Rufus P. (Rufus Preston) Tapley.

Eulogy of Abraham Lincoln : sixteenth president of the United States online

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shall have pissed, will chronologically present their acts and
deeds, and we shall read and wonder that passion, zeal and
the all-absorbing events of the da}* blinded us to their great
and good qualities of heart and mind.

The President was placed at the head of the government
in a most remarkable period of its history. The whole civ-
ilized world looked on with wonder and awe, as well as in-
terest. The performance of his duties required, and it re-
ceived, an intellectual power truly wonderful.

It was not manifested in great efforts and results in one
given direction and upon one given subject, but he did many
things well, rather titan a few, in an extraordinary manner.

Ifis state papers were very numerous. lie wrote more
than any other President, and he wrote them all well. The
critic, even, will pronounce them all good. They embraced
a vast variety of subjects, and required to be fitted to the
times and circumstances. Their wonderful qualities were
not in form and dress, but in their remarkable adaptation in
tone, tune and substance to the exigencies of the occasion ;
and it is one of the grandest evidences of his remarkable
mind, that were we to tread anew the path of the past, with
the light of all its experience, the wisest men of to-day could
not change for the better those acts of his done at the hour
of their call.



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While hi* sp • ■ ;li •> and addresses are not clothed with the

!i - .in 1 dictioD of Everett's writings,and do not

Iih -ess upon them of the profound expression of

ii til Ianguag3 of a Webster, the conclusive, irresist-

iY • priof of the masterly mind which conceived and exe-

cul ! them, lies in the facl that they were universally the

things rightly said in the righl time. To thus place

;,!!;,- !i in the present under such extraordinary circumstan-

equired the greatest wisdom, sagacity, prudence and

firmness.

Su :h results flow nut from the ordinary mind. To scan
the mighty field of events passing and opening to the view,
ami quickly prescribe and administer the antidote, without
i 1 :- light of precedent, calls into exercise those powers of
mind and qualities of hearl possessed only by the wonderful
in in rarely found i i ages of existence.

Scan the world, sele -t thegreatesl -talesmen and scholars

of the old ami new world, and tell mi-, with the light even of

y t where is the man who could have better executed

the trusts committed to him than he whose untimely death

we mourn.

The record of his acts and the results of his deeds will
constitute an everlasting monumenl of his greatness.

President Lincoln was ever attached to the true principles
of a Tree government. His earliesl public acts and speeches
■.i.. greal promise, asa defender of tree institutions. At
no time or place was he ever found the defender or apolo-
^•i>t of oppression or tyranny in any form. His speeches
in the memorable campaign of 1858 show how well he
rstood those principles, and how ably he could defend
Every act and ever} purpose of his life was
to j 'eld to the greal end of the " permanency of a free
eminent." II loved his country sincerely, and while nol
indifferenl thly honors and political preferment, he



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never sought tliem at the sacrifice of principle. With a
scrupulous regard for the constitutional rights of States and
individuals, lie watched with jealous care any encroachments
upon the libeities of the people. Believing that the framers
of the Constitution had left the institution of slavery "in a
course of ultimate extinction," he regarded the repeal of
the Missouri Compromise and the attending decision of the
Supreme Court in the Drcd Scott case as acts designed to
change that policy, and he gave nil the powers of his mind
to exhibit the great injustice of the one and the fallacy of
the other, with a success that has placed him high in the
rank of logical debaters. A distinguished scholar and critic,
speaking of him in one of those debates, says:

Mr. Lincoln has a rich, silvery voice, enunciates with great
distinctness, and has a free command of language : for about
forty minutes he spoke with a power that we have seldom
heard equalled. There was a grandeur in his thoughts, a
comprehensiveness in his arguments and a binding force in
his conclusions which were perfectly irresistible. The vast
throng was silent as death ; every eye was fixed upon the
speaker, and all gave him serious attention. He was the
tall man eloquent ; his countenance glowed with animation,
and his eye glistened with an intelligence that made it lus-
trous. He was no longer awkward and ungainly: but bold,
graceful and commanding.

1 heard him speak but once, and that was in the delivery
of his first inaugural address, and therefore prefer to give
the opinion and description of a person who had heard him
many times.

He was proverbially an honest man; " the noblest work
of God." He was so regarded by men of all parties. After
four years of administration, with almost as many millions of
money expended as ever thousands before, he is again be-
fore the people for re-election, with no intimation or breath
of suspicion made, or entertained against his integrity of
purpose and act, by his most violent oprosers. Subjected



to ill- closest scrutiny, and most violent partisan warfare,
travelling difficult paths, and surrounded with almost insur-
mountable difficulties, without the light of any precedent,
by his unswerving integrity and unyielding attachment to
the right, he laid off his armor as pure and unspotted as
when he put it on.

II.- was kind to a fault. No act <>l' his life from his earli-
est infancy, to the close of his earthly existence, forms the
exception. His magnanimous soul disdained a mean thing,
and his kindness of heart forbade a knowing wrong.

Mr. Douglas in his first reply, said of him. ''I take ;.
pleasure in saying, that 1 have known personally and inti-
mately, for about a quarter of a century, the worthy gentle-
man who has I n nominated formy place, and I will say, I

regard him a- n kind, amiable, intelligent gentleman, a good
citizen, and an honorable opponent, and whatever issue I
may have with him, will be one of principles, and not involv-
ing personalil : is."

