Charles Carroll Everett.

Eulogy on Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States : delivered before the citizens of Bangor on the day of the national fast, June 1st, 1865 (Volume 2) online

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Online LibraryCharles Carroll EverettEulogy on Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States : delivered before the citizens of Bangor on the day of the national fast, June 1st, 1865 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)
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Bangor, June 1, 1865.

Eev. and Dear Sir :

Will you do us the f\ivor to furnish a copy for puMication, of Ihe
Eulogy on the life and character of Abraham Lincoln, pronounced hy
you, this day, before our citizens.

Respectfully Yours,

ALE, ^
BY, )

Samcel H. Dale,

AVm. H. Mills, ^ Committee.

John L. Crosby,

Eev. C. C. Everett.

Third Street, June 2d, 1805..
Gentlemen :— I have the pleasure to hand you a copy of the Eulogy
delivered tlie day of our National East, as asked for in your communica-
tion of the 1st inst.

Ilespcctfully Yours,

C. C. Everett.
Samuel II. Dale, and others. Committee.


" Our popular Government has often been called an
experiment. Two points in it our people have already
settled : the successful cstahUsJiing and the successful
administering of it. One still remains — its successful
maintenance againt a formidable internal attempt to
overthrow it." Such was the language of President
Lincoln in his first message to Congress. The third
and last experiment, of which he spoke, has been
fairly and successfully tried. It has been demonstated
to the world, to use again his prophetic words — " that
those who can fairly carry an election can also sup-
press a rebellion ; that ballots are the rightful and
peaceful successors of bullets ; and that when ballots
have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be
no successful appeal back to bullets ; that there can
be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves
at succeeding elections." For the triumphant success
of this grand experiment the nation is indebted to no
one so much as to Abraham Lincoln. I do not forget
his wise counselors. I do not forget the Generals, who
in this prolonged struggle have gained glory for them-
selves and for their country. I do not forget the sol-
diers, whose steadfast courage took now the form of
patience in suffering, now of jQrmness in resistance,

and now of irresistible and overwhelming impetuosity
in attack ; of whom Lincoln, at the opening of the war,
could say with an honest pride, that " no common sol-
dier or common sailor is known to have deserted his
flag," and who maintained unbroken fidelity to the
end. I do not forget those who have given so freely
of their money, or those who have given treasures
infinitely dearer, the very pride and joy of their lives,
to their country. I do not forget those who have
toiled with loving patience to supply the needs of the
sick and the suffering. I do not forget that the entire
nation gave itself and all its energies, with a hearti-
ness almost without precedent, to the great work. But
yet to Abraham Lincoln, more than to any other power
under God, I believe it is indebted for its success. It
was his integrity and his wisdom, his firmness and his
tact, that, more than any other single influence, united
the North, and crushed the South. It is to do honor
to his memory that we come together to-day. Alas,
that we can pay honor to his memory alone ! Alas,
that he is not with us to share the brightest honors of
the nation's triumph ! This triumph should not be,
and least of all in his heart would it have been, a par-
tisan exultation over the defeat of Southern armies,
however much we might have rejoiced together, that
the sacriligious hands lifted against our country have
been smitten down. These armies were also American.
Even the blood}^ Sulla and Marius, even Caesar and
Augustus, would not celebrate a triumph at the end
of a civil war, for thereby the Republic had not been
advanced. But though ours has been a civil war, w^e
have cause for a triumph, grander than any that ever

glorified the streets of Rome. The nation is not only
one as it was before, it is free as it never was before.
The Republic has been advanced. It has reached the
grand height of universal liberty. Well may it tri-
umph though its leader has fallen in the strife. Well
may it make him, though unseen, a sharer in the vic-
tory. As at every pause in the sad journey, in which
the slain President was borne back to his home in Illi-
nois, the mourning crowd brought flowers wrought into
sweet garlands and sacred crosses, to lay upon his bier,
so may we bring our fairest offerings of love and rev-
erence, of praise, and of sorrow wliich is greater praise,
trusting that all may not fail to reach him, even where
he is. For if any love and sorrow have power to force
their way into the unseen world, pressing on after the
departed, shall not the loving sorrow of a bereaved
nation have such might.

