John Fagant - Table of Contents ................. Abraham Lincoln - Table of Contents
Abraham Lincoln in Western New York
By John Fagant
1. Introdution: "Where Did All That Water Come From?"
2. "An Affectionate Farewell"
3. The Best of the Bargain"
4. "A Letter from a Young Lady"
5. "An Ungovernable Mob"
6. "They Should Forget That They are Foreigners"
7. "So Good a President"
8. "This Immense Number of People"
9. "A Daguerrean Artist"
10. "Smitten by the Charms"
11. "The Solemn Spectacle"
Saturday Morning, February 16, 1861:
It was a sunny, cool and dry winter morning. As so many winter days are, it was very different from the day before, with its wind and wet and freezing cold conditions. President-elect Abraham Lincoln, his family and his party were leaving the Weddell House in downtown Cleveland, heading toward the Euclid Street Depot for a 9:00 A.M. departure. "Large numbers of the people were early astir this morning to obtain a parting glimpse of the president and party ... Lincoln was conducted to his carriage, amid the cheers of the people, and the procession commenced its march. The route was down Superior street, Union lane and River street to the Depot." Once they arrived, a space was cleared out on the platform so that Lincoln and his entourage could enter the train.
The Cleveland, Painesville & Ashtabula Railroad Company was in charge of the trip this day as far as Erie, Pennsylvania. The train itself consisted of one locomotive, one baggage car, two passenger cars and one car for the President-elect. The locomotive, the "William Case", was decorated with flags, with William Congden as the engineer and Mr. Nottingham, the Superintendent of the Railroad Company, as the conductor.
The first car was filled with members of the press. Some were covering this special event only while it was in their city's area (such as from Cleveland to Buffalo). Others, such as the reporter Henry Villard from the New York Herald, had covered it since its inception in Springfield.
The second car was set aside for the Reception Committees from Erie and Buffalo. General Read led Erie's committee while Almon Clapp, editor of the Buffalo Morning Express, was the chairman for Buffalo's contingent. Squeezed among these two groups was Cleveland's Reception committee.
Lincoln and his family occupied the rear car, which was supplied by William Kasson and his son from Buffalo. "The party was delighted with it, and that it was the finest they had yet seen." Mary, his wife, and his three sons Robert (age 17), Willie (age 11) and Tad (age 7) were traveling with him. Robert had been attending school at Harvard, but returned to Springfield to be with the family until the Inauguration.
While the band played Hail Columbia, the train slowly moved away from the depot. It was just a little after nine. "Mr. Lincoln came upon the platform of the rear car bowing his acknowledgments to the people, as cheer after cheer went up from the enthusiastic multitude. Numbers clung to the end of the car where Mr. Lincoln stood, following it as long as the increasing speed of the train would permit, and stretching up their hands to the President. Mr. L. reached out his hands to take that of one of these followers on foot, when it was instantly seized by three or four and shaken with at least hearty good will. The President's agent promptly checked this movement, and the crowd were forced to be content with the president's bows." 1
Abraham Lincoln's Inaugural journey was now into its sixth day. The trip began earlier in the week on Monday, February 11, when he left his home in Springfield, Illinois. There had been overnight stays at Indianapolis, Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh and Cleveland with many brief stops in the numerous small towns and villages along the way. There was still one more week to go before reaching Washington, D.C.
Although any President-elect's journey to Washington would receive its fair share of coverage and the public's fascination, Lincoln's cross-country passage was more than that. His journey took on a whole new level of significance as it was an extraordinary and unique event of singular importance. The country was in the midst of a crisis it had never before experienced and an ordeal that none were sure how to resolve. Lincoln's rise to the Presidency set in motion sectional action designed to destroy the nation. Due to his election, seven southern states had already seceded from the Union. Several more were threatening to do so. The country was falling apart. Yet Lincoln had been silent and out of the public eye since his election three months earlier. On this journey, he would finally be seen and heard. The public was now hoping to get answers to the questions they all had. What would the new President do? What actions would he take? How would he respond to the secession of the southern states? Could he keep the Union together? Was he a strong enough leader to guide the country? Would there be a Civil War? The answers to these and other questions gave the Presidential Inaugural journey significance never before encountered in American history. Lincoln's administration was the most anticipated one since that of Washington's.
The Inaugural journey covered over 1900 miles in twelve days. The Special train traveled through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey before finally arriving in Washington, D. C. through Baltimore. The response to the trip was overwhelming as the crowds along the way were enormous and enthusiastic. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for most people to see a President in person, and they came out in droves to see him. The cities and villages chosen for the route were in an envious and esteemed position as far as the rest of the country was concerned. Instead of reading the newspapers for Lincoln updates, they would now be part of it. They would hear him speak and observe his actions. They would develop an opinion of him and ultimately influence the rest of the country as to whether he possessed the ability to handle the challenge ahead of him. Not every city that proffered an invitation to Lincoln was accepted. For instance, the city of Boston's request for a Lincoln visit was rejected.
New York State, however, played a considerable role in the journey. Almost half of the twelve nights, more than forty percent, were spent in the state's cities – two nights in Buffalo, one in Albany and two more in New York City. The train traveled just over 540 miles through the state, greater than twenty-five percent of the total of 1904 miles. And the honor was justified. In 1860, New York State, with a population of 3.8 million, was the largest state in the Union. New York City was not only the largest city in the state, by far, but also the largest in the country. However, New York State was more than just New York City. The completion of the Erie Canal in 1825, followed closely by the railroad expansions, opened up the interior of the country to development. Immigrants flocked not only to the frontier lands but also into central and western New York. Buffalo, sitting on the shores of Lake Erie, was the terminus for the Canal. In just a few short years it was transformed from a crude frontier village into a strong, vibrant city and the most important port on the Great Lakes. At the other end of the state was Albany. Although having been settled since the 17th century, it wasn't until the opening of the Canal that it developed into a major economic and commercial center. Other areas of the state also experienced exponential growth. By 1835, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica had tripled their population. Even New York City, already a major port in the country, was affected. The opening of the western markets expanded even more the city's role as it became THE financial, commercial, insurance and manufacturing center for the country and the world. New York State had truly become "The Empire State", that vital link between America's heartland and the commerce of the world.
On this day's journey, Lincoln would travel 183 miles along the shores of Lake Erie, passing through villages and towns in northeastern Ohio, the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania and western New York. The final destination of the day was the city of Buffalo, where he would have a two night stay.
"Where Did All That Water Come From?"
The Early Visits
This was not Lincoln's first trip to Upstate New York. He had traveled through the area at least three other times.
The first session of the 30th Congress ended in August of 1848. Lincoln, who had been elected to the House of Representatives for the first and only time in his career, was representing his district from Illinois. It was a Presidential election year and he was making speeches on behalf of the Whig candidate, Zachary Taylor, and continued to do so after the Congressional recess. Early in September, he and his family traveled to New York City and then to New England where he gave several campaign speeches. Finally on the way home, the family arrived in Albany on Sunday, September 24th. Lincoln met Thurlow Weed, the New York State Whig party leader, who then introduced him to Millard Fillmore, the state Comptroller and Whig candidate for Vice-President. Lincoln was beginning to move up in the political world and was getting to know the national leaders of his party. He and his family probably arrived in Buffalo sometime on Monday, September 25th. 1
* * * * *
Buffalo in the 1840's was a busy, active and growing community. Completion of the Erie Canal in 1825 opened the area up as a conduit between the east coast and the western frontier. Located on the northeastern shore of Lake Erie, the city was the springboard to the western frontier and it was the eastern terminus for the farm produce from the west. Immigrants, travelers, freight and cargo poured into Buffalo on a daily basis. All roads seemed to be converging on the Lake Erie port. Businesses were profitable. Jobs were plentiful and in words not heard foe many years in Western New York, the local economy was flourishing.
The Erie Canal had been operating for twenty some years but it was just beginning to feel the effects of a newcomer to the transportation field. The railroad was still in its early stages of development as several companies had formed along the east coast. Buffalo was connected to Albany through a series of rail lines, which by 1848 could make the trip in just over 22 hours. Due to the incomplete rail lines, the railroad companies also owned several of the Great Lakes steamers. Their arrival and departure schedules were set to coincide. The trains dropped their passengers off in the city. The steamers then transported them to Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Chicago or other ports where they would once again connect with a rail line.
The harbor in Buffalo was the focal point, or heart, of the local economy. This was the place where the local trades earned their living, the place where the profits and earnings derived from commerce and business originated. All roads seemed to lead to Buffalo. But once there, all roads led to the harbor. By the beginning of the 1840's, the harbor had reached its capacity. There were well over one hundred or so lake vessels cramped into the lower harbor. Improvements and expansion were desperately needed. By 1848, those improvements were underway. Joseph Dart had developed the first steam powered grain elevator, greatly reducing the turnaround time in the unloading of the ships.
By 1848, expansion of the harbor was underway. The new city ship canal was being built. The Buffalo Board of Trade had been formed by the waterfront merchants to consider, among other things, future harbor improvements.
By 1848, the passenger traffic was at its peak. In 1845, over 93,000 passengers had traveled through the city, with the steamboats carrying them to the Lake Erie and Lake Michigan port cities.2
The harbor was full of ships – schooners, propellers and, of course, the luxurious wooden sidewheel steamers. The Palace Steamers, as they were called, flourished during this period. Passengers who could afford the $10 first class ticket would have enjoyed a very pleasant traveling experience. Fine dining and ballroom dancing were among two of the entertainments provided. "The interiors were as ornate as any ocean liner of the time. They had mirrored grand salons and staircases, stained glass windows, exotic polished woodwork, crystal chandeliers and ornamental fountains." The exquisite interiors contained various sculpture and oil paintings. Steamers built elsewhere were brought into Buffalo to be decorated with the art work from the Miller Brothers. 3 However, many of these wooden sidewheel steamers were built in Buffalo by the shipbuilders of Bidwell & Banta. By the 1840's, their shipyards were located along the Buffalo River across from Chicago Street.
This was the Buffalo that Lincoln and his family arrived in on that early autumn day in 1848. It was an exciting and adventurous place to be. In addition to all this, one of their own, Millard Fillmore, was on the national ticket for Vice-President of the United States. The city was moving forward, yet it still retained much of the rough and tumble western frontier character.
Lincoln went to the harbor area to inspect the ships for travel through the Great Lakes to Chicago. He would give Mary, his wife, the excursion she was hoping for. Earlier in the year, she had written to her husband asking if they could sightsee on their way home. "You know I am so fond of sightseeing, and I did not get to New York or Boston, or travel the lake route"4 Lincoln did his best to take of Mary. They had just been to New York City and Boston. Now she would get her lake route.
Having inquired in the Buffalo Harbor area, he decided to book passage on the Great Lakes steamer Globe. The brand new sidewheel steamer, constructed on the Detroit River, had gone into service sometime prior to July 1, 1848.6 She advertised herself as "the new and splendid steamboat Globe,"5 and at 251 feet in length and 1300 tons burden, was one of the largest ships on the Great Lakes. The cabin extended the whole length of the upper deck "and is finished and fitted up in the most fashionable and comfortable style, with State and Family rooms, she has also ample accommodations for Steerage Passengers, in large and well ventilated Cabins – and for speed, comfort and safety, she is not equaled by any other boat on the Lakes." 7 The ship had a crew of 25, with James Sanderson as the Captain.
There were several hotels near the harbor in which the Lincoln family could have stayed overnight. On the corner of Pearl Street and the Terrace was the four story United States Hotel, built by Josiah Trowbridge. Other hotels in the area included Huff's Hotel, the Western Hotel, the Railroad Hotel and the Rainbow Boarding House. One strong possibility was the three story Mansion House on the corner of Exchange Street and Main. That corner had been the original site for John Crow's tavern, one of the first in the city. (Exchange Street was then known as Crow Street) Crow sold it to Joseph Landon and it was renamed Landon Tavern. Eventually, the Mansion House was built on the site and by the 1840's it was considered to be the premier hotel in the city, run by Philip Dorsheimer. This hotel could very well have been the one that Lincoln and his family stayed at on that Monday night. It was conveniently located very near to the train depot and had a balcony that allowed the guests to have a good view of the harbor area. These two features, combined with the reputation that the hotel was the finest in the city at this time makes the Mansion House an ideal candidate.8 As stated previously, whenever Lincoln traveled with his wife, he made sure she had only the best of accommodations. Wherever they stayed that evening, there is no doubt that the family was looking forward to its trip over the Great Lakes beginning very early the next day.
