An Address in Commemoration of Abraham
Lincoln, Boardman, Rev. George Dana, April 19, 1865,
Church of Philadelphia.
IN COMMEMORATION OF
PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES,
DELIVERED IN THE MEETING-HOUSE
FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF PHILADELPHIA,
ON THE DAY OF HIS FUNERAL AT THE NATIONAL CAPITAL,
APRIL 19, 1865.
REVEREND GEORGE DANA BOARDMAN.
SHERMAN & CO., PRINTERS.
How different this scene, my countrymen, from that which was witnessed last Friday morning within these walls!* Then all was gladness and triumph and festal song and gay festoon. Now all is grief and apprehension and requiem and ebon drapery. Why this awful change? Why this universal suspension of business, this awful stillness of the cities and the hamlets? Why, if men appear in the streets, do they walk with slow and measured tread, their hearts failing them through fear, and a grief more crushing than fear? Why from countless spires toll the funereal bells? Why from fort and arsenal and camp and military academy and navy-yard and man-of-war mournfully boom the half-hour guns? Why, from the Golden Gate in the far-off West to the St. Croix, aye, to British Newfoundland in the far off East, from every flagstaff and window and balcony and colonnade, from car and engine and steed, float the funereal emblems, fluttering like the ebon wings of countless death-birds? Why this darkness that has fallen on all the land, a darkness so thick that
I cannot, stricken countrymen, speak long to you today. I trusted, last Sunday, when I gave the announcement for this occasion, that, ere this, I should have regained sway over myself. But in preparing for this solemn hour I have felt the same indescribable stupefaction that I felt on that dreadful Saturday morning. For an hour or two after I read the curdling tale, I felt such a strangeness as I never had felt before, and as I pray God I may never feel again. I felt no anger, not even sadness. I read the awful intelligence over and over and over again; and still it hardly affected me more than if I had never read it at all. And thus an hour or two passed on, in which, like thousands of my countrymen, the soul itself seemed benumbed. And though subsequently the horrible stupefaction passed away, to be succeeded by most poignant bitterness of soul, yet, in endeavoring to arrange my thoughts for this dreaded
Abraham Lincoln was born of respectable parentage in Kentucky, February 12, 1809. In 1816, his parents removed to Indiana, where in their new home Abraham spent the next ten years in hard manual labor on his father's farm. The only school education which he ever received was that which he obtained at intervals during this time, amounting in the aggregate to about a year. In 1830 he removed with his father to Illinois, and in the following year was employed as one of the hands in navigating a flat-boat down the Mississippi to New Orleans. On the breaking out of the Black Hawk war, in 1832, he served his country for three months as the captain of a volunteer company. On his return he began the study of law, to which he devoted himself with most persistent assiduity. In 1834 he was elected to the legislature by the highest vote cast for any candidate in the State, which position he held for six years in virtue of consecutive re-elections. Meanwhile he had removed to the capital of the State, where he rapidly
Such, in briefest terms, is an outline of the career of America's foremost son. What more can be said as we gather in tearful reverence around his bier? Without distinction of lineage, he gained a distinction which no lineage could give. Born among and as one of the common people, he ever retained, amidst a courtliness of power which European dynasties a thousand years old might envy, a fellow-feeling with the common people, by his own inherent greatness rising to be their type aggregate, embodiment, and symbol. But passing over those years of boyish poverty and struggle, and also the years of youthful brain and will endeavor, and conquest too, let us gaze on him when, in the ma-
He was not a man lustrously brilliant in any one direction. No one faculty of brain markedly towered over another. But he was none the less great in that his greatness was so rounded, having less the transient dazzle of the meteor than the steady quiet sparkle of the fixed star. His logic was intuitive rather than tentative, instinctive rather than elaborative. He was wont to come to his conclusions less by the laborious rowings of his reason than by the unconscious floatings of his instinctive, inborn shrewdness and sagacity. Hence the facility with which he detected the pivotal point in any question, however complex. Hence the ease and precision with which he led the people to catch the same point, leading them directly thither by the avenue of a diction which, however peculiar and homely, was
But because the intellect of the late President was intuitive rather than ratiocinative, it does not follow that he was not intellectually great; for as, according to the profounder theologians, the intuitive John was greater than the syllogistic Paul, so it seems to me, that Mr. Lincoln, intellectually surveyed, stands in the very first rank of those who have, in either hemisphere, wielded the sceptre. He had an unusually comprehensive mind, taking in at a glance all the aspects of the most many-sided question, almost always coming unerringly to a conclusion, when an inferior and less spherical mind would have been puzzled and paralyzed by a seeming contradiction, as, for instance, when social or a political necessity is balanced by a legal or constitutional difficulty, or when a pressing moral obligation is offset by a present practical impossibility. Seeing all sides of a question, and intuitively just, he was enabled to equate the problem, thus steering the ship of state safely be-
And yet Mr. Lincoln was not wanting in executive force. Because he made no pretensions to special firmness, and vaunted not his purposes, people at first imagined that he was irresolute. But as time rolled on we began to see that beneath that mild, unassuming exterior lay an imperial will, that serenely swayed all who came in contact with him, however high in the military or executive councils of the nation they stood; and yet so quiet was this sway that they hardly knew that the sceptre was over them. Observe the modest assurance with which he rules the Secretary of State and the Lieutenant-General, placidly reserving to himself every ultimate responsibility. Nor was his inflexibility less than his force. All the powers of earth could not drive him to take a step till he thought it was right; and when convinced that it was right, all the powers of earth could not prevent his taking it. And all this, too, was without the slightest ostentation. Like a wire-bridge across a mountain gorge, he could sway to the softest zephyr, yet, like the same wire-bridge, the whirlwind could not uproot him.
