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´╗┐Title: Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Abraham Lincoln - Delivered at the request of both Houses of Congress of America
Author: Bancroft, George, 1800-1891
Language: English
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*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Memorial Address on the Life and Character of Abraham Lincoln - Delivered at the request of both Houses of Congress of America" ***

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Central Connecticut State University Elihu Burritt Library.

[Frontispiece: Abraham Lincoln]



















That God rules in the affairs of men is as certain as any truth of
physical science. On the great moving power which is from the beginning
hangs the world of the senses and the world of thought and action.
Eternal wisdom marshals the great procession of the nations, working in
patient continuity through the ages, never halting and never abrupt,
encompassing all events in its oversight, and ever effecting its will,
though mortals may slumber in apathy or oppose with madness. Kings are
lifted up or thrown down, nations come and go, republics flourish and
wither, dynasties pass away like a tale that is told; but nothing is by
chance, though men, in their ignorance of causes, may think so. The
deeds of time are governed, as well as judged, by the decrees of
eternity. The caprice of fleeting existences bends to the immovable
omnipotence, which plants its foot on all the centuries and has neither
change of purpose nor repose. Sometimes, like a messenger through the
thick darkness of night, it steps along mysterious ways; but when the
hour strikes for a people, or for mankind, to pass into a new form of
being, unseen hands draw the bolts from the gates of futurity; an
all-subduing influence prepares the minds of men for the coming
revolution; those who plan resistance find themselves in conflict with
the will of Providence rather than with human devices; and all hearts
and all understandings, most of all the opinions and influences of the
unwilling, are wonderfully attracted and compelled to bear forward the
change, which becomes more an obedience to the law of universal nature
than submission to the arbitrament of man.

In the fulness of time a republic rose up in the wilderness of America.
Thousands of years had passed away before this child of the ages could
be born. From whatever there was of good in the systems of former
centuries she drew her nourishment; the wrecks of the past were her
warnings. With the deepest sentiment of faith fixed in her inmost
nature, she disenthralled religion from bondage to temporal power, that
her worship might be worship only in spirit and in truth. The wisdom
which had passed from India through Greece, with what Greece had added
of her own; the jurisprudence of Rome; the mediaeval municipalities;
the Teutonic method of representation; the political experience of
England; the benignant wisdom of the expositors of the law of nature
and of nations in France and Holland, all shed on her their selectest
influence. She washed the gold of political wisdom from the sands
wherever it was found; she cleft it from the rocks; she gleaned it
among ruins. Out of all the discoveries of statesmen and sages, out of
all the experience of past human life, she compiled a perennial
political philosophy, the primordial principles of national ethics. The
wise men of Europe sought the best government in a mixture of monarchy,
aristocracy, and democracy; America went behind these names to extract
from them the vital elements of social forms, and blend them
harmoniously in the free commonwealth, which comes nearest to the
illustration of the natural equality of all men. She intrusted the
guardianship of established rights to law, the movements of reform to
the spirit of the people, and drew her force from the happy
reconciliation of both.

Republics had heretofore been limited to small cantons, or cities and
their dependencies; America, doing that of which the like had not
before been known upon the earth, or believed by kings and statesmen to
be possible, extended her republic across a continent. Under her
auspices the vine of liberty took deep root and filled the land; the
hills were covered with its shadow, its boughs were like the goodly
cedars, and reached unto both oceans. The fame of this only daughter of
freedom went out into all the lands of the earth; from her the human
race drew hope.

Neither hereditary monarchy nor hereditary aristocracy planted itself
on our soil; the only hereditary condition that fastened itself upon us
was servitude. Nature works in sincerity, and is ever true to its law.
The bee hives honey; the viper distils poison; the vine stores its
juices, and so do the poppy and the upas. In like manner every thought
and every action ripens its seed, each according to its kind. In the
individual man, and still more in a nation, a just idea gives life, and
progress, and glory; a false conception portends disaster, shame, and
death. A hundred and twenty years ago a West Jersey Quaker wrote: "This
trade of importing slaves is dark gloominess hanging over the land; the
consequences will be grievous to posterity." At the north the growth of
slavery was arrested by natural causes; in the region nearest the
tropics it throve rankly, and worked itself into the organism of the
rising States. Virginia stood between the two, with soil, and climate,
and resources demanding free labor, yet capable of the profitable
employment of the slave. She was the land of great statesmen, and they
saw the danger of her being whelmed under the rising flood in time to
struggle against the delusions of avarice and pride. Ninety-four years
ago the legislature of Virginia addressed the British king, saying that
the trade in slaves was "of great inhumanity," was opposed to the
"security and happiness" of their constituents, "would in time have the
most destructive influence," and "endanger their very existence." And
the king answered them that, "upon pain of his highest displeasure, the
importation of slaves should not be in any respect obstructed."
"Pharisaical Britain," wrote Franklin in behalf of Virginia, "to pride
thyself in setting free a single slave that happened to land on thy
coasts, while thy laws continue a traffic whereby so many hundreds of
thousands are dragged into a slavery that is entailed on their
posterity." "A serious view of this subject," said Patrick Henry in
1773, "gives a gloomy prospect to future times." In the same year
George Mason wrote to the legislature of Virginia: "The laws of
impartial Providence may avenge our injustice upon our posterity."
Conforming his conduct to his convictions, Jefferson, in Virginia, and
in the Continental Congress, with the approval of Edmund Pendleton,
branded the slave-trade as piracy; and he fixed in the Declaration of
Independence, as the corner-stone of America: "All men are created
equal, with an unalienable right to liberty." On the first organization
of temporary governments for the continental domain, Jefferson, but for
the default of New Jersey, would, in 1784, have consecrated every part
of that territory to freedom. In the formation of the national
Constitution, Virginia, opposed by a part of New England, vainly
struggled to abolish the slave-trade at once and forever; and when the
ordinance of 1787 was introduced by Nathan Dane without the clause
prohibiting slavery, it was through the favorable disposition of
Virginia and the South that the clause of Jefferson was restored, and
the whole northwestern territory--all the territory that then belonged
to the nation--was reserved for the labor of freemen.

The hope prevailed in Virginia that the abolition of the slave-trade
would bring with it the gradual abolition of slavery; but the
expectation was doomed to disappointment. In supporting incipient
measures for emancipation, Jefferson encountered difficulties greater
than he could overcome, and, after vain wrestlings, the words that
broke from him, "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is
just, that His justice cannot sleep forever," were words of despair. It
was the desire of Washington's heart that Virginia should remove
slavery by a public act; and as the prospects of a general emancipation
grew more and more dim, he, in utter hopelessness of the action of the
State, did all that he could by bequeathing freedom to his own slaves.
Good and true men had, from the days of 1776, suggested the colonizing
of the negro in the home of his ancestors; but the idea of colonization
was thought to increase the difficulty of emancipation, and, in spite
of strong support, while it accomplished much good for Africa, it
proved impracticable as a remedy at home. Madison, who in early life
disliked slavery so much that he wished "to depend as little as
possible on the labor of slaves;" Madison, who held that where slavery
exists "the republican theory becomes fallacious;" Madison, who in the
last years of his life would not consent to the annexation of Texas,
lest his countrymen should fill it with slaves; Madison, who said,
"slavery is the greatest evil under which the nation labors--a
portentous evil--an evil, moral, political, and economical--a sad blot
on our free country"--went mournfully into old age with the cheerless
words: "No satisfactory plan has yet been devised for taking out the

The men of the Revolution passed away; a new generation sprang up,
impatient that an institution to which they clung should be condemned
as inhuman, unwise, and unjust. In the throes of discontent at the
self-reproach of their fathers, and blinded by the lustre of wealth to
be acquired by the culture of a new staple, they devised the theory
that slavery, which they would not abolish, was not evil, but good.
They turned on the friends of colonization, and confidently demanded:
"Why take black men from a civilized and Christian country, where their
labor is a source of immense gain, and a power to control the markets
of the world, and send them to a land of ignorance, idolatry, and
indolence, which was the home of their forefathers, but not theirs?
Slavery is a blessing. Were they not in their ancestral land naked,
scarcely lifted above brutes, ignorant of the course of the sun,
controlled by nature? And in their new abode have they not been taught
to know the difference of the seasons, to plough, and plant, and reap,
to drive oxen, to tame the horse, to exchange their scanty dialect for
the richest of all the languages among men, and the stupid adoration of
follies for the purest religion? And since slavery is good for the
blacks, it is good for their masters, bringing opulence and the
opportunity of educating a race. The slavery of the black is good in
itself; he shall serve the white man forever." And nature, which better
understood the quality of fleeting interest and passion, laughed as it
caught the echo, "man" and "forever!"

A regular development of pretensions followed the new declaration with
logical consistency. Under the old declaration every one of the States
had retained, each for itself, the right of manumitting all slaves by
an ordinary act of legislation; now the power of the people over
servitude through their legislatures was curtailed, and the privileged
class was swift in imposing legal and constitutional obstructions on
the people themselves. The power of emancipation was narrowed or taken
away. The slave might not be disquieted by education. There remained an
unconfessed consciousness that the system of bondage was wrong, and a
restless memory that it was at variance with the true American
tradition; its safety was therefore to be secured by political
organization. The generation that made the Constitution took care for
the predominance of freedom in Congress by the ordinance of Jefferson;
the new school aspired to secure for slavery an equality of votes in
the Senate, and, while it hinted at an organic act that should concede
to the collective South a veto power on national legislation, it
assumed that each State separately had the right to revise and nullify
laws of the United States, according to the discretion of its judgment.