On Tuesday morning, September 26th, the Lincolns boarded the Globe and began their journey to Chicago. Certainly, they had bought the first class tickets as they now settled in for their Great Lakes excursion. The schedule called for the trip to take seven days. In comparison, a typical schooner or a ship under sail would make the trek in eleven days under the best of conditions.
The Globe chugged up the Detroit River in the early morning hours of September 29th. All on board, including Lincoln, observed the steamboat Canada as it lay helpless near Fighting Island. Captain Van Allen of the Canada had run the ship aground in shallow waters as it came down the river during the night. She did not escape until October 2nd, long after the Globe had passed it. Having witnessed the plight of the unfortunate Canada, Lincoln's mind now searched for an answer to resolve the issue of such boat strandings. "He determined that a ship should have a built-in system of bellows that could be inflated whenever necessary to float a trapped vessel free of sandbars or other obstructions"9 The mechanical minded Lincoln pondered this for the remainder of the voyage.
The Globe reached Milwaukee on October 4th and two days later entered Chicago's harbor. The journey had lasted ten days; three more than the scheduled seven. Once home in Springfield, Lincoln set out "to demonstrate the feasibility of his plan";10 that is, his idea in which boats may be lifted over shoals in low water. He applied for a patent on March 10, 1849. It was approved on May 22, 1849 but was never put to any practical use. Nevertheless, Lincoln became the only President in United States history to receive a patent for his invention. 11
On July 24, 1857, Mr. & Mrs. Lincoln were registered at the Cataract House in Niagara Falls. They were on vacation visiting Niagara Falls, Canada and New York City.12
Located very near to the Falls, the Cataract House was first built around 1825. General Parkhurst Whitney purchased it in 1830, using it for overflow business from the nearby Eagle Tavern. The Marquis de Lafayette, after his 1825 tour of the United States, sent the General an elaborate chandelier to be used in the hotel. Between 1835 and 1845, several large additions were constructed. A wing of the building with a basement was built at the very edge of the rapids. Water was diverted into this basement bringing about modern plumbing, including bath tubs for the guests. "The Cataract house taken altogether is of mammoth size, vieing in magnitude and management with the first class hotels in the United States." Over the years, the hotel gained a reputation as a place where U.S. Presidents and European Royalty stayed. Unfortunately, it burned down in October 1945. Fortunately, the old registrar was saved. It contained the well-known names of Lincoln, Jenny Lind, Horace Greeley, William Seward, FDR, King Edward VII and King George V among others. 13
Lincoln and Mary viewed the Falls from Prospect Point on the American side, located just outside of their hotel. They also traveled to the Canadian side to experience the full panoramic view. Impressed and overwhelmed by what he saw and felt – the overpowering mass and the deafening thunder of the water – Lincoln wrote several inspiring pages on the experience:
"Niagara-Falls! By what mysterious power is it that millions and millions, are drawn from all parts of the world, to gaze upon Niagara Falls...
When Columbus first sought this continent—when Christ suffered on the cross –when Moses led Israel through the Red Sea – nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker – then, as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Contemporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago. The Mammoth and Mastodon – now so long dead, that fragments of their monstrous bones, alone testify, that they ever lived, have gazed on Niagara. In that long – long time, never still for a single moment. Never dried, never froze, never slept, never rested,14
Stopping in mid sentence, he never finished it. The Lyceum Movement was at its peak during this period. Lecture halls throughout the country were packed for speakers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Ward Beecher and Horace Greeley. Lincoln had a strong interest in joining the circuit as a speaker. Perhaps this was an attempt by Lincoln to develop a lecture on Niagara Falls, midway through deciding against it. 15
Later in Springfield, William Herndon, his law partner, asked him what he thought of the Falls. Lincoln very seriously replied, "The thing that struck me most forcibly when I saw the Falls, was where did all that water come from?"16
Did Lincoln Visit Niagara Falls in 1848?
There is no question about the 1857 trip. The Cataract House registrar has Lincoln's signature in it for the date of July 24, 1857. There is also a letter from Mary Lincoln to her sister, dated September 20, 1857, in which she states that "This summer … was spent most pleasantly in traveling east, we visited Niagara, Canada, New York and other points of interest." 17
Did he visit the Falls in 1848? There seems to be some indication that he did. Several of his biographers have taken the view that he did see the Falls prior to going home via the lake route. William Herndon was one of the first to come out with a biography on his law partner. He may also have been the first to mention the trip to the Falls in 1848 when he wrote:
On his way home from Congress Lincoln came by way of Niagara Falls and down Erie to Toledo or Detroit. It happened that, some time after, I went to New York and also returned by way of Niagara Falls. (Herndon visited the Falls in 1858.)
…After seeing Niagara Falls he continued his journey homeward. At some point on the way, the vessel on which he had taken passage stranded on a sand bar. 18
He then described how Lincoln observed everything and came up with an idea which he eventually patented.
A second document placing Lincoln at the Falls is his "Fragment on Niagara Falls", also known as "Notes for a Lecture". The paper was not titled or dated by Lincoln. John Nicolay and John Hay, Lincoln's personal secretaries, later gave it the date of July 1, 1850. The editors of ‘The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln" (1953) rejected the July 1, 1850 date and instead placed it back to September 1848.19
Finally, since Lincoln was returning home at such a slow and deliberate pace, why not see Niagara Falls. It would only involve staying one extra day in Western New York. Who knows if another opportunity to see one of the great natural wonders of the world would ever come along again? It would seem reasonable for historians and biographers to conclude that he did indeed visit Niagara Falls in 1848.
However, upon more detailed inspection, the facts may indicate otherwise. Lincoln's journey home from Congress in 1848 has surprisingly been well documented. The exception to it is in the Albany and Buffalo part of it. When did he leave Albany? When did he arrive in Buffalo? Lincoln was in Albany on Sunday September 24th. The port records show that the steamer Globe left Buffalo on Tuesday, September 26th. 20
If the railroad schedule is studied for Albany & Buffalo, the following observations can be made.
The Albany trains left for Buffalo three times a day: 7:30 A.M.; 2:00 P.M.; 7:00 P.M.
The exception to this was on Sundays when only one train left and that was at 7:00 P.M.21
Therefore, the earliest Lincoln could have left Albany was at 7:00 P.M. on Sunday evening.
Since it was a twenty two and a half hour ride to Buffalo, with several stops and train changes on the way, the earliest Lincoln could have arrived would have been 5:30 P.M. Monday afternoon September 25th.
The Globe left early Tuesday morning,22 so Lincoln had very little time to make the reservations, pay for the tickets and get a hotel room for the night.
Under these conditions, it is difficult to imagine Lincoln also rushing his family up to see the Falls on Monday evening.
Realistically, he almost certainly did not. The quickest route to Niagara Falls was the Buffalo & Niagara Falls Railroad. There were two daily runs to the Falls, at 9:00 A.M. & 4:30 P.M. There were also two trips coming back to Buffalo, leaving Niagara Falls at 6:30 A.M. and 2:30 P.M.23
If the earliest Lincoln could have arrived in Buffalo was 5:30 P.M., he already missed the last connection of the day to Niagara Falls.
If somehow he had made the last connection at 4:30 P.M., he would not have been able to come back that night and would have missed the Globe in the morning.
So if Lincoln did not see Niagara Falls in 1848, how can Herndon's comments be explained? Quite simply, Herndon wrote many years after the event and must have confused the 1857 trip with the 1848 one. He seems to indicate that Lincoln saw the Falls only once, and that would have been in 1857. Herndon also made a couple of other mistakes in describing the 1848 trip. Lincoln went to Milwaukee and then Chicago; not to Toledo or Detroit. He also wrote that it was Lincoln's ship that was stranded on a sand bar when in fact it was a different ship. So it is not too far fetched to suggest that Herndon made yet one more mistake.
Lincoln's "Fragment on Niagara Falls" was not dated. It could just as easily fit into the 1857 period as the 1848 one. In one way it fits better into the late 1850's. After his defeat for the Senate seat occupied by Stephen A. Douglas in 1858, Lincoln decided to try the lecture circuit as a speaker.24 This would have been the ideal period in which he considered using his Niagara Falls writings for a possible lecture.
Finally, since they did not stay the extra day needed to view Niagara Falls in 1848, Lincoln and Mary must have told each other that they would have to return soon to see it. And that is what they did nine years later in 1857.
Lincoln spoke at the Cooper Union in New York City on February 27, 1860, arguably one of the most important and successful speeches of his life. Afterwards, he toured much of the New England area giving many speeches in various communities. He left for home on Monday morning, March 12th, taking the Erie Railroad out of New York City.
The New York & Erie Railroad, commonly known as the Erie, was designed to connect the Hudson River region to the shores of Lake Erie. Incorporated in 1832, construction of the line began in 1835 near Deposit, N.Y. and was completed at Cuba, N.Y. in 1851. The first train from New York arrived in Dunkirk amidst much fanfare as it carried the President of the United States, Millard Fillmore, and several members of his cabinet. The line ran through the southern portion of the state, the southern tier, with its western terminus at the port of Dunkirk in Chautauqua County.
As he traveled the Erie Railroad, Lincoln was welcomed by the villages along the way and stepped off the train to greet and shake hands. The Cooper Union speech had brought him an unexpected fame. The ride across the state took him through the counties of Chemung, Steuben, Allegany, Cattaraugus and Chautauqua and the villages of Elmira, Corning, Hornellsville, Wellsville, Belmont, Cuba, Olean, Carrollton, Salamanca and Little Valley before finally arriving in Dunkirk late in the day. Lincoln spoke to the people of Dunkirk, stepping off the train for a few minutes before continuing his journey westward.25
Upon returning home to Springfield, he wrote a letter to Alexander W. Harvey, an attorney in Buffalo. Harvey had written to Horace Greeley asking if Lincoln could give a speech in Buffalo on his way home. Lincoln told Mr. Harvey that he had been unable to give a speech in Buffalo because of his time commitments but added that, "I hope I may yet be allowed to meet the good people of Buffalo before the close of the struggle in which we are engaged."26
Chapter 2 "An Affectionate Farewell"
The Election of 1860
A few months later, in 1860, Lincoln was nominated for President on the
Republican Party line. Going into the convention which was held in Chicago, William Seward, the Senator from New York State, was the party favorite. He was from the Finger Lakes region in Auburn, New York, and had served as New York State governor from 1839 – 1843 and as Senator from 1849. Seward was a well-known national figure, a leading member of the Republican Party and was uncompromising in his antislavery policy. He fully expected to be the Republican nominee for President. However, on the third ballot, Lincoln received the nomination. Lincoln was considered a moderate and could win the important lower northern states. The Republican Party platform was in favor of prohibiting slavery in the Territories but would not interfere with it in the States. In this way, the institution would be contained in the South and start to die a slow death. The South was furious with this platform and threatened to secede from the Union if a Republican was elected President.
On the other side of it, the Democratic Party had split into a northern and southern party. In June, 1860, the northern Democrats nominated Steven A. Douglas for President. The southern Democrats had their own convention and put forth John C. Breckinridge, the current Vice-President, as their candidate. By November, there was a fourth candidate, John Bell, of the Constitutional Union Party. With the split in the Democratic Party, the times were set for Lincoln's election. He won but with less than 40% of the popular vote. He did not receive a single vote in ten of the southern states.
Now that a Republican was elected, the southern leaders set in motion the process of secession, with South Carolina the first state to secede in December of 1861. Slavery must be protected from Lincoln and the Republican Party. By early February, 1861, six other states had left the Union – Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas. This was the greatest crisis the country had faced in its short history. Everyone wanted to know what the President-elect was going to do about it. What were his thoughts? What were his plans? All eyes turned toward Springfield, Illinois. Would he reassure the citizens that all would be well? Would he appease the South and save the Union? What would he do?
