Elias Smith.

The martyr President. An oration delivered before the colored citizens of Raleigh, NC., at the dedication of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, August 1, 1865 (Volume 1) online

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Online LibraryElias SmithThe martyr President. An oration delivered before the colored citizens of Raleigh, NC., at the dedication of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, August 1, 1865 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 1)
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O R A T I o ]sr

Freemen of Nokth Carolina !

Ladies and Gentlemen :

At this auspicious season, when your fields wave with ripen-
ing grain, waiting for the, harvest of the reaper ; when trees
everywhere bend ben eatli' their wealth -of foliage and fruit, and
the husbandman looks hopetiiUy ferward to well-tilled barns for
the supply of sterile Winter ; when all Nature, warmed and
mellowed by God's all-ripening sun, seems with upturned face
to break forth in hymns of praise to the Giver of all good for the
bounties of his providence, — it is fitting that you, too, should
join your hearts and voices in Nature's great anthem of rejoic-
ing and praise. For lo I your Winter is over and gone, the
time for the singing of birds has come, the flowers appear on
the earth, and the voice of the turtle is heard in the land. Go
with me in your imagination to the islands of the sea, and
what do you this day hear and behold ? Borne upon the wings
of the soft tropical breeze which floats through the leaves of the
graceful and shady cocoa-nut and palm, we hear the voice of
gladness and rejoicing ! We see a great multitude which no
man can number, marching to the sound of solemn music. Anti-
gua, Jamaica, Barbadoes, St. Lucia, Trinidad — all are alive
wdth a jubilant population. They throng every broad avenue of
their cities ; they pour in endless processions through their val-
leys ; they fill the spice-laden groves, and crowd their consecrated

temples witlr a hap])y, joyous throng. On tliey go, bright as
the moon, clear as the sun, and invincible as an army with
banners, which flash out in the bright tropical sun, the names
of AVilbp:rfor(;e, Clakkson, Granville Sharpe, Thompson."
'■'■ August Firsts 1834." "Eight Hundred Thousand bondmen
made free in the British Islands I Glory to God in the highest,
on earth peace, good will toward men !" " Four ilillions of
our brethren in the United States stretch out their unfettered
hands to us across the sea I We send you greeting, brethren
and sisters of our long oppressed but now delivered race I "

And now listen to the great anthem that swells and rides upon
the morning breeze :

" Freemen, awake the song I
Gladly the strain prolong,

Welcome this day I
It tells of glory won,
By deeds of valor done ;
Shout till the setting sun

Sheds its last ray.

" Our happy land we sing —
Your joyful tribute bring.

The song to swell ;
Sing of our country's worth,
The place of Freedom's birth,
Tlie noblest spot on earth, —
Her blessings tell."

"God save the Queen I '" mingles with "The Star Spangled
Banner," for that, too, is the banner of the free. Orators dwell
on the happy theme ; tables groan beneath a luxurious load of
tropical fruits, while mirth, and song, and the dance by hap]\v
groups in spicy groves, conclude the festivities of the day.

Responsive to this joyous outburst of tv^o miliums of freemen,
the sons of Ham throughout our own land, joined by all the
friends of impartial freedom in glorious New England and over
the broad West, meet this day to celebrate — not alone the de-
liverance of England's bondmen — but the emancipation oifour
viillions of American slaves, set free by the flat of Almighty God.
In no sju'rit of vain boasting ; with no words of re])roach on

our lips toward our enslavers in the North or in the South ; but
with solemn and grateful psalms of thanksg-ivdng and praise, we
accept from the hand of Jehovah the boon of precious freedom,
consecrating iu our heart of liearts the memory of the great, the
good, the honest statesman, tlie pure and christian patriot, hj
whose right hand the great charter of Liberty was signed. Free-
men, arise, and look upon the earthly form of Abraham Lincoln,
your martyred President.

[The Statue was here unveiled, and the congregation arose and sang :

" From all that dwell below the skies,
Lei the Creator's praise arise ;
Let the Redeemer's name be sung,
Through every land, by every tongue.

*' Eternal are thy mercies. Lord,
Eternal truth attends thy word,
Thy praise shall sound from shore to shore
Till suns shall rise and set no more."]

