Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey Arrival In Washington February 23, 1861

Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Journey ended 150 years ago today, February 23, 1861 with his arrival in Washington City. He and his family, along with other associates, had been traveling since February 11, when they departed Springfield, Illinois. They rode through seven states, visited the state capitals of six of them, and stopped countless times along the way at large cities and places which barely qualified as crossroads. Some estimates say that Lincoln spoke to approximately 1 million people over the 1900 miles of the journey. Records show that he gave at least 75 speeches, but he no doubt gave more of which we have no evidence.

The Inauguration Journey which had been so successful in letting the people see their President-Elect should have ended triumphantly that day in Washington in front of adoring crowds. Instead it came to an inglorious end with Abraham Lincoln, while in disguise, being sneaked into the city before dawn broke, with only one person present to greet him.

The drama which led to Lincoln's stealthy entry began while Mr. Lincoln was still in Philadelphia. It was there where private detective Allan Pinkerton, who ran a famous detective agency (still in existence today) out of Chicago, informed those close to the President-Elect that his operatives had uncovered a plot against Lincoln. According to the reports of the agents, Lincoln would be attacked (probably stabbed) as he transferred between railroad stations in Baltimore, Maryland.

Maryland was a slave state, with strong secessionist leanings, more southern than northern in its outlook concerning the sectional crisis. Baltimore was the hotbed of those sympathies and the city was hostile towards northerners at that point. It mostly would have been problematic to get Lincoln and his family safely through the city to begin with, but now this "plot" that Pinkerton was reporting further complicated the situation.

It wasn't only Allan Pinkerton's detectives who reported a conspiracy against Mr. Lincoln. In fact, the superintendent of the New York Metropolitan Police, Mr. John A. Kennedy, had himself gone to Baltimore along with the city police chief, to investigate what they also felt was a plot against the President-Elect. The city's best detectives joined them in going to Baltimore.

At first, Lincoln's advisers were split about what should be done. But ultimately, it was decided that Lincoln should be sneaked through Baltimore so safe passage to Washington could be guaranteed. Lincoln himself was convinced by Pinkerton that the plot was real.

Lincoln continued with his itinerary in Pennsylvania, though. He spoke in Philadelphia at Independence Hall, then traveled for his address to the state legislature in Harrisburg. The public had been informed that Lincoln would then travel to Baltimore and finally to Washington.

Instead, Lincoln was secretly put onto another train car in Harrisburg and traveled back to Philadelphia on the night of February 22, 1861. Lincoln wore a type of overcoat (similar to a Navy pea coat), a soft felt cap, and a shawl he could put around his face if necessary. Lincoln's friend Ward Hill Lamon was with him, as was a female detective from the Pinkerton agency. Mary and the children remained overnight in Harrisburg while Lincoln was under protection. They would travel to Washington via Baltimore the next day on the Presidential Special which Lincoln was to have taken.

Other precautions were taken as well. Telegraph wires in and around Harrisburg were cut, thus isolating the city from the rest of the country. Lincoln had boarded the train there under an assumed name, with the female agent posing as his sister.

They arrived in Philadelphia the night of February 22, 1861 at around 10:00 p.m. where the party boarded the overnight train to Baltimore, Lincoln registering under an assumed name. The female agent shared the sleeping car with Lincoln, and slept near him in another bunk. If Mary Todd Lincoln knew about this, she must have exploded in rage as she was insanely jealous if another woman so much as looked at her husband.

The train finally came to Washington City at around 6:00 a.m. the next day, February 23. The only person present to greet Lincoln was his old friend, Congressman Elihu Washburne of Illinois. Washburne had seen right through Lincoln's disguise and said "Abe, you can't fool me!" The bodyguards, not recognizing Washburne, nearly attacked him on the spot, until Lincoln stopped the men.

Lincoln was safely arrived in the nation's capital without incident. But once the news got out about his stealthy trip to the city, the newspapers had a field day with their criticisms and lampooning of Lincoln. He was called "cowardly," "undignified," and much worse. Editorial cartoons were published in newspapers across the country (one of which, from Vanity Fair is shown at the beginning of this post), showing him sneaking around in exaggerated attire. His overcoat, shawl, and hat quickly became a "Scottish cap" and "kilt" according to some papers, and people even today believe that Lincoln wore a dress to pose as a woman.

Such was the ridicule from the newspapers that Lincoln himself regretted allowing himself to be hidden in disguise and sneaked into the nation's capital. Some historians claim that it affected his outlook on his personal safety throughout his presidency, leading him to refuse more than minimal security. However, it must be understood that death threats had come to Lincoln while he was still in Springfield. Even then, he seemed to take a cavalier approach to his own safety.

Historians today debate just how real the "Baltimore Plot" was. Harold Holzer, the nation's leading Lincoln scholar, believes that the plot, even if it did exist, was "ad hoc" at best. Other historians seem to believe it was authentic and that Lincoln would have been in true danger.

However, Lincoln himself chose to believe the plot was real. It must be remembered as well that Dayton, Ohio had been purposely avoided early in the Inauguration Journey due to a large population of "Copperhead Democrats" (Northern Democrats who supported Southern principles), thus avoiding potential dangers.

Above all, Lincoln's personal secretary and his self-appointed bodyguard and friend Ward Lamon, insisted that getting Abraham Lincoln safely to Washington City was of the greatest importance. And it is unquestionable that they were correct. To help resolve the national crisis, Abraham Lincoln had to survive to become President Of The United States.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey Philadelphia to Harrisburg February 22, 1861

Abraham Lincoln was finished with his visit to Philadelphia. Earlier that morning on February 22, 1861, he had given by far his most dramatic (and best) speech of his Inauguration Journey, when he claimed he would rather be assassinated than save the country by giving up the principles of the Declaration Of Independence.

Now it was time to travel on the next leg of the trip to Washington. The next major stop was the Pennsylvania state capital of Harrisburg, where he would address the legislature and governor. Smaller towns and cities were briefly visited as well along the way. In Leaman Place, Pennsylvania, Lincoln for once brought his wife Mary out to appear before the crowd. Lincoln made one of his jokes, and told the crowd he was giving them the "long and short" of his visit. At 6'4", Lincoln towered over Mary, who was much shorter at just 5'3" or so. At Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Lincoln resorted to his simple speech of thanking the crowd for showing up, saying he had no time for a lengthier address, and bade the crowd farewell. Lancaster was the home town of the current President, James Buchanan, who was of course in Washington.

Lincoln and his family arrived in the early afternoon at the Harrisburg train station. Awaiting Lincoln was a grand display of the state militia, and the Governor, Andrew Curtin. A grand procession took Lincoln and his family to the Jones House, one of the stylish hotels of the city. After settling in for a bit, Lincoln appeared on the balcony with the Governor, who introduced him. The President-Elect once again told a crowd that he felt he had the gravest task and responsibility before him than any other president before him, except Washington. He praised the appearance of the militia, but hoped strongly that no blood would be shed by them, especially fraternal blood (i.e. civil war). He again said that it was his goal to preserve the peace of the country if he could do so without giving up the "institutions" and principles of the nation.

