President Lincoln’s funeral (1865)

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Remains of President Lincoln in Chicago

Yesterday was a marked day in the history of Chicago — a day long to be remembered by the hundreds of thousands, who witnessed the grand and imposing ceremony of receiving the mortal remains of the Nation’s noble son, Abraham Lincoln, the martyr President of the United States.

For many days, preparations for this grand and solemn occasion had been going on, and everything presented evidences, on Saturday of being nearly complete. On Sunday, the weather was unpropitious, and rain fell nearly the whole day. The streets were very muddy. On Monday morning, the sun shone out brightly, and at an early hour, the who people of the city were astir, and those from the country, were pouring in from all directions in immense numbers. The streets along which the procession was to move were once made clean, so that people could walk upon them as well as upon the sidewalks. The various military organizations in the city, the civic societies, schools, and organizations, were at once formed, moved to the positions assigned them by the Chief Marshal.

The funeral train arrived at the point designated, near Michigan Avenue, some two miles south of the Central Depot, at 11 o’clock, am. The arrival was announced by the tolling of bells, and the firing of minute guns. The thousands assembled in the vicinity stood in breathless silence, and reverently uncovered, as the sacred corpse was borne to the funeral car, under a grand arch.

About the President’s coffin

As it may be a matter of some interest to our readers, we here give a description of the coffin, taken from the Chicago Journal:

As the coffin was removed from the car to the hearse, it became visible for the first time to the spectators. Its splendor and magnificence could not well be surpassed. Its entire cost was about $2,000, and it is probably the most perfect and superbly finished article of the kind ever manufactured in this country.

The timber used in the construction is mahogany. This is lined with lead. The inside of the coffin is faced with box plaited satin, the pillow and lower surface are of the finest description of white silk, and the whole is surrounded with chenille as in fringe. The inside of the face lid is raised with white satin, the center piece is trimmed with black and white silk braid, fastened at the four corners with silver stars. The upper part of the lid is thrown back so as to reveal the head and bust.

The most rich and costly description of black cloth covers the outside. It is heavily fringed with silver, having four silver medallions on either side, in which are set the handles. All along the sides it is beautifully and elaborately festooned with massive drapery, in each fold of which glitters a silver star. The edges are decorated with silver braid, having tassels each five inches in length. Upon each side are four massive handles, also of silver, and at the end and front are stars of the same material. On the top is a row of silver tacks, extending the whole length, a few inches from the edge. In the center is a silver plate, on which is the inscription:

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ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Sixteenth President of the United States.
Born July 12,1803.
Died April 15,1865.

This is encircled by a shield formed of silver tacks. The whole is really beautiful, and finished with exceedingly good taste and fine workmanship.


The grand archway

The grand arch above referred to, is described in the Journal as follows:

The entire arch, which extends across Park place, is of triple Gothic form, in length spinning a distance of fifty-one feet, and having a depth of sixteen feet. The height from the ground to the center of the middle or main arch is thirty feet, with a width of twenty-four feet — the side arches being each eight feet wide and twenty feet in height. The total height of the center arch and pinnacles is about forty feet. So much for the dimensions of this beautiful structure.

Each of the arches — all presenting their front elevations towards Michigan avenue and the lake — is supported by a cluster of hexagonal columns, resting upon a single base, forming four sets of columns on each front. The interstices between these columns are fitted up as Gothic windows, and beautifully draped as such, in black and white, adding a solemn effect to the general appearance.

At the center of each arch, on the top of the columns of both fronts, are large imposing American shields, from which draped national ensigns hung in graceful festoons. From these flags the mourning drapery entwines about the different portions of the arches, up to the pinnacle in the center. The lower portions of the arches is also heavily draped in black and white, beautifully arranged. Fifty flags, in all, form the drapery and surmount the arches.

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On each pediment of the main or center arch is placed a bust of the lamented dead, and upon each main front, resting on the pinnacle above the bust, is seen a magnificent eagle. Underneath the eagles, and above the busts, the drapery takes the form of the sun’s rays, as if they still lingered upon the honored corpse.

Over this archway were various appropriate mottos, some of which were as follows: “The Union, cemented with patriot blood, will stand forever.” “An honest man is the noblest work of God.” “We mourn the man with heaven born principles,” etc., etc.

The Funeral Car was a most splendid affair, in design, and executed in excellent taste. It was drawn by ten beautiful black horses, each attended by a groom.

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