The new theory hung as a bias on the foreign relations of the country;
there could be no recognition of Hayti, nor even of the American colony
of Liberia; and the world was given to understand that the
establishment of free labor in Cuba would be a reason for wresting that
island from Spain. Territories were annexed--Louisiana, Florida, Texas,
half of Mexico; slavery must have its share in them all, and it
accepted for a time a dividing line between the unquestioned domain of
free labor and that in which involuntary labor was to be tolerated. A
few years passed away, and the new school, strong and arrogant,
demanded and received an apology for applying the Jefferson proviso to

The application of that proviso was interrupted for three
administrations, but justice moved steadily onward. In the news that
the men of California had chosen freedom, Calhoun heard the knell of
parting slavery, and on his death-bed he counselled secession.
Washington, and Jefferson, and Madison had died despairing of the
abolition of slavery; Calhoun died in despair at the growth of freedom.
His system rushed irresistibly to its natural development. The
death-struggle for California was followed by a short truce; but the
new school of politicians, who said that slavery was not evil, but
good, soon sought to recover the ground they had lost, and, confident
of securing Kansas, they demanded that the established line in the
Territories between freedom and slavery should be blotted out. The
country, believing in the strength and enterprise and expansive energy
of freedom, made answer, though reluctantly: "Be it so; let there be no
strife between brethren; let freedom and slavery compete for the
Territories on equal terms, in a fair field, under an impartial
administration;" and on this theory, if on any, the contest might have
been left to the decision of time.

The South started back in appalment from its victory, for it knew that
a fair competition foreboded its defeat. But where could it now find an
ally to save it from its own mistake? What I have next to say is spoken
with no emotion but regret. Our meeting to-day is, as it were, at the
grave, in the presence of eternity, and the truth must be uttered in
soberness and sincerity. In a great republic, as was observed more than
two thousand years ago, any attempt to overturn the state owes its
strength to aid from some branch of the government. The Chief Justice
of the United States, without any necessity or occasion, volunteered to
come to the rescue of the theory of slavery; and from his court there
lay no appeal but to the bar of humanity and history. Against the
Constitution, against the memory of the nation, against a previous
decision, against a series of enactments, he decided that the slave is
property; that slave property is entitled to no less protection than
any other property; that the Constitution upholds it in every Territory
against any act of a local legislature, and even against Congress
itself; or, as the President for that term tersely promulgated the
saying, "Kansas is as much a slave State as South Carolina or Georgia;
slavery, by virtue of the Constitution, exists in every Territory." The
municipal character of slavery being thus taken away, and slave
property decreed to be "sacred," the authority of the courts was
invoked to introduce it by the comity of law into States where slavery
had been abolished, and in one of the courts of the United States a
judge pronounced the African slave-trade legitimate, and numerous and
powerful advocates demanded its restoration.

Moreover, the Chief Justice, in his elaborate opinion, announced what
had never been heard from any magistrate of Greece or Rome; what was
unknown to civil law, and canon law, and feudal law, and common law,
and constitutional law; unknown to Jay, to Rutledge, Ellsworth, and
Marshall--that there are "slave races." The spirit of evil is intensely
logical. Having the authority of this decision, five States swiftly
followed the earlier example of a sixth, and opened the way for
reducing the free negro to bondage; the migrating free negro became a
slave if he but entered within the jurisdiction of a seventh; and an
eighth, from its extent, and soil, and mineral resources, destined to
incalculable greatness, closed its eyes on its coming, prosperity, and
enacted, as by Taney's dictum it had the right to do, that every free
black man who would live within its limits must accept the condition of
slavery for himself and his posterity.

Only one step more remained to be taken. Jefferson and the leading
statesmen of his day held fast to the idea that the enslavement of the
African was socially, morally, and politically wrong. The new school
was founded exactly upon the opposite idea; and they resolved, first,
to distract the democratic party, for which the Supreme Court had now
furnished the means, and then to establish a new government, with negro
slavery for its corner-stone, as socially, morally, and politically

As the Presidential election drew on, one of the great traditional
parties did not make its appearance; the other reeled as it sought to
preserve its old position, and the candidate who most nearly
represented its best opinion, driven by patriotic zeal, roamed the
country from end to end to speak for union, eager, at least, to
confront its enemies, yet not having hope that it would find its
deliverance through him. The storm rose to a whirlwind; who should
allay its wrath? The most experienced statesmen of the country had
failed; there was no hope from those who were great after the flesh:
could relief come from one whose wisdom was like the wisdom of little

The choice of America fell on a man born west of the Alleghanies, in
the cabin of poor people of Hardin county, Kentucky--ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

His mother could read, but not write; his father could do neither; but
his parents sent him, with an old spelling-book, to school, and he
learned in his childhood to do both.

When eight years old he floated down the Ohio with his father on a
raft, which bore the family and all their possessions to the shore of
Indiana; and, child as he was, he gave help as they toiled through
dense forests to the interior of Spencer county. There, in the land of
free labor, he grew up in a log-cabin, with the solemn solitude for his
teacher in his meditative hours. Of Asiatic literature he knew only the
Bible; of Greek, Latin, and mediaeval, no more than the translation of
Aesop's Fables; of English, John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. The
traditions of George Fox and William Penn passed to him dimly along
the lines of two centuries through his ancestors, who were Quakers.

Otherwise his education was altogether American. The Declaration of
Independence was his compendium of political wisdom, the Life of
Washington his constant study, and something of Jefferson and Madison
reached him through Henry Clay, whom he honored from boyhood. For the
rest, from day to day, he lived the life of the American people, walked
in its light, reasoned with its reason, thought with its power of
thought, felt the beatings of its mighty heart, and so was in every way
a child of nature, a child of the West, a child of America.

At nineteen, feeling impulses of ambition to get on in the world, he
engaged himself to go down the Mississippi in a flatboat, receiving ten
dollars a month for his wages, and afterwards he made the trip once
more. At twenty-one he drove his father's cattle, as the family
migrated to Illinois, and split rails to fence in the new homestead in
the wild. At twenty-three he was a captain of volunteers in the Black
Hawk war. He kept a store. He learned something of surveying, but of
English literature he added to Bunyan nothing but Shakspeare's plays.
At twenty-five he was elected to the legislature of Illinois, where he
served eight years. At twenty-seven he was admitted to the bar. In 1837
he chose his home at Springfield, the beautiful centre of the richest
land in the State. In 1847 he was a member of the national Congress,
where he voted about forty times in favor of the principle of the
Jefferson proviso. In 1849 he sought, eagerly but unsuccessfully, the
place of Commissioner of the Land Office, and he refused an appointment
that would have transferred his residence to Oregon. In 1854 he gave
his influence to elect from Illinois, to the American Senate, a
Democrat, who would certainly do justice to Kansas. In 1858, as the
rival of Douglas, he went before the people of the mighty Prairie
State, saying, "This Union cannot permanently endure half slave and
half free; the Union will not be dissolved, but the house will cease to
be divided;" and now, in 1861, with no experience whatever as an
executive officer, while States were madly flying from their orbit, and
wise men knew not where to find counsel, this descendant of Quakers,
this pupil of Bunyan, this offspring of the great West, was elected
President of America.

He measured the difficulty of the duty that devolved upon him, and was
resolved to fulfil it. As on the eleventh of February, 1861, he left
Springfield, which for a quarter of a century had been his happy home,
to the crowd of his friends and neighbors, whom he was never more to
meet, he spoke a solemn farewell: "I know not how soon I shall see you
again. A duty has devolved upon me, greater than that which has
devolved upon any other man since Washington. He never would have
succeeded, except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at
all times relied. On the same Almighty Being I place my reliance. Pray
that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I cannot
succeed, but with which success is certain." To the men of Indiana he
said: "I am but an accidental, temporary instrument; it is your
business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty." At the capital
of Ohio he said: "Without a name, without a reason why I should have a
name, there has fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon
the Father of his country." At various places in New York, especially
at Albany, before the legislature, which tendered him the united
support of the great Empire State, he said: "While I hold myself the
humblest of all the individuals who have ever been elevated to the
Presidency, I have a more difficult task to perform than any of them. I
bring a true heart to the work. I must rely upon the people of the
whole country for support, and with their sustaining aid even I, humble
as I am, cannot fail to carry the ship of state safely through the
storm." To the assembly of New Jersey, at Trenton, he explained: "I
shall take the ground I deem most just to the North, the East, the
West, the South, and the whole country, in good temper, certainly with
no malice to any section. I am devoted to peace, but it may be
necessary to put the foot down firmly." In the old Independence Hall,
of Philadelphia, he said: "I have never had a feeling politically that
did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of
Independence, which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this
country, but to the world in all future time. If the country cannot be
saved without giving up that principle, I would rather be assassinated
on the spot than surrender it. I have said nothing but what I am
willing to live and die by."