The next appearance in Harrisburg was to be the capitol building where he addressed the Pennsylvania General Assembly. In that speech, he related how honored and moved he had been earlier that morning to speak at Independence Hall. He also shared that he had raised the new American flag and that he hoped it would be an omen of good things to come. He also reiterated his admiration for the state militia and re-emphasized that he hoped that there would be no need for bloodshed in the nation. The image of the postcard above is an artist's idea of how Lincoln might have appeared as he addressed the Assembly.

After listening to a fairly lengthy oration about General Washington (this was, after all, Washington's birthday) in the statehouse, Lincoln returned to the Jones House hotel, where he was going to retire at around 8:00 p.m.

That was the official story. In reality, new travel plans had been made for the President-Elect, thanks to the discovery of a plot to assassinate him as he changed cars in Baltimore.

More on the attempt to get Abraham Lincoln safely to Washington City in my next post.

Lincoln's Inaugural Journey February 22, 1861 In Philadelphia

By February 22, 1861, Abraham Lincoln and his family had been traveling for twelve long days on the Inauguration Journey to Washington City, as the nation's capital was called in those days. Hundreds of thousands of people had ventured into the cold to see the President-Elect along the route, even if it was for a minute or two during a quick watering stop, where he would have time only to greet the crowds, and then just as quickly say farewell. Others who were luckier would hear Mr. Lincoln give longer speeches, but those speeches contained nothing of real substance. Lincoln was still keeping his deepest thoughts and emotions about the national crisis close to his vest.

That would change 150 years ago today in Philadelphia, when he spoke in the "sacred" building called Independence Hall, where both the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution were written. Lincoln had been invited to speak there on that day, George Washington's birthday, and to also help raise a giant American flag featuring the nation's newest star, the one for Kansas, the 34th state which had been admitted on January 29th of that year.

Lincoln arrived at Independence Hall early that morning, which was cold, but sunny. Lincoln was welcomed by the president of the Select Council Of Philadelphia, then began his speech. It would be the most moving speech of his Inauguration Journey.

He opened with the words "I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live." These words were not mere platitudes from Lincoln. He had mentioned the previous day in Trenton, N.J., that he had often read Mason Weems' "Life Of Washington" biography. Lincoln had a deep knowledge and appreciation for the sacrifices that Washington, his soldiers, and the other Founding Fathers made in forging a new nation.

Lincoln continued: "I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. " Huge cheers broke out inside the building at these words. For Abraham Lincoln, the United States of America did not begin with the U.S. Constitution, by which the structure of the government was determined; it began with the Declaration of Independence. This is why in his Gettysburg Address he would give more than 2 1/2 years later, he dated the beginning of this nation to "four score and seven years" before 1863, the year 1776.

He went on, saying that it wasn't the mere separation of the colonies from Great Britain which had thus far sustained the nation, but "something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence. " They were powerful words.

The group of men Lincoln was speaking to at that moment didn't know that on the previous day, an assassination plot against Lincoln had been uncovered. The plot was confirmed by two different sources, the New York Chief Of Police, and informants working for Allan Pinkerton, a private detective. According to reports from each source, Lincoln was targeted for assassination in Baltimore, Maryland, as he would be switching train cars in that city for the final leg to Washington.

Given the fact that Lincoln was already a target of a conspiracy, the next words in his speech that morning to the VIP's of Philadelphia hold even more meaning with the hindsight of history. Lincoln asked those assembled if the country could be saved on the principles of equality for all people. He said "If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle...I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it." Lincoln was willing to die to save his country and the freedom for which it stands.

Lincoln closed this speech by stating that there would be no blood shed, unless it "be forced upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it." He would repeat this message in his First Inaugural Address the following week.

After this speech (which Lincoln claimed was "unprepared"), Lincoln stepped outside to the platform for the flag raising ceremony. Before he assisted in raising the new 34-star flag, Lincoln briefly spoke to the crowd, saying that he hoped there would be many more stars to come to the flag. He also told those in the crowd that the future of the nation rested in their hands. With that, Lincoln hoisted the new American flag.

The image at the beginning of this post was taken 150 years ago today when Lincoln was on the platform at Independence Hall for the flag raising. Lincoln stands bareheaded directly over the third star from the left. His son Tad appears in the photo as well, resting his arms on the railing as he stares at the crowd. I've included a close-up of the photo below, with Lincoln outlined in red, and Tad outlined in yellow. The first photograph (along with two others taken at the same scene) are the only known photos in existence of Lincoln's Inauguration Journey.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey New York City to Philadelphia February 21, 1861

Abraham Lincoln left New York City 150 years ago today, February 21, 1861 with that day's destination of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on his Inauguration Journey. But between those two cities, Lincoln and his family traveled through the state of New Jersey where yet more adoring crowds waited.

Lincoln departed New York around 8:00 a.m., probably realizing that he had a lot of work to do to win over it's business and political leaders. Residents of the city still didn't quite know what to make of this tall lawyer from the prairie who had dared to commit a fashion faux pas at the opera the previous night when he wore black gloves instead of white ones. The city leaders had treated him condescendingly, as if they figured they could easily manipulate this man who lacked political experience.

The crowds in New Jersey, waiting for him on the other side of the Hudson River, greeted Lincoln as enthusiastically as all the other towns and cities along the route. So many, in fact, the New York Times reported that Lincoln couldn't reach his train at first. Finally, he made it aboard and the Inauguration Journey continued.

In Jersey City, N.J., Lincoln gave his by now traditional speech of thanks, saying he didn't have time for a speech, and said farewell. But the New York Tribune reported that the "then followed a rush to shake hands with Mr. Lincoln, and in the rush and crush the policemen and reporters were nearly annihilated." Lincoln had to reappear and say a few more words to quiet the crowd, such was his apparent popularity in New Jersey.

An estimated 75,000 people greeted Lincoln upon his arrival in Newark, N.J. that morning only to see and hear him speak for not more than two minutes. He thanked the Mayor for the introduction and said general pleasantries. It was much the same in New Brunswick, N.J. as the stop was short and the words were brief.

Lincoln finally arrived at Trenton, N.J., the state capital. Lincoln gave two speeches at the New Jersey state house (shown in the modern photo above), first to the New Jersey Senate. In his speech to the state senate, Lincoln displayed some uncharacteristic sentimentality when he mentioned how as a young boy he had read Mason Weem's "Life Of (George) Washington" (which is the source of many of the Washingtonian myths such as the cherry tree). Lincoln told the men that he had read the book many times and how the accounts of the Revolutionary War battle in Trenton had caused Lincoln to idolize Washington. He stated that "there must have been something more than common that those men struggled for; that something even more than National Independence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come." Then he admitted that he was "anxious" that the Union and the Constitution continue. This speech revealed how deeply Lincoln felt about the Revolution, the Founding Fathers, and the documents which established the United States.

Lincoln then addressed the General Assembly (similar to House of Representatives) in the state house. Lincoln told the Assembly that he would take the actions that he thought would be "most just to the North, the East, the West, the South, and the whole country." He said that he would do all that would be in his power to "promote a peaceful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. None who would do more to preserve it."

