Ida M. (Ida Minerva) Tarbell.

The life of Abraham Lincoln online

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a woman in evening gown, flowers in her hair, jewels on her
neck. She was wringing her hands and moaning. The man
on the steps heard some one say, " The President is shot ; "
heard the bearers of the body asking, " Where shall we take
him? " and quickly coming forward, he said, ""Bring him
here into my room."

And so the President was carried up the high steps,
through a narrow hall, and laid, still unconscious, still mo-
tionless, on the bed of a poor, little, commonplace room of a
commonplace lodging-house, where surgeons and physicians



gathered about in a desperate attempt to rescue him from

. While the surgeons worked the news was spreading to the
town. Every man and woman in the theater rushed forth to
tell it. Some ran wildly down the streets, exclaiming to
those they met, " The President is killed ! The President is
killed ! " One rushed into a ball-room, and told it to the
'dancers ; another bursting into a room where a party of emi-
'nent public men were playing cards, cried, " Lincoln is
shot ! " Another, running into the auditorium of Grover's
Theater, cried, " President Lincoln has been shot in his pri-
vate box at Ford's Theater." Those who heard the cry
thought the man insane or drunk, but a moment later they
saw the actors in a combat called from the stage, the mana-
ger coming forward. His face was pale, his voice agonized,
as he said, " Ladies and gentlemen, I feel it my duty to say
to you that the announcement made from the front of the
theater just now is true. President Lincoln has been shot."
One ran to summon Secretary Stanton. A boy picked up at
the door of the house where the President lay was sent to the
White House for Robert Lincoln. The news spread by the
very force of its own horror, and as it spread it met other
news no less terrible. At the same hour that Booth had sent
the ball into the President's brain, a man had forced his way
into the house of Secretary Seward, then lying in bed with a
broken arm, and had stabbed both the Secretary and his son
Frederick so seriously that it was feared they would die. In
his entrance and exit he had wounded three other members
of the household. Like Booth, he had escaped. Horror bred
rumor, and Secretary Stanton, too, was reported wounded,
while later it was said that Grant had been killed on his way
North. Dread seized the town. " Rumors are so thick,"
wrote the editor of the " National Intelligencer " at two
o'clock in the morning, " the excitement of this hour is so in-
tense, that we rely entirely upon our reporters to advise the



public of the details and result of this night of horrors. Evi-
dently conspirators are among us. To what extent does the
conspiracy exist? This is a terrible question. When a spirit
so horrible as this is abroad, what man is safe ? We can only
advise the utmost vigilance and the most prompt measures by
the authorities. We can only pray God to shield us, His un-
worthy people, from further calamities like these."

The civil and military authorities prepared for attack from
within and without. Martial law was at once established.
The long roll was beaten; every exit from the city was
guarded ; out-going trains were stopped ; mounted police and
cavalry clattered up and down the street ; the forts were or-
dered on the alert ; guns were manned.

In the meantime there had gathered in the house on
Tenth Street, where the President lay, his family physician
and intimate friends, as well as many prominent officials. Be-
fore they reached him it was known there was no hope, that
the wound was fatal. They grouped themselves about the
bedside or in the adjoining rooms, trying to comfort the
weeping wife, or listening awe-struck to the steady moaning
and labored breathing of the unconscious man, which at
times could be heard all over the house. Stanton alone
seemed able to act methodically. No man felt the tragedy
more than the great War Secretary, for no one in the cabinet
was by greatness of heart and intellect so well able to com-
prehend the worth of the dying President ; but no man in that
distracted night acted with greater energy or calm. Sum-
moning the Assistant Secretary, C. A. Dana, and a stenog-
rapher, he began dictating orders to the authorities on all
sides, notifying them of the tragedy, directing them what
precautions to take, what persons to arrest. Grant, now re-
turning to Washington, he directed should be warned to keep
close watch on all persons who came close to him in the cars
and to see that an engine be sent in front of his train. He
sent out, too, an official account of the assassination. To-day


the best brief account of the night's awful work remains the
one which Secretary Stanton dictated within sound of the
moaning of the dying President.

