Copyright
New Jersey. Legislature. General Assembly.

Addresses delivered at the presentation of the portrait of Abraham Lincoln online

. (page 3 of 4)
Online LibraryNew Jersey. Legislature. General AssemblyAddresses delivered at the presentation of the portrait of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 3 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


be stating what is the fact. When I came in this hall this morning
I had no idea of saying one word upon the subject of the presentation
of this portrait of Mr. Lincoln, and in fact I did not know that it was
the arrangement that speeches were to be made on the occasion, other-
wise I might have prepared myself as other gentlemen have done;
but from the depths of the profoundest emotion I am moved to speak
of the man whom I am not ashamed to say I love. Notwithstanding
the plainness, the ruggedness, and even homeliness of that man's fea-
tures, I love him.

I heartily concur in every word, so eloquently uttered by the gen-
tleman from Cumberland, the gentleman from Passaic, the gentleman
from Camden, and others, in their sharp, clear analysis of Mr. Lin-
coln's character.

Who can ever forget, Mr. Speaker, that awful night, when the tel-
egraph flashed over the wires to every part of the civilized world,
the stunning, startling intelligence, "The President has been shot by
an infernal traitor."

I never had such feelings in my life as on the occasion of a little
meeting held in my own town, in reference to this awful tragedy.

And was ever mortal so sincerely and universally mourned?

Witness the fact, that Queen Victoria — the virtuous and beloved
Queen of the British empire — wrote an autograph letter to Mrs. Lin-
coln, condoling with her upon her irreparable loss, and expressing
her horror at the dreadful deed ; and even in France, the tidings
caused a greater shock than if Napoleon, the usurper of tin; French
throne, had been similarly assassinated.

When the teeming millions of Europe had fully comprehended the
astounding intelligence, there went up from that continent a mighty
volume of mourning; and in our own land every loyal heart was
crushed with grief and bowed down in sorrow.



24

The sable emblems of woe were festooned along every street in
city, town and village, so that we might say, as did the immortal bard,

" Hung be the heavens with black ; yield day to night."

What was it, Mr. Speaker, that made this man great ? Why does
he tower up among us the Colossus of the nineteenth century ? Why
will his name and fame be cherished, while those of such men as Louis
Napoleon will fade and die ?

It was not, sir, that he was President of a great nation. Other
men have occupied that distinguished position, whose portraits will
never grace public galleries — whose statues will never occupy a niche
in the pantheon — whose fame will not, like his, travel along the cor-
ridor of history. It was not that he was a man of great attainments
or mighty intelligence, because he did not possess them ; he had, how-
ever, in a very remarkable degree, that hard, common sense, by
means of which he could detect the most subtle sophistry and pene-
trate the deepest disguise. It was not that he was the Commander-
in-Chief of the armies and navies of this great nation.

Other men have commanded great armies, and have drenched the
world in blood, but there is no such bright halo surrounding their
characters.

I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, what, in my judgment, made Mr. Lin-
coln a great man and greatly beloved, and you, sir, in your remarks
have indicated the true reason.

It was because he was ever actuated by a desire to do just right,
leaving the consequences to God ; and, fellow members of this House
of Assembly, that is the one only true course to pursue in our journey
through life. Let us do just right, and let consequences take care of
themselves.

The great Wolsey, after having been lifted up to the skies in point
of station, honor, wealth and worldly glory, finally, when deserted by
the King whom all his life he had fawned upon and flattered, was
forced to say :

"Oh! Cromwell, Cromwell,
Had I but served my Cod with half the zeal
I served my King, he would not in mine age
Have left ine naked to mine enemies."

Mr. Lincoln was a great man, and he was a good man. But I am
reminded that time is passing, and I must not weary your patience,
but before I resume my seat I will relate an instance illustrating the
kindness of heart of this great man.

