Thursday, April 16, 2015

150 Years Ago: April 16, 1865

On this day in 1865, the New York Times published the proclamation issued by Reuben E. Fenton, then the governor of New York. Fenton's words express themes common to reactions of the time to the death of Lincoln.
The fearful tragedy at Washington has converted an occasion of rejoicing over national victory into one of national mourning. It is fitting, therefore, that the 20th of April, heretofore set apart as a day of thanksgiving, should now be dedicated to services appropriate to a season of national bereavement. Bowing reverently to the Providence of God, let us assemble in our places of worship on that day to acknowledge our dependence on Him who has brought sudden darkness on the land in the very hour of its restoration to Union, Peace and Liberty.

1 comment:

  1. 1

    Walt Whitman, When Lilacs last in the dooryard bloom'd
    (On the Death of President Lincoln)

    When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
    And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
    I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

    Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
    Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
    And thought of him I love.

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
    With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
    With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    A sprig with its flower I break.

    Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
    Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
    Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
    Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,
    Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
    Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
    Night and day journeys a coffin.

    Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
    Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
    With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
    With the show of the States themselves as of crape-veil’d women standing,
    With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
    With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,
    With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
    With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,
    With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
    The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—where amid these you journey,
    With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
    Here, coffin that slowly passes,
    I give you my sprig of lilac.