Then in only one sentence, Lincoln at last revealed the strength he had in his convictions about the sectional crisis. After stating that he wanted peace and would work for it, Lincoln stated: "But it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly." As he spoke these words, he lifted his foot and placed it back down on the platform with enough force that it echoed through the chamber. This action brought mighty cheers from the Assemblymen, most of whom were Democrats. Lincoln showed in this simple gesture that he would accept no compromise about saving the Union.

Lincoln left Trenton a short while later and at last arrived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After being welcomed by the Mayor of the city, Lincoln spoke once more in generalities, mentioning the "sacred walls" of Independence Hall, and promised that he would do his best to always adhere to the teachings which came from them. Lincoln took care to mention both the Declaration of Independence and Constitution in his address.

The main event in Philadelphia was scheduled for the next day, February 22, Washington's birthday, when Lincoln would speak at the Hall where the founding documents were written. It was to be a glorious day, the most moving of Lincoln's Inauguration Journey.

What should have been a restful, peaceful night for Lincoln 150 years ago today, February 21, 1861 became anything but. A conspiracy against Lincoln had come to light, one which was so potentially deadly, that his safe arrival in Washington City was now in jeopardy. More on that tomorrow.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Book Review: A New Birth Of Freedom: The Visitor

In 1849, an Illinois politician is departing Washington City to return home to the prairie after a single term as a member of Congress. The tall, gangly man is accompanied by no one, until a strangely dressed man approaches him to ask if he can sit with him. The second man holds an usual shiny metallic valise (or case) and wears clothing not of the era.

The awkward Illinois politician is, of course, Abraham Lincoln. The stranger is Mr. Edwin Blair, a man with a request of Mr. Lincoln. The catch is, this request is for a meeting with Lincoln in 1863, on June 27th, 14 years in the future.

Thus the reader is introduced to "A New Birth Of Freedom: The Visitor" a novel which combines factual and alternate history, as well as science-fiction. The result is an interesting, fun, and even, at times, gripping book featuring Abraham Lincoln, members of his cabinet, the Civil War, and a visitor who has come

Without giving too much away, Edwin Blair is a professor of history from the (very) distant future, three hundred years in Lincoln's future, to be exact. He has traveled to Lincoln's era to seek help in combating a new kind of enemy during the U.S. Civil War, an enemy of both the Union and the Confederacy. Indeed, an enemy to the entire planet.

The author of this unusual book is Robert G. Pielke, who lives in Claremont, California. He holds a B.A. in History, a Masters of Divinity in Theology, and a Ph.D. in Social Ethics. This widely diverse education has enabled Dr. Pielke to write this novel which will apparently raise important questions for the reader and for society as a whole.

I had a difficult time putting this book down. It's well-written, the factual history is spot on, and the science-fiction (of which I am a fan) is incredible and thought-provoking.

The book is the first in a planned trilogy (I think). The next book is titled "A New Birth Of Freedom: The Translator." While I don't know the planned release date for this next volume in the series, I hope that the date is not too far off. I cannot wait to read it! And of course, I highly recommend the current book featured in this review.

The publisher is Altered Dimensions, an imprint of Cyberwizard Productions in Texas. The photo is from the cover of the book. If you look closely, you'll see that the character of Edwin Blair and his shiny valise has been digitized into this famous photograph of Lincoln. The book is available for purchase on amazon.com

As usual in the book reviews here on The Abraham Lincoln Blog, I have received no compensation from the author or publisher, with the exception of a copy of the book in question.

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey New York City, February 20, 1861


Abraham and Mary Lincoln had a full day in New York City 150 years ago today on February 20, 1861. They and their children spent the previous night at the Astor House, a luxury hotel, after riding through crowds estimated to be 250,000 people strong. It was a somewhat cool reception and today would not be any different.

After a breakfast with the city's most prosperous businessmen and merchants, Lincoln then went to City Hall to meet with the Mayor, Mr. Fernando Wood. The image above, courtesy of Library of Congress, shows a print of Lincoln and the Mayor meeting. The Mayor, no fan of Lincoln's, was almost "insolent" in his reception of Lincoln, according to Jay Monaghan, author of "Diplomat In Carpet Slippers." Mr. Wood had only a few weeks earlier suggested somewhat seriously that New York City itself should secede from the Union, due to the concerns that the city and its elite would lose hundreds of millions over the secession of the Southern states.

The Mayor "welcomed" Lincoln with a condescending speech, in which he said "Coming office with a dismembered government to reconstruct, and a disconnected and hostile people to reconcile, it will require a high patriotism and an elevated comprehension of the whole country and its varied interests, opinions and prejudices to so conduct public affairs as to bring it back again to its former harmonious, consolidated and prosperous condition." In other words, he was urging Lincoln to reach a compromise with the Southern states.

Lincoln in turn had his opportunity to speak to both the Mayor and the assembled City Council. He thanked them for the welcome, remarking that he understood that the group before him was not in agreement with his politics. Nonetheless, Lincoln replied to them by stating:

"There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union, under which not only the commercial city of New York, but the whole country has acquired its greatness, unless it were to be that thing for which the Union itself was made. I understand a ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union should likewise never be abandoned unless it fails and the probability of its preservation shall cease to exist without throwing the passengers and cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it."

Thus Lincoln came the closest he had yet come on this Inaugural Journey to revealing what his policies concerning secession would be as President. He would be unflinching in his fight to preserve the Union, to save what he would later call the "last, best hope on Earth" for government of the people and for the people. Through this response to the Mayor and City Council, Lincoln also showed that he was not the backwoods dolt that so many in the city felt him to be. It was not the only entanglement with New York that Lincoln would have.

The visit to New York City was not all business and politics for Lincoln and his wife. That evening, they attended the Verdi opera "Un ballo in Maschera" or "A Masqued Ball." The crowd was a bit aghast, according to reports, that Lincoln wore black gloves to the opera, when the fashion was to wear white gloves. Even then, New Yorkers were fashion conscious.

That night was spent again at the Astor House. Departure on the next leg of the journey would take place the next morning at around 8:00 a.m. While the visit to New York had gone smoothly without the chaos of the other cities on the route, it was, in the words of Carl Sandburg, "the coldest" of all along the "journey to inauguration."

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey Albany to New York City February 19, 1861

Abraham and Mary Lincoln and their children had been traveling for eight days when the arose on the morning of February 19, 1861 for the next leg of the Inauguration Journey to Washington City. Springfield was far behind them now, and it must have seemed as if they had left a lifetime ago. Until now, crowds everywhere along the way had welcomed Lincoln with overwhelming enthusiasm, to the point that, at times, his safety had been compromised. From large cities to the smallest crossroads, people greeted Lincoln warmly and were overjoyed to see him. All of that would change at the next destination of the Inauguration Journey: New York City.

But first, there were other stops to be made on the way to the city that even then was the financial, media, and cultural capital of the country. At the towns of Troy, Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Fishkill, and Peekskill, Lincoln's remarks were virtually identical to what they had been at the many other stops in the state of New York, and Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois before that. Lincoln begged off giving formal addresses due to lack of time, so would simply thank the people for coming to see him and to remind them to stand strong for the Union. In Poughkeepsie, Lincoln told the crowd that with their help, the country would remain the most free, most intelligent, and happiest people on Earth. Then two locomotives passed by him as he spoke: one called "Union" and the other "Constitution", both decorated with American flags. Must have been quite a sight.