Gifted with this intellectual judgment so instinctively infallible, and this gentle steadfastness of will, the late President blended with it a moral nature remarkably pure, keen, sensitive, and controlling. He was the very soul of integrity. It were as much as a man's liberty, certainly more than his expectations, were worth, to enter the presence of Abraham Lincoln with either flattery, threat, or bribe. Himself as transparent as crystal, he loathed whatever was refractive or opaque. He was absolutely incorruptible. Shrewd beyond most men, his shrewdness was the clear, piercing vision of a clean, single heart, that knew not how to
Spread its sails
With 'vantage to the gale of others' passions.
Conscious of personal integrity, self-reliant, constitutionally genial, having an abiding faith in the instinct and persistence of the people as a corporate whole, assured of the justice of the majestic cause, and having a deep confidence in the overruling and merciful God, he was enabled to retain, in hours of darkest gloom, a cheerfulness of spirit, which often found vent in broadest and most grotesque humors. I doubt not that this constitutional blithesomeness of soul was one of the elements which contributed to the preservation of his life beneath the most crushing responsibilities that ever fell on man. And amidst all these distracting, hardening, shrivelling cares, he ever retained the same freshness and tenderness of soul. While just and kind to all, he
Cromwell! I charge thee fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels; how can man, then,
The image of his Maker, hope to win by 't?
Love thyself last; cherish those hearts that hate thee;
Corruption wins not more than honesty.
Still in thy right hand carry gentle peace,
To silence envious tongues. Be just, and fear not!
Let all the ends thou aim'st at be thy Country's,
Thy God's and Truth's! Then, if thou fall'st, O Cromwell!
Thou fall'st a blessed martyr!
And this is the man so augustly rich in the elements of an exalted manhood, who has suddenly been stricken down, not by an adventurous invader from a foreign soil, seeking to avenge his own nationality; not by a reckless highwayman, who must needs replenish his empty purse; not by a staggering madman, crazed by his potations; but by an American desperado, who, whether the appointed and duly certified organ of conspirators or not, it matters little, is nevertheless the actual summation and type of that slaveholding power, which, rather than lose its grasp on the sable chattels made in God's image, after His likeness, has been willing to drench a continent in fratricidal blood. Oh, what a type and symbol of this whole insurrectionary movement of the South, this assassination of President Lincoln has been! If ever the genius of suicide took upon itself the impersonation of a human form, it was when this colossal slaveholding conspiracy was epito-
Kiss dead Caesar's wounds,
And dip their napkins in his sacred blood;
Yea, beg a hair of him for memory,
And, dying, mention it within their wills,
Bequeathing it as richest legacy
Unto their issue.
Yes, it shall be said of the martyred President as was said three thousand years ago of the grand old Hebrew judge and patriot, "The dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life."
My countrymen! I have woven my garland, simple and unworthy as it is, and hung it on the bier. It is
Yes! move on in majestic state to thy Illinois tomb, amidst the bowing ranks of a weeping nation, thou illustrious martyr for us all! Thy dead, murdered corse is the watchword, and, with God's grace, the victor paean of an emancipated, chastened, glorified Republic!