You have probably all heard of the case of the poor Vermont sol-
dier boy, who, during the late war, was caught sleeping on his post
one night while standing guard. The poor boy had left a pleasant
and luxurious home, nestled far away up among the verdant hills of
that " star that never sets, 7 ' and lured by the excitement and novelty



25

of the thing, had enlisted in the army of freedom, and of course had
to " rough it" the same as the hardy veteran. The camp was on the
other side of the Potomac, and on the night in question it was his
watch. He paced his weary round, watching the bright stars as t\xey
glimmered down upon nim, and thinking of his own pleasant homo
and the dear ones there, until at last, completely overcome by fatigue,
he sat down on a log and soon fell asleep, and dreamed of that mother
whose fond kiss at parting still remained upon his lip. He was discov-
ered asleep, and forthwith a drum-head court sentenced him to die.
The laws of war are severe and their penalty terrible, and yet, perhaps,
no more severe than they ought to be. A sentinel sleeping on his
post has always, by military law, been deemed worthy of death. The
time appointed for the youthful soldier to be shot drew nigh, but
some friends laid his case before the President, and he being satis-
fied that the case was one requiring executive clemency, he issued his
order remitting the penalty. On the day appointed for the execution,
Mr. Lincoln, from some cause, grew restless and uneasy. The case
of the Vermont boy pressed heavily upon his mind, and although ho
had no reason to doubt that his reprieve had reached its destination,
he had a presentiment that something was wrong respecting the mat-
ter, but what it was he could wot divine. Determined to ascertain
the truth for himself, he ordered his carriage, and stepping in he di-
rected his coachman to put the horses to their highest speed and drive
directly to camp beyond the Potomac, and he arrived there, his
horses covered with foam, just in time to save the young soldier from
being shot by a file of soldiers then drawn up for the purpose. From
some cause the order remitting the punishment had failed to reach its
destination.

And now, Mr. Speaker, thanking the Housa for the opportunity
given me to say a few words respecting the dead hero whose portrait
hangs side by side with that of the illustrious Washington behind
your chair, and thanking the House for the respectful attention they
have given me, I resume my seat.



ADDRESS OF HON. C. W. MOUNT.



Mr. Speaker : — I have no written speech to deliver, no prepared
eulogy to pronounce on him whose memory on this occasion we de-
light to honor — in fact I had not proposed or intended to say a word ;
but my heart has been touched, my feelings so inspired by the truth-
ful allusions to the noble hearted patriot, Abraham Lincoln, that I
am compelled to speak. There is a stream of overpowering sympa-
thy arising within me to which I yield, and it will not be expected
that I speak eloquently or regard arrangement and formality. No ! I
speak simply as a humble servant, as only a private in the ranks of
the Union army under the official administration of this great and
good patriot. Why should not I add this phase of testimony to the
exalted virtues of him whose portrait is now before me.

Aye ! when I consider that Abraham Lincoln was called upon to
meet the greatest issues ever before presented to the American peo-
ple, his mind to grapple with national questions of the deepest con-
cern to all nations, to guide and control the most powerful armies in
numbers and skill known to the world; I say, when I consider these
various issues, each and all of almost infinite importance, requiring
the exercise of more wisdom, the test of more courage, and met by
more opposition than any Executive ever before since the organiza-
tion of our government, why should 1 not testify, and desire to per-
petuate his memory, when he in life manifested the tenderest con-
cern and expressed the warmest sympathy for every private soldier.
That he could not, day by clay, make them more comfortable than the
conflict of Avar wouldpermit, seemed a trouble of his official life. No
Union soldier did he consider beneath his notice ; none so poor as not
to command his respect. Ah ! it is true that the soldier's heart when
faint and weary from prolonged duty was inspired to newness of life,
when his mind reverted to Abraham Lincoln's anxiety for his country
and the soldiers' general welfare. I speak but the universal senti-
ment of every Union soldier throughout this broad land.

Well do I remember when far away from this spot, where the im-
mortal patriot Lincoln once stood; far along the coasts of sultry
Georgia and South Carolina, isolated as we were many times, for
weeks, from the means of communication with our dear friends at
homo; when that mail ship did arrive, how sincerely anxious to read
the lines from our loving and loved wife with whom it might be we



27

had exchanged the last heart wringing good-bye, and from those little
darlings that gathered around us at our departure, and each received
it might be the last earthly kiss ; when these lines were read what
thought then : I tell you it was the papers brought by the same mail
ship, to know what Abraham Lincoln had done ; had said. And if
on other battle fields " Our Boys " had been defeated, and now we
knew it; words desponding were uttered, how soon those doubts were
hushed; those fears quieted by, "no danger, honest Abraham Lin-
coln will bring us out all right yet."

