Politics & Politicians

    Lincoln's Funeral  "1,700 Miles Of Mourners"  April 15 - May 4, 1865

On April 25, 1865, 10 days after the death of Abraham Lincoln, the funeral train bearing the remains of the assassinated president pulled out of New York City's Hudson River Railroad station and continued the long, convoluted journey to Springfield, Ill. The train traveled north to Albany, where the body was solemnly greeted and wept over by the citizens and politicians of that capital city. Finally moving westward towards its ultimate destination, the train paused briefly in Rochester on the 27th and then continued on to Buffalo, where the casket was once again removed from the train and the hearse was engulfed by thousands of mourners during the funeral procession.

Arriving in Cleveland, Ohio, on April 28, the casket was placed inside an outdoor pavilion on Monument Square that had been specially built because the city had no building large enough to hold the anticipated crowds of mourners. In spite of a driving rain, 10,000 mourners an hour filed past the casket during the five hours it lay in state. The next day the body received similar treatment in Columbus; on the 30th it arrived in Indianapolis. All along the 1,700 mile journey, people would wait by the tracks for hours just to see the train as it passed by. At night bonfires lit the route along the tracks, and people stood out in the cold rain with bowed heads.

"Illinois Clasps to Her Bosom Her Slain, But Glorified Son" read the sign over the entrance to Chicago's Cook County courthouse, where Lincoln's body lay in state on April 30. On May 3, the funeral train completed its long journey and arrived in Springfield, where the coffin lay open in the Illinois State House while the president's friends and neighbors filed past to pay their last respects. The next day an elaborately decorated hearse borrowed from St. Louis, MO, carried Lincoln to Springfield's Oak Ridge Cemetery, where he was laid to rest in a hillside vault. One of the thousands of mourners who thronged to the cemetery declared, "He was canonized as he lay on his bier by the irresistible decree of countless millions."

Fascinating Fact:  Rev. Henry Brown, a black minister, led Lincoln's horse, Old Bob, in the place of honor behind the hearse during the final procession to the cemetery.


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