A change has passed over us, indeed, since we stood
in the sudden bewilderment of grief, and strove to utter
his greatness and our loss. Then our best words were
little more than articulate sobs. In the crowded events
of these weeks, that moment seems now remote. We
are again calm, cheerful and hopeful. In these last
years we have, indeed, almost lost the sense of time.
Hope and fear, exultation, and despondency wliich was
half despair, have so chased one another through our
hearts, that sometimes the sense of our own identity
has seemed confused. Are we the generation that
wept over that first terrible defeat ? Are wo the gen-
eration that was wild with a. delirious joy, wliich knew
no check or abatement, when Richmond fell ? And
since the death of Lincoln, surrender has so rapidly


followed surrender, retribution has so terribly followed
in the steps of crime, the very last vestige of the rebel-
lion has been so thoroughly uprooted, that we might
almost think that years had passed instead of weeks.
It is almost as if we stood in the place of our own
posterity. We can look back calmly and impartially.
We can judge of acts and of actors. We can speak
of Lincoln with the soberness of historic truth. We
can recount, as we could not before, the story of his
life. We can survey and estimate, as we could not
then, his character and his work. We can even smile
at the good-humored play of his ready wit. But as
we thus strive to take in with impartial estimate the
full measure of the man, we find that our tears did not
magnify the greatness which we lost in him. We find
that our calmest thought was not outrun by the strong-
est emotion of the heart. Nay, the coolest judgment
brings back with it something of that first sorrow, for
it shows us, in clear and unmistakable outline, how
good and how great he was.

Abraham Lincoln sprang of Quaker stock. We
first recognize his ancestors in Pennsylvania. It is
conjectured that the family came to America in connec-
tion with the colonies of Penn, though from a similarity
of family names, some have supposed that it was con-
nected with the Massachusetts family of Lincolns, a
connection which would do honor to either branch.
About the year 1750, which is the first date which
appears with any distinctness in its history, the family
removed to Virginia, plunging into the heart of what
was then a wilderness. About 1 780, Abraham Lincoln,
the grand-father of the President, removed to Ken-

tucky, following in the track, and sharing the labors
and perils, of Daniel Boone, the story of whose adven-
tures made up so much of the romance of our early
years. In 1784, he was slain by an Indian, who ap-
proached him while he was at his work and unsuspi-
cious of danger. He left a widow, and a family of
children, among whom was Thomas Lincoln, the father
of the President, then only six years old. Thomas
Lincoln grew up amid labor and poverty ; and this is
all the record that remains of his life. Of the mother
of the President, also, little is known save the name.
We can indeed draw out, in our mind, the picture of
that frontier life, and put into it the sterling sense and
integrity, which the son doubtless inherited from his
parents. This son, who was to make their name and
memory precious to us, was born on the 12th of Feb-
ruary, 1S09. When he had reached the age of seven
years, the family removed into Indiana, which was only
to take a step deeper into the wilderness, but into an
atmosphere unpolluted by the presence of slavery. In
Indiana, Lincoln lived 13 years. They were years full
of aU the labor that makes up the boyhood of a poor
youth in the far wilderness. It was during these years,
that he made his first trip down the Mississippi, as one
of the hands on a flat-boat. In 1830, when Lincoln
was about attaining his majority, the family removed
into Illinois. It was soon after this removal, that the
future President, by hard labor, all unprophetic of its
future fame, earned for himself the historic title of the
Rail Splitter. The new rich land must be fenced in,
and Lincoln with the help of one man, a relative, split
three thousand rails. After this exploit, he left his

father's house, and exchanged a laborious youth for a
laborious manhood.

As we look back upon the boyhood and the youth
of Lincoln, we find little place for schools and for the
study of books. Indeed, his schooling, all told,
amounted to about a year. He was, however, a dili-
gent reader of whatever book chanced in his way.
Every child knows the story of Washington and his
hatchet. The early honesty of the second Wasliington
has a like illustration. He had borrowed of his teacher,
Mr. Crawford, a copy of Weem's life of Washington.
By chance, it was left near an open window and
drenched by a sudden rain. He took the damaged
book to its owner, explained the accident, lamented
that he had no money to pay for it, but offered to work
out its value. " Well, Abe," said Crawford, " as it is
you, I won't be hard on you ; come over and pull
fodder with me a couple of days, and we will call it
square." I need not add that Lincoln faithfully per-
formed his share in the agreement.

