies are scattered and destroyed. Their greatest
soldier has found his master, and yields to fate. The rebel
credit has fallen so low that its worthless promises are scat-
tered to the winds. The rebel President and Cabinet are
fugitives and eoon will be vagabonds, most anxious to escape
the just vengeance of .their deluded followers and victims,
which will pursue them with justly excited wrath.

In the midst of all these triumphs — triumphs for which
with patient endurance he had waited through the anxious
days and sleepless nights of the last ibur years, bearing dis-
appointment and defeat and loss, taunted, defied, maligned,
slandered, and betrayed by friends, the moderation and jus-
tice of the President was more conspicuous than ever before
—it became magnanimity — generosity — we almost feared
lest it might degenerate into weakness.

On the 14th day of April, 1861^ Major Anderson and his
gallant followers, having saluted with all honor the old flag


whicli Had floated over Fort Sumter, hauled it down, and to
the sound of martial music marched out of the Fort, sur-
rendering it to the armed forces of the Rebellion. On the
same anniversary four years later, at the command of his
Government, General Anderson, who had watched with
vestal vigilance the sacred emblem of his country's power,
returned to raise the same old flag with triumphant honors
over the battered walls of the recovered fortress. It was a
memorable day, and hundreds of patriotic citizens had gone
to the harbor of Charleston to take part in the glorious
pageant, the sign and token of the restored sovereignty of
the Nation. Tliat intervening four years had been tor that
Nation a period of bitter, unrelenting, dangerous strife — of
civil war, ennol)led indeed by a noble cause — a war in de-
fence of Free Institutions assailed by the mad ambition of
lawless traitors, asserted by the sword — a war in behalf of
true Democracy and popular rights, against the preten-
tions of an aristocratic class — asserted by the sword. In
that long and bloody controversy, the blood of our bravest
and noblest youth had been poured out like water and their
unburied bones were l)leaching upon an hundred battle-
flelds — into almost every family had come mourning and
anguish and vacant places about many happy hearth-stones.
On that day, in the Nation's Capital our victories had been
celebrated with unwonted demonstrations of joy, because
victory had brought peace to an afflicted Nation, and its re-
turn was hailed with bonflres and illumination, with the
ringing of bells and the flring of cannon, and every token
of delight.

The President, with his family and familar friends, had
joined the happy crowd of citizens who hurried to the
theatre to witness the public spectacle. He sought relief
from the oppression of public duty and business — and he
sought pleasure and relaxtion where the people sought it.
On that day he had attended a protracted session of his
Cabinet council, in which the terms of amnesty and peace
had been discussed, and where he had labored with his
wonted kindness and assiduity to secure for the rebel
States and people the most liberal concessions and the
most favorable terms of peace. On that day the Pres-
dent had reached tlie sunnnit of human glory, and the bril-
liant lights of the theatre shone upon the hai)py faces of an
admiring crowd of citizens, his neighbors and friends — the
bursting music and the ringing cheers were vocal with the
spirit of a preserved Union and new national life. In such an
hour of hope and joy and exultation, the tatal blow of the
assasin was struck ! For four years of deadly struggle and
bitter passions, the President had walked by day and night


sate and unharmed amid the daggers of assassins ! And
now in the first dawn and promise of peace, when all re-
sentment had passed from his memory — when all his soul
was mercy and forgiveness ; and all his energies were given
to the work of restoring concord and fraternal feeling, all
unconscious of danger and unsuspicious of enmity, in the
face of his family and surrounded by his friends, in the peace-
ful enjoyment of a public spectacle, he meets the fatal blow,
and in an instant the silver cord is loosed and the golden
bowd is broken. Never during the last eighteen hundred
years of the world's history has such a tragedy been enacted
on the human stage !


Online LibraryC. B. (Charles Baldwin) SedgwickAn eulogy on Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States : pronounced by the Hon. Charles B. Sedgwick, on the occasion of the obsequies at Syracuse, April 19th, 1865 → online text (page 1 of 2)