Meanwhile, in Springfield, Lincoln was answering letters, receiving visitors, putting together a Cabinet and preparing to leave for Washington. However, the pressure was mounting on him to say something about his position on slavery, conciliation for the South and on how he would keep the country together. Lincoln responded that his views on slavery could be read in the Republican platform or in his speeches. He would not make any statement to allay southern fears. He felt any statement would be misrepresented anyway. 1 Day by day, tension was mounting throughout the country. Would the crisis be resolved or would there be civil war?
By early February, it was time to finish up business in Springfield. Lincoln had already written his Inaugural Address and the speeches to be given at the overnight cities during the trip.
Monday morning, February 11th, was a cold, dreary winter day with a drizzling rain. Inside the Great Western Railroad Depot, Lincoln was shaking hands and saying his good-byes. At 7:55 A.M., he walked outside and climbed the stairs to the train. The crowd of around 1,000 called for him to make a speech. He had not really planned on saying anything but decided to say a few impromptu words.
Standing at the rear of the train, looking out over the crowd in the drizzling rain, seeing his friends and neighbors of so many years and experiencing strong emotions and feelings of sadness, Lincoln said his good-bye to Springfield: 4,5
My friends – No one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe every thing. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being, who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail. Trusting in Him, who can go with me, and remain with you and be every where for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell. 6
The train moved slowly. Lincoln was leaving Springfield. His every move would now be observed. His every word listened to and analyzed. The country was waiting for him.
The Journey Begins:
William S. Wood, a former railroad official from New York State, was in charge of the Inaugural journey, taking care of all the details. He had been recommended to Lincoln by Thurlow Weed, the Republican leader in New York State. As Superintendent of Arrangements, Wood visited and inspected the whole route ahead of time, conferring with the local committees and setting forth the proper protocol to be used during Lincoln's visit. He also met with railroad officials from the various lines to be used; issuing timetables and operating instructions. Wood had a list of names of those authorized to travel with Lincoln between Springfield and Washington.7 An issue very important to Lincoln was that "state and local authorities, and prominent persons, without distinction of party, will be invited." Lincoln wanted to be President of the United States, not of the Republican Party. Therefore, demonstrations of a partisan character would be objectionable to the Presidential party. 8
What was Lincoln's purpose in taking this long, tedious twelve day journey? He could just as easily gone directly from Springfield to Washington, D. C. The trip was not a necessary component for the Presidency. However, he apparently felt that it was. Unfortunately, Lincoln did not explain his purpose to anyone. Herndon, his law partner in Springfield, once said that Lincoln was a most "shut-mouthed man" when it came to revealing political decisions and plans. Why did he take this trip? The records are silent.
Yet, despite Lincoln's taciturnity, there are several plausible motives as to why the journey was made:
· Lincoln was little known outside of Illinois. The trip gave him the opportunity to introduce himself to the people of the North, many of whom voted for him. This was also a chance for the people to get to see the first President born west of the Appalachians. Lincoln, the country lawyer and western politician known for his logic and wit, was very comfortable in the presence of the common people.
· The journey gave him the occasion to meet the political leaders across the land that helped win the election for him and whose support he would continue to need.
· Lincoln's election in November 1860 had sparked the secession movement in the southern states. The country was now in the depths of a crisis that could trigger a civil war. He had been silent since then, feeling that the time had not yet come for him to speak. During the journey, he would finally start to speak. He would stress his belief in the Union while making an effort to lower the country's fear of war.9
The journey went as far as Indianapolis the first day. The next morning, Lincoln was greeted with a wonderful surprise as his wife and two younger children, who left Springfield on a later train, had now caught up with him. They would be with him for the rest of the trip. The train traveled to Cincinnati on Tuesday and then to Columbus the following day. There was a miserable rainstorm on Thursday as the Special pulled into Pittsburgh for the night. The weather did not improve as they left Friday morning for Cleveland. Rain and wind and sleet made for a very uncomfortable parade Friday evening as Lincoln went to the Weddell House. However, the weather did not keep the people away. All along the route, thousands showed up to see and hear the President elected from the West. Stopping at towns and villages along the way, the President-elect would step out on the rear platform of the train and say a few words. Lincoln, the politician, knew how to work a crowd. He said very little concerning the South and the crisis in the country – he was saving that for his Inaugural Address – but he knew how to win the people over. A few words, saying something humorous and getting a laugh was usually enough for the crowd to feel comfortable with him. He often repeated the same few words from town to town, getting the same positive response each time. However, at each of the cities with overnight stays, he did make a formal speech, giving bits & pieces of what the Inaugural Address would be.
Chapter 3 "The Best of the Bargain"
Cleveland to Erie
Saturday Morning, February 16, 1861:
The train slowly picked up speed as it moved out of the Euclid Street depot. The people of Cleveland gradually faded into the horizon as the day's journey began. The reporters who had been with the train for the length of the trip enjoyed the new company from the reception committees that now joined them. "The numerical increase of the party contributed largely to enlivening the journey. With presentations and introductions, and animated conversations, the time was pleasantly whiled away."1
Northeast Ohio :
"As the train shot along at a rapid rate the people rushed out from the farmhouses and waved hats and handkerchiefs, these signals being frequently responded to by those in the cars. As the train neared Euclid, the salute of a cannon was heard. On passing that station a man was seen lying on the platform and others standing over him throwing water in his face. It was afterwards ascertained that the man's name was William Hazen, and that through his carelessness in swabbing out the gun it prematurely exploded blowing off one hand of the unfortunate man."2
A few minutes later, the first stop of the day took place at Willoughby. There was a large turnout of people but only just enough time for Mr. Lincoln to bow from the rear platform.
The train arrived in Painesville at 10:03 A.M. for a five-minute stop. Three thousand enthusiastic people had gathered. "As the cars ran slowly up to the Depot a band of music struck up a national air and the crowd prepared for a big Hurrah." The mayor of the village, Aaron Wilcox, had traveled with the train from Cleveland. He walked with the President-elect from the car to a platform. "As his tall form was seen above the solid mass of stalwart men and handsome women – and, truth to say, nowhere on the route was there finer display in this respect – an immense shout went up." Mr. Wilcox introduced Mr. Lincoln, who then spoke to the people:
Ladies & Gentlemen: I stepped out upon this platform that I may see you and that you may see me, and in the arrangement I have the best of the bargain.
They responded with laughter. It was a line Lincoln used at least ten times during his journey to Washington and it worked every time. The laughter helped the audience to feel comfortable with him. He continued:
"The train only stops for a few minutes, so that I have time to make but few remarks, and the condition of my voice is such that I could not do more if there were time. We are met by large crowds of people at almost every ten miles, but in few instances where there are so many as here, or where there are so many (turning towards them and bowing) good-looking ladies. I can only say now that I bid you Good Morning and Farewell."
Lincoln, who spent so much of his adult life feeling very awkward and uncomfortable in the presence of the opposite gender, was now confidently and successfully charming the ladies. He then finished by saying:
"Let us have the better music from the band."
The train slowly pulled away. The band played "Hail Columbia" and the crowd "gave three cheers for the Constitution and the Laws." 3
Cannons fired as the Presidential train approached Geneva. Among the large crowd present were several women holding a banner which said, "The Lord is God. Let all the people praise Him." They stopped here for only a minute, but that was long enough for Lincoln to step onto the platform and have a minister, Dr. Burrows, address him:
Abraham Lincoln: The People's Representative and President. Aided by Divine Providence, may he so guide the Ship of State (now floating among the reefs and breakers of disunion) that she may be brought back to her original moorings. The Constitution as it is, the Union as it was, and Liberty uncompromised."
When he was done reading, the people cheered loudly. "Mr. Lincoln expressed satisfaction with the sentiments contained in the brief address. An old man in the crowd shouted, ‘Uncle Abe, stand firm!' The Geneva Artillery Company fired a salute as the train moved off."4 During the very brief stop at Madison, Lincoln stood on the rear platform bowing to the crowd and complimenting the ladies.
At 10:58 A.M., the train arrived in Ashtabula, home of Joshua Giddings, a staunch abolitionist who befriended Lincoln when they both served in Congress during the 1840's. The large crowd sent up cheers for the Union interspersed with cries of "No compromise." Lincoln spoke briefly from the rear platform:
… "I can only say how do you do, and Farewell, as my voice you perceive will warrant nothing more. I am happy to see so many pleasant faces around me and to be able to greet you as friends."
As he was making his bows to the audience, a lady in the crowd called for Mrs. Lincoln to make an appearance. Lincoln replied that ‘he should hardly induce her to appear, as he had always found it very difficult to make her do what she did not want to." They roared in laughter as the train pulled away.5
The last stop in Ohio was at the village of Conneaut. "There was a great crowd and here preparations had been made for a speech. A carpeted stand had been erected and one of the citizens stood ready to address Mr. Lincoln. The arrangement of the timetable, however, rendered it impossible for any but a momentary stop to be made, so that the crowd were obliged to be content with seeing Mr. Lincoln as he stood on the rear platform of the train, bowing to them." Lincoln told the crowd he had lost his voice and he thanked them for the "kindly demonstration". As the train was pulling away from the depot one of the townsmen, Captain Appleby, called out to him, "Don't give up the ship!" The President-elect responded, "With your aid I never will as long as life lasts!"
Appleby was the captain of the Great Lakes steamer, Sultana, and was known to have helped runaway slaves escape to Canada in that ship.6
Into Pennsylvania :
Leaving Ohio behind, the Special train now rolled through the northwestern corner of Pennsylvania, entering the borough of Girard at 11:52 A.M. Lincoln made a few remarks after which a large decorated basket of apples and pears were handed up for him and Mrs. Lincoln. "The Girard Guards, dressed in very tasteful uniform, were drawn up along the platform, and saluted the President elect as he passed."