This peculiar trail of Ins character, i-. perhaps, more prom-
inent than any other. His very nature repelled evervl
harsh and ungenerous. II ■ could not helieve in a t the of
the treason and rebellion existing in the country. II. • want-
ed to regard every man honest, and sec in every man a friend ;
and although lig - i to reach the ca] itol of his country by
;i devious pat I . to avoid assassinate >n, in closing his in m j. u-
ral he breathes forth the same kindly spirit, and says :

I am loth to ;loso. We are raol em nies, but friends. We

not be en mies. Though passi >n may have strained,

il must not break our bonds ofaffecti >n. The mystic cords

of memory, stretching from even I ittfe-field, and patriot

i, to even living heart and hearth stone all over the

I land, will yet swell the eh. him of the Union, when

again touched, as they surely w ill be, b\ the better angels of

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He could not realize that there existed among the people
of this country, that reckless disregard of the feelings of
common humanity, that would starve the brave soldier of an
opposing army while their prisoners of war, until the indu-
bitable evidence of this great outrage upon the laws of na-
tions, nature and humanity, had been exhibited to him ; and
then, when the highest military officer of a traitorous army,
with all his subordinates and soldiers, has been compelled to
submit to the supreme force of law and order, administered
by our brave soldiers, with every incentive to retaliate and
punish, the same kindly, christian spirit, dictates the terms
of a surrender, which will ever be marked in the annals of
war, as of extraordinary magnanimity.

Returning from the extraordinary exhibition of magnanimi-
ty, to his home, he attends a place of public amusement, not
to gratify his own pleasure, but that he might not be the
instrument of disappointment to others, and there, while
confiding in the same goodness of heart in others which
characterized him, he was cruelly murdered. Truth is, in-
deed, stranger than fiction.

It is this foul crime, this ingratitude for kindness shown,
that raises in the heart of man something beyond sorrow,
and will require the exercise of those kindly feelings which
so distinguished him, to repress.

The*se qualities of his heart, prompted him to the consum-
mation of the crowning act of his life — the emancipation of
an enslaved people.

Four millions of people in bondage, crying out to be de-
livered from their oppressors, grated harshly upon his ears,
and his heart, quickened by the generous impulses of his
nature, sought in every legitimate way their amelioration.
By careful and intuitive steps, the great public mind was
educated, not only to the justice, but the necessity, of the
emancipation of that oppressed people, and if no other act



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or deed marked his name, this alone, would crown it in the
3 di' history with more endearing tame, than bas ever
vrt been a< corded to hero or pbilanthropisi in any

It v. a to him to strike the fetters from millions of

his enslaved country men. It was given fco him to wipe out

blot od our nation's otherwise glorious record.

He, with a patriot's hand, and a christian's heart, with he-
roic courage, seized the pen and wrote, 'Be free, ye millions
of bondmen." While the people stood fearing and doubt-
ing, he did it. Then the storm came from the enemies oi
; iv : the winds beat; and the rain of invective denuncia-
tion fell in torrents, but the house did uot tall, for it was
buill upon the eternal rock of justice. Let everlasting thanks
be given to Almighty God that he made one so worthy. His
instrument to break the rod of the oppressor; that lie gave
him courage when others (cared: that He strengthened hiin
when others tainted.

From the hour of that proclamation, American Slavery
lead, and the United States a tree go^ ernment, the dec-
imation of independence an accomplished fact, and the con-
st it nt i 1 1 1 1 a charter of Liberty .

In rude and simple phrase, millions of thanksgivings and
praises to his name and memory have ascended from that
oppressed people, and will continue to rise so long as histo-
ry shall record then- oppression and the name of their deliv
erer. In the rude huts, in the rice swamps, and on the held
of the ver) interior of the oppressors' country, as if bj some
lighl from heaven, or by some angel communication, I
>f toil, have discovered their deliverer, and abovi
oami i and cherish his. I Ee was made to open

to them the brighl and glorious day >>l' freedom: to open the
window- oi the -oul. and lei in the lighl of intelligence to
hundreds oi thousands: we can almost hear the ten
thousand lisping the Brsi rudiments of lighl and in-






27



telligence in the hundreds of freedmen's schools ; not the
little one alone ; not the young alone ; but the aged and
hoary are there too, drinking in the very light of heaven it-
self. What more glorious act could man do ! How sur-
round his brow with a brighter halo !

That great act must live long in history. The future alone
will open to view its great and glorious results. The pre-
sent cannot appreciate it. He did it; again, I say it was Ms
act, his measure and Ids proclamation. Cabinet ministers,
Senators, Representatives and Governors, hesitated, doubt-
ed, and stood afar off, fearing ; but he, armed with the pan-
oply of confidence in the right, willing to take the responsi-
bility, proclaimed freedom to enslaved millions.

'Tis of such we mourn to-day. Let his name be cherished
in our heart of hearts. Let his character and fame be de-
fended whenever and wherever assailed ; and let us, upon
whom is cast the duty of finishing up the great work begun,
enter anew upon it with the same devotion that character-
ized him.

He was allowed to look over upon the land redeemed from
the blight of slavery, it may be permitted to us to enter and
enjoy. In so doing never, never let us forget to give thanks
to the Ruler of all nations, for his signal manifestations in
our behalf in the hour of peril ; and may He so dispose the
minds of those who have rebelled against the best govern-
ment among men, that they may penitently and cheerfully
return to their allegiance, and this nation become again one
in form, and one in spirit.



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Online LibraryRufus P. (Rufus Preston) TapleyEulogy of Abraham Lincoln : sixteenth president of the United States → online text (page 2 of 2)