And so the hours passed without perceptible change in the
President's condition, and with only shght shifting of the
scene around him. The testimony of those who had wit-
nessed the murder began to be taken in an adjoining room.
Occasionally the figures at the bedside changed. Mrs. Lin-
coln came in at intervals, sobbing out her grief, and then was
led away. This man went, another took his place. It was not
until daylight that there came a perceptible change. Then
the breathing grew quieter, the face became more calm. The
■ doctors at Lincoln's side knew that dissolution was near.
Their bulletin of six o'clock read, " Pulse failing; " that of
half-past six, " Still failing; " that of seven, " Symptoms of
immediate dissolution," and then at twenty-two minutes past
seven, in the presence of his son Robert, Secretaries Stanton,
Welles and Usher, Attorney-General Speed, Senator Sum-
ner, Private Secretary Hay, Dr. Gurley, his pastor, and sev-
eral physicians and friends, Abraham Lincoln died. There
was a prayer, and then the solemn voice of Stanton broke the
stillness, " Now he belongs to the ages."

Two hours later the body of the President, wrapped in an
American flag, was borne from the house in Tenth Street,
and carried through the hushed streets, where already thou-
sands of flags were at half-mast and the gay buntings and
garlands had been replaced by black draperies, and where the
men who for days had been cheering in excess of joy and re-
lief now stood with uncovered heads and wet eyes. They car-
ried him to an upper room in the private apartments of the
White House, and there he lay until three days later a heart-
broken people claimed their right to look for a last time on
his face.

'^<CT-;»fn > /1 1 ; in> ) i-ioi;* 1 11 niH I mwt\i<smnK-:-Z'?-


AND IS, 1865.


Lincoln's funeral

The first edition of the morning papers in all the cities
and towns of the North told their readers on Saturday,
April 15, 1865, that Abraham Lincoln, President of the
United States, lay mortally wounded in Washington. The
extras within the next two hours told them he was dead.
The first impulse of men everywhere seems to have been to
doubt. It could not be. They realized only too quickly
that it was true! There was no discrediting the circum-
stantial accounts of the later telegrams. There was no es-
cape from the horror and uncertainty which filled the air,
driving out the joy and exultation which for days had inun-
dated the country.

In the great cities like New York a death-like silence fol-
lowed the spreading of the news — a silence made the more
terrible by the presence of hundreds of men and women walk-
ing in the streets with bent heads, white faces, and knit
brows. Automatically, without thought of what their neigh-
bors were doing, these men went to their shops only to send
away their clerks and close their doors for the day. Stock
exchanges met only to adjourn. By ten o'clock business had
ceased. It was not only in the cities, where the tension of
feeling is always greatest, that this was true. It was the same
in the small towns.

" I was a compositor then, working in a printing office at
Danville, Illinois," says Prof. A. G. Draper, of Washing-
ton, D. C. " The editor came into the room early in the
forenoon with a telegram in his hand ; he was regarding it



intently, with a pale face. Without saying a word he passed
it to one and another of the compositors. I noticed that as
the men read it they laid down their sticks, and without a
word went, one after another, took their coats and hats off
the nails where they were hanging, put them on, and went
into the street. Finally the telegram was passed to me. It
was the announcement that Lincoln had been shot the night
before and had died that morning. Automatically I laid
down my stick, took my hat and coat, and went into the
street. It seemed to me as if every man in town had
dropped his business just where it was and come out. There
was no sound; but the people, with pale faces and tense
looks, regarded one another as if questioning what would
happefi next."

