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made for a grand military and civic demonstration, but a heavy shower of rain was pouring down when they reached the latter city. Col. Thomas S. Mather, of Springfield, Illinois, was on duty at Philadelphia, at the time President Lincoln was assassinated. He was ordered to proceed to Harrisburg and take command of the United States troops at that place, and make arrangements for giving the remains of the President a suitable reception.
Col. Mather had fifteen hundred soldiers in line, who stood for more than an hour in the rain previous to the arrival of the cortege. The body was conveyed to the State Capitol and placed in the hall of the House of Representatives, amid emblems of sorrow, and rounded by a circle of white flowering almonds. During a part of that night, and until ten o'clock next day, the people in vast numbers passed through the Hall to look at the silent foatures of the martyred President. Under orders from Col. Mather, a military and civic procession commenced forming at eight o'clock Saturday morning. Col. Henry McCormic was chief marshal of the civic department. The remains were escorted through the principal streets to the depot. In order to have as much daylight as possible for the procession at Philadelphia, the train moved away from the Harrisburg depot at eleven o'clock-one hour before schedule time. Crowds of people were at the depots of Middletown, Elizabethtown, Mount Joy, Landisville and Dillerville. In many places insignia of sorrow were displayed, and all seemed anxious to obtain a passing view of the mournful cortege.
At Lancaster twenty thousand people awaited the arrival of the train, to make their silent demonstrations of mourning. The depot was artistically decorated with flags and crape. The only words expressive of the feelings of the people were displayed at the side of the depot as a motto: "Abraham Lincoln, the Illustrious Martyr of Liberty; the nation
mourns his loss; though dead, he still lives."
Every place of business was closed, and insignia of mourning were upon every house. At the outskirts of the town the large force of the Lancaster Iron Works lined the road, their buildings all draped in mourning: It was affecting to see old men who had been carried in their chairs and seated beside the track, and women with infants in their arms, assembled to look at the passing cortege.
This city was the home of ex-President Buchanan and of the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens. Mr. Buchanan was in his carriage on the outskirts of the multitude. In approaching the town there is a bridge or tunnel through which the train passed. Under this bridge, standing upon a rock, entirely alone, Mr. Stevens was recognized by personal friends on the train. An eye witness, who related the circumstance to me, says that he seemed absorbed in silent meditation, unconscious that he was observed. When the hearse car approached he reverently uncovered his head, and replaced his hat as the train moved away.
Crowds of people were assembled at Penningtonville, Parkesburg, Coatesville, Gallagherville, Downington and Oakland. At each place flags draped in mourning and uncovered heads were the sole expressions of feeling. At West Chester intersection, about a thousand persons were assembled at the stations. As the train approached the city of Philadelphia, unbroken columns of people lined the railroad on each side for miles. Minute guns heralded the news as the train passed on to the depot of the Philadelphia, Wilmington & Baltimore railroad, on Broad street. Here the people were not counted by thousands, but by acres. The train reached the depot at half past four p. m., being one hour in advance of schedule time.
It was estimated that half a million people were on the streets. A procession, for which preparation had been making for several days, was already formed; men standing in marching order, from four to twelve abreast. A magnificent funeral car was in readiness, which had been specially constructed for the occasion. The corpse was transferred to this car, the coffin enveloped in the American flag, and surrounded with flowers. The grand procession, composed of eleven divisions, and including every organization in the city, both military and civic, was seven miles in length. It moved through the wide and beautiful streets of the city to the sound of solemn music, by a great number of bands. The insignia of sorrow seemed to be on every house. The poor testified their grief by displaying such emblems as their limited means could command, and the rich, more profuse, not because their sorrow was greater, but because their wealth enabled them to manifest it on a larger scale. It was eight o'clock when the funeral car arrived at the southern entrance to Independence Square, on Walnut street. The Union League Association was stationed in the square, and when the procession arrived at the entrance, the Association took charge of the sacred dust, and conveyed it into Independence Hall, marching with uncovered heads to the sound of á dirge performed by a band-stationed in the observatory over the Hail—the booming of cannon in the distance, and the tolling of bells throughout the city. The body was laid on a platform in the centre of the
Hall, with feet to the north, bringing the head very close to the pedestal on which the old Independence bell stands.
That old bell, with its famous inscription, rang out on the Fourth of July, 1776, “Proclaim liberty throughout all the land, to all the inhabitants thereof.” Leviticus, xxv,
10. As if in sorrow and shame for the degeneracy of mankind, when the curse of slavery crept into and controlled every department of our government, the old bell became paralyzed and broken. The descendants of its early friends gave it sepulture in this Hall, where the mighty deeds were enacted which it proclaimed to the world with such grand peals. These early notes, wafted on the free air of heaven, were heard by one of lowly birth, in his western home. As he pondered over them, they sank deep in his heart, and his whole soul answered to their vibrating touch, as he perused the historic pages of the war for American Independence. The vears rolled on, and in his obscurity and poverty, he struggled for light and knowledge, with the love of human freedom for his guiding star. He then learned that our fathers indeed won their independence of a foreign foe, but left a fetter in the land for their children to break. At length he began to dispense light to his fellow men. At first, it was done with such modesty and gentleness that it could be appropriately likened to the moon; but as national events followed each other in quick succession, the wisdom of his words and the fervor of his patriotism were more like the shining of the noon-day sun, and were so apparent as to be known and read of all men.
He was called to become the head of the nation, when the spirit fostered by slavery was threatening its destruction. He takes what proved to be a last look at the familiar scenes of his manhood ; in feeling language he asks his old friends and neighbors to pray for him, and then sadly bids them an affection
ate farewell. In the course of his journey, he stood in this very Hall. While here, in a brief address, he said:
“It was something in the Declaration of Independence, giving liberty, not only to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time. It was that which gave promise that, in due time, the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. Now, my friends, can the country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to save it. But, if this country can not be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say, I would rather be assassinated upon this spot than to surrender it.”
He passes on, assumes the reins of government as the constitutionally elected president of the United States. A long and bloody war ensues.
On the one side, the object was to destroy the government, because slavery could no longer rule it; on the other, it was to the government. In the course of the
war, he proclaimed freedom to the slave, and otherwise administered the government so wisely, that when the time arrived for choosing a man to fill his place, he was almost unanimously elected as his own successor. As soon as he entered
upon the second term, the rebellion was so nearly crushed that he commenced the work of restoration where that of destruction began; by ordering the national colors to be replaced at the identical spot where they floated when first assailed by parricidal hands. His happiness seemed almost complete. The authority of government was restored and all men free. But the slave power, in its death throes, slew him by the hand of an assassin, and his body is now again in this Hall, to make its report.
Let us imagine the inanimate clay, and the old bell both endowed with life. We hear the dead President say: “It was from you, Old Bell, as from the tongue of the