Lincoln Returns to Springfield

May 4, 1865 – President Abraham Lincoln and his son Tad were laid to rest at Oak Ridge Cemetery in their hometown of Springfield, Illinois, nearly three weeks after Lincoln had been assassinated.

Lincoln’s funeral procession that had begun in Washington in April continued its westward journey, arriving at Chicago on May 1. Residents gathered along Lake Michigan as Lincoln’s funeral train entered the city. The bearing of Lincoln’s coffin and hearse began at 12th Street and Michigan Avenue, escorted by some 50,000 people with thousands more lining the streets as it passed. Among the escort were 36 schoolgirls dressed in white, representing the 36 states of the Union.[1]

The procession stopped at the Cook County Courthouse, where Lincoln’s body lay in state for two days. A courthouse sign read, “Illinois Clasps to Her Bosom Her Slain, but Glorified Son.” By nightfall on the 2nd, some 125,000 people had passed by Lincoln’s coffin to pay last respects. The funeral train then continued southward via the Alton Railroad, passing through Joliet around midnight and arriving at Springfield on the morning of May 3.[2]

The mayor of St. Louis loaned Springfield officials an ornate carriage valued at $6,000 and decorated with gold, silver, and crystal to carry Lincoln’s coffin to the Illinois Statehouse. Lincoln’s body lay in state where he had argued over 200 cases as a trial lawyer and evoked demagoguery with his famous “House Divided” speech. Over 75,000 people passed by the coffin, with people also gathering at Lincoln’s former home at 8th and Jackson Streets.[3]

The Lincoln Funeral Car | Image Credit: hcpl.net

The Lincoln Funeral Car | Image Credit: hcpl.net

On the 4th, Major General Joseph Hooker led the slow procession through rain from the Statehouse to Oak Ridge Cemetery. Lincoln and his son Tad (whose remains had been disinterred in Washington and accompanied Lincoln’s body on the journey), were placed in a receiving vault. In all, as many as seven million people had witnessed some part of the funeral procession along its journey from Washington to Springfield. This concluded 20 days of national mourning.[4]

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[1] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 125; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 386-91; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition, 2012), Loc 60190-92

[2] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 125; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 684-85; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition, 2012), Loc 60190-92

[3] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 125; Long, E.B. with Long, Barbara, The Civil War Day by Day (New York: Da Capo Press, Inc., 1971), p. 685; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 391-92; White, Howard Ray, Bloodstains, An Epic History of the Politics that Produced and Sustained the American Civil War and the Political Reconstruction that Followed (Southernbooks. Kindle Edition, 2012), Loc 60190-92

[4] Clark, Champ, The Assassination: The Death of the President (Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1983), p. 118-19, 125; Ward, Geoffrey C., Burns, Ric, Burns, Ken, The Civil War (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1990), p. 391-92

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2 thoughts on “Lincoln Returns to Springfield

  1. […] President Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest at Springfield, […]

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  2. […] President Abraham Lincoln was laid to rest at Springfield, […]

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