When that immortal patriot stood within this Assembly Chamber,
now five years ago, where we are to-day, and asked the then Honor-
able members of the Legislature of New Jersey " if it became neces-
sary for him to put his foot down firmly, if they would stand by him,"
and they cheerfully responded " We will," it may have been thought
a small matter. But I tell you here to-day, speaking as one who was
" only a private" New Jersey soldier, that during exposure and posi-
tive suffering that bordered at times on despair, those affirmations of
the New Jersey Legislature, coupled with that indomitable firmness
of Abraham Lincoln, cheered them on, fighting for the right, to final
victory.

Amid such associations and memories that still linger here, it is
well that we to-day hang upon our walls — that we to-day dedicato
this chamber to the portrait of the savior of his country. Ah ! it is
well; and as a soldier I rejoice that in this legislative hall of New
Jersey is placed beside the portrait of George Washington that of
Abraham Lincoln.



ADDRESS OF HON. J. H. NIXON.



Mr. Speaker : — It may seem superfluous to add anything to what
has been already said, and so well said by others on this occasion, but
my feeling's prompt me to pay my humble tribute to the worth of the
great man whose memory we, in the name of New Jersey, are honor-
ing to-day. The portrait before us, now placed where I trust it may
ever remain, is a faithful and excellent likeness of him whom it repre-
sents, as all who ever saw him in his lifetime will attest, and reflects
great credit upon the artist who executed it. But no artist's skill
can portray the matchless virtues of the man. They will be pre-
served in the hearts of the Ameriaan people through all time to come,
and be cherished among their holiest traditions.

No country but this could have produced Abraham Lincoln, for
none other possesses those geographical, political and social elements
that combine to mould, to develope and educate such a man, and none
other furnishes to such a character, once formed, so suitable a field in
which to work for the good of mankind. His birth and education in
the then far West, in the midst of its amazingly grand and growing
resources, among the humblest of the people, and far away from the
conventional restraints of older societies, had much to do in making
Abraham Lincoln the man he was. It was in this rude school his bold
and independent character was formed, it was there he acquired his
wonderful insight into the great heart of the common people which
made him emphatically their own chosen leader, and, also, where love
of full and perfect human liberty became an abiding and controling
element of his very nature. No other country, 1 say, could have fur-
nished such a school for such a man. Gocl placed him there to be
educated for his great mission ; for He meant to call him from humble
life, as he did David, to be a leader for his people. And in his own
good time He did call him. Few in all the land, previous to the very
day when Mr. Lincoln was nominated for the Presidency of the United
States, the first office in the world, had any thought that he would be
selected for the high position. The eyes of the nation were centred
upon another man. But that he of all others should have been named,
seems in the light of subsequent events to have been a signal interpo-
sition of Providence.

To undertake even a synopsis of the great events of his administra-
tion, events with which his name will ever hereafter be most gloriously
associated, would be to repeat to this House and to the people of the
State, what they already know by heart. The few years just gone



29

by into whose months the great acts of Mr. Lincoln's marvellous his-
tory were crowded, need no reference here more than has already
been made by the gentlemen who have proceeded me. A work was
given him to do greater than was ever imposed upon any one man in
all the ages before. And how well he accomplished it; with what
sublime patience, though often chided by the impatient ; with what
consummate wisdom, though often charged with lack of it by the
shortsighted: with what relentless energy, though many times un-
kindly criticized ; with what singleness of heart, knowing no other
desire, and having no other thought but the salvation of the country
whose constitution he was sworn to protect and defend ; and with
what kindness of heart, having malice towards none but charity for
all. Who but he could have guided the people so like a father. His
every word was caught up by the millions of the land and heeded as
parental counsel, for all men ; the lofty and the lowly alike, believed
in the incorruptible honesty and disinterestedness of the man. He
was the same in the White House that he was in his humble home at
Springfield. With him to guide them, the American people through
four long, dark and bloody, but we trust purifying years, strove for
their national existence. Long time the question of national life and
unity remained unsolved ; but after alternating periods of hope and
gloom the bright day of victory dawned, and an exultant nation went
wild with joy. It was in the midst of this joy that the good man
Lincoln was struck down. If Heaven had decreed that the stroke
must indeed fall, the American people should evermore be thankful
that it came no sooner than than it did. It only cut short a life com-
pletely rounded in all that can make the sum of human glory perfect.