The Lincoln Inaugural Train pulled into New York City that afternoon on schedule, arriving at 3:00 p.m. Security was extraordinarily tight. The New York Times reported that of the 1,500 police officers on the city's force, approximately 1,300 were present to protect Lincoln's safety. The city's officials wanted to prevent the near riots which had occurred earlier in the week in Buffalo and again at Albany.

Lincoln arrived that afternoon in a city which still didn't quite know what to make of him. Only 35% of the people casting ballots in the 1860 presidential election in New York City voted for him. Then as now, the city was a strong supporter of the Democratic Party. The businessmen of the city weren't happy that they might be losing strong economic ties to the South. The Southern states also owed a huge amount of debt to the New York banks of the day, and the bankers were concerned they might never be repaid those debts.

Others in the city weren't overly fond of Lincoln thanks to his then lukewarm support for abolition of slavery. While he opposed the *expansion* of the "institution," his primary focus was on trying to save the Union. That didn't go over too well with staunch abolitionists such as Horace Greeley, the founder and editor of the New York Tribune, then the most influential paper in the nation. Although Greeley was instrumental in bringing Lincoln to the city in the previous year for his appearance and speech at the Cooper Union, he still wasn't completely sold on Lincoln's effectiveness as a political leader.

Once Lincoln and his family left the train, a parade took him along a 3 mile route through downtown. Papers of the day reported that at least 250,000 came to see him, apparently more out of curiosity than out of jubilation. Unlike the welcomes in the other stops along the way, this crowd was mostly silent, as if trying to size up this uneducated and "uncouth" (as they saw him) man from the frontier. The contrast between the mobs in the other cities was simultaneously welcome and unsettling. The image at the beginning of this post is from a print which shows Lincoln's arrival 150 years ago today in New York City.

Also unlike in the other cities along the route, there was no official welcoming committee from the City fathers or politicians at the train station. Lincoln and his family were more or less on their own as they wound through the city. He would meet the mayor, Mr. Fernando Wood, the following day.

Lincoln and his family were staying in New York at the fashionable Astor House, a leading hotel. As the Lincolns got out of their carriage, it is estimated that at least 30,000 people were crowded around the street just to see him. He stood quietly for a while and simply gawked at them, while they stared back. No rush to shake his hand, no shouts of joy, just the same eerie silence.

Once he entered the hotel and settled in for a time, Lincoln did appear from a balcony to speak ever so briefly to the assembled crowd. He asked forgiveness for not making a speech and admitted he had none prepared. The crowd seemed to accept his appearance and was apparently warming to him by then. According to the New York Times, the poet Walt Whitman was present and reported that Lincoln had broken the ice by a simple yawn or stretch or two as he was entering the hotel, as if those human actions had amused the crowd.

Later that night, Lincoln was given a reception at the Astor House by some local Republican groups. When called upon to give a speech during the reception, Lincoln yet again begged off, saying he had none prepared. Still, he admitted that he realized that the nation had been puzzled by his long winter of silence. He told them that even as President-Elect, he felt it not his position to over political comment either via speech or in public writings about the crisis facing the nation. He promised he would address the issues once he became President, but until then, he would have nothing of substance to say.

For a much better detailed account of Lincoln's arrival and visit to New York City from February 19 through 21, 1861, you can do no better than reading the website "Abraham Lincoln And New York" which is a project of the Lincoln Institute, founded by the Lehrman Institute in New York.

Lincoln's relationship with New York City is both fascinating and complex, as I've hopefully touched on in this post. Reading the above website will help the reader understand this relationship that would continue throughout his presidency.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey Buffalo To Albany February 18, 1861

The day of rest was over now for Abraham Lincoln and his family 150 years ago today as they resumed the Inauguration Journey with a very early departure from Buffalo, N.Y. The destination for February 18, 1861 was the state capital in Albany. It wasn't even 6 a.m. when the train got under way that day, leaving early enough, hopefully, to avoid the bedlam which greeted Lincoln when he arrived in Buffalo two days earlier.

There were many stops required along the way that day as the train crossed the entire width of New York state along in order to reach Albany. Newspaper reports from the New York Times tell us that there was deep snow on that cold February morning, which did not deter the determined crowds from showing up at stops along the way in order to see Mr. Lincoln.

At Batavia, New York, it was still very early when Lincoln's train stopped for a short time. A cannon was fired and the crowd lustily cheered his arrival. As at so many other stops in the past week, Lincoln declined to give a speech. Instead, he thanked the crowd for their dedication and enthusiasm for coming out so early to greet him.

Rochester, New York citizens were probably devastated when they went to the hotel where Lincoln was supposed to speak that morning in their town. Unfortunately, plans had changed and Lincoln instead spoke from the rear of the train, still to a large enough crowd. Once more, he simply spoke some pleasantries and went on his way.

The next stop was in the small town of Clyde, New York. According to the fascinating Disunion Blog by today's New York Times tells it, a photographer actually took some photographs of Lincoln as he spoke to the crowd assembled there. Unfortunately, those images have never been found. As far as I know, no images of Lincoln's Inauguration Journey from any stop along the way have been found.

When Lincoln spoke in Syracuse, New York that day, 10,000 people were in the crowd to hear him. The Times reported that a boy who threw a snowball towards Lincoln was arrested, but no other significant crowd problems were noted. Lincoln acknowledged the "very fine and handsome platform" the town had erected for him, yet declined to speak from it. He reminded the crowd that even if he was unwilling to speak from the platform, the crowd should not draw any inference concerning any other platforms (i.e. political platforms or policies) he may or may not be connected with. The crowd laughed and good naturedly forgave Lincoln's speaking from the train.

In Utica, New York, Lincoln mostly greeted the crowd and addressed the ladies in it by saying that he thought he had the "best of the bargain in sight," a joke about his supposed "ugliness." After being introduced to some of the "important men" of Utica, Lincoln once more came out onto the train platform to say farewell.

At Little Falls, New York, Lincoln repeated what he had just said at Utica about the ladies and telling the men that he didn't think he had the best of the bargain looking at them. Of course the crowd appreciated his short remarks and the train continued onward.

Fonda, New York heard more of the same. The citizens there had erected it's own platform, which Lincoln declined to speak from. He was very apologetic to the crowd, stating that he simply didn't have time to say lengthy speeches at every stop.

Next up on the journey that day was Schenectady, New York which also got an apology from Mr. Lincoln for not using its platform to speak from. I wonder if people were disappointed by Lincoln's refusal to speak on their platforms, even though they were excited by his appearance?

Lincoln's Inaugural Train finally arrived that day in Albany at around 2:20 p.m. Another mass of humanity awaited the President-Elect as one had at the other major cities along the journey. John Wilkes Booth was appearing in a play at that time in Albany and may very well have been in the crowd. The Times reported that this time around, Lincoln and the rest in the party waited for the military and police to better secure the crowd so the mob scene in Buffalo wouldn't be repeated here. The image shown above, courtesy of the Gilder Lehrman Institute, shows how Albany appeared in those days.