Just as the first universal impulse seems to have been to
cease all business, so the next was to drag down the banners
of victory which hung everywhere and replace them by crape.
New York City before noon of Saturday was hung in black
from the Battery to Harlem. It was not only Broadway and
Washington Square and Fifth Avenue which mourned. The
soiled windows of Five Points tenements and saloons were
draped, and from the doors of the poor hovels of upper Man-
hattan west of Central Park bits of black weed were strung.
And so it was in all the cities and towns of the North.
"About nine o'clock on Saturday the intelligence reached
us of the assassination of Mr. Lincoln and the attempt upon
Mr. Seward's life," wrote Senator Grimes from Burlington,
Iowa. " Immediately the people began to assemble about the
' Hawkeye ' office, and soon Third Street became packed
with people. And such expressions of horror, indignation,
sorrow, and wonder were never heard before. Shortly, some
one began to decorate his house with the habiliments of
mourning; and soon all the business part of the town, even
the vilest liquor dens, was shrm^ded with the outward signs


of sorrow. All business was at once suspended, and not re-
sumed during the day ; but every one waited for further in-
telligence from Washington."

And this was true not only of the towns, it was true of the
distant farms. There the news was slower in coming. A
traveller journeying from the town stopped to tell it at a
farm-house. The farmer, leaving his plow, walked or rode
across lots to repeat it to a neighbor. Everywhere they
dropped their work, and everywhere they brought out a strip
of black and tied it to the door-knob.

The awful quiet of the North through the first few hours
after the tragedy covered not grief alone; below it was a
righteous anger, which, as the hours passed, began to break
out. It showed itself first against those of Southern sympa-
thy who were bold enough to say they were " glad of it." In
New York a man was heard to remark that " it served old
Abe right." Cries of " L3mch him, lynch him ! " were raised.
He was set upon by the crowd, and escaped narrowly. All
day the police were busy hustling suspected Copperheads
away from the mobs which seemed to rise from the ground
at the first word of treason.

" I was kept busy last night," further wrote Senator
Grimes from Burlington, "' trying to prevent the destruction
of the store of a foolish woman who, it was said, expressed
her joy at Mr. Lincoln's murder. Had she been a man, so
much was the old Adam aroused in me, I would not have ut-
tered a word to save her."

In Cincinnati, which had spent the day and night before in
the most elaborate jubilation, the rage against treason broke
out at the least provocation. " Some individuals of the ' but-
ternut ' inclination," says a former citizen, in recalling these
days, " were knocked into the gutters and kicked, because
they would make no expression of sorrow, or because of their
well-known past sympathy with the rebellion. Others as


l.oyal as any suffered also, through mistaken ideas of mean-
ness on the part of personal enemies. Junius Brutus Booth, a
brother of the assassin, was closing a two-weeks' engage-
ment at Pike Opera House. He was stopping at the Bur-
net House. While there was no violent public demonstra-
tion against him, it was well known that his life would not be
worth a farthing should he be seen on the streets or in public.
Of course the bills were taken down, and there was no per-
formance that night. Mr. Booth was well pleased quietly to
escape from the Burnet and disappear."

In one New Hampshire town, where a company of volun-
teers from the country had gathered to drill, only to be met
by the news, it was rumored that a man in a factory near by
had been heard to say, " The old abolitionist ought to have
been killed long ago." The volunteers marched in a body to
the factory, entered, and dragged the offender out into the
road. There they held a crude court-martial. " The company
surrounded him," says one of the men, " in such military or-
der as raw recruits could get into, and questioned him as to
his utterances. He was willing to do or say anything. ' Duck
him I ' was the cry raised on every hand. The canal was close
at hand, but there were voices heard saying : ' He's an old
man. Don't duck him. Send him out of town." And so it
was done. He was compelled to give three cheers for the
Stars and Stripes. I shall never forget his pitiful little " Hoo-
ray ! ' He was made to kneel down and repeat something in
praise of Abraham Lincoln that one of the officers dictated
to him, and then he was marched to his boarding-place, given
certain minutes to pack up his effects, and escorted to the
railroad station, where he was sent off on the next train.
This was a very mild example of the feeling there was. Had
the man been a real American Copperhead, he would
scarcely have esitaptd a ducking, and pferhaps a drubbing



also ; but many said : ' He's only an Englishman, and doesn't
know any better.' "

The most important expression of the feeling was that at a
great noon meeting held at the Custom House in New York.
Among the speakers were General Butler, E. L. Chittenden,
Daniel L. Dickinson, William P. Fessenden, and General
Garfield. The awful, wrathful, righteous indignation of the
meeting is told in the following citations from the speeches.