The big surprise here, though, was the unexpected appearance of Horace Greeley, the owner and editor of the New York Tribune. Greeley, known mainly today for his decree, "Go West, young man", was a major power in politics. His newspaper commanded attention and respect throughout the country. He was a Republican and strongly against slavery. Greeley attended the 1860 Republican Convention in Chicago where he played an influential role in bringing about Lincoln's nomination. Looked upon as an outlandish dresser, at Girard "his coat collar was partly turned in and partly standing up, his pockets stuffed with papers and magazines and his Quaker hat on the back of his head in a very jolly way." One of the Cleveland newspapers, which apparently had a poor opinion of him, described the scene as he entered the train:
"He walked into the President's car, entirely at home, and instead of seeking Mr. Lincoln chatted in an opposite end of the car and allowed Mr. Lincoln to seek him. … Mr. Lincoln presented Mr. Greeley to his wife, and it was observed that the broad brimmed hat never once left its perch upon the back of the Horacian caput. We believe, however, that politeness is not one of Mr. Greeley's eccentricities." Greeley rode the fifteen miles to Erie where he was to give a lecture that evening. Lincoln invited him to re-join the train on Monday morning for the ride from Buffalo to Albany.7
* * * * *
The firing of a cannon announced the arrival of the train in Erie. It was 12:22 PM. "A triumphal arch was erected over the track, the pillars of which were entwined with evergreens and flanked with an American flag on each side. The top was surmounted with an arch, on which was subscribed, ‘the Union, the Constitution and the Laws,' over which presided an American eagle." An enthusiastic crowd of around 2,000 greeted the President-elect with cheers and demonstrations while the band played "The Star Spangled Banner." Quite a scene occurred here though, "by the breaking down of a roof on which a large number of curious Republicans had gathered. The sudden disappearance of the whole group, and the scramble among the ruins, was most ludicrous." Fortunately no one was hurt.8
The party stopped here for dinner. The Franklin Pierce Rifle Company and several police opened a passage from the platform to the depot. The Erie Reception Committee escorted Mr. Lincoln and his party to the upstairs dining room of the Railroad Company. Unfortunately, in the confusion of the moment, some of the military officials "mistook some of the party for outsiders and were disposed to treat them somewhat roughly before discovering their mistake."9
During dinner "some Ladies exhibited the very poor taste of seeking introduction to Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln while they were eating." Another incident occurred during the meal. "Some gentlemen offered Mr. Lincoln some wine, and rather forced it upon him. Mr. Lincoln replied, ‘I have lived fifty years without the use of any liquor, and I do not think it worthwhile to change my habits now.'" On a positive note, it was reported that Lincoln did ask for a second helping of mince pie baked by the wife of the owner. 10
After dinner, the doors to the east dining room were opened so that he could speak to the crowd below. "Being hoarse and fatigued, he excused himself from speaking at any length or expressing his opinions on the exciting questions of the day. He trusted that when the time for speaking, fully and plainly, should come, he would say nothing not in accordance with the Constitution and the Laws and the manifest interests of the whole country. Counseling all to firmness, forbearance, and patriotic adherence to the Constitution and the Union, he retired amidst applause."11
Lincoln was now half way through the day's journey. They had traveled 97 miles in a little over 3 hours and they had another 86 miles to go before their 4:30 P.M. arrival in Buffalo. The trip was now under the guidance of the Buffalo & Erie Railroad Company. The new engine was called the "Rocket" with Harvey Sayles as the engineer. He had eighteen years experience and was considered to be one of the best on the line. Isaac Morehead would be the conductor to Buffalo. On a precautionary note, a locomotive was stationed every twenty miles and ready for duty should a problem arise.12
"A Letter from a Young Lady"
Saturday Afternoon, February 16, 1861:
The train left Erie at 1:05 PM. The last stop in Pennsylvania was at the borough of Northeast. Flags were flying, including one with Fort Sumter on it, and the band was playing. Next to the tracks, a miniature Fort Sumter had been constructed. Lincoln made a few brief remarks from the rear platform of the train, although he made no reference to the fort. A reporter on the Special described the artillery as they passed through the village. "At Northeast, a small iron cannon, which gained historic fame during the ‘Erie Railroad War,' had been tied down between two sticks. An enthusiastic gunner, working alone in his shirt sleeves, fired it once as the train came near, and then set about loading it for a second ‘pop'. From the progress he was making, that second ‘shoot' must have greeted the arrival of the train at Buffalo." The reporter's allusion to the Erie Railroad War referred to the so-called Gauge War of the 1850's. In that decade, all passengers traveling from New York City to Chicago went through Erie, Pennsylvania. In Erie, they needed to disembark and board another train. It was an opportunity for the local vendors to show their wares on the travelers. The Erie merchants made their living while the passengers waited for the next train. The railroads had various gauges, or distances between the rails. The Erie & North East Railroad was a 6 foot gauge while the Ohio railroads were a four foot ten inch gauge. The railroad companies decided to standardize their gauges and this upset the citizens of Erie because the passengers would no longer need to disembark and patronize their businesses. A "War" engaged between the railroad companies and the people of Erie. Tracks were torn out and confrontations took place for several years before quiet ensued. In the end, the railroad gauges were standardized to a four foot eight and half inch length.1
There was much camaraderie among the reporters and guests inside the train. "Great sociability reigned among the gentlemen who accompanied the presidential party, throughout the trip." However, there was one in the president's party who was having a difficult time with one of the reporters. Lincoln's eldest son Robert, or Bob, was given some bad press by the New York Herald reporter. "Bob slept a considerable portion of the way, being much fatigued. Some feeling was manifested on the part of Bobby and his friends on account of the New York Herald reporter having insinuated in a dispatch to that paper that said Bobby was ‘tight' in Cincinnati. Sketches were handed about in the train showing how Bob appeared to his friends and how he appeared to that reporter, in which the contrast was striking. There was an intimation that the reporter would be requested to take another train than the ‘special' at Buffalo."2
The reporter in question was Henry Villard, who had been with the train since Springfield. For some reason, he disliked the younger Lincoln and had sent in several dispatches slamming the young man. In fact Villard, who later in life would be a very successful businessman & president of the Northern Pacific Railroad, also disliked the president-elect. In his 1904 memoirs, he stated, "I must say frankly that although I found him (Lincoln) most approachable, good-natured and full of wit and humor, I could not take a real personal liking to the man owing to an inborn weakness for which he was even then notorious and so remained during his great public career. He was inordinately fond of jokes, anecdotes and stories." 3
Lincoln's style and humor, for the most part, played well in Illinois and the surrounding areas. However, it did not always go over well with the supposedly well-bred individuals in the East, especially those with little or no sense of humor. Villard happened to be one of those individuals. Not appreciating Lincoln's effectiveness with his style, it instead just grated on him.
A few miles later, the Special crossed over into New York State's western region. Lincoln was probably thinking about his next stop, at the village of Westfield in Chautauqua County. A few months earlier, in October of 1860, he had received a letter from an eleven year old girl who lived there. Now he was hoping to have the opportunity to meet his little correspondent. There are many popular stories of Lincoln lore, including several that happened on this Inaugural journey, but few are as moving and heartwarming as the little girl's letter to the President.
Grace Bedell had been thinking about writing to Abraham Lincoln all weekend, since her father had brought home his picture from the fair. She thought a beard would greatly improve his looks and she needed to tell him so. After returning home from school on Monday, October 15th, she ran to her room and wrote her letter.
Hon A B Lincoln Westfield Chatauque Co
Dear Sir Oct. 15, 1860
My father has just home from the fair and
brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only eleven
years old, but want you should be President of the United States very much
so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you
are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love
and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4
brother's and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you will let your
whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would
look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and
they would tease their husband's to vote for you and then you would be
President. My father is a going to vote for you and if I was a man I would
vote for you to but I will try and get every one to vote for you that I can
I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have
got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be.
When you direct your letter dir[e]ct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chatauque
County New York
I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye
Grace Bedell Westfield Chautauque Co. NY
She addressed the envelope, placed a penny stamp on it and took it to the post office on Main Street, telling no one about it. Amazingly, the letter made it past Lincoln's two secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, who read and answered most of the mail. Fortunately, Lincoln read this letter and answered it on Friday of the same week.
Miss. Grace Bedell Springfield, Ills.
My dear little Miss. Oct 19. 1860
Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received.
I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters. I have three
sons---one seventeen, one nine, and one seven, years of age. They,
with their mother, constitute my whole family.
As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think
people would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it
now? Your very sincere well-wisher A. Lincoln
On Monday, October 22nd, one week after sending the letter, Grace Bedell received Lincoln's response. Many years later, she described her experience in returning from the post office:
My people didn't know I had written to Mr. Lincoln. When I received the one from him, I opened it to read on my way home. A slight skiff of snow was falling, but it was hardly cold enough for snow, and it melted as it fell. You'll see many brown spots on it [the letter], like big freckles. That's where flakes of snow fell on it as a very excited little girl was trying to read a letter and run home as fast as she could at the same time.
I rushed in upon my mother and two or three sisters. All were very much surprised. My sister Helen asked me how I knew where to address the letter. I replied that I had read in the paper that Mr. Lincoln lived at Springfield Illinois. They all laughed. Then Helen asked, "How did you address your letter?"
I told her, "Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Esquire." They all laughed again. But Mother spoke up and said, "Well, I guess he received the letter alright. The postmaster at Springfield would be in no doubt for whom the letter was intended."
She read it over and over and over again. It spread through the village that she had a letter from Lincoln and many came to the house to read it. But within a few weeks the excitement died and, except for the Bedell family, it was forgotten.
She was not the only one at this time to advise him on adding some whiskers. Some of the Republican Party leaders had also made the suggestion to him. However, even though the letter seemed to indicate he would not grow the beard, by late October, only a week after receiving her letter, he started to let the whiskers come in. 4
* * * * *
The Presidential Special was now just outside of Westfield. Among the many dignitaries and guests riding this section of the journey was George W. Patterson of Westfield. Mr. Patterson had a distinguished career in New York State politics, serving in the State Assembly for a number of years and then as Lt. Governor from 1846 – 1848. He was on the train as a representative of Westfield and Chautauqua County. Lincoln told Patterson the story of the letter and asked him if he knew the Bedell family. He said he did and felt they would be present in the crowd today.
The Special was slowing down as it crossed the trestle over the Chautauqua Creek gorge, approaching the depot from the west. It was 1:35 PM. There was a large banner suspended near the passenger depot which said, "Welcome to the Empire State." The crowd of 2,000 was cheering and clapping as the train came to a halt.
Lincoln and Gov. Patterson soon appeared on the rear platform. The former Lt. Governor then introduced the President-elect to the people of Westfield and this once again brought about shouts and cheers from the crowd. Lincoln opened up by making some highly complementary remarks about New York State. He then said "he was proud to meet so many of the citizens of Chautauqua, but excused himself from making a speech by saying he had none to make, and if he had he was so hoarse that he could not deliver it." Speaking to the ladies of Westfield, he said,
"I am glad to see you; I suppose you are to see me; but I certainly think I have the best of the bargain."
The crowd applauded with laughter.
He then walked to the other side of the car and spoke to the crowd in that section. He asked if he was now in Westfield. When the response was yes, he continued:
"Some three months ago, I received a letter from a young lady here; it was a very pretty letter, and she advised me to let my whiskers grow, as it would improve my personal appearance; acting partly upon her suggestion, I have done so; and now, if she is here, I would like to see her."
Cries of "What is her name?" and "Who is she?" came from the crowd. Lincoln responded that her name was Grace Bedell. A small boy, sitting on a post, pointed and screamed, "There she is, Mr. Lincoln." She "was soon brought forward, and Lincoln stepped from the car, shook hands with her, kissed her, and asked how she liked the improvements she advised him to make? Every one was feeling so well at this time, and there were so many good natured remarks, that our reporter's pencil did not catch the reply. [There was no reply]. After bidding the little Miss good by, and shaking hands with a good many within his reach, the President elect stepped upon the platform of the car and the train moved off, he bowing to the crowd as it left the depot."5
Many years later, Grace Bedell gave her own account of what happened that afternoon:
"I was at the station with my two sisters and a Mr. McCormack, who had escorted us there when the President's train arrived. In my hand was a bouquet of roses, which a neighbor had furnished so that I might give them to the President. The crowd was so large and I was so little that I could not see the President as he stood on the rear platform of his train making his address. But at the end of a short speech he announced ‘I have a little correspondent in this place, and if she is present will she please come forward?'
‘Who is it? What is her name?' shouted a chorus of voices from the crowd.
‘Grace Bedell,' answered Mr. Lincoln.
Taking my hand, the gentleman who had escorted us to the station made a lane through the crowd and led me to the low platform beside the train. The President stepped down from the car, shook my hand and kissed me.
‘You see,' he said, indicating his beard, ‘I let these grow for you, Grace.'
The crowd cheered and the President re-entered his car. I was so surprised and embarrassed by the President's unexpected conduct that I ran home as fast as I could… Such was my confusion that I completely forgot the bouquet of roses that I was going to give the great man to whom I had offered such rare advice, and when I arrived home I had the stems, all that remained of the bouquet, still tightly clutched in my hand.
It seemed to me as the President stooped to kiss me that he looked very kind, yes, and sad."
She also remembered how speechless she was and how red her face became when Lincoln kissed her. She remembered touching his beard with her hand as she was kissed and how it scratched her face. There were several people present that day who later wrote down their account of what happened, each version just slightly different in what Lincoln said to her. One individual, J. S. Stearns, writing in 1933, described Lincoln:
"I remember that he was of unusual height, having to stoop considerably in order to get through the door out onto the platform, and had immensely large hands and feet. He wore a beard of about an inch in length, and was wearing what was called in those days a plug or stovepipe hat."
Grace Bedell is best known for the part of her life that she lived in Westfield. However, she and her family lived there for less than two years. She was born in Albion, N.Y. in the family home at 350 West State Street on November 4, 1848. In October of 1859, just before her eleventh birthday, her father, a stove maker, moved the family to Westfield, renting out the home at 36 Washington Street. They moved back to Albion in July of 1861, just a few months after meeting Lincoln. 6
The Westfield stop showed how Lincoln could connect with an individual, resulting in a priceless moment. At the next stop in Dunkirk, he displayed his flair for the dramatic and showed that he could win a crowd over with just a few words.
Dunkirk 2:45 PM:
Stopping just east of Lion Street (now Main Street), nearly in front of the Eastern Hotel, the overflow crowd engulfed the approaching train. "It looked as if Chautauqua and all the surrounding country had poured its men, women and children upon the place. It was estimated that there were some 10,000 people present."