Travelling in the dead of night to escape assassination, LINCOLN
arrived at Washington nine days before his inauguration. The outgoing
President, at the opening of the session of Congress, had still kept as
the majority of his advisers men engaged in treason; had declared that
in case of even an "imaginary" apprehension of danger from notions of
freedom among the slaves, "disunion would become inevitable." LINCOLN
and others had questioned the opinion of Taney; such impugning he
ascribed to the "factious temper of the times." The favorite doctrine
of the majority of the Democratic party on the power of a territorial
legislature over slavery he condemned as an attack on "the sacred
rights of property." The State legislatures, he insisted, must repeal
what he called "their unconstitutional and obnoxious enactments," and
which, if such, were "null and void," or "it would be impossible for
any human power to save the Union." Nay! if these unimportant acts were
not repealed, "the injured States would be justified in revolutionary
resistance to the government of the Union." He maintained that no State
might secede at its sovereign will and pleasure; that the Union was
meant for perpetuity, and that Congress might attempt to preserve it,
but only by conciliation; that "the sword was not placed in their hands
to preserve it by force;" that "the last desperate remedy of a
despairing people" would be "an explanatory amendment recognising the
decision of the Supreme Court of the United States." The American Union
he called "a confederacy" of States, and he thought it a duty to make
the appeal for the amendment "before any of these States should
separate themselves from the Union." The views of the Lieutenant
General, containing some patriotic advice, "conceded the right of
secession," pronounced a quadruple rupture of the Union "a smaller evil
than the reuniting of the fragments by the sword," and "eschewed the
idea of invading a seceded State." After changes in the Cabinet, the
President informed Congress that "matters were still worse;" that "the
South suffered serious grievances," which should be redressed "in
peace." The day after this message the flag of the Union was fired upon
from Fort Morris, and the insult was not revenged or noticed. Senators
in Congress telegraphed to their constituents to seize the national
forts, and they were not arrested. The finances of the country were
grievously embarrassed. Its little army was not within reach; the part
of it in Texas, with all its stores, was made over by its commander to
rebels. One State after another voted in convention to secede. A peace
congress, so called, met at the request of Virginia, to concert the
terms of a capitulation which should secure permission for the
continuance of the Union. Congress, in both branches, sought to devise
conciliatory expedients; the Territories of the country were organized
in a manner not to conflict with any pretensions of the South, or any
decision of the Supreme Court; and, nevertheless, the representatives
of the rebellion formed at Montgomery a provisional government, and
pursued their relentless purpose with such success that the Lieutenant
General feared the city of Washington might find itself "included in a
foreign country," and proposed, among the options for the consideration
of LINCOLN, to bid the wayward States "depart in peace." The great
republic appeared to have its emblem in the vast unfinished Capitol, at
that moment surrounded by masses of stone and prostrate columns never
yet lifted into their places, seemingly the monument of high but
delusive aspirations, the confused wreck of inchoate magnificence,
sadder than any ruin of Egyptian Thebes or Athens.

The fourth of March came. With instinctive wisdom the new President,
speaking to the people on taking the oath of office, put aside every
question that divided the country, and gained a right to universal
support by planting himself on the single idea of Union. The Union he
declared to be unbroken and perpetual, and he announced his
determination to fulfil "the simple duty of taking care that the laws
be faithfully executed in all the States." Seven days later, the
convention of Confederate States unanimously adopted a constitution of
their own, and the new government was authoritatively announced to be
founded on the idea that the negro race is a slave race; that slavery
is its natural and normal condition. The issue was made up, whether the
great republic was to maintain its providential place in the history of
mankind, or a rebellion founded on negro slavery gain a recognition of
its principle throughout the civilized world. To the disaffected
LINCOLN had said, "You can have no conflict without being yourselves
the aggressors." To fire the passions of the southern portion of the
people, the confederate government chose to become aggressors, and, on
the morning of the twelfth of April, began the bombardment of Fort
Sumter, and compelled its evacuation.

It is the glory of the late President that he had perfect faith in the
perpetuity of the Union. Supported in advance by Douglas, who spoke as
with the voice of a million, he instantly called a meeting of Congress,
and summoned the people to come up and repossess the forts, places, and
property which had been seized from the Union. The men of the north
were trained in schools; industrious and frugal; many of them
delicately bred, their minds teeming with ideas and fertile in plans of
enterprise; given to the culture of the arts; eager in the pursuit of
wealth, yet employing wealth less for ostentation than for developing
the resources of their country; seeking happiness in the calm of
domestic life; and such lovers of peace, that for generations they had
been reputed unwarlike. Now, at the cry of their country in its
distress, they rose up with unappeasable patriotism; not hirelings--the
purest and of the best blood in the land. Sons of a pious ancestry,
with a clear perception of duty, unclouded faith and fixed resolve to
succeed, they thronged around the President, to support the wronged,
the beautiful flag of the nation. The halls of theological seminaries
sent forth their young men, whose lips were touched with eloquence,
whose hearts kindled with devotion, to serve in the ranks, and make
their way to command only as they learned the art of war. Striplings in
the colleges, as well the most gentle and the most studious, those of
sweetest temper and loveliest character and brightest genius, passed
from their classes to the camp. The lumbermen from the forests, the
mechanics from their benches, where they had been trained, by the
exercise of political rights, to share the life and hope of the
republic, to feel their responsibility to their forefathers, their
posterity and mankind, went to the front, resolved that their dignity,
as a constituent part of this republic, should not be impaired. Farmers
and sons of farmers left the land but half ploughed, the grain but half
planted, and, taking up the musket, learned to face without fear the
presence of peril and the corning of death in the shocks of war, while
their hearts were still attracted to their herds and fields, and all
the tender affections of home. Whatever there was of truth and faith
and public love in the common heart, broke out with one expression. The
mighty winds blew from every quarter, to fan the flame of the sacred
and unquenchable fire.

For a time the war was thought to be confined to our own domestic
affairs, but it was soon seen that it involved the destinies of
mankind; its principles and causes shook the politics of Europe to the
centre, and from Lisbon to Pekin divided the governments of the world.

There was a kingdom whose people had in an eminent degree attained to
freedom of industry and the security of person and property. Its middle
class rose to greatness. Out of that class sprung the noblest poets and
philosophers, whose words built up the intellect of its people; skilful
navigators, to find out for its merchants the many paths of the oceans;
discoverers in natural science, whose inventions guided its industry to
wealth, till it equalled any nation of the world in letters, and
excelled all in trade and commerce. But its government was become a
government of land, and not of men; every blade of grass was
represented, but only a small minority of the people. In the transition
from the feudal forms the heads of the social organization freed
themselves from the military services which were the conditions of
their tenure, and, throwing the burden on the industrial classes, kept
all the soil to themselves. Vast estates that had been managed by
monasteries as endowments for religion and charity were impropriated to
swell the wealth of courtiers and favorites; and the commons, where the
poor man once had his right of pasture, were taken away, and, under
forms of law, enclosed distributively within the domains of the
adjacent landholders. Although no law forbade any inhabitant from
purchasing land, the costliness of the transfer constituted a
prohibition; so that it was the rule of the country that the plough
should not be in the hands of its owner. The church was rested on a
contradiction; claiming to be an embodiment of absolute truth, it was a
creature of the statute-book.

The progress of time increased the terrible contrast between wealth and
poverty. In their years of strength the laboring people, cut off from
all share in governing the state, derived a scant support from the
severest toil, and had no hope for old age but in public charity or
death. A grasping ambition had dotted the world with military posts,
kept watch over our borders on the northeast, at the Bermudas, in the
West Indies, appropriated the gates of the Pacific, of the Southern and
of the Indian ocean, hovered on our northwest at Vancouver, held the
whole of the newest continent, and the entrances to the old
Mediterranean and Red Sea, and garrisoned forts all the way from Madras
to China. That aristocracy had gazed with terror on the growth of a
commonwealth where freeholders existed by the million, and religion was
not in bondage to the state, and now they could not repress their joy
at its perils. They had not one word of sympathy for the kind-hearted
poor man's son whom America had chosen for her chief; they jeered at
his large hands, and long feet, and ungainly stature; and the British
secretary of state for foreign affairs made haste to send word through
the palaces of Europe that the great republic was in its agony; that
the republic was no more; that a headstone was all that remained due by
the law of nations to "the late Union." But it is written, "Let the
dead bury their dead;" they may not bury the living. Let the dead bury
their dead; let a bill of reform remove the worn-out government of a
class, and infuse new life into the British constitution by confiding
rightful power to the people.