Placed here, in this consecrated temple, by the hand of affec-
tion and gratitude, for a perpetual memento, is all that is left
us of the earthly form of the great soul whom God in His
inscrutable wisdom and goodness had chosen for your deliverer.
Erected in this place, as a grateful testimonial of undying affec-
tion by this church, as well as by all the free men and women of
Raleigh, we now dedicate, with solemn prayer and holy psalm,
this statue of Abraham Lincoln, the martyr President, the Great
Emcmcipator. Here may it ever remain, a memorial of per-
petual gratitude to God, — a reminder of him whose calm and
wise statesmanship, by the blessing of God, led you out of the
house of bondage.

With no spirit of man-worship, but with a reverent bowing of
the heart before the Maker of all men, we accept this new and
glorious dispensation of Divine favor, meekly casting our crowns
at His feet, and crying with spirits around the throne, "Holy
holy, holy Lord God Almighty ! the whole earth is full of thy
glory ! just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Rejecting all thoughts of sectarian exclusiveness, we dedicate
this statue to God, in the name of imiversal justice and of im-


]»artiMl freedom. Ahkaham LINCOLN is the common heritage of
the whole nation — of all men throughout the world who revei'e
justice, who honor true manhood, and who love their race.

Thanks, eternal thanks to (lod, for Abraham Lincoln ; thanks
for the freedom he has brought us; thanks to the artist who has
preserved to us so faithful a copy of the outer man. " The
dust has returned to the earth as it was — the spirit to God who
gave it," That eye, which watched with sleepless vigilance for
four long and dreadful years over the varying fortunes of the
Uej)ublic, is forever closed in death; that heart, which beat with
kindest syni[)atliy for all in distress, has ceased to })alpitate ; the
hand, which was always open to relieve the widow and the or-
phan — which, as a last and crowning act, signed the great
Charter of Freedom for four millions of human beings, is forever
still. But his work was done. From the theatre of his patient
struggle with a gigantic rebellion, protracted through more than
four long yeai's, — from labors, such as never before fell to the
lot of any potentate of earth, — he has gone to his reward. He
was immortal until his work was iinished. Like Closes, who
conducted the Tsraelitish nation out of the house of bondage, he
came to the boi'ders of the promised land, and, while looking
from his Pisgah's top over the green fields which lay spread out
in glory and beauty before him, — his ears already drinking in
the exultant songs of deliverance from a whole nation of freemen,
— ''he was not, for God took him." He died that you might
live a life of freedom. Had he withheld his hand from that
crowning act of justice to you ; listening to timid counsels, had
he turned his back upon you ; had he "sto})ped his ears at the
cry of the poor,'' he mi y lit have been living to-day^ — living, per-
haps, to witness the re-enslavemept of a whole nation whose
chains had virtually been broken by the act of their own mas-
ters, — living to listen to the reproaches and maledictions of un-
born generations. But God had raised him up for a nobler pur-
pose ; had endowed his soul with noble attributes ; had made
him a vessel unto honor and glory. He was truly Nature's
nobleman ! " It is the Lord's doings, and marvellous in our eyes."

From the earliest periods of time, nations have labored to do
honor to their great and good men. The humblest man or wo-
man cherishes every relic of a dear departed friend. The
Egyptians, to perpetuate their own greatness as a nation, and to
furnish a mausoleum for the repose of their kings, devoted cen-
turies to the completion of their pyramids, which have long
survived the fame and even the name of those early potentates.
The massive stone is there — the men, where are they? The
Romans built costly sepulchres to receive the earthly remains of
their emperors, which have long since crumbled to dust with the
forms that lay within them. To commemorate the deeds of her
great men, France erects monuments of enduring marble, while
Westminster Abbey contains all that is mortal of England's
illustrious statesmen, orators and poets. But more imperisha-
ble than the pyramids ; more costly than the sepulchres of the
Romans ; more endui-mg than the columns of Vcndome and
Vei'sailles, or the venerable piles of Westminster Abbey, are the
name and the fame of him whose form is before you. Pyramids
may crumble, columns may decay, all works of art may perish
and be forgotten, but so long as nations live the name of
Abraham Lincoln, the martyr President — the emancipator of
four millions of human beings^ — will remain imperishable.