When Lincoln left the train, he was greeted officially by both the Albany mayor, and the Governor of New York. Lincoln responded with thanks and particularly noted how happy he was that the welcome from the welcoming reception was given "without distinction of party." He pointed out that the reception should be met for the President-Elect, no matter who had won the election.

Later in the afternoon, Lincoln addressed the State Legislature at the capitol. He profusely thanked them for the pledge that the state's leaders gave to Lincoln for its support of the Union and assistance to the nation should it come to that. He said "in behalf of the nation, in behalf of the present and future of the nation, in behalf of the civil and religious liberty for all time to come, most gratefully do I thank you." (yes, Lincoln said "in behalf", not "on behalf" as we would today) Indeed, New York would eventually contribute more Union soldiers during the Civil War than any other state. Of course, it happened to be the most populous state in the Union, too.

That night Lincoln and Mary were decidedly torn between what turned out to be "warring receptions" as the Governor and Legislature each put on a reception. Apparently the two branches were in strong opposition to each other. The Lincolns did their best, but found the evening to be exhausting, and were very angry at both the Governor and Legislature for the ridiculousness of having to attend two receptions.

The day had been a long one and the Lincolns were exhausted as they retired in Albany for the night. The next day would bring Lincoln's return to New York City, where nearly one year before he had given his brilliant Cooper Union speech, the speech which even he said had made him President. Would the City residents welcome him adoringly or with skepticism? Only time would tell.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey - Cleveland to Buffalo February 16, 1861

Abraham Lincoln wasn't feeling well 150 years ago today, on February 16, 1861. He had been traveling on a cold train for five days and attempting to speak to countless thousands of people along the way, without really saying anything important. He found the ordeal exhausting, as he told his private secretary, John Nicolay. His voice was still hoarse and he no doubt simply wanted to get to Washington City. But he still had a long journey ahead.

Lincoln had traveled the previous day from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Cleveland, Ohio, at least part of that way in a snowstorm. Before he arrived in Cleveland, he had spoken in Ravenna, Ohio once more not saying much of substance. He did thank the people of Ohio for their strong support of the Union, and told them that it was important to keep the ship afloat. The people of Hudson, Ohio merely got to hear him state flatly that he could not say much, thanks to his extreme hoarseness. The people must have been thrilled to see Lincoln, but disappointed in his lack of a speech.

The Lincoln Inaugural Train left Cleveland that morning 150 years ago today at around 9:00 a.m. for the final stop that day scheduled for the growing industrial city of Buffalo, New York, then the 10th largest city in the United States.

The first stop that day we have a record of was in the town of Painesville, Ohio not far east of Cleveland. He briefly greeted the crowd waiting for him, made polite remarks about the "good-looking" ladies and asked to have music from the assembled music band.

Further along the track, the train stopped in Ashtabula, Ohio, in the far northeastern corner of the state. After the crowd there asked to see Mrs. Lincoln, he replied that he learned long ago that he could not compel her to do what she did not want to do. Mary Todd Lincoln made very few appearances along the entire journey.

At the last stop in Ohio, in the village of Conneaut, someone shouted to Lincoln "Don't give up the ship!". Lincoln replied, "with your aid I never will as long as life lasts."

The train then entered Erie, Pennsylvania, on the shores of Lake Erie. He once more declined to give a speech, but promised he would speak later, in accordance with the Constitution and the manifest interests of the whole country. He urged adherence to the Union.

The most interesting part of the leg of the Inaugural Journey that day was the stop in the town of Westfield, New York where lived a young girl of 11 named Grace Bedell. It was she who wrote Abraham Lincoln a letter in October 1860, suggesting that he grow a beard because his "face was so thin." Lincoln took her advice and had a full beard during his journey. He asked if she might be present in the crowd, and surely enough, she was. The child was beautiful, with black eyes and hair, being pointed out by the crowd. Lincoln left the train car, walked through the crowd to the girl and gave her several kisses on her cheek. Young Grace blushed, but didn't run away.

The next stop at Dunkirk, New York was less eventful than the one before. Although a crowd of around 15,000 were waiting to greet Lincoln, he again declined to make a speech. He instead stood with his hand on a flag staff, and asked the crowd to stand by him as long as he stood by it. The crowd roared its approval.

Lincoln's train finally pulled into Buffalo that afternoon at around 4:00 p.m. According to the New York Times report of the event, at least 75,000 people were awaiting his arrival. An impressive number to be sure, considering that the population of the city that day was slightly over 80,000. It was a crowd about to lose control.

Waiting for Mr. Lincoln when he left the train car was the man who had been the 13th President Of The United States, Millard Fillmore. Fillmore and Lincoln shook hands, then as they began walking away from the train, the crowd surged towards the two men, as if a tsunami itself was about to strike. Policeman and soldiers charged with guarding Mr. Lincoln were quickly "swept away like weeds before an angry current." Finally, what soldiers remained quickly lowered their weapons so the bayonets were facing the mob. Amazingly, no one was seriously injured. A repeat of this chaos would occur again barely four years later as Buffalo hosted one of Lincoln's funerals.

(The image included in this post is a print of the crowd waiting for Lincoln that day in Buffalo, courtesy of the Library of Congress).

Lincoln did make some remarks that day in Buffalo, once he had been safely secured from the sea of humanity. At the American Hotel, Lincoln yet again said not much, other than the platitudes he had said already in other cities. He said that he was still absorbing the current events then sweeping across the country and urged the crowd to "maintain their composure," standing up for their rights and obligations under the U.S. Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln was the "rock star" of his time. Everywhere he went, masses of people tried to catch at least a glimpse of him. The crowds had been dangerous in Columbus, Pittsburgh, and now Buffalo. There was a growing concern for his safety and it was struggle to keep him from being killed by the very people who hoped he could save the country.

As fate would have it, another man who would someday become President Of The United States was in the throngs of people as Lincoln spoke: young Stephen Grover Cleveland, who was the 22nd and 24th President.

Lincoln and his family stayed in Buffalo that night and the entire day and night of February 17, 1861 for rest after what had already been a grueling journey. He was scheduled to speak in Albany and New York City, throughout New Jersey, and in Philadelphia. He had many more miles to go before he would at last reach Washington.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey Pittsburgh to Cleveland February 15, 1861

The morning of February 15, 1861 found Abraham Lincoln speaking to a crowd of about 5,000 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He had spent the night in the grandest hotel in the city, the Monongahela House, after a dreary, long ride the day before from Columbus, Ohio.

Lincoln, for some unknown reason, chose to speak mainly about the issue of a protective tariff, thought to help American manufacturers and workers. (compare this with today's belief in completely open markets) The speech was one of the longer ones Lincoln had given during his journey at this point, and it more or less flopped. Even reporters who were with Lincoln criticized the speech and its delivery. The people were most concerned about the state of disunion going on in the country and to date, Lincoln had not offered anything of substance during his journey to Washington. It was Lincoln's only speech in Pittsburgh, and it's unfortunate his effort wasn't better.

After this disappointing speech, the Lincolns and accompanying passengers departed Pittsburgh and headed northwest toward the growing industrial city of Cleveland, Ohio. It is unclear why the schedule had Lincoln going back into the Buckeye State, but this was the route his planners had made.