The great work assigned to Abraham Lincoln was to crush a
wicked and causeless rebellion, and he lived to sec its last agonies,
and to tread with his own feet the capital of the traitor foe. With
that work done, God took him, and good men bore his remains to
their last resting place, amidst such a surging tide of national anguish
as never swept over any land before. He now rests in immortal
honor near the humble western home whence ho came to achieve his
world-wide glory, while thitherward will wend for ages to come, the
pilgrim feet of those who are yet to learn to read and love the story
of his noble life and tragic death, and especially will it be the Mecca
of that dark-browed race which he lifted from two hundred and fifty
years of abject bondage to the level and to the rights of manhood.

It is well that we have placed that portrait here in this Assembly
Chamber, for from it, and that of Washington hard may

daily draw fresh inspirations of patriotism. There let it remain long
after we, who place it there, shall have deserted these halls forever;
there, I say. let it remain to remind those who succeed ns of loyalty,
of virtue, and of holy consecration to the countt ; there let

it remain to teach our children and our children's children, that under
our beneficent institutions the highest honors may be attained even
by the humblest, if found worthy.



30

It is fitting for us, as a State, to show our appreciation of our great
and noble dead. It is a venerable as well as pious usage. Nations
in all ages have been accustomed to honor the memory of their dead
heroes, and certainly none ever had better, braver or worthier than
have we, and foremost among ours will forever stand the name of
Abraham Lincoln. The exercises of to-day in honor of his memory
will do honor to our State, for in honoring him we honor ourselves.



ADDRESS OF HON. M. H. C. VAIL.



Mr. Speaker: — I rise for the purpose of making a few remarks at
this time with no little delicacy, and while the occasion proves to be
deeply interesting, I had not intended to take any other part than
that of an earnest, devoted listener to the eloquent words falling
from the lips of the friends and admirers of Abraham Lincoln ; and J
now approach the memorial altar erected here by willing hands to
the memory of the illustrious deceased, for the purpose of depositing
my sprig of acacia thereon, with fear and trembling, as my mind re-
verts to the flow of eloquent language in eulogy that has fallen upon
my car from the learned and gifted gentlemen of the opposite side of
this House, whose bosoms are overflowing with a wealth of love for
the memory of that man whose portrait now graces these walls through
the beneficence of the last Legislature. I can only compare my pres-
ent situation and condition to that of the widow spoken of in Holy
Writ, who, more than eighteen hundred years ago, doubtingly and
hesitatingly approached the treasury box and cast in her mite, while
the wise, great, learned and rich were casting in of their hoarded
wealth and abundance (gleaned from the hill country of Judea), and
one standing by declared that she had cast in, in her penury, more
than them all. But I lay no claim to casting more into the memorial
treasure of one of our deceased Presidents, than those who have con-
tributed from their passionately expressed love of his memory, that ho
is now dead, and who cherished and revered him while he lived.

You all remember that it is but a few days since, that I stood alone
at the memorial altar of one of our deceased statesmen, and you also
remember that I then and there deposited my " tribute memorium" in
his behalf, and I now claim to have another "acacia sprig'' to place
upon the altar of the memory of Abraham Lincoln, and will do so
with as firm a hand and warm a heart as many among his most ardent
and devoted admirers; for I claim to have within my bosom an honest
heart, and one that pulsates in unison with all that is good, just and
right,

In the spring time of eighteen hundred and sixty-one, as your mem-
ories will reveal, the balmy air came forth from the sunny south,
laden with the sweetest of nature's perfume, gathered from mag-
nolia's bloom (queen flower of aroma's realm) warming into new lifo



32

all animated nature, making the hill top to hold early converse with
the tiny leaflet, and grassing the valley all over with its carpet of
brightest and loveliest green, causing the spirits of men to flow cheer-
ily on, Adien, lo! the alarm, dread indeed, rang out of terrible war,
and the iron hail for the first time rained against Fort Sumter's de-
voted walls, and the brave and noble Anderson, with his gallant little
band pulled down, for the first time, the " star spangled banner of the
free." The news spread, like wild fire running over the prairie vast,
rousing to new life and energy all within its reach ; then there was a
" hurrying to and fro"; men, mute and sad, sallied forth, clad in the
habiliments of war, aud its fearful paraphernalia was visible on every
hand, making the bravest heart to quail before the fearful scene.
Then it was that the great and eventful career of your venerated Lin-
coln began.