" If rebellion can do this to the wise, the kind, the benevo-j
lent Abraham Lincoln," said Butler, " what ought we to do^
to those who from high places incited the assassin's mind andj
gfuided the assassin's knife? [Applause, and cries of ' Hang'
them!'] Shall we content ourselves with simply crushing
out the strength, the power, the material resources of the re-
bellion? [' Never, never.'] Shall we leave it yet unsubdued
to light the torch of conflagration in our cities ? Are we to
have peace in fact or peace only in name ? [Cries of ' In fact '
and applause.] Is this nation hereafter to live in peace, or
are men to go about in fear and in dread, as in some of the
countries of the Old World, in times past, when every man
feared his neighbor, and no man went about except he was
armed to the teeth or was clad in panoply of steel ? This ques-
tion is to be decided this day, and at this hour by the Ameri-
can people. It may be that this is a dispensation of God,
through his providence, to teach us that the spirit of rebellion
has not been broken with the surrender of its arms." [Ap-

" Fellow citizens," said Garfield, " they have slain the
noblest and most generous spirit that ever put down a rebel-
lion on this earth. [Applause.] It rnay be almost impious to
say it ; but it does seem to me that his death almost parallels
that of the Son of God, who cried out, ' Father, forgive them,
for they know not what they do.' But in taking away that
life they have left the iron hand of the people to fall upon
them. [Great applause.] Peace, forgiveness and mercy are
the attributes of this government, but Justice and Judgment
with inexorable tread follow behind, and when they have


slain love, when they have despised mercy, when they have
rejected those that would be their best friends, then comes
justice with hoodwinked eyes and the sword."

The tense despair and rage of the people on Saturday had
not broken when they gathered on Sunday for worship.
Never, perhaps, in any sorrow, any disaster that this nation
has sufifered, was there so spontaneous a turning to the
church for consolation as on this Sabbath day. Never, per-
haps, did the clergy of a country rise more universally to con-
sole the grief of a people than on this day. Everywhere,
from East to West, the death of the President was the theme
of the sermons, and men who never before in their lives had
said anything but commonplaces rose this day to eloquence.
One of the most touching of the Sunday gatherings was at
Bloomington, Illinois. Elsewhere it was only a President, a
national leader, who had been lost; here it was a personal
friend, and people refused to be comforted. On Sunday
morning there were sermons in all the churches, but they
seemed in no way to relieve the tension. Later in the day
word was circulated that a general out-of-door meeting
would be held at the court-house, and people gathered from
far and near, townspeople and country people, in the yard
about the court-house, where for years they had been accus-
tomed to see Lincoln coming and going; and the ministers of
the town, all of them his friends, talked one after another,
until finally, comforted and resigned, the people separated
silently and went home.

On Monday a slight distraction came in the announcement
of the plan for the funeral ceremonies. After much discus-
sion, it had been decided that a public funeral should be held
in Washington, and that the body should then lie in state for
brief periods at each of the larger cities on the way to
Springfield, whither it was to be taken for burial. The neces-
sity of at once beginning preparations for tbM reception of the


funeral party furnished the first real reUef to the universal
grief which had paralyzed the country.

The dead President had lain in an upper chamber of the
White House from the time of his removal there on Satur-
day morning until Tuesday morning, when he was laid un-
der a magnificent catafalque in the centre of the great East
Room. Although there were in Washington many citizens
who sympathized with the South, although the plot for as-
sassination had been developed there, yet no sign appeared
of any feeling but grief and indignation. It is said that there
were not fifty houses in the city that were not draped in
black, and it seemed as if every man, woman, and child were
seeking some souvenir of the tragedy. A child was found at
the Tenth Street house staining bits of soft paper with the
half-dried blood on the steps. Fragments of the stained linen
from the bed on which the President died were passed from
hand to hand; locks of the hair cut away by the surgeons
were begged; his latest photograph, the papers of the day,
programmes of the funeral, a hundred trivial relics were
gathered together, and are treasured to-day by the original
owners or their children. They

"dip their napkins in his sacred blood;'
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills, '
Bequeathing it, as a rich legacy.
Unto their issue."

