Our National Unity Perfected in the Martyrdom of our President, Thomas, A.G., April 19th, 1865.,
Chapel of the Filbert Street U.S. General Hospital.
Our National Unity Perfected in the Martyrdom of our President.
DELIVERED IN THE
CHAPEL OF THE FILBERT STREET U. S. GENERAL HOSPITAL,
On the Day of the Obsequies, at Washington,
OF OUR LATE PRESIDENT,
April 19th, 1865.
REV. A. G. THOMAS,
HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN U.S.A.
SMITH, ENGLISH & CO., 23 NORTH SIXTH STREET.
FILBERT STREET U. S. A. GENERAL HOSPITAL, April 20th, 1865.
REV. A. G. THOMAS, HOSPITAL CHAPLAIN U. S. A.,--
We, the undersigned Officers, Patients, and Committees, of Filber Street U. S. A. General Hospital, respectfully request that a copy of your excellent address, delivered on the occasion of the funeral ceremonies of our lamented President, Abraham Lincoln, Wednesday, April 19th, 1865, be furnished for publication.
RICHARD DUNGLISON, A.A. Surg. U. S. A.
EDW. L. DUER, A. A. Surg. U. S. A.
JOHN C. HILTON, 1st Lt. and Military Assistant.
G. C. HERNANDEZ, Co. A, 5th N. Y. H. Art.
GEO. W. MILLER, Co. B, 138th Pa.
JAMES COWAN, Co. K, 34th Mass.
WM. L. VANHORN, Bat I, 2d Pa. Art.
FRED. COLE, 105th V.R.C.
Mrs. M. CONYERS, Mrs. JOHN M. RILEY,
" HENRY C. HARRISON " N.S. LAWRENCE,
MISS ANNA COWPLAND, " SARAH M. GRANT,
" REBEKAH PARKE, MISS S. E. PETERSON,
" SARAH W. SMITH, " AGNES. Y. MCALLISTER.
DR. R.J. DUNGLISON, MRS. M. CONYERS, AND OTHERS.
I cheerfully comply with your request, and hope that the sentiments I endeavored to express in the fervor of the hour, may deepen our attachment to the principles for which such great sacrifices have been made.
A. G. THOMAS.
MEMORY OF THE
NOBLE MEN NOW NUMBERED
WITH THEIR COUNTRY'S DEAD, BY
WHOSE COUCH I MINISTERED IN FILBERT ST. U.
S. A. GENERAL HOSPITAL, AND TO THE MEMORY OF ONE
WHO, BY HER CHRISTIAN WORDS AND DEEDS, HAS WRITTEN HER
NAME ON OUR HEARTS, AND WHO, IN HER DEVOTION
TO THE SOLDIER'S WELFARE, DIED AT HER
POST, DECEMBER, 1864, FELLOW-MAR-
TYRS WITH OUR LAMENTED
I TENDERLY DEDICATE THIS PAPER.
A. G. T.
Genesis xxxv: 29:--" AND ISAAC, GAVE, UP THE GHOST AND DIED; ***AND HIS SONS, ESAU AND JACOB, BURIED HIM."
The brothers came together at their father's burial. For long years they had been at enmity; but he who was beloved by both was on his dying bed, and as they stood around it in common grief, and subsequently followed him to the grave, the cause of their alienation seemed trifling, and their past animosities were forgotten. Death, while it sunders tender ties, is a no less mighty promoter of earthly friendship. Especially is it such when it has been hastened by the hand of violence. Blood, shed in a cause that is dear to the hearts of the living, is a power that can never die.
Our land, to-day, mourns the loss of a martyred father. Our language has no word to express the deep enormity of the crime that has taken away his life; and no words that I can frame can describe the weight of sorrow that presses our hearts. In an hour and an event like this, there is a silence that is more expressive than words. It is, however, the privilege of a Christian people to know in their darkest hours that their Heavenly Father yet lives, and that from apparent evil he will educe good. Various interpretations of this providence will be suggested by the many who will seek to read the mind of God. That which seems to me to-day most apparent, is that,-OUR NATIONAL UNITY IS PERFECTED BY THE MARTYRDOM OF OUR PRESIDENT.