But while the vitality of America is indestructible, the British
government hurried to do what never before had been done by Christian
powers; what was in direct conflict with its own exposition of public
law in the time of our struggle for independence. Though the insurgent
States had not a ship in an open harbor, it invested them with all the
rights of a belligerent, even on the ocean; and this, too, when the
rebellion was not only directed against the gentlest and most
beneficent government on earth, without a shadow of justifiable cause,
but when the rebellion was directed against human nature itself for the
perpetual enslavement of a race. And the effect of this recognition
was, that acts in themselves piratical found shelter in British courts
of law. The resources of British capitalists, their workshops, their
armories, their private arsenals, their ship-yards, were in league with
the insurgents, and every British harbor in the wide world became a
safe port for British ships, manned by British sailors, and armed with
British guns, to prey on our peaceful commerce; even on our ships
coming from British ports, freighted with British products, or that had
carried gifts of grain to the English poor. The prime minister, in the
House of Commons, sustained by cheers, scoffed at the thought that
their laws could be amended at our request, so as to preserve real
neutrality; and to remonstrances, now owned to have been just, their
secretary of state answered that they could not change their laws _ad

The people of America then wished, as they always have wished, as they
still wish, friendly relations with England, and no man in England or
America can desire it more strongly than I. This country has always
yearned for good relations with England. Thrice only in all its history
has that yearning been fairly met: in the days of Hampden and Cromwell,
again in the first ministry of the elder Pitt, and once again in the
ministry of Shelburne. Not that there have not at all times been just
men among the peers of Britain--like Halifax in the days of James the
Second, or a Granville, an Argyll, or a Houghton in ours; and we cannot
be indifferent to a country that produces statesmen like Cobden and
Bright; but the best bower anchor of peace was the working class of
England, who suffered most from our civil war, but who, while they
broke their diminished bread in sorrow, always encouraged us to

The act of recognising the rebel belligerents was concerted with
France--France, so beloved in America, on which she had conferred the
greatest benefits that one people ever conferred on another; France,
which stands foremost on the continent of Europe for the solidity of
her culture, as well as for the bravery and generous impulses of her
sons; France, which for centuries had been moving steadily in her own
way towards intellectual and political freedom. The policy regarding
further colonization of America by European powers, known commonly as
the doctrine of Monroe, had its origin in France, and if it takes any
man's name, should bear the name of Turgot. It was adopted by Louis the
Sixteenth, in the cabinet of which Vergennes was the most important
member. It is emphatically the policy of France, to which, with
transient deviations, the Bourbons, the First Napoleon, the House of
Orleans have adhered.

The late President was perpetually harassed by rumors that the Emperor
Napoleon the Third desired formally to recognise the States in
rebellion as an independent power, and that England held him back by
her reluctance, or France by her traditions of freedom, or he himself
by his own better judgment and clear perception of events. But the
republic of Mexico, on our borders, was, like ourselves, distracted by
a rebellion, and from a similar cause. The monarchy of England had
fastened upon us slavery which did not disappear with independence; in
like manner, the ecclesiastical policy established by the Spanish
council of the Indies, in the days of Charles the Fifth and Philip the
Second, retained its vigor in the Mexican republic. The fifty years of
civil war under which she had languished was due to the bigoted system
which was the legacy of monarchy, just as here the inheritance of
slavery kept alive political strife, and culminated in civil war. As
with us there could be no quiet but through the end of slavery, so in
Mexico there could be no prosperity until the crushing tyranny of
intolerance should cease. The party of slavery in the United States
sent their emissaries to Europe to solicit aid; and so did the party of
the church in Mexico, as organized by the old Spanish council of the
Indies, but with a different result. Just as the Republican party had
made an end of the rebellion, and was establishing the best government
ever known in that region, and giving promise to the nation of order,
peace, and prosperity, word was brought us, in the moment of our
deepest affliction, that the French Emperor, moved by a desire to erect
in North America a buttress for imperialism, would transform the
republic of Mexico into a secundo-geniture for the house of Hapsburg.
America might complain; she could not then interpose, and delay seemed
justifiable. It was seen that Mexico could not, with all its wealth of
land, compete in cereal products with our northwest, nor in tropical
products with Cuba, nor could it, under a disputed dynasty, attract
capital, or create public works, or develop mines, or borrow money; so
that the imperial system of Mexico, which was forced at once to
recognise the wisdom of the policy of the republic by adopting it,
could prove only an unremunerating drain on the French treasury for the
support of an Austrian adventurer.

Meantime a new series of momentous questions grows up, and forces
itself on the consideration of the thoughtful. Republicanism has
learned how to introduce into its constitution every element of order,
as well as every element of freedom; but thus far the continuity of its
government has seemed to depend on the continuity of elections. It is
now to be considered how perpetuity is to be secured against foreign
occupation. The successor of Charles the First of England dated his
reign from the death of his father; the Bourbons, coming back after a
long series of revolutions, claimed that the Louis who became king was
the eighteenth of that name. The present Emperor of the French,
disdaining a title from election alone, calls himself Napoleon the
Third. Shall a republic have less power of continuance when invading
armies prevent a peaceful resort to the ballot-box? What force shall it
attach to intervening legislation? What validity to debts contracted
for its overthrow? These momentous questions are, by the invasion of
Mexico, thrown up for solution. A free state once truly constituted
should be as undying as its people: the republic of Mexico must rise

It was the condition of affairs in Mexico that involved the Pope of
Rome in our difficulties so far that he alone among sovereigns
recognised the chief of the Confederate States as a president, and his
supporters as a people; and in letters to two great prelates of the
Catholic church in the United States gave counsels for peace at a time
when peace meant the victory of secession. Yet events move as they are
ordered. The blessing of the Pope at Rome on the head of Duke
Maximilian could not revive in the nineteenth century the
ecclesiastical policy of the sixteenth, and the result is only a new
proof that there can be no prosperity in the state without religious

When it came home to the consciousness of the Americans that the war
which they were waging was a war for the liberty of all the nations of
the world, for freedom itself, they thanked God for giving them
strength to endure the severity of the trial to which He put their
sincerity, and nerved themselves for their duty with an inexorable
will. The President was led along by the greatness of their
self-sacrificing example; and as a child, in a dark night, on a rugged
way, catches hold of the hand of its father for guidance and support,
he clung fast to the hand of the people, and moved calmly through the
gloom. While the statesmanship of Europe was mocking at the hopeless
vanity of their efforts, they put forth such miracles of energy as the
history of the world had never known. The contributions to the popular
loans amounted in four years to twenty-seven and a half hundred
millions of dollars; the revenue of the country from taxation was
increased seven-fold. The navy of the United States, drawing into the
public service the willing militia of the seas, doubled its tonnage in
eight months, and established an actual blockade from Cape Hatteras to
the Rio Grande; in the course of the war it was increased five-fold in
men and in tonnage, while the inventive genius of the country devised
more effective kinds of ordnance, and new forms of naval architecture
in wood and iron. There went into the field, for various terms of
enlistment, about two million men, and in March last the men in the
army exceeded a million: that is to say, nine of every twenty
able-bodied men in the free Territories and States took some part in
the war; and at one time every fifth of their able-bodied men was in
service. In one single month one hundred and sixty-five thousand men
were recruited into service. Once, within four weeks, Ohio organized
and placed in the field forty-two regiments of infantry--nearly
thirty-six thousand men; and Ohio was like other States in the east and
in the west. The well-mounted cavalry numbered eighty-four thousand; of
horses and mules there were bought, from first to last, two-thirds of a
million. In the movements of troops science came in aid of patriotism,
so that, to choose a single instance out of many, an army twenty-three
thousand strong, with its artillery, trains, baggage, and animals, were
moved by rail from the Potomac to the Tennessee, twelve hundred miles,
in seven days. On the long marches, wonders of military construction
bridged the rivers, and wherever an army halted, ample supplies awaited
them at their ever-changing base. The vile thought that life is the
greatest of blessings did not rise up. In six hundred and twenty-five
battles and severe skirmishes blood flowed like water. It streamed over
the grassy plains; it stained the rocks; the undergrowth of the forests
was red with it; and the armies marched on with majestic courage from
one conflict to another, knowing that they were fighting for God and
liberty. The organization of the medical department met its infinitely
multiplied duties with exactness and despatch. At the news of a battle;
the best surgeons of our cities hastened to the field, to offer the
untiring aid of the greatest experience and skill. The gentlest and
most refined of women left homes of luxury and ease to build hospital
tents near the armies, and serve as nurses to the sick and dying.
Beside the large supply of religious teachers by the public, the
congregations spared to their brothers in the field the ablest
ministers. The Christian Commission, which expended more than six and a
quarter millions, sent nearly five thousand clergymen, chosen out of
the best, to keep unsoiled the religious character of the men, and made
gifts of clothes and food and medicine. The organization of private
charity assumed unheard-of dimensions. The Sanitary Commission, which
had seven thousand societies, distributed, under the direction of an
unpaid board, spontaneous contributions to the amount of fifteen
millions in supplies or money--a million and a half in money from
California alone--and dotted the scene of war, from Paducah to Port
Royal, from Belle Plain, Virginia, to Brownsville, Texas, with homes
and lodges.

The country had for its allies the river Mississippi, which would not
be divided, and the range of mountains which carried the stronghold of
the free through Western Virginia and Kentucky and Tennessee to the
highlands of Alabama. But it invoked the still higher power of immortal
justice. In ancient Greece, where servitude was the universal custom,
it was held that if a child were to strike its parent, the slave should
defend the parent, and by that act recover his freedom. After vain
resistance, LINCOLN, who had tried to solve the question by gradual
emancipation, by colonization, and by compensation, at last saw that
slavery must be abolished, or the republic must die; and on the first
day of January, 1863, he wrote liberty on the banners of the armies.
When this proclamation, which struck the fetters from three millions of
slaves, reached Europe, Lord Russell, a countryman of Milton and
Wilberforce, eagerly put himself forward to speak of it in the name of
mankind, saying: "It is of a very strange nature;" "a measure of war of
a very questionable kind;" an act "of vengeance on the slave owner,"
that does no more than "profess to emancipate slaves where the United
States authorities cannot make emancipation a reality." Now there was
no part of the country embraced in the proclamation where the United
States could not and did not make emancipation a reality.