" Unuumbered pilgrims o'er the wave,

In the fur ages yet to be,
Will come to kneel beside his grave.

And hail him prophet of the Free.
'T is holier ground, that lowly bed,

In which his mouldering form is laid,
Than fields where Liberty has bled.

Beside her broken battle-blade.

" Who now, in danger's fearful hour,

When all around is wild and dark.
Shall guide with voice and arm of power,

Our Freedom-consecrated Ark ?
With stricken hearts, God, to thee,

Beneath whose feet the stars are dust.
We bow, and ask that thou wilt be

Through every ill our stay and trust."


Thus has Abraham Lincoln mingled his blood with the noble
army of martyrs who have laid down their lives in the holy
cause of human freedom. It has been well said by another,
" He has been a marvel and a phenomenon among statesmen,
a new kind of ruler in the earth. There has been something
even unearthly about his extreme unselfishness, his utter want of
personal ambition, self-valuation, personal feeling. The most
unsparing cinticism, denunciation and ridicule never moved him
to a single bitter expression, never seemed to awaken in him a
single bitter thought. The most exultant hour of party victory
brought no exultation to liiiu ; ho accepted power, not as an
honor, but as a responsibility : and \\4ien, after a severe struggle,
power came a second time into his hands, there was something
preternatural in his acceptance of it. The first impulse seemed
to be a disclaimer of all triumph over the party that had strained
their utmost to push him from his seat, — then a sober girding
up of his loins to go on with the work to which he was appoint-
ed. His last Inaugural was characterized by a tone so peculiar-
ly solemn and free from earthly passion, that it seems to us, now,
who look upon it in the light of what has folhnved, as if his soul
had already parted from earthly things and felt tlie powers of
the world to come. It was not the formal state paper of the
chief of a party in an hour of victory, so much as the solemn
soliloquy of a great soul reviewing its course under a vast respon-
sibility, and appealing from all earthly judgments to the tribu-
nal of Infinite .Justice. It was the solemn clearing of his soul
for the great sacrament of Death, and the words that he quoted
in it with such thrilling power were those of the adoring spirits
that veil their faces before the Throne : ' Just and true are thy
ways, thou King of saints I'*'

The last paragraph of that last Inaugural, which has been
here placed above his head, will forever remain a memorial of
holy patience, of large-hearted charity, and of fervent philan-
thropy, which will enroll him among the noblest, as well as the
most catholic of statesmen. It has been inscribed here, as
illustrating the tolerant and Christ-like spirit of the man toward


his enemies : and also as a perpetual lesson for all who shall
hereafter come to look ni»on this earthly bnt faithful counterpart
of the man : ■• With malice toward none, with charity for all:
with Urmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let
us strive on to finish, the work we are in, to bind up the Nation's
wound, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for
his widow and orphans, to do all which may achieve and cher-
ish a just and lasting ]ieace among ourselves and with all

It was while shaping the labors of his second Presidential
term, after this benevolent plan, that he was stricken down by
the mad frenzy of those who had failed in all other ways to
overthrow the government.

" Slain while a generous peace

With hopeful heart he planned,
Slain, while he prayed — ' let discord cease,'
The olive in his hand."

Let every one who shall visit this humble shrine of the poor

but grateful freedmen, carry awa}' from the ]ilace the memory of

these noble words ; and in all their intercourse with mankind, and

particularly among those whom the}' may regard as their enemies,

strive to practice the same large-hearted charity which shone

forth so conspicuously in the illustrious character of iVsKAHAM

LiNX'OLN. Thus —

" May ever}' year but bring more near

The time when strife shall cease,
When TRUTH and love all hearts shall move,
To live in joy and peace.

Now sorrow reigns, and earth complains,
Foi folly still her power maintains ;

But the day shall yet appear.
When the Might with the Right and Truth shall be,
And come what there may to stand in the way,

That day the world shall see.

Let good men ne'er of truth despair.

Though humble eflbrts fail ;
We '11 ne'er give o'er, until once more

The righteous cause prevail.


Though vain and long, enduring wrong,
The weak shall strive against the strong,

The day shall yet appear,
"When Might with the Right and the Truth shall be,
And come what there may to stand in the way.

That day the world shall see.