I. We are by this event united in the ties of a COMMON SYMPATHY. In the executive mansion a widow and orphans mourn the loss of
Still more, in the kind of bereavement, the experience is the same. To her it was sudden as it was sad. From the full joy of the successes for which her husband had given his best energies, to the deep anguish of his assassination, who can measure the terrible gradation? It is said that the stricken woman exclaimed: "Why did they not shoot me and spare my husband?" Doubtless her anguish was deeper than that of her husband as he that night grappled with the King of Terrors. The ball that struck him down pierced her heart, and to have died would not have been as terrible as to have experienced such a revulsion of feelings. Nor was she alone in such sorrows. The cry that startled the affrighted audience in that theatre has been heard for the past four years in more than two hundred thousand homes in this land; it was but the echo of what has been heard in many a family circle after every battle. Some of
II. The MANNER of our President's death is a bond of union. He died for maintaining principles which he held dear as life, and for which the nation has made the mighty offerings of blood and treasure, and energies, of these past years. And in all our sacrifices, our Chief Magistrate has made the greatest. Northern traitors have said it is an easy matter for him to issue proclamations or to order conscriptions for hundreds of thousands of men; as if his was only the effort of writing an order. Any one who has looked upon his anxious face must have known better. I believe, had Abraham Lincoln occupied the position of a private citizen, he would have recruited his company and have been found in the thickest of these battles for freedom. In his higher calling he has done more than this. While a million of men have been enduring the hardships of the field, he has carried the burdens of all. You remember the expression he made on leaving his home to take the reins of Government, and oh! how fully he realized it! Never has a ruler borne as tremendous responsibilities, and never has one as faithfully performed his work. In the Executive Mansion, among the soldiers, on the field and in the hospital, the fervor of his devotion was manifested with more than a father's care. Just six days before his assassination, he had spent hours in the hospitals at City Point, talking with and consoling the wounded. He had but just returned from the war-scarred fields and cities of the South,
But in the manner of his death we especially trace the seal of our union. He was the exponent of principles that were hateful to the South, and for which they endeavored to tear him from his place. For this they moulded their bullets, forged their cannon, and built their iron-clads; for this they summoned the people and led forth their armies. He was the head and front of all their malignity; yet, knowing all this, our chieftain swerved not from his responsibility. His declaration made in our own city was, "I would rather be assassinated on the spot than yield these principles;" and never did a martyr walk to the stake with a firmer step and a stouter heart than he. He summoned his armies, appointed their leaders and marched right on in the path of duty. Between him and Southern bayonets millions of men have battled. And because the principles which he advocated were as dear to others as to himself, hundreds of thousands have freely given their young lives. Who can estimate the treasures, the energies, the sacrifices, and the blood, thus freely given? But at last, when the bullet that had pierced so many, seemed almost spent, it struck down the nation's Chief. The blood of the martyred father was mingled with that of his martyred children. Our President, in the midst of a nation's joy, gathering to himself a nation's affections and a nation's hope, bowed his head and was forever enshrined in a nation's heart.
Such a martyrdom has shown how priceless are the principles involved in our struggle, and ennobled every drop of blood shed in their maintenance. This brotherhood in sacrifice as in sentiment, of the Commander-in-Chief with the humblest of the ranks, has united all the good, the true, and the noble, in bonds that will be firm while the memory of their heroic deeds shall last.
III. In the PERSON of the martyr there is a bond of union. From the moment in which Mr. Lincoln was invested with the
Burdened with all the responsibilities of our defeat before Richmond, he could step out of his pathway and for the moment care for a helpless bird. It was the ruler of a great people embracing in his feelings the interests of the humblest in the land-the father yearning for the return of another fledgeling that had foolishly torn itself from its home. The principles cherished by our chieftain, and for which he became a martyr, were just as dear to the hearts of millions of his countrymen; and for these we loved him. His unselfish devotion to maintain the integrity of the government, and his broad philanthropy, had won for him the title of our Beloved and Honored President-the nation's Father.