Those who saw LINCOLN most frequently had never before heard him speak
with bitterness of any human being, but he did not conceal how keenly
he felt that he had been wronged by Lord Russell. And he wrote, in
reply to other cavils: "The emancipation policy and the use of colored
troops were the greatest blows yet dealt to the rebellion; the job was
a great national one, and let none be slighted who bore an honorable
part in it. I hope peace will come soon, and come to stay; then will
there be some black men who can remember that they have helped mankind
to this great consummation."

The proclamation accomplished its end, for, during the war, our armies
came into military possession of every State in rebellion. Then, too,
was called forth the new power that comes from the simultaneous
diffusion of thought and feeling among the nations of mankind. The
mysterious sympathy of the millions throughout the world was given
spontaneously. The best writers of Europe waked the conscience of the
thoughtful, till the intelligent moral sentiment of the Old World was
drawn to the side of the unlettered statesman of the West. Russia,
whose emperor had just accomplished one of the grandest acts in the
course of time, by raising twenty millions of bondmen into freeholders,
and thus assuring the growth and culture of a Russian people, remained
our unwavering friend. From the oldest abode of civilization, which
gave the first example of an imperial government with equality among
the people, Prince Kung, the secretary of state for foreign affairs,
remembered the saying of Confucius, that we should not do to others
what we would not that others should do to us, and, in the name of his
emperor, read a lesson to European diplomatists by closing the ports of
China against the war-ships and privateers of "the seditious."

The war continued, with all the peoples of the world for anxious
spectators. Its cares weighed heavily on LINCOLN, and his face was
ploughed with the furrows of thought and sadness. With malice towards
none, free from the spirit of revenge, victory made him importunate for
peace, and his enemies never doubted his word, or despaired of his
abounding clemency. He longed to utter pardon as the word for all, but
not unless the freedom of the negro should be assured. The grand
battles of Fort Donelson, Chattanooga, Malvern Hill, Antietam,
Gettysburg, the Wilderness of Virginia, Winchester, Nashville, the
capture of New Orleans, Vicksburg, Mobile, Fort Fisher, the march from
Atlanta, and the capture of Savannah and Charleston, all foretold the
issue. Still more, the self-regeneration of Missouri, the heart of the
continent; of Maryland, whose sons never heard the midnight bells chime
so sweetly as when they rang out to earth and heaven that, by the voice
of her own people, she took her place among the free; of Tennessee,
which passed through fire and blood, through sorrows and the shadow of
death, to work out her own deliverance, and by the faithfulness of her
own sons to renew her youth like the eagle--proved that victory was
deserved, and would be worth all that it cost. If words of mercy,
uttered as they were by LINCOLN on the waters of Virginia, were
defiantly repelled, the armies of the country, moving with one will,
went as the arrow to its mark, and, without a feeling of revenge,
struck a deathblow at rebellion.

Where, in the history of nations, had a Chief Magistrate possessed more
sources of consolation and joy than LINCOLN? His countrymen had shown
their love by choosing him to a second term of service. The raging war
that had divided the country had lulled, and private grief was hushed
by the grandeur of the result. The nation had its new birth of freedom,
soon to be secured forever by an amendment of the Constitution. His
persistent gentleness had conquered for him a kindlier feeling on the
part of the South. His scoffers among the grandees of Europe began to
do him honor. The laboring classes everywhere saw in his advancement
their own. All peoples sent him their benedictions. And at this moment
of the height of his fame, to which his humility and modesty added
charms, he fell by the hand of the assassin, and the only triumph
awarded him was the march to the grave.

This is no time to say that human glory is but dust and ashes; that we
mortals are no more than shadows in pursuit of shadows. How mean a
thing were man if there were not that within him which is higher than
himself; if he could not master the illusions of sense, and discern the
connexions of events by a superior light which comes from God! He so
shares the divine impulses that he has power to subject interested
passions to love of country, and personal ambition to the ennoblement
of his kind. Not in vain has LINCOLN lived, for he has helped to make
this republic an example of justice, with no caste but the caste of
humanity. The heroes who led our armies and ships into battle and fell
in the service--Lyon, McPherson, Reynolds, Sedgwick, Wadsworth, Foote,
Ward, with their compeers--did not die in vain; they and the myriads of
nameless martyrs, and he, the chief martyr, gave up their lives
willingly "that government of the people, by the people, and for the
people, shall not perish from the earth."

The assassination of LINCOLN, who was so free from malice, has, by some
mysterious influence, struck the country with solemn awe, and hushed,
instead of exciting, the passion for revenge. It seems as if the just
had died for the unjust. When I think of the friends I have lost in
this war--and every one who hears me has, like myself, lost some of
those whom he most loved--there is no consolation to be derived from
victims on the scaffold, or from anything but the established union of
the regenerated nation.

In his character LINCOLN was through and through an American. He is the
first native of the region west of the Alleghanies to attain to the
highest station; and how happy it is that the man who was brought
forward as the natural outgrowth and first fruits of that region should
have been of unblemished purity in private life, a good son, a kind
husband, a most affectionate father, and, as a man, so gentle to all.
As to integrity, Douglas, his rival, said of him: "Lincoln is the
honestest man I ever knew."

The habits of his mind were those of meditation and inward thought,
rather than of action. He delighted to express his opinions by an
apothegm, illustrate them by a parable, or drive them home by a story.
He was skilful in analysis, discerned with precision the central idea
on which a question turned, and knew how to disengage it and present it
by itself in a few homely, strong old English words that would be
intelligible to all. He excelled in logical statement more than in
executive ability. He reasoned clearly, his reflective judgment was
good, and his purposes were fixed; but, like the Hamlet of his only
poet, his will was tardy in action, and, for this reason, and not from
humility or tenderness of feeling, he sometimes deplored that the duty
which devolved on him had not fallen to the lot of another.

LINCOLN gained a name by discussing questions which, of all others,
most easily lead to fanaticism; but he was never carried away by
enthusiastic zeal, never indulged in extravagant language, never
hurried to support extreme measures, never allowed himself to be
controlled by sudden impulses. During the progress of the election at
which he was chosen President he expressed no opinion that went beyond
the Jefferson proviso of 1784. Like Jefferson and Lafayette, he had
faith in the intuitions of the people, and read those intuitions with
rare sagacity. He knew how to bide time, and was less apt to run ahead
of public thought than to lag behind. He never sought to electrify the
community by taking an advanced position with a banner of opinion, but
rather studied to move forward compactly, exposing no detachment in
front or rear; so that the course of his administration might have been
explained as the calculating policy of a shrewd and watchful
politician, had there not been seen behind it a fixedness of principle
which from the first determined his purpose, and grew more intense with
every year, consuming his life by its energy. Yet his sensibilities
were not acute; he had no vividness of imagination to picture to his
mind the horrors of the battle-field or the sufferings in hospitals;
his conscience was more tender than his feelings.

LINCOLN was one of the most unassuming of men. In time of success, he
gave credit for it to those whom he employed, to the people, and to the
Providence of God. He did not know what ostentation is; when he became
President he was rather saddened than elated, and his conduct and
manners showed more than ever his belief that all men are born equal.
He was no respecter of persons, and neither rank, nor reputation, nor
services overawed him. In judging of character he failed in
discrimination, and his appointments were sometimes bad; but he readily
deferred to public opinion, and in appointing the head of the armies he
followed the manifest preference of Congress.

A good President will secure unity to his administration by his own
supervision of the various departments. LINCOLN, who accepted advice
readily, was never governed by any member of his cabinet, and could not
be moved from a purpose deliberately formed; but his supervision of
affairs was unsteady and incomplete, and sometimes, by a sudden
interference transcending the usual forms, he rather confused than
advanced the public business. If he ever failed in the scrupulous
regard due to the relative rights of Congress, it was so evidently
without design that no conflict could ensue, or evil precedent be
established. Truth he would receive from any one, but when impressed by
others, he did not use their opinions till, by reflection, he had made
them thoroughly his own.

It was the nature of LINCOLN to forgive. When hostilities ceased, he,
who had always sent forth the flag with every one of its stars in the
field, was eager to receive back his returning countrymen, and
meditated "some new announcement to the South." The amendment of the
Constitution abolishing slavery had his most earnest and unwearied
support. During the rage of war we get a glimpse into his soul from his
privately suggesting to Louisiana, that "in defining the franchise some
of the colored people might be let in," saying: "They would probably
help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty in the
family of freedom." In 1857 he avowed himself "not in favor of" what he
improperly called "negro citizenship," for the Constitution
discriminates between citizens and electors. Three days before his
death he declared his preference that "the elective franchise were now
conferred on the very intelligent of the colored men, and on those of
them who served our cause as soldiers;" but he wished it done by the
States themselves, and he never harbored the thought of exacting it
from a new government, as a condition of its recognition.

The last day of his life beamed with sunshine, as he sent, by the
Speaker of this House, his friendly greetings to the men of the Rocky
mountains and the Pacific slope; as he contemplated the return of
hundreds of thousands of soldiers to fruitful industry; as he welcomed
in advance hundreds of thousands of emigrants from Europe; as his eye
kindled with enthusiasm at the coming wealth of the nation. And so,
with these thoughts for his country, he was removed from the toils and
temptations of this life, and was at peace.

