Assassination of Abraham Lincoln - MULTIPLE FUNERALS

MULTIPLE FUNERALS (Illustration) American Presidents Famous Historical Events Famous People Government Nineteenth Century Life Social Studies American History

Mourning their fallen President, Americans held funerals for Abraham Lincoln in numerous cities. Roger Norton, who maintains a significant web site on the President’s assassination, tells us more about it: “Throughout the long journey, entire populations of rural America were waiting alongside the tracks as the nine car funeral train slowly passed by (the funeral car was the 8th car). For example, officials of Richmond, Indiana, estimated its mourners at 15,000 - a number greater than the city's population - at 3:15 A.M. in the morning! Depending on conditions, the train usually traveled between 5 and 20 m.p.h. Everywhere there were arches draped in black stretched over the tracks. The grandest funeral spectacle in the history of the world ended with the closing of the tomb in Springfield.” This image depicts the hearse which carried the President’s body in Springfield.


The U.S. Capitol, newly constructed in 1860, was draped in black after Lincoln's shocking death. So was the place of the murder, Ford's Theater. Following a custom of the time, "mourning cards" were printed commemorating the life of the slain leader.

Grieving crowds thronged Washington's streets for the first of many funerals for the man who had been born on a corn-husk-covered bed in a nearly windowless, one-room Kentucky log cabin on "Sinking Spring Farm." (The link takes you to a nearly exact replica located at his birthplace.)

His much-loved step-mother, Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln, reportedly said:

I knowed they'd kill him. I bin awaitin' fer it.

To allow people around the country to participate in funeral services, a train took the President's body to many different cities before he was laid to rest in Springfield, Illinois:

  • Lincoln's coffin was open during times of "viewing," so the people could see their slain President.  A Buffalo, New York newspaper published a drawing of the open-coffin.
  • The people of Cleveland built a special structure, with gas lamps attached, "so that the remains could be easily seen at night, and to good advantage" (as reported by Harper's Weekly on page 308 of its May 20, 1865 issue).

In 1865, Walt Whitman (whose poetry, among others Lincoln read) wrote "O Captain! My Captain!" to commemorate the President's death. Even in his lifetime, the poem became Whitman's most famous. It has been included in anthologies - one, the Riverside Literature Series No. 32, incorporated an earlier version which Whitman himself corrected - and referred to in movies (like Dead Poets Society starring Robin Williams and Ethan Hawke).

Despite the nation's overwhelming grief at the loss of its first assassinated President - who had delivered his second inaugural address a mere six weeks before his death - the military and civilian law enforcement officials directed their attention to capturing the escaped, still-at-large killer.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 01, 2002

Updated Last Revision: Mar 26, 2018

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"MULTIPLE FUNERALS" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 01, 2002. Feb 17, 2020.
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