On Tuesday morning, when the White House was opened,
it was practically the whole population, augmented by hun-
dreds from the North, who waited at the gates. All day long
they surged steadily through the East Room, and at night,
when the gates were closed, Lafayette Park and the adjoin-
ing streets were still packed with people waiting for admis-
sion. In this great company of mourners two classes were


conspicuous, the soldiers and the negroes. One had come
from camp and hospital, the other from country and hovel,
and both wept unrestrainedly as they looked on the dead face
of the man who had been to one a father, to the other a liber-

Wednesday had been chosen for the funeral, and every de-
vice was employed by the Government to make the ceremony
fitting in pomp and solemnity. The greatest of the nation —
members of the cabinet, senators, congressmen, diplomats;
representatives of the churches, of the courts, of commerce,
of all that was distinguished and powerful in the North, were
present in the East Room. Mr. Lincoln's friend. Bishop
Simpson, and his pastor. Dr. Gurley, conducted the services.
More than one spectator noted that in the great assembly
there was but one person bearing the name of Lincoln and re-
lated to the President — his son Robert. Mrs. Lincoln was
not able to endure the emotion of the scene, and little Tad
could not be induced to be present.

At two o'clock in the afternoon, the booming of cannon
and the tolling of bells announced that the services were
ended. A few moments later, the cofifin was borne from the
White House and placed in a magnificent funeral car, and
under the conduct of a splendid military and civilian escort,
conveyed slowly to the Capitol, attended by thousands upon
thousands of men and women. At the east front of the Capi-
tol the procession halted, and the body of Abraham Lincoln
was borne across the portico, from which six weeks before in
assuming for the second time the presidency, he had ex-
plained to the country his views upon reconstruction : "' With
malice toward none ; with charity for all ; with firmness 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 wounds ; to
care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his
widow and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and


cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with
all nations."

The rotunda of the Capitol, into which the coffin was now
carried, was draped in black, and under the dome was a great
catafalque. On this the coffin was placed, and after a simple
service there left alone, save for the soldiers "who paced back
and forth at the head and foot.

But it was not in Washington alone that funeral services
were held that day. All over the North, in Canada, in the
Army of the Potomac, even in Richmond, business was sus-
pended, and at noon people gathered to listen to eulogies of
the dead. Twenty-five million people literally participated in
the funeral rites of that Wednesday.

On Thursday the Capitol was opened, and here again, in
spite of a steady rain, were repeated the scenes of Tuesday at
the White House, thousands of persons slowly mounting the
long flight of steps leading to the east entrance and passing
through the rotunda.

At six o'clock on the morning of April 21, there gathered
in the rotunda the members of the cabinet, Lieutenant-Gen-
eral Grant and his staff, many senators, army and navy offi-
cers, and other dignitaries. After a prayer by Dr. Gurley, the
party followed the coffin to the railway station, where the
funeral train which was to convey the remains of Abraham
Lincoln from Washington to Springfield now stood. A great
company of people had gathered for the last scene of the
tragedy, and they waited in absolute silence and with uncov-
ered heads while the coffin was placed in the car. At its foot
was placed a smaller coffin, that of Willie Lincoln, the Presi-
dent's beloved son, who had died in February, 1862. At Mrs.
Lincoln's request, father and spn were to make together this
last earthly journey.

Following the remains of the President came the party
which was to serve as an escort to Springfield. It included


several of Lincoln's old-time friends, among them Judge Da-
vid Davis and Ward Lamon; a Guard of Honor, composed
of prominent army officers; a large congressional committee,
several governors of States, a special delegation from Illi-
nois, and a bodyguard. From time to time on the journey
this party was joined for brief periods by other eminent
men, though it remained practically the same throughout.
Three of its members — ^Judge Davis, General Hunter, and
Marshal Lamon — had been with Mr. Lincoln when he came
on to Washington for his first inauguration.

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Online LibraryIda M. (Ida Minerva) TarbellThe life of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 4 of 23)