Hardly had the late President been consigned to the grave when the
prime minister of England died, full of years and honors. Palmerston
traced his lineage to the time of the conqueror; LINCOLN went back only
to his grandfather. Palmerston received his education from the best
scholars of Harrow, Edinburg, and Cambridge; LINCOLN'S early teachers
were the silent forest, the prairie, the river, and the stars.
Palmerston was in public life for sixty years; LINCOLN for but a tenth
of that time. Palmerston was a skilful guide of an established
aristocracy; LINCOLN a leader, or rather a companion, of the people.
Palmerston was exclusively an Englishman, and made his boast in the
House of Commons that the interest of England was his Shibboleth;
LINCOLN thought always of mankind, as well as his own country, and
served human nature itself. Palmerston, from his narrowness as an
Englishman, did not endear his country to any one court or to any one
nation, but rather caused general uneasiness and dislike; LINCOLN left
America more beloved than ever by all the peoples of Europe. Palmerston
was self-possessed and adroit in reconciling the conflicting factions
of the aristocracy; LINCOLN, frank and ingenuous, knew how to poise
himself on the ever-moving opinions of the masses. Palmerston was
capable of insolence towards the weak, quick to the sense of honor, not
heedful of right;

LINCOLN rejected counsel given only as a matter of policy, and was not
capable of being wilfully unjust. Palmerston, essentially superficial,
delighted in banter, and knew how to divert grave opposition by playful
levity; LINCOLN was a man of infinite jest on his lips, with saddest
earnestness at his heart. Palmerston was a fair representative of the
aristocratic liberality of the day, choosing for his tribunal, not the
conscience of humanity, but the House of Commons; LINCOLN took to heart
the eternal truths of liberty, obeyed them as the commands of
Providence, and accepted the human race as the judge of his fidelity.
Palmerston did nothing that will endure; LINCOLN finished a work which
all time cannot overthrow. Palmerston is a shining example of the
ablest of a cultivated aristocracy; LINCOLN is the genuine fruit of
institutions where the laboring man shares and assists to form the
great ideas and designs of his country. Palmerston was buried in
Westminster Abbey by the order of his Queen, and was attended by the
British aristocracy to his grave, which, after a few years, will hardly
be noticed by the side of the graves of Fox and Chatham; LINCOLN was
followed by tho sorrow of his country across the continent to his
resting place in the heart of the Mississippi valley, to be remembered
through all time by his countrymen, and by all the peoples of the world.

As the sum of all, the hand of LINCOLN raised the flag; the American
people was the hero of the war; and, therefore, the result is a new era
of republicanism. The disturbances in the country grew not out of
anything republican, but out of slavery, which is a part of the system
of hereditary wrong; and the expulsion of this domestic anomaly opens
to the renovated nation a career of unthought-of dignity and glory.
Henceforth our country has a moral unity as the land of free labor. The
party for slavery and the party against slavery are no more, and are
merged in the party of Union and freedom. The States which would have
left us are not brought back as subjugated States, for then we should
hold them only so long as that conquest could be maintained; they come
to their rightful place under the Constitution as original, necessary,
and inseparable members of the Union.

We build monuments to the dead, but no monuments of victory. We respect
the example of the Romans, who never, even in conquered lands, raised
emblems of triumph. And our generals are not to be classed in the herd
of vulgar warriors, but are of the school of Timoleon, and William of
Nassau, and Washington. They have used the sword only to give peace to
their country and restore her to her place in the great assembly of the

SENATORS AND REPRESENTATIVES of America: as I bid you farewell, my last
words shall be words of hope and confidence; for now slavery is no
more, the Union is restored, a people begins to live according to the
laws of reason, and republicanism is intrenched in a continent.


ABRAHAM LINCOLN was assassinated at 10.30 p.m. on the 14th of April,
1865, and died at 7.20 a.m. the next day. Congress was not in session,
but a large number of members hastened to the Capitol on the receipt of
the startling intelligence, and on the 17th a card was published by
Senator Foot, inviting those Senators and Representatives who might be
in the city the next day to meet at the Capitol, to consider what
action they would take in relation to the funeral ceremonies.

The members of the 39th Congress then in Washington met in the Senate
reception room, at the Capitol, on the 17th of April, 1865, at noon.
Hon. LAFAYETTE S. FOSTER of Connecticut, President _pro tem._ of the
Senate, was called to the chair, and the Hon. SCHUYLER COLFAX of
Indiana, Speaker of the House in the 38th Congress, was chosen

Senator FOOT, of Vermont, who was visibly affected, stated that the
object of the meeting was to make arrangements relative to the funeral
of the deceased President of the United States.

On motion of Senator SUMNER, of Massachusetts, a committee of four
members from each house was ordered to report at 4 p.m., what action
would be fitting for the meeting to take. The Chairman appointed
Senators Sumner of Massachusetts, Harris of New York, Johnson of
Maryland, Ramsey of Minnesota, and Conness of California, and
Representatives Washburne of Illinois, Smith of Kentucky, Schenck of
Ohio, Pike of Maine, and Coffroth of Pennsylvania; and on motion of Mr.
Schenck, the Chairman and Secretary of the meeting were added to the
Committee, and then the meeting adjourned until 4 p.m.

The meeting re-assembled at 4 p.m., pursuant to adjournment.

Mr. SUMNER, from the Committee heretofore appointed, reported that they
had selected as pall-bearers on the part of the Senate: Mr. Foster of
Connecticut; Mr. Morgan of New York; Mr. Johnson of Maryland; Mr. Yates
of Illinois; Mr. Wade of Ohio, and Mr. Conness of California. On the
part of the House: Mr. Dawes of Massachusetts; Mr. Coffroth of
Pennsylvania; Mr. Smith of Kentucky; Mr. Colfax of Indiana; Mr.
Worthington of Nevada, and Mr. Washburne of Illinois. They also
recommended the appointment of one member of Congress from each State
and Territory to act as a Congressional Committee to accompany the
remains of the late President to Illinois, and presented the following
names as such Committee, the Chairman of the meeting to have the
authority of appointing hereafter for the States and Territories not
represented to-day from which members may be present at the Capitol by
the day of the funeral:

Maine, Mr. Pike; New Hampshire, Mr. E. H. Rollins; Vermont, Mr. Foot;
Massachusetts, Mr. Sumner; Rhode Island, Mr. Anthony; Connecticut, Mr.
Dixon; New York, Mr. Harris  Pennsylvania, Mr. Cowan; Ohio, Mr.
Schenck; Kentucky, Mr. Smith; Indiana, Mr. Julian; Illinois, the
delegation; Michigan, Mr. Chandler; Iowa, Mr. Harlan; California, Mr.
Shannon; Minnesota, Mr. Ramsey; Oregon, Mr. Williams; Kansas, Mr. S.
Clarke; West Virginia, Mr. Whaley; Nevada, Mr. Nye; Nebraska, Mr.
Hitchcock; Colorado, Mr. Bradford; Dakota, Mr. Todd; Idaho, Mr. Wallace.

The Committee also recommended the adoption of the following resolution:

_Resolved,_ That the Sergeants-at-Arms of the Senate and House
with their necessary assistants be requested to attend the Committee
accompanying the remains of the late President, and to make all the
necessary arrangements.

All of which was concurred in unanimously.

Mr. SUMNER from the same Committee also reported the following, which
was unanimously agreed to:

The members of the Senate and House of Representatives now assembled in
Washington, humbly confessing their dependence upon Almighty God who
rules all that is done for human good, make haste, at this informal
meeting, to express the emotions with which they have been filled by
the appalling tragedy which has deprived the Nation of its head and
covered the land with mourning; and in further declaration of their
sentiments unanimously resolve:

1. That in testimony of their veneration and affection for the
illustrious dead, who has been permitted under Providence to do so much
for his country and for liberty, they will unite in the funeral
services, and by an appropriate Committee will accompany his remains to
their place of burial in the State from which he was taken for the
national service.

2. That in the life of Abraham Lincoln, who, by the benignant favor of
Republican institutions, rose from humble beginnings to the heights of
power and fame, they recognize an example of purity, simplicity and
virtue, which should be a lesson, to mankind; while in his death they
recognize a martyr, whose memory will become more precious as men learn
to prize those principles of constitutional order and those rights,
civil, political, and human, for which he was made a sacrifice.

3. That they invite the President of the United States, by solemn
proclamation, to recommend to the people of the United States to
assemble on a day to be appointed by him, publicly to testify their
grief, and to dwell on the good which has been done on earth by him
whom we now mourn.

4. That a copy of these resolutions be communicated to the President of
the United States; and also, that a copy be communicated to the
afflicted widow of the late President, as an expression of sympathy in
her great bereavement.

The meeting then adjourned.

      *      *      *

The funeral ceremonies took place in the East room of the Executive
Mansion, at noon, on the 19th of April, and the remains were then
escorted to the Capitol, where they lay in state in the rotundo.