Along the way to Cleveland, there was another meal stop, this time in the town of Alliance, Ohio located in Stark County, which is where I make my home. It was Mr. Lincoln's only visit to the county and it was not uneventful. Although his speech was of the same type as he'd given numerous times already ("I need to get to Washington, so farewell), there was a grand crowd waiting for him. An overzealous "gun salute" went off near where the Lincoln's were eating, and the explosion shattered windows, even covering Mrs. Lincoln in pieces of glass. According to the New York Times report of the incident, Mrs. Lincoln remained calm (for once).

After the meal was over, the train continued on to Cleveland, where it was snowing heavily, which is very typical for a February day. The trip from the depot to the hotel where Lincoln and his family were staying that night was a distance of two miles and thousands were along the streets to see him.

Lincoln delivered a speech later in the day from his hotel (The Weddell House, no longer standing) to approximately 10,000 people. He touched on the same themes: the national crisis was "artificial," the states still had all their rights under the Constitution. He did ask "Why all this excitement? Why all these complaints?", referring to the South's outrage over his election and their desire to expand slavery. The print above, courtesy of the Library of Congress, is a sketch of Lincoln speaking that day 150 years ago in Cleveland.

By now, Lincoln had been traveling by train for four days and the fatigue had already begun affecting his health. He had a bad cold and was very hoarse when speaking. Still, he was able to project his voice, a high-pitched one with a pronounced frontier accent, and everyone in the crowd could hear.

Once the speech was finished, Lincoln attended receptions in his honor at the hotel. Reporters wrote that the crowds were far more orderly in Cleveland than they had been in Pittsburgh.

This was Abraham Lincoln's only appearance in the city of Cleveland while living Not much more than four years later, it was the site of one of his 13 majestic funerals as the citizens of paid their respects for a final time.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Lincoln Visited Here 150 Years Ago Today


150 years ago today on February 14, 1861, Abraham Lincoln stopped for a meal at the tiny village of Cadiz Junction, Ohio during his Inauguration Journey from Springfield to Washington.

This meal stop for Lincoln, his family, and the rest of the party certainly wasn't an important event in Lincoln's legacy, nor was it noteworthy in his Inauguration Journey, except to the local people. Nonetheless, I want to make sure the anniversary of this small event was not overlooked.

Lincoln and his family ate at a local boarding house or hotel which is long gone. While the local papers of the day claim he had dinner there, this marker claims he had breakfast there. I would tend to believe the papers. Mr. Lincoln didn't give a speech or much talk to the crowd waiting for him, claiming he was "too full for utterance" after the meal. But he did thank the people of Harrison County for their hospitality.

Cadiz Junction is located in the rugged foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in rural southeastern Ohio. It's located in Harrison County, just a few miles outside the county seat of Cadiz. Cadiz Junction was at the intersection or "junction" between the Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, and St. Louis Railroad (later the Pennsylvania Railroad system) and a branch line which ran from Cadiz to Cadiz Junction. It was important enough of a stop that General George A. Custer, General Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln's successor President Andrew Johnson, and Admiral David Farragut also stopped on various train trips for a meal at the local hotel.

Today the hamlet of Cadiz Junction has all but vanished. While trains certainly still pass through, the best times for the settlement have been over for at least a century. Today there is a house, an abandoned railroad "house" (similar to a depot, probably where workers could spend the night), and a small township garage. That, plus the historical marker I've shown above. The photos I've included below are how this hamlet appears today:



The image at the beginning of this post is a photograph I took earlier today of the historical marker commemorating Lincoln's visit. The marker was placed there many years ago not by the Federal Government, not by the state of Ohio, but simply by the Harrison County Historical Society.

There are no signs on the main Ohio state route leading to the township road where Cadiz Junction is located. There are certainly no signs telling people about this historical marker, and many county residents probably don't even know it's there. I only know about it because both sides of my family hail from this rural Ohio county. It was one of the first sites associated with Abraham Lincoln I ever visited as a young boy.

I chose to commemorate Lincoln's visit to this remote area of Ohio because I didn't want it to be overlooked in the hoopla associated with the sesquicentennial of Lincoln's Inaugural Journey. Re-enactments are happening in major cities across the original route, including this past Saturday in Cincinnati, Ohio and yesterday in the state capital of Columbus.

I've purposely avoided the National Park Service ceremonies and re-creations of Lincoln's Inauguration Journey. There have been thousands of people attending them already. I have no desire to see even a fantastic Lincoln portrayer give portions of the speeches Lincoln gave in the various major cities.

Instead, I chose to travel to Cadiz Junction. I wanted to spend some time quietly reflecting on Lincoln's legacy as I tried to imagine what the scene might have looked like when he visited, the weight of the nation riding on his shoulders.

There were no ceremonies today in Cadiz Junction to commemorate Mr. Lincoln's visit. No speakers, no speeches, not even a write-up about his visit in the local weekly paper. It's a pity.

Even so, at least one person was there, remembering the day when 150 years ago, February 14, 1861, Mr. Lincoln and his family paid a visit.

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey - February 14, 1861 to Pittsburgh

Abraham Lincoln and his family left the city of Columbus, Ohio early on the morning of February 14, 1861. The destination for the end of that day was the industrial city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The image I've included with this post is a stained glass window which depicts Mr. Lincoln speaking from the rear of his Inaugural train. It is located in the Smithfield United Church Of Christ in downtown Pittsburgh.

The weather in Columbus was cold with a chilling rain that day as the train left at 7:00 a.m. The crowd of people that morning, while not quite as large as the ones the previous day, still led to general confusion that morning and Mary Lincoln and her two younger sons nearly missed the train. But they caught it at last and the train went on to its destination. To help ease the boredom, some members of the party broke into song, singing popular tunes of the day.

The first stop at which Lincoln's words were recorded that day are from Newark, Ohio. The train actually went too far past the depot for him to easily address the crowd there. He limited his remarks to that fact, saying that there wasn't enough time to make a speech, and the "many fair ladies" had been "deprived...of observing" his "very interesting countenance." His simply bade the town farewell.

Lincoln's next stop of which we have records that day was in the small hamlet of Cadiz Junction, Ohio. This small place was the location of two railroads of the time, thus the name of the village, located a few miles from the Harrison County seat of Cadiz. This was a dinner stop for the party, and they were fed at the Park's House, a hotel long since vanished. After dinner, Lincoln pronounced to the assembled crowd that he was "too full for utterance" but if they had time, they would organize the train and pass a vote of thanks to the people of the county.

Lincoln had time for a longer speech of more substance at the next town, Steubenville, Ohio. This city was the birthplace and early home of Lincoln's eventual Secretary Of War, Edwin M. Stanton, but of course that was not foreseen at the time. Steubenville is on the banks of the Ohio River. At that time, the state of Virginia (now West Virginia) was across the river. Much like in Cincinnati two days earlier, Lincoln addressed Ohioans with points about the U.S. Constitution and the then-current troubles in the country. He stated that the people "on the other side of this majestic stream" wanted their rights under the Constitution. He pointedly asked just what their rights were under that document. He said that to decide that, the only was for a vote of the people across the country. If the majority did not want the expansion of slavery, then how could the minority still determine the outcome of the issue? He reiterated that if they (the Virginians) didn't like the outcome of the vote (i.e. the presidential vote), then they had another chance in four years to elect a better man.