"A triumphal arch was erected over the track, with Union mottoes upon it. Music and military surrounded us, fair ladies waved their handkerchiefs, and a platform around a flag staff, covered with velvet carpet, was prepared for Mr. Lincoln to speak from. He stepped from the cars upon it, and as the tumult subsided, said, ‘I am glad to meet you all; I regret I cannot stop to speak with you, but were I to stop and make a speech at every station, I would not reach Washington until after the inauguration.'" 7
The reporter from the New York World then described what was possibly the most dramatic moment of the journey. "At the conclusion of a brief speech, Mr. Lincoln, placing his hand upon a flag-staff from which the stars and stripes waved, said, ‘I stand by the flag of the Union, and all I ask of you is that you stand by me as long as I stand by it.' It is impossible to describe the applause and the acclamation with which this Jacksonian peroration was greeted. The arches of the depot echoed and re-echoed with the ring of countless cheers. Men swung their hats wildly, women waved their handkerchiefs, and, as the train moved on, the crowd, animated by a common impulse, followed, as if they intended to keep it company to the next station. Inside the car the enthusiasm created by the conclusion of the speech was scarcely less than the outside assemblage had exhibited. The company evinced a general disposition to intone hurrahs and sing patriotic songs out of tune." 8 The train left the depot, with Mr. Lincoln bowing from the rear of his car and cheer upon cheer ringing in his ears.
Traveling on the train was Mr. Henri Lovie, an artist for Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. Leslie's brought illustrated journalism to the American people. In a day when photography had not yet found its way into publications and newspapers were just type set words, Frank Leslie's offered the unique visual of current events as the illustrated newspaper became a household item. Mr. Lovie drew Lincoln as he spoke from the Weddell House balcony earlier in the day in Cleveland. He also drew several sketches of scenes along the route as well as portraits of the prominent individuals present on the train. 9 What scenes did Mr. Lovie draw on this day? Two of them were included in the March 2, 1861 edition of Frank Leslie's Illustrated: the above Weddell House balcony speech in Cleveland and Lincoln's parade in Buffalo.
Just a few miles beyond Dunkirk, the final wood and watering stop occurred at the village of Silver Creek. The depot was located on the east side of the tracks near Summit Street, about 500 feet from Dunkirk Street (now Route 5). Lincoln appeared on the rear platform of the train and gave his usual very brief remarks. At the conclusion of his speech, a young girl approached him and presented him with rosebuds. He accepted the gift, bent down, kissed her and said,
"You are a sweet little rosebud yourself. I hope your life will
open into perpetual beauty and goodness."
Another young lady in the crowd was Miss Hattie Calhoun, who was around twenty years of age at the time. She lived to be 101 years old and became the last surviving witness to Lincoln's visit in Silver Creek.10
With Lake Erie on its western side, the train headed north into Erie County to Buffalo, slowly passing through the villages of Angola, Evans Center, Derby, Lakeview and Hamburg along the way.
Chapter 5 "An Ungovernable Mob"
The Exchange St. Depot
Preparations for an Event:
The early morning sunshine had melted the snow from the previous night. The temperature had risen to just above freezing. It looked like it would be an ideal winter day; at least as best as you can expect in February. There was only one problem with it. The sunshine and the melted snow brought about muddy roads. Some of them were impassable muddy roads. The "streets … were as slushy and unclean as paved thoroughfares well can be." Nevertheless, today would be an eventful day for the city. Activity began early in the morning. Flags began to rise on the flagpoles and in front of the buildings. As the morning progressed, other decorations appeared. Building fronts were now covered with "tri-colored drapery". An array of flags, both large and small, were appearing in countless places all over the city, "until Buffalo had put on the most gala look that she had worn for many a month." By late morning, people had begun to gather "more thickly than usual," especially at the street corners. By early afternoon, the crowds rapidly increased. The city inhabitants were now stopping their work and the country folks were arriving in great numbers, coming in from the rest of the county. There was a holiday excitement in the air. Amongst the crowd there was a "prevailing anticipation of something memorable and important in occurrence." Today, Saturday, February 16, 1861, the President-elect, Abraham Lincoln, was coming to town.
"When the looked for hour of the President's coming had arrived, the crowd, the bustle, the excitement which all day had grown, was at a climax which we think it perfectly safe to say never has been equaled in Buffalo. Packed upon the walks, clustered upon the roofs, crowded at the windows … heaped and overflowing everywhere within view of the route of the expected procession, such a swarming of humanity … we never before saw in our Queen City. Within and around the depot on Exchange street the press was of course the greatest. There the crowd was absolutely fearful in its magnitude and in the excitement under which it swayed as under a tempest."1
At precisely 4:30 PM, the cannon of Major Wiedrich's Artillery Company on Michigan Street broadcast the arrival of the train. The wildest cheering greeted its appearance, "cheering that began with the multitude away down the track … gathering volume as it rolled up to the Depot." 2
A Cleveland reporter on the train described the scene as they approached the city. "We began to see crowds of people standing near the railroad when the train was a mile out of Buffalo. As we advanced the crowds thickened and shouts from thousands of throats and the loud booming of cannon were heard. The crowd filled open freight cars on the track, stood in solid masses on car tops, filled windows and every conceivable standing place from which to see. In the neighborhood of the depot the throng was very dense, and within they were packed so closely they could only move in masses of hundreds."3
Another reporter on the train told of the fears they had for their own protection. "As that place was neared fears began to be entertained as to the provision made for protecting the party from the rush of curious people that would probably take place on alighting. As the train entered the depot a single glance sufficed to show that those fears were well grounded. The preparations were wholly inadequate for the occasion. The mob swarmed over the cars, and were only kept out from them by the most strenuous exertions of the train officers and the President's party themselves. The handful of military were hemmed in by the crowd, and rendered utterly powerless for good or evil."4
The crowd inside the depot, estimated to be at least 10,000, struggled to get a better view of the rear car of the train, which contained the President-elect.5 When it finally came to a halt, "D" Company took a few minutes to open a passageway from the rear platform of the train to the depot main exit. Lincoln then appeared on the rear platform with Almon Clapp. Millard Fillmore, the former President, met him at the steps and "greeted him in a few words simply of congratulation upon the safety of his journey and the preservation of his health, in response to which Mr. Lincoln expressed his thanks. Attended then by Mr. Fillmore, Mr. Clapp, and Mr. Bemis, mayor pro tem, the President proceeded to the carriage through the line opened by the military."6
The Buffalo Morning Express described with shame and regrets the scene that took place next. "The crowd, in its eagerness to get nearer to the distinguished visitor … became an ungovernable mob, making an irresistible rush towards him which swept the soldiers from their lines, and threw everything into the wildest confusion…" The Buffalo Daily Courier described the scene as such: "The instant Mr. Lincoln got fairly out into the depot, and before more than half of his attendents had made good their exit, the vast multitude on both sides made a blind, tremendous rush, after him, for the door. The passage way closed up instantly and the two files of soldiers were broken into about as many pieces as there were men in them."7 The crowd was now out of control as they were trying to get a better view of the President-elect. The soldiers were overrun by the mob and in disarray. Having lost control of their guns, the bayonets were pointing out in a horizontal position. One individual was pushed against the point of a bayonet but amazingly, was not seriously injured. Lincoln "did not escape uncrushed, but he sustained no injuries."8Another account said that "the tall form of Mr. Lincoln and the venerable head of Mr. Fillmore were seen to sway to one side and the other as the crowd surged in upon them on either side, and the people acted more like a lot of savages than anything else."9 Robert Lincoln and Neil Dennison, the son of the Ohio governor, were pushed around so much that they barely escaped falling and being trampled. A Lieutenant and a few of his soldiers were able to regain control of themselves, fought back to where Lincoln & Fillmore were located, surrounded them and kept the crowd away. Finally, a passage way was opened for the President to safely reach his carriage. However, most of the committee members and news reporters were swallowed up by the mob. "The military, when asked to clear a passage, pitifully answered that ‘we can do nothing; if you can make your way through, you will do better than we can.'"10
It was miraculous there were no serious injuries that occurred throughout these several minutes. Major David Hunter, from the President's party, suffered the most severe injury, a sprained shoulder after being pushed against a wall. One person in the crowd, an older man from Lancaster named Bruce, suffered fractured ribs after being jammed in the doorway. He was taken to the Wadsworth House where medical attention was given to him.11 "A crowd, even when thoroughly good humored, as was this, is dangerously unwieldy; when it has once wedged itself into a space too small for it, it can neither control itself nor be controlled by force."12
Who was in charge here? The militia tried to protect the visitors but there were just so few of them. Why were there not more brought in for protection? But the primary question that needed to be answered was: Why was the crowd allowed into the depot in the first place? If the depot had been empty, the arrival could have been pulled off without an incident. One of the Buffalo newspapers suggests that the depot had, in fact, been closed. "An effort, quite inefficient, had been made to keep the depot closed until the arrival of the train. The doors were barred, but the train entrance being wide open, every one went in who pleased." 13 The doors were apparently barricaded, but that didn't stop the crowd. They just walked around the building to the tracks and went in that way. This was a major mistake allowed by the city planners. It was one that could easily have resulted in a loss of life, possibly even of Lincoln himself. It was not a good start for the positive national image of the city.
Lincoln entered his carriage, drawn by four horses. Sitting with him were Fillmore, Asaph Bemis, and Almon Clapp. The rest of the entourage was not so fortunate. "The line of carriages was broken up. Members of the president's party after fighting their way through the crowd wandered about among the carriages, finding most of them occupied in the most cosy manner by Buffalo reception Committees, and some of the president's suite walked to the hotel."14. Another newspaper reported that "the carriages which had been provided for the suite were filled with Buffalo officials and citizens, leaving the ‘guests of the city' to fight their way a-foot, or enter carriages at least a quarter of a mile from the party to which they belonged."15 The travelers, having barely survived the mob scene inside the depot, finally made it to daylight only to find disorganization among the carriages. The Buffalo Reception Committee of 34 members apparently forgot their role of host. Many of the guests ended up walking to the hotel. Yet another hit to the city's positive image.
It took a few minutes but the procession was finally ready to get under way. Marshal Gustavus Scroggs and his assistants took the lead. The Union Cornet Band and Major Weidrich's Light Artillery followed them. The open carriage containing Lincoln was next. Behind them were several carriages carrying the President's party, members of the press and various committee members.16 Mrs. Lincoln and her two young sons were not involved in the depot madness or the parade. They had quickly exited the train and were immediately taken to the hotel by way of Carroll Street.
The cheering and excitement of Buffalo's citizens, along with thousands of waving handkerchiefs, greeted Lincoln as the Parade traveled up Exchange Street and then on Main Street to the American Hotel. "The vast multitude of people … thronged the route of the procession, filling the streets, crowding the roofs and swarming about every window of the buildings on either side for the half mile distance."17 The carriage stopped in front of the American. The military formed two lines for Mr. Lincoln to walk through into the hotel.
"They Should Forget That They are Foreigners"
At the American Hotel
The American Hotel was a five story structure located on Main Street between Eagle and Court streets, the present site of the Main Place Mall. This was the second American Hotel. The first one had been built in 1836 by Benjamin Rathbun for Alanson Palmer. Rathbun, master builder and successful businessman, was responsible for many of Buffalo's buildings during the 1830's. The hotel opened in September of 1836. Lewis L. Hodges was the proprietor, leasing the building from Mr. Palmer. Fourteen years later, in 1850, it was destroyed by fire. The flames originated from the Globe Hotel, which was adjacent to the American.