On the morning of April 21, the remains were taken from the Capitol and
placed in a funeral car, in which they were taken to Springfield,
Illinois, accompanied by the Congressional Committee. Halting at the
principal cities along the route, that appropriate honors might be paid
to the deceased, the funeral cortege arrived on the 3d of May at
Springfield, Illinois, and the next day the remains were deposited in
Oak Ridge cemetery near that city.

President JOHNSON, in his annual message to Congress at the
commencement of the session of 1865-'66, thus announced the death of
his predecessor:

"To express gratitude to God, in the name of the people, for the
preservation of the United States, is my first duty in addressing you.
Our thoughts next revert to the death of the late President by an act
of parricidal treason. The grief of the nation is still fresh; it finds
some solace in the consideration that-he lived to enjoy the highest
proof of its confidence by entering on the renewed term of the Chief
Magistracy to which he had been elected that he brought the civil war
substantially to a close; that his loss was deplored in all parts of
the Union; and that foreign nations have rendered justice to his

Hon. E. B. WASHBURNE, of Illinois, immediately after the President's
message had been read in the House of Representatives, offered the
following wing joint resolution, which was unanimously adopted:

_Resolved,_ That a committee of one member from each State represented
in this House be appointed on the part of this House, to join such
committee as may be appointed on the part of the Senate, to consider
and report by what token of respect and affection it may be proper for
the Congress of the United States to express tho deep sensibility of
the nation to the event of the decease of their late President, Abraham
Lincoln, and that so much of the message of the President as refers to
that melancholy event be referred to said committee.

On motion of Hon. SOLOMON FOOT, the Senate unanimously concurred in the
passage of the resolution, and the following joint committee was
appointed--thirteen on the part of the Senate and one for every State
represented (twenty-four) on the part of the House of Representatives:


  Hon. Solomon Foot, Vt.
  Hon. Richard Yates, Ill.
  Hon. Benj. F. Wade, Ohio.
  Hon. Wm. Pitt Fessenden, Me.
  Hon. Henry Wilson, Mass.
  Hon. James R. Doolittle, Wis.
  Hon. Jas. H. Lane, Ka.
  Hon. Ira Harris, N.Y.
  Hon. Jas. W. Nesmith, Oregon.
  Hon. Henry S. Lane, Ind.
  Hon. Waitman T. Willey, W. Va.
  Hon. Chas. R. Buckalew, Pa.
  Hon. John B. Henderson, Mo.


  Hon. Ellihu B. Washburne, Ill.
  Hon. James G. Blaine, Me.
  Hon. James W. Patterson, N. H.
  Hon. Justin S. Morrill, Vt.
  Hon. Nathaniel P. Banks, Mass.
  Hon. Thomas A. Jenckes, R. I.
  Hon. Henry C. Deming, Ct.
  Hon. John A. Griswold, N.Y.
  Hon. Edwin R. V. Wright, N.J.
  Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, Pa.
  Hon. John A. Nicholson, Del.
  Hon. Francis Thomas, Md.
  Hon. Robert C. Schenck, Ohio.
  Hon. George S. Shanklin, Ky.
  Hon. Godlove S. Orth, Ind.
  Hon. Joseph W. McClurg, Mo.
  Hon. Fernando C. Beaman, Mich.
  Hon. John A. Kasson, Iowa.
  Hon. Ithamar C. Sloan, Wis.
  Hon. William Higby, Cal.
  Hon. William Windom, Minn.
  Hon. J. H. D. Henderson, Oregon.
  Hon. Sidney Clarke, Kansas.
  Hon. Kellian V. Whaley, W. Va.

That committee, by Hon. Mr. FOOT, made the following report, which was
concurred in by both Houses _nem. con._

Whereas the melancholy event of the violent and tragic death of Abraham
Lincoln, late President of the United States, having occurred during
the recess of Congress, and the two Houses sharing in the general grief
and desiring to manifest their sensibility upon the occasion of the
public bereavement: Therefore,

_Be it resolved by the Senate,_ (the House of Representatives
concurring,) That the two Houses of Congress will assemble in the Hall
of the House of Representatives, on Monday, the 12th day of February
next, that being his anniversary birthday, at the hour of twelve
meridian, and that, in the presence of the two Houses there assembled,
an address upon the life and character of Abraham Lincoln, late
President of the United States, be pronounced by Hon. Edwin M. Stanton;
and that the President of the Senate _pro tempore_ and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives be requested to invite the President of
the United States, the heads of the several Departments, the judges of
the Supreme Court, the representatives of the foreign governments near
this Government, and such officers of the army and navy as have
received the thanks of Congress who may then be at the seat of
Government, to be present on the occasion.

_And be it further resolved,_ That the President of the United States
be requested to transmit a copy of these resolutions to Mrs. Lincoln,
and to assure her of the profound sympathy of the two Houses of
Congress for her deep personal affliction, and of their sincere
condolence for the late national bereavement.

The Hon. GEORGE BANCROFT of New York, in response to an invitation from
the joint committee, consented to deliver the address, (Mr. Stanton
having previously declined.)

      *      *      *

On the morning of the 12th of February, 1865, the Capitol was closed to
all except the members of Congress. At ten o'clock the doors leading to
the rotundo were opened to those to whom tickets of admission had been
extended, and the spacious galleries of the House of Representatives
were soon crowded. The Speaker's desk was draped in mourning, and
chairs were placed upon the floor for the invited guests.

At 12.30 p.m., the members of the Senate, following their President
_pro tempore_ and their Secretary, and preceded by their
Sergeant-at-Arms, entered the Hall of the House of Representatives and
occupied the seats reserved for them on the right and left of the main

The President _pro tempore_ occupied the Speaker's chair, the Speaker
of the House sitting at his left. The Chaplains of the Senate and of
the House were seated on the right and left of the Presiding Officers
of their respective Houses.

Shortly afterward the President of the United States, with the members
of his Cabinet, entered the Hall and occupied seats, the President in
front of the Speaker's table, and his Cabinet immediately on his right.

Immediately after the entrance of the President, the Chief Justice and
the Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States
entered the Hall and occupied seats next to the President, on the right
of the Speaker's table.

The others present were seated as follows:

The Heads of Departments, with the Diplomatic Corps, next to the
President, on the left of the Speaker's table;

Officers of the Army and Navy, who, by name, have received the thanks
of Congress, next to the Supreme Court, on the right of the Speaker's

Assistant Heads of Departments, Governors of States and Territories,
and the Mayors of Washington and Georgetown, directly in the rear of
the Heads of Departments;

The Chief Justice and Judges of the Court of Claims, and the Chief
Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of the District of
Columbia, directly in the rear of the Supreme Court;

The Heads of Bureaus in the Departments, directly in the rear of the
officers of the Army and Navy;

Representatives on either side of the Hall, in the rear of those
invited, four rows of seats on either side of the main aisles being
reserved for Senators;

The Orator of the day, Hon. George Bancroft, at the table of the Clerk
of the House;

The Chairmen of the Joint Committee of Arrangements, at the right and
left of the orator, and next to them the Secretary of the Senate and
the Clerk of the House;

The other officers of the Senate and of the House, on the floor at the
right and the left of the Speaker's platform.

When order was restored, at twelve o'clock and twenty minutes p.m., the
Marine band, stationed in the vestibule, played appropriate dirges.

Hon. LAFAYETE S. FOSTER, President _pro tempore_ of the Senate, called
the two Houses of Congress to order at 12.30.

Rev. DR. BOYNTON, Chaplain of the House, offered the following prayer:

Almighty God, who dost inhabit eternity, while we appear but for a
little moment and then vanish away, we adore The Eternal Name. Infinite
in power and majesty, and greatly to be feared art Thou. All earthly
distinctions disappear in Thy presence, and we come before Thy throne
simply as men, fallen men, condemned alike by Thy law, and justly cut
off through sin from communion with Thee. But through Thy infinite
mercy, a new way of access has been opened through Thy Son, and
consecrated by His blood. We come, in that all-worthy Name, and plead
the promise of pardon and acceptance through Him. By the imposing
solemnities of this scene we are carried back to the hour when the
nation heard, and shuddered at the hearing, that Abraham Lincoln was
dead--was murdered. We would bow ourselves submissively to Him by whom
that awful hour was appointed. We bow to the stroke that fell on the
country in the very hour of its triumph, and hushed all its shouts of
victory to one voiceless sorrow. "The Lord gave and the Lord hath taken
away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." The shadow of that death has
not yet passed from the heart of the nation, as this national
testimonial bears witness to-day. The gloom thrown from these
surrounding emblems of death is fringed, we know, with the glory of a
great triumph, and the light of a great and good man's memory. Still, O
Lord, may this hour bring to us the proper warning! "Be ye also ready;
for in such an hour as ye think not, the Son of Man cometh." Any one of
us may be called as suddenly as he whom we mourn.

We worship Thee as the God of our fathers. Thou didst trace for them a
path over the trackless sea, and bring them to these shores, bearing
with them the seed of a great dominion. We thank Thee that the
life-power of the young nation they planted, received from Thee such
energy, guidance, and protection, that it spread rapidly over the
breadth of the continent, carrying with it Christian liberty, churches,
schools, and all the blessings of a Christian civilization. We thank
Thee that the progress of the true American life has been irresistible,
because sustained by Thy eternal counsels and Thy almighty power, and
because the might of God was in this national life. We have seen it
sweeping all opposition away, grinding great systems and parties to
powder, and breaking in pieces the devices of men; and Thou hast raised
up for it heroic defenders in every hour of peril. We thank Thee, O
Strong Defender! And when treason was hatching its plot and massing its
armies, then, O God of Israel, who didst bring David from the
sheepfold, Thou gavest one reared in the humble cabin to become the
hope and stay of this great people in their most perilous hour, to
shield them in disaster and lead them to final victory.