The address was concluded by reading the following favorite poem
of Mr. Lincoln, written by Rev. William Knox of Edinburgh, Scot-
land, in 1825:

Oil ! whj' should the spirit ol mortal be proud?
Like a swilt-flecting meteor, a fast flying cloud.
A flash olthe lightning, a break ol the wave.
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave.

The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade,
Be scattcre<l around, and together be laid.
And the young and the old, and the low and the high.
Shall moulder to dust, and together shall lie.

The infant, a mother attended and loved ;
The mother, that infant's affection who proved ;
The husband, that mother and infant who blest —
Each, all, are away to their dwellings of rest.

Kie maid on whose cheek, on whose brow, in whose eye,
Shone beauty and pleasure, — her triumphs are by ;
And the memory of those who loved her and praised,
Are alike from the minds of tho living erased.

The hand of the king that the sceptre hath borne,
The brow of the priest that the mitre hath worn,
The eye of the sage, and the heart of the brave.
Are hidden and lost in the depths ot.the grave.

The peasant, whose lot was to sow and to reap,
The herdsman, who climbed with his goats up the steep,
The beggar, who wandered in search of his bread.
Have faded away like the grass that we tread.

The saint, who enjoyed tho communion of heaven,
The sinner, who dared to remain unforgiven,
Tho wise and the foolish, the guilty and just,
Have quietly mingled their bones in the dust.

So the multitude goes — like tho flower or tho weed
That withers away to let others succeed ;
So the multitude comes,— even those we behold,
To repeat every tale that has often been told.


For we are the same our fathers have been ;
We see the same sights our fathers have seen ;
We drink the same stream, we Tiew the same sun.
And run the same course our fathers have run.

The thoughts we are thinking, our fathers would think :
From the death we are shrinking, our fathers would shrink ;
To the life we are clinging, they also would cling ;
But it speeds from us all like a bird on the wing.

They loved — but the story we cannot unfold ;
They scorned — but the heart of the haughty is cold ;
They grieved — but no wail from their slumbers will come :
They joyed — but the tongue of their gladness is dumb.

They died — ay, they died ; we things that are now,
That walk on the turf that lies over their brow,
And make in their dwellings a transient abode.
Meet the things that they met on their pilgrimage road.

Tea I hope and despondency, pleasure and pain,
Are mingled together in sunshine and rain ;
And the smile and the tear, the song and the dirge,
Still follow each other, like surge upon surge.

'T is the wink of an eye — 't is the draught of a breath —
From the blossom of health to the paleness of death.
From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud —
Ob I why should the spirit of mortal be proud ?




Farewell Address to his Neighbors. Springfield, Feb. 12, 1861.

JP'rte^ids, — .Vo one it'^/o ?tas never bee?? pfaeed hi a like
posifio7f can nnderstand my Jeelitiffs at ////'s /wnr, 7}or tJte op-
pressive sadness I feel at this parting. For more than a
quarter of a centurjf I ?iave lived among you, and duriiig all
tltat time I have received ?iothing but kindness at your hands.
Here 7 have lived J'ront my youth until now I am a?i old man.
Here the most sacred ties of earth were assumed. Here all my
children we?'e born : he?'e oife of them lies buried, 2'o you,
dear friends, I owe all that I have, all that I am. All the
strange checA'cred past seems now to crowd upon my mind. 2'o-
day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than
that 7i'hich devol)'ed upon General Vashingtofi. Unless the
Great God who assisted him shall be with and aid me, I must

fail. Tiu.t. if the same omniscient .Wind and the same al-


mighty Arm that directed a?id protected him, shall guide and
support me, I shall not fail ; I shall succeed. Jyct us all j) ray
that the God o/' our fathers may not forsake us now. To Him
I cominend you all. jPermit me to ask that, with equal sin-
cerity aj/d faith, you alt will in)o/,e His ii'isdom and guidance
for nw. With these fe^v words, J must leave you. F'or how
long 7 know ?/ot. J*'rie?ids, one and all, 7 must now bid you
an affectionate r.AT^TUWHLr..


Online LibraryElias SmithThe martyr President. An oration delivered before the colored citizens of Raleigh, NC., at the dedication of the statue of Abraham Lincoln, August 1, 1865 (Volume 1) → online text (page 1 of 1)