Saturday, May 2, 2015

150 Years Ago: May 2

Throughout the day and into the late evening on May 2, 1865, Lincoln's remains lay in state at the Cook County Courthouse in Chicago. By some accounts, 7,000 mourners passed by the coffin each hour during the twenty-six hours that the body was on view in Chicago. 

At 8:45 p.m., the funeral procession reassembled and traveled the route in reverse back to the funeral train. Torches illumined the way through the darkness. On May 3, 1941, Frederick H. Jacnicken described the scene in the Chicago Tribune:
Seventy-six years ago last night a great crowd assembled at the courthouse square. The Sherman house was draped in purple and black. The Lamar building on the northeast corner of Washington and Clark was draped in black. In this building Lincoln, five years before, had argued one of the famous sandbar cases in the United States District court. Business houses everywhere were draped in mourning.
Forty thousand people had taken a last look upon the face of the Great Emancipator within the past 24 hours. But they still came. They protested when the doors of the council chamber were closed.
At 8:45 p.m. the doors at the Washington street entrance to the courthouse were opened. A waiting hearse which cost $5,000, drawn by four horses, received all that was mortal of Abraham Lincoln. He rested in a walnut coffin costing $1,000. Thousands lined the sidewalks. In the block on La Salle to Monroe 2,000 men were assembled. At a given signal they lit torches, and as the band started playing "The Lincoln Dirge" they swung into line to light the way. The march was west on Washington street to Market, south on Market to Madison, west on Madison over the old swing bridge to Canal, thence south on Canal to the old C. & A. station. At 9:30 the train slowly moved out of the station. The courthouse bells and all church bells tolled a last farewell.
The funeral train left Chicago bound for Springfield, its final stop.

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