John Michael purchased the ground on which it stood for $25,000 and rebuilt it, with a total cost of around $110,000. When the new hotel opened on July 5, 1851, Lewis L. Hodges was once again the proprietor. The American thrived for many years as one of the first class hotels in the city, but once again it was destroyed by fire. In January of 1865, a fire started in the kitchen of Peter Diehl's restaurant on the Bernheimer Block of Main Street. The weather had been extremely cold with a major snowstorm. The high winds spread the fire to the American Block, destroying many buildings including the hotel. A year later, AM & A's department store was erected on the site. 1
* * * * *
Lincoln soon appeared on the second floor balcony, along with Fillmore, Asaph Bemis and others. The mayor of Buffalo, Franklin Alberger, was seriously ill and could not attend the festivities of the day. Bemis, alderman and President of the Common Council, had been elected to serve as mayor for the weekend, thus his title of Mayor pro tem. Mr. Bemis stepped forward and addressed the President-elect:
Mr. Lincoln – in behalf of the good people of this city, I welcome you to Buffalo, and tender to you, and to the party accompanying you, the friendship and hospitality of its citizens. I also congratulate you, sir, that your progress towards the Federal Capital has been without accident, or any circumstance to mar the pleasures of your journey. I wish, also, to express the high respect felt by our citizens for yourself as the Chief Magistrate of these United States as well as to bear testimony to their attachment and loyalty to the Union and Government over which you are soon to preside.
Sir, in this hour of our national disquietude, the eyes of all good citizens naturally turn with hope towards yourself, as the arbiter of peace that shall still the turbulent elements that now threaten destruction of our beloved country. With confidence that your administration of the affairs of our national government will be characterized by a spirit of equal rights and justice to all sections of our Union, we look forward to its inauguration with anxious thought, and shall hail its good results with pleasure.
Hoping, sir, that your visit – and that of your friends – to us on this occasion may be as pleasant and agreeable as we desire it to be, I again bid you a hearty welcome to our city, and with your permission, I will introduce you to the citizens of Buffalo.
Fellow citizens, I have the honor and pleasure of introducing to you the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President-elect of these United States.
Lincoln responded, but unfortunately it was "with the utmost difficulty, being as hoarse from his frequent efforts as be scarcely able to make himself heard."
Mr. Mayor, and Fellow Citizens of Buffalo and the State of New York:
I am here to thank you briefly for this grand reception given to me not personally, but as the representative of our great and beloved country. [Cheers]. Your worthy Mayor has been pleased to mention in his address to me, the fortunate and agreeable journey which I have had from home on my rather circuitous route to the Federal Capital. I am very happy that he was enabled in truth to congratulate myself and companions on that fact. It is true, we have had nothing, thus far, to mar the pleasure of the trip. We have not been met alone by those who insisted in giving the election to me- I say not alone- but by the whole population of the country. This is as it should be.
Had the election fallen on any other of the distinguished candidates instead of myself, under the peculiar circumstances, to say the least, it would have been proper for all citizens to have greeted him as you now greet me. It is evidence of the devotion of the whole people to the Constitution, the Union, and the perpetuity of the liberties of the country. [Cheers.] I am unwilling, on any occasion, that I should be so meanly thought of, as to have it supposed for a moment that I regard these demonstrations as tendered to me, personally. They should be tendered to no individual man. They are tendered to the country, to the institutions of the country, and to the perpetuity of the country for which these institutions were made and created.
Your worthy Mayor has thought fit to express the hope that I may be able to relieve the country from its present – or I should say, its threatened difficulties. I am sure I bring a heart true to the work. [Tremendous applause.] For the ability to perform it, I must trust in that Supreme Being who has never forsaken this favored land, through the instrumentality of this great and intelligent people. Without that assistance I shall surely fail. With it I cannot fail.
When we speak of threatened difficulties to the country, it is natural that there should be expected from me something with regard to particular measures. Upon more mature reflection, however, others will agree with me that when it is considered that these difficulties are without precedent, and never have been acted upon by any individual situated as I am, it is most proper I should wait, see the developments, and get all the light I can, so that when I do speak authoritatively, I wish to say nothing inconsistent with the Constitution, the Union, the rights of all the States, of each State, and of each section of the country, and not to disappoint the reasonable expectations of those who have confided to me their votes.
In this connection – allow me to say that you, as a portion of the great American people, need only to maintain your composure. Stand up to your sober convictions of right, to your obligations to the Constitution, act in accordance with those sober convictions, and the clouds which now arise in the horizon will be dispelled, and we shall have a bright and glorious future, and when this generation has passed away, tens of thousands will inhabit this country, where only thousands inhabit it now.
I do not propose to address you at length – I have no voice for it. Allow me again to thank you for this magnificent reception and bid you farewell.
Lincoln reentered the hotel amid deafening and prolonged applause. 2 A young lawyer, age 23, named Grover Cleveland, was among the thousands in the street listening to the speech. He later became the 22nd and 24th President of the United States, the only one to serve non-consecutive terms in office. So in the same setting, there is a former President, a President-elect and a future President of the United States.
Despite the mob scene and the near trampling at the depot just a few minutes earlier, Lincoln remained a gracious guest of the city. His opening comment of saying that "we have had nothing, thus far, to mar the pleasure of the trip" was hopefully appreciated by the citizens. It was surprising that Mr. Bemis made reference to Lincoln's safety as the mayor pro tem had also been present at the depot and experienced the arrival. Apparently he and the rest of the city were not yet aware of the negative face that the lack of security and control would bring to the city. They were not yet into damage control mode. However, the national press would soon take care of that.
Lincoln emphasized that he was the President of the whole country and all its citizens, not just of the Republican Party. In this vein, he stressed that it was not him personally who they were cheering, but the office he represented. He was also pleased to see that not only did the Republican voters show up, but so also did those that voted against him. One of the issues that greatly annoyed Lincoln with the secession of the South was that the Republican Party had gained the Presidency fair and square, legally according to the Constitution. It was not a usurpation of power on their part. If every group out of power could secede, then how could there be a country at all? Does a minority have a right to break up the government when they choose? The South should work within the confines of the Constitution to have their grievances dealt with, just as the North had been doing when the South controlled the executive branch.
Lincoln's speech gave his listeners some insight as to how he would, in general, respond to the issues of the day. The problem of secession had placed his administration in an unprecedented position. He would act in a careful, logical and deliberate manner. He did not want the emotions of the times to dictate his policy. Let's see what happens and see where events take us before deciding on the response. Lincoln hoped to calm the fears of the citizens and give them confidence that only the wisest and best thought out decisions will be made by his administration. However, he also said he will be consistent with the Constitution and will take into account the rights of all the states; implying that he will consider not only the rights of the Southern states, but also the rights of the rest of the country.
Inside the Hotel:
Across the street from the balcony was the Young Men's Christian Union. In answer to Lincoln's Springfield Farewell address, given a few days earlier, a banner was displayed in front of it saying, "We will pray for you."
Back inside the hotel room, the President-elect was introduced to several individuals including the 34 members of the Committee of Reception and the officers of the staff representing Governor Morgan, who were there to escort Mr. Lincoln to Albany. Commissary General Welch addressed the President-elect:
Mr. Lincoln –We are commissioned by his Excellency Gov. Morgan to meet you here,
to welcome you to the State, and to tender to you its hospitalities. Arrangements have
been made, and we hope they are agreeable to you, for a special train to leave here on
Monday morning, at six o' clock and to arrive at Albany at half – past two in the
afternoon. Meanwhile our services are entirely at your disposal. 3
Lincoln thanked the officers and then retired to the rooms provided for him.
When the itinerary for the journey was released, Mr. Hodges became anxious. He was the proprietor of the American Hotel, the principal hotel in the city. What would he do with all the visitors? Where would he put them? And most importantly, what rooms would he give to the Lincolns?
In those days, many of the local citizens moved into a hotel for the winter. Mr. and Mrs. Richard J. Sherman were staying in a first floor apartment, one of the finest in the hotel. Aware of the owner's plight, Mrs. Sherman offered the use of her apartment. Since her husband was out of town, she would temporarily move into one of the upper floor single rooms. Mr. Hodges gratefully accepted. The women living in the hotel helped Mrs. Sherman clean and prepare the rooms. All of the personal belongings were removed but the furniture and decorations remained. A writing table was set up for Mr. Lincoln's use. As she left, Mrs. Sherman placed an autograph book on the table in the hope that the President-elect might sign it for her.
When the Lincolns were shown to their rooms on Saturday afternoon, they were both pleasantly surprised. He felt the rooms were the finest they had been in since the journey began. It reminded them of home. It was explained to them that this was a private apartment given up for their use. Lincoln immediately wished to meet the owner. Later that evening at the public reception, Mr. Lincoln met Mrs. Sherman. 4
The Evening Reception:
As evening came around, the weather took a turn for the worse. The winds picked up, the temperature dropped and the snow began to fall. This, however, did not keep the people of Buffalo away. Thousands turned out for the evening reception. However, only a certain few were allowed into Lincoln's presence. "The general crowd gathered in the vestibule of the hotel were refused admittance, and only a limited number of ladies and gentlemen were presented."
The evening reception began at 7:30 P.M. in the main hall on the second floor of the hotel. Twenty members of Company "D" kept the crowd moving in an orderly fashion. The people entered the main hall by the right stairway and exited on the left. Lincoln stood on a slightly raised platform at the top of the stairway surrounded by a few friends and officials. The President-elect bowed to most of his visitors, shaking hands with only a few of the ladies. "A kindly smile lit up his truly genial face, and his fatherly attention to the children and gallant manner to the ladies won their hearts most effectually. Many of the little girls were lifted up and kissed by the President, and some of the mothers evidently wished they were ‘a child again'. …One of a trio of ladies, who had been duly presented, on leaving Mr. Lincoln, looked over her shoulder and exclaimed, ‘the dear soul –how I should like to kiss him.' Mr. Lincoln promptly responded that he was not averse to such labial inflictions, and the ceremony was duly performed on all three of the blushing belles. So the evening went on."
Meanwhile, in the Ladies Parlor on the first floor, Mrs. Lincoln was also receiving visitors. She stood in the center of the room with her son Robert, under a canopy draped with, "the national colors and surmounted by the national emblems. Several hundred ladies and gentlemen were presented to her, to most of whom she extended her hand." Almon Clapp, editor of the Express and Chairman of the Citizens Committee, presented the visitors to Mrs. Lincoln.5
The German Delegation:
The levee ended at 9:30. Lincoln then met a committee of twenty German citizens, led by ex-alderman Jacob Beyer. Beyer, a successful Buffalo businessman and a strong supporter of the German community, had come to Buffalo as an 8 year old immigrant. He was elected as an alderman in 1859 and would be again in 1866. The delegation had formed due to the German community's feeling that it was not represented on the 34 person Citizens Committee. Alderman Beyer addressed Mr. Lincoln:
HONORED SIR -- The Committee appearing before you was appointed by a meeting of German citizens of the city of Buffalo, to greet and welcome you in their name, while pausing through this city, on your way to the National Capital, and to express to you their sincere regards, and the confidence they have in you, the chosen Chief Magistrate of the Nation. The German population of this city is about 25,000. They are law-abiding citizens, and loyal to the institutions of their adopted country. While it would be difficult, and perhaps assuming, to speak for so many on any public question, we have no hesitation in saying that they are all in favor of maintaining inviolate our glorious Union and the Constitution of the United States.
SIR – We wish you a pleasant and safe journey to the place of your destination, and hope that your administration will be alike honorable and satisfactory to yourself, and prove a blessing to the whole nation.
Lincoln then responded to the delegation and to Mr. Beyer:
MR. CHAIRMAN -- I am gratified with this evidence of the feelings of the German citizens of Buffalo. My own idea about our foreign citizens has always been that they were no better than anyone else, and no worse. And it is best that they should forget that they are foreigners as soon as possible.6
Harsh words! It was a bold yet very honest statement by Lincoln. He was not anti-foreigner. In fact, he was very sympathetic to the immigrant. However, he was telling them something he felt they needed to hear. You are no longer in Germany. You are now in America. It's time to become part of the American culture. It's time to become Americans.
The response of the German committee to his words was not recorded. Were they pleased or confused? Were they offended? Ironically, it was the German immigrants that did just as he said. They emphatically embraced their new land and home. In a relatively short amount of time they, more so than any other immigrant group, melted into and became part of the American culture.