At Wellsville, Ohio the train halted for under two minutes, and Lincoln simply greeted the crowd and said farewell. But then a drunken man pushed his way through the crowd to shake Lincoln's hand, admitting that he had voted for Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln shook the man's hand anyway, saying that the man and his friends should work to keep the ship of state afloat, and perhaps Mr. Douglas would have a chance next time of winning.

The Inauguration train finally left the Buckeye state and crossed into Pennsylvania, where he next spoke at the village of Rochester, just west of Pittsburgh. He intended on greeting the people, but as he was leaving a person asked what Lincoln would do with the secessionists. Lincoln replied "My friend, that is a matter which I have under very grave consideration."

Then the Lincoln train was delayed for almost four hours after learning that a freight train had broken down ahead of them on the tracks. The party tried to make the best of it, but by then it was nearly dark and everyone was very tired and cold. Finally, a few hours later, the Lincoln train reached the city of Pittsburgh.

Lincoln spoke at the Monongahela House, Pittsburgh's most luxurious hotel. He told the crowd that as he rode through the streets to the hotel, he thought that if "all the people were in favor of the Union, it can certainly be in no great danger - it will be preserved." After a few more remarks of the same type, he told the crowd that he would make a longer, better speech the next morning. It had been a very long day and the weather was supposed to be better then.

Thus ended Lincoln's day, February 14, 1861 - 150 years ago today.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey - Columbus February 13, 1861

Abraham Lincoln arrived in the state capital of Ohio, Columbus, on February 13, 1861 during his Inaugural Journey to Washington. More accurately, it could be said that he barely arrived in the capital city.

According to the New York Times report of the date, a bomb was found on Lincoln's train car earlier that day as it left Cincinnati, where he had spoken the day before to tens of thousands. Fortunately, the bomb was either defused or disposed of and Lincoln, his family, and the rest of the passengers made it safely to Columbus. Lincoln was already under death threats and now an attempt on his life had already been made.

The Buckeye State (my home state) went wild for Abraham Lincoln. In Xenia, Ohio earlier in the day, a mob estimated at 5,000 people was waiting for Lincoln's arrival at the depot. The crowd jumped on the roof of his train car, stormed the depot, and even ate the President-Elect's lunch which had been waiting for him. Though they demanded a speech, Lincoln gave them none, generally fearing for his and his family's safety in such a tumult.

Lincoln spoke very briefly at another whistle stop along the way to Columbus, in the small village of London, Ohio while the train took on fresh water. Lincoln declined to give a speech and instead asked an assembled band to play a musical interlude. He was already tired and hoarse from speaking and he was only three days into his journey.

A huge sea of people awaited Lincoln in Columbus, then a town of not even 20,000. Yet the Times estimated that at least 50,000 people were in the town in order to glimpse the future president.

Lincoln was taken by carriage to the Ohio Statehouse where the combined houses of the state's legislature (called "General Assembly") waited to hear him speak. From the print showed above (courtesy Library of Congress), the building was jammed with people. Abraham Lincoln spoke to the Assembly, but the speech was unmemorable and included a strange statement when he claimed that "nothing was going wrong" in the country and that "there is nothing that really hurts anybody." Even close friends were disappointed by his speech in Columbus and for that matter, in Cincinnati and Indianapolis as well.

(Abraham Lincoln was not a good extemporaneous or "off-the-cuff" speaker and these speeches thus far had revealed that weakness of his. The speeches which have come through the ages to us as brilliant and moving were those which he worked on carefully for weeks, constantly editing and marking them until he felt they were just right. This more than anything puts to bed the myth that Lincoln wrote his Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope while traveling to Gettysburg.)

Once the speech was over that day in Columbus, Lincoln had to escape to another room to avoid the crush of people who rushed toward him, determined to touch the man who would soon be President.

Lincoln then went to the outside steps of the Ohio Statehouse in order to speak to the thousands who were not politicians or VIP's and who had missed hearing him in the building. Lincoln acknowledged that not everyone in the crowd had voted for him, but that he appreciated their attendance, saying that had any of his opponents had won, he would think that such a crowd would have come to see the other men, too. He also admitted that the State General Assembly had just heard a few "broken" remarks from him, so it's quite possible that Lincoln realized that his speech had not been a good one.

While in Columbus, Lincoln was notified by telegram that with the presidential vote officially counted in Washington that day, he was now certified to be the next President Of The United States. There is an interesting account from yesterday's (February 12, 2011) New York Times about this vote. Someone asked General Winfield Scott on February 13, 1861 what would happen should someone try to disrupt the official vote counting in Washington that day, especially if it was a U.S. Senator from a southern state. The person was unbelieving that Scott would have him arrested. Scott replied: "I would blow him to hell!"

Lincoln spent the night in Columbus, Ohio 150 years ago today, February 13, 1861. He resumed the Inauguration Journey, the next day as he traveled through small villages and towns in eastern Ohio, on his way to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. That leg will be described in my next post. Stay tuned.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey - February 12, 1861


The second day of Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Journey was his 52nd birthday, February 12, 1861. The next leg of this journey continued from Indianapolis through the eastern half of Indiana then traveled southward to the Ohio River city of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Lincoln had spoken fairly frequently the first day of the trip and was already experiencing some minor hoarseness as the train pulled out of Indianapolis. Nonetheless, he still would meet the crowds and even offer brief remarks at the stops along the route to Cincinnati that day.

The train passed through small Indiana towns that day, and made a brief two-minute stop in Shelbyville, where Lincoln shook as many hands as he could before the train departed. It was his second visit to that town, the first being in 1859 during his return trip from a speech he gave in Cincinnati. On that occasion, Lincoln had spoken in Shelbyville for a short time, pointing his differences with Stephen A. Douglas and the Democrats over the issues of slavery.

At the longer stop in Lawrenceburg, Indiana this day, though, Lincoln had a longer time period in which to offer a few remarks to the crowd. He stated that "If the politicians and leaders of parties were as true as the PEOPLE (original source capitalization, not mine), there would be little fear that the peace of the country would be disturbed."

Upon arrival in Cincinnati that afternoon, Lincoln spoke a few lines upon a rousing welcome from the crowd at the depot. He told the people gathered that he would give his main speech later that day from the Burnet House (a hotel), a print of which is shown in the image I've included with this post.

At the Burnet House, Lincoln thanked the multitudes of people who had come to see him, a crowd estimated at approximately 10,000. He admitted that the people had not come to see him, but the President-Elect of The United States, a statement which caused much cheering and applause. He said it was as it should be, no matter if his other opponents had been elected instead of him. He was quick to point out that well that in his opinion no other country on Earth would've seen so many gather to welcome its new leader, and that the country owed this to the free institutions which had guaranteed freedom of assembly. He said that he hoped that the country would continue on such a path for centuries to come.

