Skip to main content

tv   President Lincolns Funeral Train Journey  CSPAN  May 28, 2015 8:00pm-8:17pm EDT

8:00 pm
having me. [ applause ] >> thank you. >> may 4 marked the 150th anniversary of president abe ham lincoln's funeral in springfield, illinois. coming up on american history tv here on c-span3, a procession and ceremony reenactment in oak ridge cemetery, the site of lincoln's resting place. but first to springfield's train station where lincoln's funeral trape arrived on may 3rd 1865, after a seven-state journey from washington, d.c. we'll learn about the trip and the stops it made along the way. this is 15 minutes. >> we're here at the train station in springfield, illinois, where the trains run from -- to chicago, originally from chicago to st. louis through springfield. trains that frequently were used by lincoln as he grew his
8:01 pm
practice in chicago, illinois. and for political appearances in chicago. springfield was his hometown. he came here in 1837, and he was in new salem a little village outside of springfield. and he was -- tried a bunch of professions. he was a surveyor he was a store keeper. finally, he decided to become a lawyer, and he came into springfield to practice law. he spent his entire career as a lawyer in springfield. and this was the state capital because of lincoln. he got the state capital moved to springfield. and then typical of lincoln he gets the state capital moved to where he's going to practice law, which didn't hurt his law practice at all. but that's why springfield was so special to him. this is also the place to which his body came back after the
8:02 pm
assassination on the 14th of april 1865. as you know, john wilks booth shot him at 10:30 he lived until 7:22 the next morning when he passed. and edward stanton the secretary of war uttered the immortal words, now he belongs to the ages. this was a national event of great horror, the first president assassinated. this came on the heels of the triumph of the war, and people just could not adjust from the ecstasy of victory to the horror of this assassination. he laid in state in washington until april 21st and then the long journey home began. the journey retraced the steps that he -- or the stops that he had made on his way out from springfield for his inauguration, some four years
8:03 pm
earlier. so the first stop was baltimore. when he came out, he had to sneak through there in disguise to avoid possible assassination. his son robert was on the train. his best friend from bloomington, illinois the judge that he practiced before david davis, who he put on the supreme court, he also was on the train. one of the really poignant things, his beloved son willie had died in 1862 and had been temporarily buried or held in d.c. until the return to springfield. so lincoln's body was not the only body on that train. willie, his 13-year-old son's body was also on the train. mary stayed behind. she was in such an emotional state that they didn't feel she could travel. robert, his oldest son, was on the train and he rode as far as
8:04 pm
baltimore with davis and john hey and nickel hey, his two secretaries who were like sons to him. they got off the train in washington. the train retraced the steps, it went to philadelphia. first to harrisburg, pennsylvania, the state capital. all of these were stops on the way out. then to philadelphia. and one of the ironies when he was in philadelphia on the way out, which is four years and two months to the day, he went to independence hall and he said that he was there -- he was coming to defend the principle that all men are created equal. and he said, if that principle cannot be saved, but has to be surrendered, i would rather thab assassinated than see it surrendered. and then four years and two months later to the day, there he was back in independence hall, his body lying in state under the shadow of the liberty
8:05 pm
bell. from there, they went through new jersey, didn't stop in new jersey. i keep repeating this, but there were hundreds and thousands of people that saw these processions. they'd take him off the train his body and take it to, like, independence hall. and hundreds of thousands of people lined the streets. then in new york, that was the largest procession. the procession alone with the casket going to city hall was -- 60,000 people were in the procession. 750,000 viewed him as he took that trip from the train station. and understand there was no bridge across the hudson river. so the train car had to be taken across on a ferry across to new york. from new york, up the hudson river to albany the state capital, where he'd stopped before. and then in a scene that just is overwhelming almost to signify
8:06 pm
the grief of this nation, these were -- it was a coal-reigning time. and thousands, they don't have no idea how many people lined the tracks from albany to buffalo, because it traveled all night. that was an all-night vigil. and there were thousands of people with bonfires lining the tracks to mourn this loss. it got to buffalo. from there went to cleveland -- or erie pennsylvania, then to cleveland. and this is all retracing steps. still hundreds of thousands of people lying in state, thousands of people passing by the casket at every one of these stops. all the towns were draped in black. it was just an amazing scene. from there to columbus, ohio, where he laid in state in the state capital. from there to indianapolis. to that point, that duplicate in
8:07 pm
reverse the trip that lincoln took out in the first place when he went to be inaugurated in '61. from there, went up to chicago because that was by now a large city and he laid in state in chicago for three days until he left at that point to head back down through illinois. in illinois, he -- this was all night too. the train left at 9:00 in the evening. it was supposed to leave at 9:00. it left about 10:00. and all these towns had thousands of people with bonfires as the train passed through illinois, his home state, of course. joliet was 15,000 people were in joliet. and all these towns were draped in black. they had portraits of lincoln. the train itself had a portrait of him on the front. and from joliet on down through all these towns, too numerous to mention here but they came to
8:08 pm
the town where i live in bloomington at 5:00 in the morning. having gone through the town of north wroomington first, which is now normal, illinois. and that's where it started that the people would put arches over the tracks. and the train would pass under these arches. and in normal, it said go to thy rest, it was on the arch that they built. bloomington did nothing, but the town was 8,000 people. there were 5,000 people at the tracks as it went past, on down to -- through what is our county, mcclain county and then to the town of lincoln named for him in 1853. thousands of people there. another with malice toward none and journey for all was on an arch across the tracks. there was a choir there. several times along the way, there would be choirs sings