For four long years the black and dreary clouds hung heavy around
us, shutting out the entire political horizon, from the surface of which
the angry flash and bellowing thunders of civil war broke forth ;
spring and fall came and went in all their beauty, the seasons changed
as in days of yore, until the spring time of eighteen hundred and
sixty-five, and yet all wore the deepening sombre hue, when lo !
again ! one of those sweetly perfumed breezes from the sunny South
came forth with healing in its wings, bearing the glad news that Lee
had surrendered, that the war (devastating without precedent) was
over, and we believed that the victory was won ; and indeed it was
so, for soon the bright angel of peace resumed the place that had so
long been usurped by the black fiend of war, and one loud and long
huzzah of joy rang forth over hill and dale from the pineries of Maine
to the cotton fields of Georgia, and from the prairies of Wisconsin to
the Puo Grande of Texas.

But a few days had elapsed after these glad tidings were received
when Abraham Lincoln sought a few moments relaxation and went
forth to the "gilded saloon." Four long years of constant toil and
anxious care, and always surrounded by influences and councils both
evil and good, all these combined producing a continued strain upon
his mind, leading him to wile away an hour far from business cares,
amid festive scenes, surrounded by his loving family, and with his
devoted wife by his side ; ''twas there and then the assassin dark and
damnable lurked, and armed with some death dealing instrument,
with fatal aim sent the leaden messenger crashing .through his noble
brain, causing the life that stood at highest flow to ebb. away, send-
ing the soul, the life spirit, all that made Abraham Lincoln great, to
that bourne from whence no traveler returns, while the frail tene-
ment that had lost the bright jewel of life, surrounded by careful
watchers and faithful friends, was carried back to the mighty west
and there deposited in its final resting place, to moulder back to its
native elements amid the broad prairies of his rural home. Memory
reverts to the time with peculiar clearness when the sad news broke
in upon the people's ear that the President was dead, stricken down



33

by the foul assassin's blow while in the midsf of joyful and festive
scenes. Thousands were aroused al the midnight hour to hear the
terrible news. I heard it not till the morning's dawn. The occa-
sion was one that made a deep and lasting impression on my mind.
Seated with my family around the breakfast board, and while partak-
ing of the morning meal, the newspaper came, bearing in dark lines
the fearful announcement. The shock was so great that my heart
ceased to beat for the moment, when I came to realize the fact thai
a President of the United States had fallen by other means than by
the natural course of summoning from on High, when the proba-
tionary career had ended.

I had ever been a political opponent of Abraham Lincoln, using all
my political energies in oj (position to his first and second elections,
always laboring to defeat the major part of his measures, and opposing
to the bitter end the principles of the party to which he belonged.
But when that sad news cam*' all personal opposition was extinguished,
and duty led me to remember only his good deeds. 1 felt that 1 could
adopt the old maxim in regard to the illustrious deceased, •• To bury
his faults and revere and honor lus virtues."

And now in closing these rambling, extemporaneous remarks, and
as 1 turn my eye upon the portrait where the artist has so faithfully
traced his image, I am reminded that I cannot finish more appro-
priately than by repeating in your presence the closing lines of a
poem that he loved so well, ami in so doing i feel to exclaim oh !
how appropriate, how appropriate to the occasion of the last scene
in his life—

•■From the gilded saloon to the bier and the shroud.
Oli ! Why should the spirit of mortal b ■ proud."



/



REMARKS OF HON. A. 0. EVANS.



Mr. Speaker: — It was far from my intention to have taken any
other part in the proceedings of this morning than that of a silent
listener; and it is not now my purpose, after the eloquent and very


1 3

Online LibraryNew Jersey. Legislature. General AssemblyAddresses delivered at the presentation of the portrait of Abraham Lincoln → online text (page 3 of 4)