Such was the boyhood and youth of our President.
To us, it would have seemed a poor preparation for his
great work. Perhaps it was the best. He carried
from it a sturdy constitution, having in it the vitality
of generations of backwoods life. He carried senses
trained to truthfulness. He carried habits of untiring
industry and an unfailing patience. He carried a
reverence for labor, and a confidence in the working
people, the people of the country, of whom he was
one. Moreover, he carried with him all the individual
lessons that the wilderness had taught him. Much of
the wit, as well as of the wisdom of his after years,

was tlie carrying back of the events of his new life,
and comparing them with the events of the old. In
the Psalms of David, it is sweet and touching to see
how the King carried tlie shepherd in his heart. " The
Lord is my Shepherd," was his tenderest song. So
Lincoln carried his youth with him. It did not break
out into song, for that was not the nature of the man.
It did take shape in manifold words, sportive without,
but true within. The world need not undertake to
surprise him with its parades and its sophistries. He
had seen it all on the farm and in the wilderness. He
had looked at the heart of nature, and had thus learned
to read the heart of man. Many of his best sayings
are touches of the old familiar experience of his
youtL The politician, restive yet obedient, he had
known before, in the shape of an uneasy ox on his
father's farm. *^He sought to be in advance,"* he
says, of Gen. Cass, " but soon he began to see glimpses
of the great democratic ox-gad waving in his face, and
to hear, indistinctly, a voice saying : " Back ! back, sir ;
back a little T He shakes his head and bats his eyes,
and blunders back to his position of March, 1847.
But still the gad waves, and the voice grows more
distinct and sharper still, " Back sir, back I say, further
back !" and back he goes to the position of December,
1847 ; at which the gad is still, and the voice sooth-
ingly says, " So ! stand still at that." Another instance
of the same Idnd is that witty and modest comparison
about " swapping horses while crossing a stream," which
expressed in a single sentence a more perfect and sensi-
ble self-depreciation and self-appreciation, than pages
of courtly Rhetoric could have done. When the two


parties of Emancipationists in Missouri were quarrel-
ing, instead of helping one another, Lincoln's single
year of Western schools furnished him with a prece-
dent for the discipline they needed. He said the two
parties " ought to have their heads knocked together."

Thus did outward nature and the humblest experi-
ence of life furnish him with illustration for the grand-
est questions of policy and State-craft. Who taught
him thus to interpret nature by life, and life by nature ?
In his boyhood, there were three books which consti-
tuted his principal study. Over these he pored, read-
ing them again and again. One of these was the life of
Washington, of which I have already spoken. When
Lincoln paused at Trenton, on his way to assume the
duties of the Presidency, he told us the effect that
this life of Washington produced upon his mind ; how
the events described there, especially those that occur-
red near Trenton, fixed themselves indelibly in his
heart, and how he drew his great lessons of patriotism
from this histor}^, as he thought that it could have been
no common object for which these men so suffered and
fought. The two other books were Bunyan's " Pil-
grim's progress," and ^sop's Fables. I have no doubt
that the quaint poetry and shrewd symbolism of these
books, controlled the habit of his mind. He studied
jEsop till he became a second ^sop. A little story,
a playful illustration, became his natural and favorite
argument. Indeed, in literary annals there is hardly
anything more curious than the relation of these three
books to the history of Lincoln. One furnished the
model of his life — the others, the habit of his thought.