Now can you not see in the martyrdom of such a personage a mighty bond of union? To strike him down was to strike down all that you and I held sacred in our laws, cherished in our institutions and honorable in our government. It was a personal blow, that has come home with an intensity of feeling to every heart in the Republic. It has come to us as deeper than the loss of property or home. An object of our love, confidence and veneration has been rudely torn away from life. Our plans are thwarted, our hopes on him are suddenly blasted, a part of our very selves has been stricken down.
"Oh, what a fall was there, my countrymen!
Then I and you, and all of us, fell down,
Whilst bloody treason flourished over us."
This hour, in the pageantry at the capital and in churches and homes all over the land, the national brotherhood mourns with as deep a grief as ever hearts have felt in following a loving father to his grave. And whilst the body will be borne through the land to its last resting place, solemn, silent and impressive, an orphaned people will bedew its pathway with their tears as they mourn a martyred father.
IV. In our EXECRATION OF THE DEED there is a bond of union. It was a deed so remote from the experience of man, that no word in any language has been coined that can give it a name, and
no annals of history can produce its parallel. The savage has pursued his victim and, in his most unsuspecting moments, his dagger has tasted the sweets of revenge; kings have lost their heads at the instigation of refined courtiers; and. tyrants, plotting their country's ruin, have fallen by the hand of the oppressed; but never has the President of a great republic--the choice of millions--been stricken down by the blow of an assassin. Never has one so pure, honest, merciful, with such a lofty patriotism and deep love of mankind, been deprived of life by so base a hand. Evidence has fixed the crime on one guilty wretch, and yet we know that his hand is not alone stained with that blood. The same hand that struck down our beloved President was uplifted, a few years ago, against the life of a senator. It was the same hand that has grown hard in forging human fetters, and in scourging human flesh; the same red hand that has deluged the land with blood and dug it over with graves; that has, with the malice of demons, murdered, by starvation in prisons, sixty-four thousand of our brave brothers; the same parricidal hand that has aimed to destroy the life of the best government that God has ever given to man. I believe that when the evidence is fully sifted out many, both North and South, will be found to have been directly implicated in the plot; and certainly every traitor is indirectly responsible for it. Doubtless the assassin, with his immediate accomplices, will be arrested and meet their merited doom. But would you lay an iron hand on the dastardly instruments and allow the more perfidious instigators to go free? To satisfy justice the miserable scavenger life of Booth is worth little more than the bullet that prostrated the victim. All feel that justice must have a wider sweep, that a heavy hand must be laid on the guilty plotters of our country's ruin. In this, today, there is but one sentiment. There was danger, a little while ago, lest in our terms to traitors justice should be invaded. Public sentiment was fast falling in love with them. Beguiled by their polished manner and prompted by a false magnanimity toward fallen foes, many spoke of their deeds as only an error of the head, for which mercy would be the cure. They were so magnanimous that to some it seemed almost our duty to get down on our knees and beg their pardon for our having conquered them. The life-blood of
Nor is this a depraved spirit of revenge; I take it as the voice of God. There can be no government without a law, and no law without a penalty. If Justice is to be set aside for the benefit of accomplished traitors, then open all prison doors, raze the walls of every penitentiary, let no more scaffolds be built, turn loose the whole brood of striped convicts. If mercy only is to speak, then snatch the sword from the hand of Justice, and never more lift her scales in her temples. But why argue thus? This is the voice of the purest, the wisest, the most Christian of the land; those who know most of the mind and character of God. To-day it is re-echoed from the pulpit and the forum; from the press and people. In our execration of the deed there is but one sentiment, deep, loud and firm.
Thus, in our national sorrow there is a mighty bond of union. Our President speaks with a greater power in his death than in his life. His lifeless body, journeying to its silent home in the West, will touch the hearts of millions who have been unmoved by his voice or deeds.