We thank Thee that Thou gavest us an honest man, simple-hearted and
loving as a child, but with a rugged strength that needed only culture
and discipline. Thanks be to God that this discipline was granted him
through stern public trial, domestic sorrow, and Thy solemn
providences, till the mere politician was overshadowed by the nobler
growth of his moral and spiritual nature, till he came, as we believe,
into sympathy with Christ, and saw that we could succeed only by doing
justice. Then, inspired by Thee, he uttered those words of power which
changed three millions of slaves into men--the great act which has
rendered his name forever illustrious and secured the triumph of our
cause. We think of him almost as the prophet of his era. Thou didst
make that honest, great-hearted man the central figure of his age,
setting upon goodness, upon moral grandeur, the seal of Thine approval
and the crown of victory. We bless Thee that he did not die until
assured of victory, until he knew that his great work was done, and he
had received all the honor that earth could bestow, and then we believe
Thou didst give him a martyr's crown. We thank Thee that we have this
hope for the illustrious dead.

Great reason have we also to thank Thee that such was the enduring
strength of our institutions that they received no perceptible shock
from the death of even such a man and in such an hour, and that Thou
didst provide for that perilous moment one whose strength was
sufficient to receive and bear the weight of government, and who, we
trust, will work out the great problem of Christian freedom to its
final solution, and by equal law and equal rights bind this great
people into one inseparable whole.

We thank Thee that the representatives of the nation have come to sit
to-day in the shadow of Abraham Lincoln's tomb, to express once more
their now chastened sorrow. May they all reconsecrate themselves to
those principles which made him worthy to be remembered thus, and then
a redeemed and transfigured land will be a fitting monument for him and
for them.

Endow the President with wisdom equal to his great responsibilities,
that the blessings of a whole nation may also be given to him. May his
advisers, our judges, and our legislators, be constantly instructed by

May Thy blessing rest on the officers of the army and navy, by whose
skill and courage our triumph was won; upon our soldiers and sailors;
upon our people, and on those who are struggling on toward a perfect

Bless these eminent men the honored representatives of Foreign Powers.
Remember the sovereigns and people they represent. We thank Thee that
peace reigns with them as with us. May it continue until the nations
shall learn war no more.

Remember Abraham Lincoln's widow and family. Comfort them in their sore
bereavement. May they be consoled to know how much the father and
husband is loved and honored still.

Give Divine support to the distinguished orator of the day. May he so
speak as to impress the whole nation's mind. Prepare us to live as men
in this age should, that we may be received into Thy Heavenly Kingdom,
and to Thy name shall be the praise and the glory forevermore. Amen.

Hon. LAFAYETTE S. FOSTER, President _pro tempore_ of the Senate, in
introducing the orator of the day, said:

No ordinary occasion could have convened this august assemblage. For
four weary years, the storm of war, of civil war, raged fiercely over
our country. The blood of the best and bravest of her sons was freely
shed to preserve her name and place among the nations of the earth. In
April last, the dark clouds which had so long hung heavily and gloomily
over our heads, were all dispersed, and the light of peace, more
welcome even than the vernal sunshine, gladdened the eyes and the
hearts of our people. Shouts of joy and songs of triumph echoed through
the land. The hearts of the devout poured themselves in orisons and
thanksgivings to the God of battles and of nations that the most wicked
and most formidable rebellion ever known in human history had been
effectually crashed, and our country saved.

In the midst of all this abounding joy, suddenly and swiftly as the
lightning's flash came the fearful tidings that the Chief Magistrate of
the Republic--our President--loved and honored as few men ever were--so
honest, so faithful, so true to his duty and his country, had been
foully murdered--had fallen by the bullet of an assassin. All hearts
were stricken with horror. The transition from extreme joy to profound
sorrow was never more sudden and universal. Had it been possible for a
stranger, ignorant of the truth, to look over our land, he would have
supposed that there had come upon us some visitation of the Almighty
not less dreadful than that which once fell on ancient Egypt on that
fearful night when there was not a house where there was not one dead.

The nation wept for him.

After being gazed upon by myriads of loving eyes, under the dome of
this magnificent Capitol, the remains of our President were borne in
solemn procession through our cities, towns, and villages, all draped
in the habilaments of sorrow, the symbols and tokens of profound and
heartfelt grief, to their final resting-place in the capital of his own
State. There he sleeps, peacefully, embalmed in his country's tears.

The Senate and House of Representatives of the United States have
deemed it proper to commemorate this tragic event by appropriate
services. This day, the birth-day of him whom we mourn, has properly
been selected. An eminent citizen, distinguished by his labors and
services in high and responsible public positions at home and
abroad--whose pen has instructed the present age in the history of his
country, and done much to transmit the fame and renown of that country
to future ages--Hon. George Bancroft--will now deliver a discourse.

Hon. GEORGE BANCROFT (who on coming forward to the Clerk's desk was
greeted with warm demonstrations of applause) then proceeded to deliver
the Memorial Address.

The exercises of the day were closed by the following prayer and
benediction by the Rev. Dr. GRAY, Chaplain of the Senate:

God of a bereaved nation, from Thy high and holy Habitation look down
upon us and suitably impress us to-day, with a sense that God only is
great. Kings and Presidents die; but Thou, the Universal Ruler, livest
to roll on thine undisturbed affairs forever, from Thy Throne. A wail
has gone up from the heart of the nation to heaven--O, hear, and pity,
and assuage, and save. We pray that Thou wilt command thy blessing now,
which is life forevermore, upon the family of the President dead; upon
the President living upon the Ministers of state; upon the united
Houses of Congress; upon the Judges of our Courts; upon the officers of
the Army and the Navy; upon the broken families and desolated homes all
over the laud; and especially upon the nation. And grant that grace and
peace and mercy from the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God the
Father, and the fellowship of God the Spirit, may rest upon and abide
with us all, forever and ever. Amen.

The Senators then returned to the Senate Chamber, and the President of
the United States, the orator of the day, and the invited guests
withdrew, the Marine Band, stationed in the amphitheater, performing
national airs.

Hon. E. B. WASHBURNE, of Illinois, after the House had resumed the
transaction of business, by unanimous consent, introduced the following
concurrent resolutions; which were read, considered, and agreed to:

_Resolved,_ (the Senate concurring,) That the thanks of Congress be
presented to Hon. George Bancroft for the appropriate memorial address
delivered by him on the life and services of Abraham Lincoln, late
President of the United States, in the Representatives Hall before both
Houses of Congress and their invited guests, on the 12th day of
February, 1866, and that he be requested to furnish a copy for

_Resolved,_ That the chairmen of the joint committee appointed to make
the necessary arrangements to carry into effect the resolution of this
Congress in relation to the memorial exercises in honor of Abraham
Lincoln be requested to communicate to Mr. Bancroft the aforegoing
resolution, receive his answer thereto, and present the same to both
Houses of Congress.

These resolutions were transmitted to the Senate, where, on motion of
the Hon. Solomon Foot, of Vermont, they were considered by unanimous
consent, and concurred in.

      *      *      *

In the Senate, on the 16th of February, Hon. Mr. FOOT stated that in
pursuance of the concurrent resolutions of the two Houses of Congress
adopted on the 12th instant, the chairmen of the joint committee of
arrangements on the memorial exercises of the late President of the
United States, Abraham Lincoln, had placed a certified copy of said
concurrent resolutions in the hands of Hon. George Bancroft, and had
requested of him a copy of his address on the occasion referred to for
publication, as would appear from the following correspondence, which
he moved be read, laid upon the table, and printed.

As no objection was made, the Secretary read as follows:

  _February_ 13, 1866.

SIR: We have the honor to present to you an official copy of the two
concurrent resolutions adopted by the Senate and House of
Representatives on the 12th instant, expressing the thanks of Congress
for the appropriate memorial address delivered by you on the life and
services of Abraham Lincoln, late President of the United States, and
instructing us to request from you a copy of the address for

Having shared the high gratification of hearing the address, we take
pleasure, in accordance with the second of the concurrent resolutions,
in requesting you to furnish a copy of the address for publication.

We have the honor to be, with very great respect, your obedient

  _Chairman on the part of the Senate_

  _Chairman on the part of the House._


WASHINGTON, D. C., _February_ 14, 1866.

GENTLEMEN: I have received your letter of yesterday and a copy of the
two concurrent resolutions of Congress to which you refer. The thanks
of the Senate and House of Representatives, for the performance of the
duty assigned me, I value as a very distinguished honor, and I shall
cheerfully furnish a copy of the address for publication.

I remain, gentlemen, very sincerely yours,


  _Chairman on the part of the Senate._

  _Chairman on the part of the House._

In the House of Representatives, Hon. E. B. WASHBURNE, of Illinois,
made the same statement, and, after the correspondence submitted had
been read, the House ordered an edition of twenty thousand extra copies.

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