Lincoln’s Funeral

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The question of how the nation would mourn President Lincoln arose immediately after his assassination. Federal government officials decided that a public funeral would allow the nation to grieve.

First Lady Mary Lincoln hoped to keep her husband’s remains out of the national spotlight, but Secretary of War Edwin Stanton overruled her. On April 21, 1865, a train car carrying Lincoln’s body left Washington, D.C. The train stopped in major cities en route to its final destination, Springfield, Ill. Mary Lincoln remained in Washington.

Large crowds came out to pay respects in the cities along the train’s route. The casket was removed from the train for official ceremonies in certain cities. People lined areas near train tracks to see the funeral train pass through farms and villages.

On May 4th, the train arrived in Springfield. Lincoln’s body was displayed in the former Illinois Capitol, and then buried in a local cemetery.

Collecting Evidence: Testimony

Learn from Witnesses

As you look at each account, consider:

  • How does this response align with—or differ from—other responses?
  • Who gave the testimony? What might be the person’s reasons for saying what they did?
  • When did this person give the testimony? Was it soon after the event? Much later? How might that affect what was said?

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“The struggle of today, is not altogether for today -- it is for a vast future also.”
President Abraham Lincoln, December 3, 1861 Message to Congress
Photo of Abraham Lincoln Courtesy of Ford's Theatre Historic Site.