Here I will say a word of warning against the misuse


of a life like that of Lir.coln's, partially understood. It
is sometimes said, in relation to such stories of self-
made men, so common in our annals,— There you see the
uselessness of hooks ; experience and hard work, these
are all that a man needs. Lincoln -was a student, a
hard student, of books. In his hoyhood he had little
opportunity to use them. He made up for it in his
manhood. When he was studying law, he became
bewildered with the word " demonstrate." He traced
it to mathematics. He broke oif his law studies, went
home to his father's house and studied Euclid, to learn
what it was to demonstrate. E^^er after " to demon-
strate as Euclid demonstrates," was a f ivorite expres-
sion with him. "It would be no answer to one of
Euclid's demonstrations," he said once to Judge Doug-
las, " to call Euclid a liar." The writings and
speeches of Lincoln show the marks and the habits of
hard study. His famous speech in New York was a
wonderful example of this. No man could have writ-
ten it without the most careful research ; and no one
could have written it who was not used to research.
Books without experience, are lumber. Experience
without books is one man instead of the universe.

When Lincoln left his youth, we find that he carried
with him all its lessons, forgetting nothing, though
always ready for new truth. The fortune he went to
seek seemed at first not very promising. We find
him again on the flat-boat, sailing down the Missis-
sippi; then as agent and clerk, over-seeing a mill and
store, and perhaps a distillery; then as a volunteer in
the "Blackhawk war," chosen captain by his company;
then, when that expedition broke up, enlisting again,


and serving as a private, without regard to formet
dignity. Then we find him studying law, and breaking
off to see what it is " to demonstrate." Before his law
studies were completed, we find him running for the
Legislature, and being whipped, in a way that showed
his marvelous popularity, even at that time, his own
town giving him, a Whig, all its votes save seven ;
while to the Democratic candidate for the Presidency,
it gave shortly after a majority of 155 votes. Then
we find him eight years in the Legislature ; then, we
meet him in Congress, refusing to vote that the war
began by act of Mexico, though voting for the army
all the supplies that he could, without a falsehood for
a preamble. And finally, in 1858, we find him the
acknowledged leader of his party in Illinois, its " first,
last, and only candidate," for the Senatorship, contest-
ing that high office before the State, with Judge Doug-
las, the " Little Giant." As this struggle, in which
the two combatants held public discussions through
the State, is a marked epoch in the life of Lincoln,
since it first showed the nation his strength, we will
pause and contemplate it for a moment.

Judge Douglas was at this time at the very height
of his fame and of his strength. He had by the
repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which the North
had slowly learned to -prize, startled into sudden rage
the whole anti-slavery sentiment of the country ; then
turning against the Democratic party, he had, with
the same weapon. Popular Sovereignty, smitten it in
twain, and now stood, as if alone, calling upon the
American people to rally around the time-honored war
cry of self-government. He was short, florid, full


favored, with sometliing uf a swell about Ivlm, fond of
telling wliat " I did," and what ^ 1 said," making you
feel that this "^ I" had been the great mover of all
great events, with an appearance, and I think the real-
ity, of consistency, w4th a great show of fiir play for
everybody, fluent and ready, the most plausible of
hai'anguers, the smoothest of politicians, one of the
keenest of debaters, the only man who had gathered
a party at his call, the only man who was the loader
and not the instmment of his party, the only maJi
in fact who had a party. Such was the antagonist
which Lincoln came forth to meet, himself unknown to
the nation, an unpolished son of the West, a very tall
David, to meet a rather diminutive Goliah. For Lin-
coln tall and meagre, with a certain homely simplicity
of speech and manner, and a (juiet modesty, by which
he forgot himself in the principles for which he fought,
was in all respects the opposite of his antagonist. lie
had sometimes even a Socratic self-depreciation, with
wliich he loved, slyly, to bring out and play upon the
importance of the Judge — "Senator Douglas," he
says, " is of world-wide renown. AH the anxious pol-
iticians of his party, or who have been of his party for
years past, have been looking upon him, as certainly,
at no distant day, to be the President of the United
States. They have seen in his round, jolly, fmitful
face, post-offices, land-ojDfices, marshalships and cabinet
appointments, charge-ships and foreign missions, burst-
ing and sprouting out in wonderful exuberance, ready
to be laid hold of by their greedy hands. * * *
On the contrary, nobody has ever expected me to be


President. In my poor, lean, lank face, nobody has
ever seen that any cabbages were sprouting out."

