The train went up the Hudson River by night, and at every town and village on the way vast waiting crowds were revealed by the fitful glare of torches, and dirges and hymns were sung. As the train passed into Ohio, the crowds increased in density, and the public grief seemed intensified at every step westward. The people of the great central basin were claiming their own. The day spent at Cleveland was unexampled in the depth of emotion it brought to life. Some of the guard of honor have said that it was at this point they began to appreciate the place which Lincoln was to hold in history.
The last stage of this extraordinary progress was completed, and Springfield reached at nine o’clock on the morning of May 3. Nothing had been done or thought of for two weeks in Springfield but the preparations for this day, and they had been made with a thoroughness which surprised the visitors from the East. The body lay in state in the Capitol, which was richly draped from roof to basement in black velvet and silver fringe. Within it was a bower of bloom and fragrance. For twenty-four hours an unbroken stream of people passed through, bidding their friend and neighbor welcome home and farewell; and at ten o’clock on May 4, the coffin lid was closed, and a vast procession moved out to Oak Ridge, where the town had set apart a lovely spot for his grave, and where the dead President was committed to the soil of the State which had so loved and honored him. The ceremonies at the grave were simple and touching. Bishop Simpson delivered a pathetic oration; prayers were offered and hymns were sung; but the weightiest and most eloquent words uttered anywhere that day were those of the second inaugural, which the committee had wisely ordained to be read over his grave, as the friends of Raphael chose the incomparable canvas of the Transfiguration to be the chief ornament of his funeral.
Lincoln’s Early Environment—Its Effect on his Character—His Attitude toward Slavery and the Slaveholder—His Schooling in Disappointment—His Seeming Failures—His Real Successes—The Final Trial—His Achievements—His Place in History
A child born to an inheritance of want; a boy growing into a narrow world of ignorance; a youth taking up the burden of coarse manual labor; a man entering on the doubtful struggle of a local backwoods career—these were the beginnings of Abraham Lincoln, if we analyze them under the hard practical cynical philosophy which takes for its motto that “nothing succeeds but success.” If, however, we adopt a broader philosophy, and apply the more generous and more universal principle that “everything succeeds which attacks favorable opportunity with fitting endeavor,” then we see that it was the strong vitality, the active intelligence, and the indefinable psychological law of moral growth that assimilates the good and rejects the bad, which Nature gave this obscure child, that carried him to the service of mankind and to the admiration of the centuries with the same certainty with which the acorn grows to be the oak.