He then turned his attention to any Kentuckians who might be in the crowd. Yet again, Lincoln assured those who might be present that he had no intention to interfere with their "institution" (i.e., slavery) where it already existed. He said that other than their differing opinions on the issue of expansion of slavery, there was no difference between them. He reminded them again, that he was a fellow Kentuckian and had no personal intentions of bad against them. He closed his directed speech to the Kentuckians by saying he would treat them as the Founding Fathers had treated them.

Then speaking to the Ohioans again, Lincoln asked them to harbor no ill will towards their "friends" and "brethren" across the Ohio River in Kentucky. He expressed his hope that the country would yet again come together as one nation.

In those days (and even today), there was a large population of Germans in Cincinnati. Later after his main speech that day, Lincoln went to another location in the city to address a crowd of people of German heritage which included numerous recent immigrants from that country. Lincoln again declined to announce what course of action he would take once he assumed the presidency in the following month. But he did state to them that he would treat the Germans (who were facing much discrimination then) no better and no worse than Americans. He stated his support for a Homestead Law (passed in 1862) which would provide free Federal land (in return for working it for at least five years) to anyone who would want it. This was wildly popular among the German and other European immigrants at the time, who were fleeing famine, cramped conditions, and oppression in their native countries.

With these remarks, Lincoln was done appearing in public for that day. He and his family overnighted in Cincinnati. He would leave the next day for the state capital of Ohio, Columbus. That brief leg of the trip will be discussed tomorrow, the 150th anniversary.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Lincoln's Inauguration Journey - February 11, 1861

The first day of Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural Journey to Washington City (as it was called in those days) began with his famous Farewell Address he gave that morning to his friends and neighbors in Springfield. That was the subject of my previous post. This post will cover the rest of that first day's journey.

Lincoln appeared to the crowd that day as the photo above depicts. The pose was taken in photographer C.S. German's Springfield gallery only two days prior to departure, February 9, 1861. It shows the President-Elect with a full beard and somewhat shaggy hair. His wife Mary thought it made him look almost "saintly."

After Lincoln and his family departed Springfield, he briefly wrote some of the lines of his Farewell Address down on paper for posterity, then his personal secretary John Nicolay wrote out some more of the Address. Lincoln finished it, so the original manuscript of the Address is in both of their handwriting.

Train travel being what it was in the 1860's, meant frequent stops along the way for more water or wood or coal for the locomotives. This journey would be no different. At most of the stops, Lincoln would at least appear very briefly at the rear of the train and say a few appropriate remarks to the gathered villagers or townspeople. He saved his more important speeches along the journey for the large cities or state capitals of each state he traveled through.

The first stop that day was in the small town of Tolono, Illinois. He spoke only a couple of lines to the crowd, telling it that he hoped that "Behind the cloud the sun is still shining."

In Danville, Illinois, Lincoln no doubt was greeted at least briefly by some old friends. Lincoln often participated in court cases in that small town, and he had become quite close with two men there. Oliver Davis was Lincoln's floor manager at the Republican Convention in 1860 which nominated Lincoln. They had served on several cases together. Another friend in that town was Oscar Harmon, also a fellow lawyer and former Illinois state representative. Harmon was killed in the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain during the Civil War. When Lincoln himself was later killed, a lock of his hair was given to Harmon's widow. You can read more about Lincoln's friends in Danville here.

Soon after, Lincoln's train reached the Indiana state line, where he spoke about having lived in that state from 1816 to 1830. He promised a bigger and better speech in Indianapolis at the state capitol. The next stop was in Lafayette, Indiana where he marveled at the speed he had traveled that day, remarking that in his youth, it was good if a person had been able to travel 30 miles. He went on to talk about the Union and how he felt that it would yet remain whole.

In Thorntown and Lebanon, Indiana, Lincoln tried to tell a humorous story about a slow horse to the crowds, but the train departed before he could finish the story. The point was basically that he wanted to make it to Washington prior to the Inauguration on March 4. This was a theme he repeated frequently on the journey.

He finally arrived in Indianapolis, the state capital later in the day. In response to a hearty welcome from the governor, Lincoln addressed a large assembly of people as he stood on the rear platform of the train. He told the crowd that the preservation of the Union was as much as their responsibility, if not more, than it was his own responsibility. That everyone who loved the Union must struggle to preserve it.

Later that day from the Bates House (a hotel) also in Indianapolis, Lincoln addressed another large crowd. In this speech, Lincoln spoke strongly against the southern states' claims that the northern states were trying to "invade" their territory. Lincoln replied or asked that if the Federal Government was simply trying to hold onto its property (i.e., forts being seized by the southern states), how could that, then, be invading? He also asked how could the "sacredness" of a given state be more important than that of the Union?

Thus ended a long first day of Abraham Lincoln's Inauguration Journey to Washington, February 11, 1861. He had said farewell to his beloved Springfield, and spoken at small towns and large ones as well, in both Illinois and Indiana. The next day was his 52nd birthday.

Won't you join the Abraham Lincoln Blog as I commemorate each day of his journey, on the 150th anniversary of each particular day? It will be a memorable trip.

I should mention that my source for this series of posts is primarily The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, published in 1953, Roy Blaser, editor. It is an indispensable resource for researching the life of Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln's Farewell Address

At this time 150 years ago today, February 11, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was in the initial stages of his Inaugural Journey to Washington, D.C. He was embarking on a trip which would take him across seven states, covering over 1,900 miles, and last for thirteen days. Along the way, he was greeted by enthusiastic crowds in cities both big and small, and at tiny settlements when the train would stop for more coal or water.

The route of course avoided the southern states, including even those just across the Ohio River, such as Kentucky or Virginia (there was no West Virginia until 1863). Indeed, by the time Lincoln left Springfield that February day in 1861, seven southern states had already left the Union. And Lincoln himself had already begun receiving death threats in the mail sent to him in Springfield.

Approximately 1,000 of Lincoln's fellow citizens and friends in Springfield met him that day at the Great Western Deport at 10th and Monroe Streets in Springfield, just a few blocks from his home. (the photo I've included with this post shows the depot as it appeared in 1867, basically unchanged from how it looked the day Lincoln left.) Joining him on the long journey to Washington were his wife, Mary, and sons Robert, Willie, and Thomas or "Tad." One Lincoln son, Eddie, died in 1850 and was buried in Springfield. Unfortunately, the Lincoln family pet, "Fido", was also being left behind out of concern that his fear of loud noises would make the trip a living hell for him. Fido was left with a kind family.

Lincoln no doubt spoke with a heavy heart to the assembled crowd that day in Springfield. He had arrived as a newly licensed attorney in 1837, which virtually nothing other than the clothes on his back. Over the course of the next nearly 25 years, he had become a successful and fairly well-to-do lawyer with much experience through representing railroad companies. He must have had mixed emotions leaving the town which had come to mean so much to him, as he prepared to assume the Presidency Of The United States in less than one month.

The words Lincoln spoke that day to his friends and neighbors at the depot are some of the most moving he ever spoke or wrote. In just a few brief sentences, he conveyed his thoughts and deepest feelings about the journey ahead, and the turmoil waiting for him as he prepared to become President:

"My friends, no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."

With those words, Lincoln departed his home of Springfield, Illinois, never to see it again.

 
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