I have attempted, with an imagination swifter than the telegram, to see the effect of the news of this death, as it has been told throughout the land. The gold-hunter of the far west hears of it
It has been the most tremendous shock that a nation has ever felt. He was taken in the full joy of victory, when his hopes and our hopes were being realized and celebrated. The war ended, the fetters of slavery broken, and our government re-established, like our Washington, we had anticipated for our Lincoln, some years of respite from toil, in the enjoyment of the honors and affection of grateful millions; but from all this he has been suddenly and forever removed; and it is this thought that has cast its shadow upon the heart of national exultation. We would fain wake him from his
But we needed all this--these draped cities--this drooping of the flag--our joy-bells muffled. It was meet that one so exalted in the affection and confidence of the people, should die for the nation. We needed this crucible of affliction to chasten the national spirit, and to fuse us as the heart of one man; and in God's way it has been done. To-day the Esaus and the Jacobs of this land are brothers again.--Not that loyal men grasp hands red with the blood of their fallen brothers--there can be no fellowship of light with darkness, of truth with error--but among the true friends of the Republic all minor difficulties are laid aside. Differences of rank or station seem small; schemes of self-promotion lose their influence; party animosities and prejudices are forgotten; and as brothers, standing around the grave of a father, are bound together by the common grief, so with us. Rank and file, Republicans and Democrats, Freedmen and Freemen, all sections, peoples and hearts, throb with a common grief; and in sympathy, interest and affection the national heart is one. We occupy a higher plane to-day than ever before. Chastened by this event, we will be a spectacle for all nations and all history. Already from the Canadas there is borne to us, on the wires, the sympathetic throb, and soon from the Old World there will come the same expressions. Our national power has been greatly enhanced. It will be proven that the Republic cannot be destroyed by the blow of a miscreant; that its life and destiny are not dependent on the life of one man. The leader may fall at his post but another takes his place. Cabinets, senators and the chief men may be assassinated, but the government will live; for, deep in the hearts of the people, more enduring than man, marble, or monuments, are its principles. And as the oak, rocked by the tempest, sends its fibres deeper into the earth, so will this shock deepen the fibres of national life. No brighter, and yet more tender page of our country's history can be written than that which will refer to the words and deeds of our lamented President, during the last month of his life. If he had known of his approaching end, and had endeavored to have made it more impressive he could not have succeeded. Tell me, soldiers and countrymen,
Thus let us be assured that what is now regarded as a national calamity will, ere long, be looked upon as a blessing in disguise. The Hand that has been with our fathers, and so manifest with us in this momentous struggle with rebellion, has never been more apparent than in this event. Our strong staff is broken, but God has in it made firm the hearts of the people. Our Moses has been taken, but he has been educating our Joshua in the school of poverty and persecution, for his responsible work. And could I speak to that Joshua to-day, I would say, "Be strong and courageous, be not afraid nor dismayed for the king of Assyria; for all the multitude that is with him, for there be more with us than with him. With him is an arm of flesh; but with us is the Lord our God, to help us and to fight our battles." Could I speak to-day to all our soldiers, as I now address you, I would utter words of cheer. Though our Commander-in-Chief has fallen, the Republic is safe. You may not hear from his lips, as other soldiers heard from the lips of Washington, the glad announcement that the work is done; but you know it is done, and well done. As you stack arms to return to your homes, come back resolving that, by the help of God, you will live worthy of the land for which a Washington bled and a Lincoln died. And could I, to-day, speak to all this nation, blinded by the tears of sorrow, I would say, O, countrymen, it is not unmanly to weep for the mighty dead! but let us hasten to brush the tear from the eye, and gird ourselves to a higher manhood for the responsibilities of the hour. Every vestige of the rebellion must be
"He is sifting out the hearts of men, before his judgment seat;
Oh, be swift, my soul to answer him! be jubilant my feet."
"LET THE SEA ROAR, AND THE FULLNESS THEREOF; THE WORLD,AND THEY THAT DWELL THEREIN. LET THE FLOODS CLAP THEIR HANDS; LET THE HILLS BE JOYFUL TOGETHER, BEFORE THE LORD; FOR HE COMETH TO JUDGE THE EARTH; WITH RIGHTEOUSNESS SHALL HE JUDGE THE WORLD; AND THE PEOPLE WITH EQUITY."