8:09 pm
hymns. it got to elkhart illinois they put up an arch that said ours the crown thine the cross. that motto was repeated several times throughout the trip. he had friends in elkhart, he had stayed the night there when he was riding the circuit there as a lawyer and then down to springfield. it got to springfield maybe 9:00 in the morning, where he laid in state until the next day. that trip was on may 3rd, by the way. and it was amazingly moving thing. on the 15th of april, robert todd lincoln tell graphed davis and said, get out here to handle my father's affairs. so davis rushed to washington to help robert. now here we are on may 2nd when the train -- or, excuse me -- on
8:10 pm
may 1st, when the train gets to michigan city indiana coming up from indianapolis. davis went up there to get on the train, and robert todd lincoln had told him -- or he'd heard by the grapevine, robert todd lincoln was not coming to the funeral. davis wrote him and said, you better get out here you will regret the rest of your life in you don't come. so lincoln got here the afternoon of the may 3rd the day before the funeral, robert todd lincoln. so he was here before the funeral. it was just an immensely sad thing nationwide. but the people in illinois particularly, i know in bloomington, where i live, the newspaper, he spent mere time in bloomington than anywhere other than springfield. and our newspaper said, this is not just the president. this is not just the leader of our nation. this is a friend and neighbor of ours that we have lost, and we
8:11 pm
all feel it in such a personal way. and that it was true up and down the tracks. just a tremendous personal loss to the people of illinois, because he was so popular and spent so much time in all the towns of the circuit. it's called the land of lincoln and the state, that's our motto. and like so many things we say about lincoln, they're always true. they're too good to be true, but they are. and lincoln, because he was a circuit lawyer, and practiced not just in springfield, but in these 14 counties around central illinois, he was gone half the year in these towns. so he was a resident of all these towns and traveled all over the state. so he really was a citizen of illinois. and i want to just mention one thing about the funeral because we can't quite understand we've seen so darn much tragedy and we're used to -- almost to assassinations, unfortunately. but this man was so loved by the
8:12 pm
people of the country because of seeing us through this war that the loss of him under these conditions created a national sense of mourning. and remember, the civil war, hundreds of thousands died in that war. and in far-away places. so many of the people of this country did not have the ability or the opportunity to mourn their own children that they'd lost, their loved ones. so the lincoln funeral became a funeral for all the martyrs of the war, and that's what made it such an incredible event. lincoln's resting place, there was controversy about that. the people in springfield wanted to build a monument in the middle of downtown and have that be lincoln's tomb. and that's where mary lincoln stood up and said, no, no, no you do that and i'm taking him to chicago and i'm going to bury him in chicago. and so the city backed off and
8:13 pm
at the time oak ridge cemetery was way out in the country beautiful old bukkolic, wooded setting, and that's where they picked and that was fine with her. so that's why he was buried there. lincoln college in lincoln, illinois, came across a letter written by a 15-year-old girl to her brother. she was 15 she lived in the town of atlanta. the beauty of atlanta is when this train came through here he's riding through the prairies that he'd always ridden as a lawyer, the sun rose as he got to atlanta and this little girl was there. and i just would take the liberty of reading this letter because it speectionaks for all the millions -- certainly hundreds of thousands that saw this train. and she said, as the train came to atlanta, illinois the church bells tolled, the muffled drums played and everything seemed to say come and mourn with me. even the angels in heaven must
8:14 pm
surely shed tears of grief when they look down and see the terrible agony of this beloved nation. i wish you could be here henry. henry was a soldier in atlanta. when the train came up then oh, then, how our heart did ache. and lincoln's likeness on the front of the train as if he were there. henry, words fail me when i describe the mournful scene and the anguish of our heart. and i think that little girl spoke for hundreds of thousands of americans. there's a certain poetry if you want to call it that and closure, to lincoln coming down these tracks to this place in his coffin. because as he came he went through the circuit that he had ridden for 23 years, he had ridden through the prairies that were cut by these tracks when they were put in in 1853. and he visited all these towns. so this was a return for him in
8:15 pm
a very touching way. and he was returned on the same train, on the same tracks that he'd been forever. i bought a book about lincoln's funeral and i was going to start reading it and i just saved it just by chance i was coming back on a train -- these are the same tracks we're on now. passenger trains. i'm on an amtrak train with this book on a really gray rainy day back in january. and with this book about the funeral and i was amazed how moved i was to be going down the same tracks that had carried lincoln's body 150 years earlier and what the funeral represents is the mourning of this nation for all the lives that were lost and all the sacrifices that were made to save the union and end slavery. >> our american history tv in primetime continues this week with programs from our real
8:16 pm
america series taking viewers through the 20th century with films on public affairs. first the film the true glory on events in europe from the d-day invasion to the surrender of nazi germany. then the baltimore plan on race and poverty in baltimore. after that, former president johnson speaks about the vietnam war and u.s. policy in the region. and later the 1970 nasa film on apolo 13 profiles the crew's dangerous journey home following an oxygen tank explosion. it all begins at 8:00 eastern friday here on c-span3. >> this sunday night at 8:00 eastern, on first ladies influence and image, we'll look into the personal lives of three first ladies. sarah polk margaret taylor, and abigail fillmore. polk had a strong wreef


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on