Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Recreating Lincoln's Columbus Ohio Funeral


On April 29, 2008, the city of Columbus, Ohio held a recreation of its funeral for Abraham Lincoln. An exact replica of Lincoln's coffin was placed in the Ohio Statehouse, just as the original was on the same date in 1865. Civil War re-enactors stood guard over the replica to make the scene authentic to the original.

According to the article in today's Columbus Dispatch newspaper, more than 50,000 people filed through the Statehouse rotunda on April 29, 1865 to pay their respects to the fallen nation's leader. This was in just 6 1/2 hours of viewing, so the turnout was roughly 8,000 viewers per hour. Impressive, to be sure.

Columbus was just one location of many other cities which held public funerals and viewing for Abraham Lincoln. Massive displays were held in New York, Buffalo, Albany, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Indianapolis, and of course, Springfield, Illinois. A second Ohio city, Cleveland, was the only one which thought to hold the viewing outdoors, thus permitting an amazing 100,000 people there to pay their respects and gratitude. All told, it is estimated that 1 million people braved the elements to see Lincoln's body, attend funeral processions in the various cities, or silently watch his funeral train roll through the countryside. The nation hasn't had such massive turnouts for a fallen leader since. The customs established at these various funerals for Lincoln have since been used in services for John F. Kennedy, Ronald Reagan, and others.

An excellent resource for learning more about the Lincoln assassination and the numerous funerals held for him is the classic book "Twenty Days" originally published in 1965 for the centennial of the assassination. The book, written by Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt and Philip B. Kunhardt, Jr., is a step-by-step account of the assassination, the killing of John Wilkes Booth, and fascinating photos of the funerals in the different cities. It's a must-have book for any Lincoln buff.

Another outstanding source of information about the Lincoln funeral train and it's stops along the way may be found at this webpage, part of the wonderful Abraham Lincoln Research Site. This particular page contains detailed route information of Lincoln's funeral train, the dates in each city the funerals were held, and so on. It also contains a copy of an original photo of the actual funeral procession held on April 29, 1865 in Columbus, Ohio.

4 comments:

historianlover said...

Wow, I love your blog, Tons of great info! I just started my blog, History's Mysteries, and found you while I was doing research. I added you on my blog roll, and will being checking back.

Ed Darrell said...

I was in Springfield in February, courtesy of the Bill of Rights Institute and the Liberty Fund. The old Illinois Statehouse was where Lincoln's body lay in state; the scene is recreated a few blocks away at the Lincoln library and museum.

The Christology is quite apparent. In the chamber of the House of Representatives, where the body was laid for public visiting, on one side in foot high letters it said "Washington the Father," and on the other side, "Lincoln the Savior."

Springfield is worth a couple of days, the library worth a day itself.

Abraham Lincoln said...

Years ago I had a website about my cousin, President Abraham Lincoln. I have a lot of information about him because we are related.

My wife just told me to take a look at your site. It looks OK for as far as you have gone.

My genealogy goes all the way back to Robert Lincoln in England and the President and I share it all the way back there.

I wish you good luck with your blog.

Abraham Lincoln
Brookville, Ohio

HistoryBuff said...

I am a Mary Lincoln aficionado. I am currently reading the book, The Lincolns: Portait of a Marriage by Daniel Mark Epstein. In it he tells of a speech Lincoln gave at City Hall on September 16, 1859 to a sparse crowd at the Young Men's Republican Club. (This speech was given the night of his speech on the east terrace of the Columbus Statehouse.) Epstein quotes a "Democratic journalist" and Stephan Douglas champion as saying (in part): "We think that Mr. Lincoln will never be invited here again, and that was perhaps his opinion" when he had his likeness preserved "as a remembrance for his Columbus Friends."

As an Ohioan whose mother was from Columbus, I was especially interested in finding out if he ever made it back. I was happy to find out that he did come back (in his lifetime) on February 13, 1861, to address a joint session of the legislature, prior to his inauguration.

Thank you Mr. Elliott, for setting up this informative blog.

 
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