The Lincoln Funeral

April 19, 1865 – Funeral services took place for Abraham Lincoln at the White House.

Soon after doctors pronounced Lincoln dead on April 15, bells tolled throughout Washington and the news quickly spread across the country. Lincoln’s body was draped in a flag and brought to the White House, and within an hour government buildings throughout the capital were draped in mourning black. First Lady Mary Lincoln was overwhelmed by grief.[1]

News of Lincoln’s death caused widespread sorrow in the North, as many believed he had been the savior of the Union. Even those who had criticized his unconstitutional measures expressed shock and condemned the crime. But admiration for Lincoln was not universal, as the London Standard opined the day after his death: “He was not a hero while he lived, and therefore his cruel murder does not make him a martyr.”[2]

Northerners quickly called for reprisals against the South, including Reverend W.S. Studley of Boston, who declared, “In dealing with traitors, Andrew Johnson’s little finger will be thicker than Abraham Lincoln’s loins. If the old president chastised them with whips, the new president will chastise them with scorpions.”[3]

On the evening of April 18, Lincoln’s body lay in state in the White House’s crepe-decorated East Room. An estimated 25,000 people filed past the coffin of the first president to lie in state. The next day, some 600 dignitaries including President Johnson, the cabinet, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, military leaders, and diplomats in full “court dress” attended the funeral service at 12 p.m. General-in-Chief Ulysses S. Grant stood at the head of the catafalque. Mrs. Lincoln was too grief-stricken to attend. People throughout the North attended local church services.[4]

The Lincoln Funeral Procession | Image Credit: learnnc.org

The Lincoln Funeral Procession | Image Credit: learnnc.org

After Senate Chaplain E.H. Gray delivered the closing invocation, Lincoln’s coffin was placed on a carriage draped in banners. Soldiers escorted the carriage to the Capitol rotunda, and thousands of people lined Pennsylvania Avenue to watch the carriage pass. Bands played mournful songs, bells tolled, guns boomed, and some 40,000 people filed past Lincoln’s coffin over two days.[5]

On April 21, Lincoln’s body was placed aboard a special train bound for its final resting place in Springfield, Illinois. Also on the train were the disinterred remains of his son Willie, who had died in 1862. The train stopped in many northern cities as it nearly retraced the route that Lincoln had taken from Springfield to Washington in 1861. Five men who made that journey with Lincoln four years before were on this train: Ward Hill Lamon, John Nicolay, David Hunter, Justice David Davis, and John Hay. Many rail station roofs had to be torn down to accommodate the massive railroad car designed by George Pullman.[6]

In Philadelphia, Lincoln’s coffin lay in state in Independence Hall. The double line to view the body stretched three miles, and several people were injured in a rush to the casket. After laying in state at New York’s City Hall, the body was placed in a cortege and marched up Broadway by roughly 160,000 people. Blacks were required to march in the rear. The funeral train then moved to upstate New York before continuing on to Ohio.[7]

In Cleveland, an estimated 50,000 people filed past the coffin in pouring rain. The body lay under a canopy in Monument Square because no public building could hold such a large crowd. The funeral train continued on to Columbus and reached Indianapolis by month’s end.[8]

—–

[1] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Foote, Shelby, The Civil War: A Narrative: Volume 3: Red River to Appomattox (Vintage Civil War Library, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Kindle Edition, 2011-01-26), Kindle Locations 20760-20770; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 677-78

[2] Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 677-78; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[3] Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 677-78; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[4] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 678-80; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[5] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 679-80; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[6] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 680; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[7] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 681; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 386-91; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

[8] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 683-84; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 386-91; White, Howard Ray (2012-12-18). Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition), Kindle Locations 58777-58780

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2 thoughts on “The Lincoln Funeral

  1. […] deeply mourned the death of Abraham Lincoln, and southerners knew that Lincoln’s death would result in vengeance against […]

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  2. […] deeply mourned the death of Abraham Lincoln, and southerners knew that Lincoln’s death would result in vengeance against […]

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