The first major wave of immigration to the Buffalo area occurred from the 1830's to the 1850's, mainly from Germany and Ireland. By the mid-1850's, the Germans made up 40% of the population. The immigrants during this first wave generally came from the southern part of Germany, due to political oppression in that area. They tended to be much better educated and were considered to be skilled workers in comparison to the Irish immigrants, and to the Poles and Italians who came later. They settled inland from Lake Erie, in the "Fruit Belt" area on the East side. They brought with them German beer, German food, German music and German culture. They were in the brewery business, the tanneries, the lumber industry, the flour mills, the foundries and the bakeries, both as workers and as owners. The first German newspaper was founded in 1837- "Der Weltbuerger". And they were involved politically, forming the German Democratic Organization in 1848. By the mid 1850's, The German singing society had been established, the Buffalo Liedertafel. They were part of the Buffalo community. 7
With the response to the German delegation, the public reception ended and Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln retired to their room for the evening. Soon after, "the German ‘Sangerbund', arrived in front of the hotel and gave a serenade. A few minutes after this the ‘Liedertafel', under the direction of Karl Adam, Esq., were ushered in the main hall, and gave several of their delightful vocal performances. The doors of the guests of the hotel were thrown open… The members of the President's suite thanked our enthusiastic German friends for their agreeable music, and quiet followed the day of excitement."8
Among the names listed in the hotel registrar for Saturday night at the American Hotel were:
"A. Lincoln and Lady": Mary Todd Lincoln and her two youngest sons joined the special train in Indianapolis, one day after leaving Springfield.
"Two children and servant": The two young boys were Willie, age 10, and Tad, age 7. Willie died a year later in the White House. The servant was a young African-American man named William Johnson.
"Robert T. Lincoln (son of Mr. Lincoln)": He was the eldest son, age 17 in 1861, having recently begun studies in college at Harvard. Robert was the only one of the four Lincoln children to live into adulthood, passing away in 1926.
"Col. Sumner. U.S.A."
"Maj. Hunter, U.S.A."
"Capt. John Pope, U.S.A.":
Capt George Hazard, U.S.A. All four were soldiers in the U.S. Army who volunteered to escort Mr. Lincoln to Washington, D.C. Major Hunter was injured earlier in the day at the Exchange Street Depot. During the Civil War, Col. Sumner, Major Hunter & Capt. Pope became generals for the Union army.
"Col. Ellsworth (the famous Zoave man)": Now 23 years of age, Elmer Ellsworth had recently left New York State for Illinois to form a Zouave Company in that state. He also worked on Lincoln's presidential campaign and quickly became a favorite of his. Lincoln invited him to travel with the special train. Three months later, in May 1861, he became one of the first casualties of the Civil War.
"Sec. Nicolay (Mr. Lincoln's secretary): John Nicolay was a young German-American newspaper man who had recently signed on to be Mr. Lincoln's private secretary.
"John Hay (Assistant secretary)": 23 year old assistant private secretary. Years later, he and Nicolay wrote a 10 volume biography of Lincoln. In 1898, he was appointed Secretary of State under President McKinley.
"Col. Ward H. Lamon": Illinois lawyer and a friend of Lincoln's. He joined the trip as Lincoln's bodyguard.
"N.B.Judd": Norman Judd, one of the leaders of the Illinois Republican Party.
"Dr. W. S. Wallace": Lincoln's personal physician and brother-in-law.
"Judge S. Davis": David Davis, Illinois Circuit Court Judge. He played a vital role in Lincoln's nomination for President in Chicago. Lincoln later appointed him as a Justice of the Supreme Court.
"W.S. Wood": William Wood, the Superintendent of Arrangements for the journey.
The press corps was well represented at the American Hotel. Some of the newspapers they worked for included:
New York City: The New York Times, Tribune, World & Herald
Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
Western Telegraph Company
Rochester: the Democrat and the Union
Syracuse: the Journal & the Democrat
Wayne County: the Lyons Republican 9
An Unprecedented Day:
Not only was this a memorable day for the citizens of Buffalo but it was a glorious day of historic proportions for the pickpockets of the city. The police reported several cases of individuals losing their money and valuables. Based on rumors and circulating stories, there were apparently many cases of theft that went unreported. "It was estimated by those acquainted with the gentry that nearly a hundred from all quarters of the country were congregated here, pursuing their avocation."
The light fingered gentry were following Lincoln throughout his journey to Washington, D.C., going city to city. Much of Saturday's activity took place at the depot. Mr. W. M. Hay, while in the crowd at the depot, felt someone's hand in his pocket. "A hand to hand conflict ensued, in which the ruffian made a desperate resistance." Mr. Hay finally overwhelmed him and turned him over to the police. Others were not so fortunate. The nimble fingered gentry worked not only the crowd at the depot, but also the street along the parade route and the American Hotel. The police arrested 11 individuals that day but no money or valuables were recovered at that time. The stolen items were passed along one to another very quickly after being taken. The reported losses ranged from $6 to $100 in cash and up to $300 in checks and valuables.
However, the Buffalo police were diligent in their search for the offenders. On Sunday afternoon, police Chief Best was informed that several of the offending members were taking carriages to Lancaster with the intention of taking the evening train to Rochester. Several officers were assigned the duty of going to Lancaster and beyond to nab the "ruffians". Before leaving Buffalo, one of those officers, Charles Darcy, recognized five of the pickpockets in a carriage. Although he was alone, he made a heroic attempt to capture the gang. Charging into the carriage, he grabbed two of them by the coat collars and ordered the driver to go to the nearest police station. The pickpockets, unwilling to be arrested by a lone policeman, made a fierce resistance. "Darcy was struck in the face and on the head several times; but he could not be made to surrender his hold upon the two he had grappled, and actually succeeded in dragging one of the rascals from the carriage with one hand." The other hand had half the overcoat of the second pickpocket. The coat had ripped in half allowing him to escape.
The police rode the 6:45 P.M. train to Lancaster. Just a few minutes after arriving, they recognized and arrested two pickpockets – a young man and a boy.
"When the train reached Lancaster, a close watch was kept for the expected increase of passengers, but with characteristic modesty, the strangers refrained from showing themselves till the cars commenced moving off, when, lo! from every quarter appeared the rascals. Some jumped on the sleeping car, and the others divided themselves among the two ordinary passenger cars in the train." The police went to work and arrested eight more. "These fellows were all well dressed young men, of decidedly genteel appearance, and some of them had evidently thriven in their calling. One had on his person four hundred and thirty dollars in gold, and others exhibited … from one hundred to three hundred dollars in gold and bank bills, secreted about their clothing, and even in their boots." The police returned the next morning from Batavia with eleven prisoners to add to the eleven arrested the previous day.10
A bet paid off:
"Just before the Lincoln cortege arrived at the American, one of the Buffalo & Lake Huron railroad wagons, partially filled with wood, and containing a saw and buck, was driven in front of the hotel." Mr. George Mugridge and Mr. J. H. Canfield had made a bet the previous November on who would win the Presidential election. Mr. Canfield, choosing Steven Douglas, lost, and now he was paying off that bet. Canfield was to saw a half a cord of wood in front of the American hotel and then give it to the poorest black family in Buffalo.11 This he did. The sawing began when Lincoln appeared and finished long after the speech was over. The crowd still present gave him a round of applause.
The act of sawing wood during the speech was improper, to say the least. Why was it allowed to take place? Why was a private bet allowed to interfere with a public reception? To say the least, it was impolite to Mr. Lincoln, both as President-elect and as a visitor to their city. It was also an offensive act to the audience attempting to listen to the speech. It was already difficult to hear Lincoln's words; with the weather, the crowd and his hoarse voice. The act of sawing added yet another distraction. However, the several newspapers that mention the incident do so in an amusing sort of way. None of them are critical of the act. At least one of the papers seems to indicate that the sawing was proper and honorable because the individual kept his part of the bargain. The people around the sawyer did not seem annoyed by him. In fact, many stayed around to applaud when he finished. As for Lincoln, he had few equals as a political speaker. The veteran politician would not let something as minor as the sound of wood cutting bother him. He had experienced worse than that over his career. Finally, Mr. Canfield, by losing the bet, is given the opportunity to disrupt the speech of the winner's candidate. One has to wonder who really won the bet.
Views on Lincoln:
Having witnessed the President-elect throughout his visit on Saturday, the Buffalo newspapers now wrote their impressions of him. The quotes are from the Monday, February 18, 1861 editions.
Buffalo Commercial Advertiser:
"The personal appearance of Mr. Lincoln is not commanding, except for his height. There is, however, a fire in his eye blended with an unmistakable bonhommie in his face, which agreeably impressed every beholder. Take him all in all, he gives full promise that he is the man for the times –and his appearance here and everywhere else, confirms his numerous supporters in the wisdom of their selection."
The Daily Republic:
"We have no doubt that the majority of those who caught Mr. Lincoln's eyes, were satisfied that he is an earnest and kind man, but whether the knowing ones regarded him as the man for the times, we have no satisfactory means of knowing. For ourselves, we were seriously disappointed in the physique of the president-elect, but we have neither the time nor space to give the rationale of our dissatisfaction."
The Morning Express:
"… Personal appearance of our President we think that the universal opinion among those who have seen him since his visit to us is, that he possesses a much finer countenance than has been represented either in the portraits or the descriptions that have been published. He is certainly not a handsome man, but there is an expression in his face, much do to the eyes that light it, perhaps, which is pleasing in the extreme. There is a blending of gravity and goodness in his look, even when the face is in repose, which wins confidence and affection, and satisfies one of his fitness for the great office, with its weighty responsibilities, to which he has been called by the people of the United States. When he smiles he is handsome, and when he bows he is graceful, notwithstanding the bow is a peculiar one, and the form that bends is not of graceful mold. There is such evident sincerity in the kindness of the smile, and such apparent real courtesy in the bow, that one cannot see either and think again that Mr. Lincoln is homely or awkward as he has been styled."
The Buffalo Daily Courier gave its impression of the First Lady and her son, Robert:
Mrs. Lincoln "was receiving hosts of citizens in the parlors of the hotel. Mrs. L. seems a quiet, kindly looking, elderly lady, with nothing specially dignified or intellectual in her appearance, but with a sobriety and composure … which are perhaps as desirable. Her son, Robert T, or "Prince Bob" as he is familiarly styled by his chums, hovered about his mother the most of the time. He is a harum-scarum sort of a college chap, with just a trifle of the ‘fast' in his composure, we imagine."12
Not everyone was pleased with the idea of the Inaugural Journey. The BuffaloDaily Courier, an organ of the Democratic Party, was very critical, calling it an ill-timed and ostentatious display. "All thinking men throughout the country, whose heads are not dazed by the prospect of obtaining office or distinction of some kind under the incoming administration, must regret and condemn the ceremony and parade which Mr. Lincoln's journey from Springfield to Washington is everywhere to be made the occasion. This folly is without precedent in the history of the United States; and surely no more unseasonable time could have been chosen… it was in the worst possible taste to make a display calculated to give his journey the appearance of a triumphal procession; and we are amazed that the older and wiser heads among the Republicans should not have interposed and prevented such an ill-timed and absurd exhibition."
The local Republican newspaper, the Buffalo Morning Express, responded to these charges, but not before giving the Democrats a broadside. "The Party of which the Courier is a prominent organ, has determined to destroy this government. It has already led six States into rebellion. It has threatened to prevent the canvass of the Electoral vote. It has plotted to take the Capital out of the hands of the Government, and to prevent the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, even though the act shall be consummated through assassination." The paper then defends the president –elect and his journey. "His desire was to make his journey without parade, ostentation or delay… He tolerates no partisan display. He seeks no ovations and accepts of hospitality, only as it comes upon him spontaneously and under circumstances that it would be ungracious in him to reject."13
And so the local newspapers entertained their customers through daily charge and countercharge.
"So Good a President"
Lincoln & Fillmore
Sunday, February 17, 1861
The Buffalo churches were filled to capacity on Sunday morning and it was not due to a sudden religious revival in the city. Rumors had circulated through word of mouth and the press as to where Lincoln would attend services. The Buffalo citizens were taking their best guess as to where to go for morning worship. The Rev. Dr. Lord's Pearl Street Presbyterian Church had an unusually large crowd that morning. "Long before the usual hour of church service every available spot, in pews, aisles and gallery were occupied." One of the local newspapers had announced that Mr. Lincoln would worship there. However, he did not make an appearance. Rumors had also circulated that he would be at the First Presbyterian Church. Very large audiences attended to listen to the Rev. Dr. Clarke give his first sermon there, but once again, Mr. Lincoln did not appear.