There you have the parties in this renowned
contest — a contest which attracted the gaze of the
country, itself convulsed by political excitement, as,
in the Homeric battle, the encounter of two mighty
hei'oes would draw the gaze of both armies upon itself.
In Illinois, the excitement must have been tremendous.
The printed speeches show evidence of this. Crowds
are referred to, so vast, that no single voice could
reach their outmost edge ; and once, it appears, at the
close of the debate, Lincoln was actually carried from
the ground in triumph, upon the shoulders of his
friends. The printed speeches are undoubtedly genu-
ine. Lincoln's, bear unmistakable evidence of his com-
position. They must have lost more than they have
gained by the transcript. I have chanced to hear one
little incident, that is not in the printed form, which
may illustrate this, — Douglas had referred to the fact,
that Lincoln in his youth sold liquor for a time.
Lincoln admitted that for a short time this was one of
the required duties of his position. " But," he added,
"the Judge need not say anything, though, for he
dealt in the same article — only on the other side of the
counter." I may remark in passing, as an instance of
the manner in which the moral nature of Lincoln was
purified, where others would have been corrupted, that
doubtless this brief experience of his youth in the
liquor traffic, did much to make of him that total
abstinence man, which he was known to be through all
his later life.

I have described to you the personal excitement of


this great debate. To Lincoln it was something more
than a personal struggle. With him it was a battle
for principle. His clear gaze looked through and
beyond the excitement of the moment. It was a
struggle for the right against the wrong, for liberty
against slavery. Even in the question of slavery
itself he saw only one form of the great struggle for
popular right. " This," he says, " is the real issue."
This is the issue that will continue in this country,
when these poor tongues of Judge Douglas and myself
shall be silent. It is the eternal struggle between
these two principles — right and wrong — throughout
the world. They are the two principles that have
stood face to face, from the beginning of time ; and
will ever continue to struggle. The one is the com-
mon right of humanity, and the other the divine right
of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape
it developes itself It is the same principle that says,
" You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it."
No matter in what shape it comes, whether from the
mouth of a king, who seeks to bestride the people of
his nation, and live by the fruit of their labor ; or from
one race of men as an apology for enslaving another
race ; it is the same tyrannical principle." — Judge
Douglas brought down the slavery laws of the South
to the same level with the " Cranberry laws" of Indi-
ana and the " Oyster laws" of Virginia. He would
leave the territories to settle these matters of domes-
tic policy for themselves. — Lincoln answered, first, that
the " Dred Scott Decision," which Douglas upheld as
final, took away from the territories the right of set-
tling this matter : and secondly, that the question of


slavery brought in a new element, that of right and
wrong. Judge Douglas, he said, would be logical in
his argument, if slavery were not morally wrong. His
popular sovereignty, he said, is the right of one man
to enslave another, without the interference of a third.
The debate involved side issues and personal issues,
but this was its central point. Through Illinois these
strong spirits went, the one dragging down the ques-
tion of liberty to the level of that of " oysters" and
*' cranberries," the other piercing his sopliistries with
the clear light of principle and of right. Even the
darkness of "Egj'pt" was for a moment illuminated
by this unwonted brightness. These words of Lincoln,
uttered before the famous sentence of Seward in regard
to the irrepressible conflict between liberty and slavery,
furnished the centre of the battle ground, "A house
divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this
government cannot endure permanently half-slave and
half-free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved.
I do not expect the house to fall. I do expect it will
cease to be di^aded." — The position of Lincoln, was
not, indeed, free from contradictions. He was, at
once, a conservative and a radical. A conservative is
a man who recognizes existing institutions* A radical
is a man who takes his stand upon extreme principle.
Lincoln took his stand on the Declaration of Inde-
pendence, yet he found a Constitution that recognized
slavery. He had prejudices against the negroes. It
is human to have prejudices ; it is the di\dne element
of humanity that conquers them. Later the line that
separated the races grew faint to his view. He had
learned the degredatiou that can be covered by a


white skin, and the nobilit}^ tliat can dwell in a dark


Online LibraryCharles Carroll EverettEulogy on Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States : delivered before the citizens of Bangor on the day of the national fast, June 1st, 1865 (Volume 2) → online text (page 1 of 2)