At 10:00 A.M. that morning, Mr. and Mrs. Fillmore pulled up to the American Hotel in their private carriage to escort the President-elect to their Church. Caroline McIntosh was Fillmore's second wife, having married in 1858. The first Mrs. Fillmore, Abigail Powers, died in 1853, just three weeks after his retirement from the Presidency.
They drove to the First Unitarian Church, located at the corner of Franklin and Eagle Streets, and proceeded to Mr. Fillmore's pew. It was estimated that "there were 50 to 100 people present, in addition to the regular congregation." It was quite an impressive sight inside the church, with "the sunlight streaming in mellowed tints through the stained glass". With the "venerable pastor in the background - the past and incoming Presidents of this great Republic, humbly joining in devout aspirations --- presented a scene not to be forgotten – and when the Pastor in his touching and eloquent prayers, alluded to the Chief Magistrate – in his appropriate and pathetic style – there were few dry eyes in the church."
"Mr. Fillmore stood in his usual place, serene, clear-complexioned, with a courtly grace of bearing that had lately won admiration for him in the great courts of Europe, as before it had done in the White House. By his side stood a man, gaunt, angular, sallow, who with melancholy face, bent reverently at the sound of prayer." At the end of the service, Mr. Lincoln was introduced to the pastor, Dr. Hosmer, and several members of the church.1
The Fillmores and Lincoln drove back to the hotel to pick up Mrs. Lincoln. The Commercial Advertiser tells of an amusing, yet strange, incident that happened while Mr. Lincoln and Mrs. Fillmore waited in the carriage in front of the hotel.
"A worthy citizen, whom we will name as Mr. Seeply, who is rather near-sighted, and don't wear glasses, had called on the President the night previous, and passed rather more than the usual simple greeting. Mr. S. happening to pass by while the carriage containing Mr. Lincoln and Mrs. Fillmore was waiting, while Mr. F. had gone in for Mrs. L., made some remarks to Mrs. F on the sickness of some mutual friend, when the Lady rather shocked at the apparent ignoring on his part of the presence of the President-elect, said, ‘Mr. S. – allow me to introduce to you, Mr. Lincoln.' Mr. S., with proper courtesy of course, turned graciously to be introduced to any acquaintance of Mrs. F." But for some reason he did not recognize the President-elect, possibly due to his near-sightedness. "‘How do you do, Mr. Green?' said Mr. S. ‘Very well,' said Mr. L., ‘I believe I had the pleasure of meeting you last night.' Mr. S., who is rather a matter of fact sort of man, replied that he did not recollect him, and after a few remarks to Mrs. Fillmore, quietly left her and the supposed Mr. Green." 2
Is this story for real? Was there really such an individual? The Commercial Advertiser seems to be pushing its level of credibility by printing this. Yet, if it is real, if this encounter really did take place, then we have just met one of the more unique characters in Buffalo history. Could there really have been someone with such poor eyesight and poor hearing (or listening ability) yet have such arrogant confidence. (Some women may suggest that those are typical characteristics of every man.)To make the story even more incredible, this individual was an acquaintance of the Fillmores, the leading citizens of the city. The whole scene boggles the mind. How could he not recognize Lincoln? How could he not understand and comprehend the introduction? Mr. Lincoln becomes Mr. Green? How could that have happened? It had to be the only time on the trip, or for that matter the rest of his life, where Lincoln was not recognized. Sadly, the newspaper fails to identify the individual.
When Mrs. Lincoln and Mr. Fillmore returned to the carriage, they proceeded to the Fillmore residence for lunch. Millard Fillmore lived nearby on the northeast corner of Niagara Square and Delaware Avenue (#52); now the site of the Statler Towers. During this period, Niagara Square was the prime residential area for the wealthy and important people in the city. Fillmore purchased the home in 1858, moving from 180 Richmond Street. It was of the Gothic Revival architecture style; a three story, high gabled building containing between 20 and 30 rooms. There was a large turret tower on the west side of the house and a long elaborate porch in front.3
When the schedule for the Inaugural train came out and Buffalo was one of the stops, Lincoln had hoped to be able to meet with Fillmore, as he had great respect for him. Not only did Lincoln have respect for the former President, but so also did his wife, Mary. She greatly admired him and looked forward to spending the afternoon with him. Unfortunately, there is no record of the conversation between the former President and the President-elect that afternoon.
This was not the first time that Lincoln & Fillmore had met. As noted earlier, in 1848 they met in Albany when Fillmore was the vice-presidential candidate for the Whig party. In March of 1851, Lincoln, as a leading member of the Illinois Whig party, sent President Fillmore a letter recommending an appointment for a Springfield friend. After serving as President (1850-1853), Fillmore toured part of the country. He visited Springfield, Illinois, in June 1854, where Lincoln introduced him to the citizens of Springfield. Fillmore then made a short speech.4
There were some similarities between the two men.
They had both been members of the Whig Party. They had both served in Congress; in the House of Representatives. Fillmore served from 1833-1835 and again from 1837-1843. While Chairman of the Ways & Means Committee, second in power only to the Speaker of the House, he was responsible for securing the passage of the Tariff of 1842. Lincoln served only one term in the House, being elected in 1846. During that term, however, he was an outspoken critic of the War with Mexico.
They were both moderates on the question of slavery, abhorring the institution but believing that the Federal government could do nothing to eliminate it in the states where it already existed.
Both men had ascended to the Presidency during a time of national crisis. In 1848, Zachary Taylor was elected as the 12th President of the United States with Fillmore as the Vice-President. By 1850, sectional issues had arisen that were threatening to drive the southern states out of the Union. At the center of the controversy were the newly acquired territories from Mexico. Should they enter the Union as slave states or free states? The issue pushed the country to the brink of civil war. President Taylor was against Henry Clay's compromise bill while other Whigs were working for it. The Whig party was falling apart as was the Union. Taylor died suddenly in July, 1850, making Fillmore the 13th President. Overnight, he was thrown into the center of the storm. He worked to get the Compromise of 1850 passed. They were a series of individual legislation that passed through Congress and were signed into law by the President. The measures included admitting California into the Union as a free state while organizing the New Mexico and Utah territories on the basis of popular sovereignty. The slave trade was abolished in Washington, D.C. but a new Fugitive Slave law was enacted. Fillmore's leadership had saved the Union, albeit temporarily. The Fugitive Slave Law, though, made Fillmore very unpopular among the abolitionists of the North. Lincoln, however, supported the Compromise and the Fugitive Slave Law. First and foremost, like Fillmore, he was a Union man.
There were also significant differences between them.
Fillmore left the Presidency in March of 1853. Soon after, the Whig party, struggling so long to stay alive, ceased to exist. Two other political parties rose to fill the void, the American Party and the Republican Party. The American, or Know-Nothing Party, had been in existence for several years prior to the demise of the Whigs. Its platform was based on an anti-foreigner, anti-Catholic premise. The immigration wave of the 1840's and 1850's had caused much resentment among many Americans. It was felt that the immigrants were taking many jobs away from the native workers. By accepting lower wages, they were bringing down the standard of living.
The Republican Party, formed in 1854, was comprised of former Whigs, Know-Nothings, Free Soil and northern Democrats. The former Democrats were those who were frustrated with their party's compromising attitude toward the South on the slavery question. The Republican platform stated its opposition to the extension of slavery in the territories owned by the United States. There was to be no more conciliatory attitude toward the South.
The two former Whigs set off in different directions. In 1856, while in Europe, Fillmore was nominated for the Presidency by the American Party. He accepted. Upon his return, he spoke in New York City:
I have no hostility toward foreigners…I would open wide the gates and invite the
oppressed of every land… excluding only the paupers and criminal. I would be
tolerant to men of all creeds, but would exact from all, faithful allegiance to our
"Americans should govern America. Those who were governed by monarchies of
the Old World, by habit, education and knowledge of our institutions" were not prepared to govern the United States.5
Lincoln did not agree with the precepts of the American Party. In an 1855 letter to his friend, Joshua Speed, he wrote:
I am not a Know-Nothing. That is certain. How could I be? How can anyone who
abhors the oppression of negroes, be in favor of degrading classes of white people?
Our progress in degeneracy appears to me to be pretty rapid. As a nation, we begin
by declaring that "all men are created equal". We now practically read it "all men
are created equal, except negroes". When the Know-Nothings get control, it will
read, "all men are created equal, except negroes, and foreigners, and catholics."
When it comes to this I should prefer emigrating to some country where they make
no pretense of loving liberty – to Russia, for instance, where despotism can be taken
pure, and without the base alloy of hypocrasy.
Fillmore felt that the Republicans were a sectional party responsible for much of the tension with the South. He predicted that if the Republicans were elected to the Presidency, "it would lead to a civil war… I can tell you that we are treading upon the brink of a volcano that is liable to burst forth and overwhelm the nation." Being a Union man, he thought that working with the South was still the way to resolve the issues.
Lincoln had a different view of the South. He had supported the Compromise of 1850, including the Fugitive Slave Law, but by the end of the decade events had changed his mind. The Kansas-Nebraska Act and especially the Dred Scott decision convinced him that compromise with the South was no longer possible. The free states must finally take a stand on the extension of slavery. He was now certain that it was the South's goal to have slavery not only in the territories but to have it legalized throughout the country. In his "House Divided" speech, he said:
I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.
I do not expect the Union to be dissolved-- I do not expect the house to fall –
but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing, or all the other.
The Lincoln household was politically divided in the 1856 presidential election. Lincoln supported the Republican nominee, John C. Fremont. Mary Lincoln supported Fillmore saying that he had "made so good a President and is so just a man." Both their candidates lost, as James Buchanan was elected.
In the Election of 1860, Fillmore once again could not support the Republican position toward the South. Yet he held no personal animosity toward the President-elect. In fact, he wrote to a friend, " I have great confidence in President Lincoln's conservatism, integrity and patriotism" When the news came out that the Inaugural train would stop in Buffalo, Fillmore was informed by friends that Lincoln had great respect for the ex-president and desired to see him.6
* * * * *
Meanwhile, back at the hotel, most of the staff were using this opportunity to rest and relax from the grueling first week of the journey. Some even took the occasion to write home. Captain George Hazard wrote to his wife: "As to your joining us, I fear it will be impracticable, as Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln are worked almost out of their lives by visitors of both sexes. Every village sends a reception committee of twenty or thirty and some of them bring their wives, so that not only are all seats in the cars taken, but the pass way is filled with people standing."
John Nicolay, Lincoln's private secretary, was busy all day with callers and details, but in the evening he finally found time to send a letter to his fiancée, and he was not very pleased with Saturday's arrival. "Arrived at the hotel, all was confusion. The committee not only did nothing, but didn't know and didn't seem to care, what to do. We took the matter into our own hands… I don't know when I have done so much work as yesterday and I am feeling the effects of it today."7
The Lincoln's returned to the hotel around two o' clock. Their youngest boys, Willie and Tad, had kept themselves busy. They had found a playmate, ten year old Edward Michael, the hotel owner's son. The three of them were playing leapfrog in one of the rooms when Mr. Lincoln walked in and joined them for a few leaps of his own. Many years later, Edward Michael recalled the event. "The two boys and I were playing leapfrog in a room of the hotel, when President Lincoln came in and joined in the game. He was a very friendly man. He didn't act like a president. As we played, he grabbed hold of my arms." Edward's father, John Michael, was the owner of the American Hotel. The family lived in two houses to the rear, facing Pearl Street. which was connected to the hotel by a corridor, making it easier to go between the two. The family usually ate its meals in the hotel until it burned down in 1865.8
Father Beeson and the St. James Hall Lecture:
Early in the evening, Millard Fillmore and Asaph Bemis returned to the American Hotel and took Lincoln to a 7:30 P.M. lecture at St. James Hall. The Hall was located on Eagle Street between Main and Washington, the present site of M & T Bank. Father John Beeson was going to talk about the Native Americans and their plight.
He had lived among the tribes on the plains and in Oregon and was now on a lecture tour visiting various cities throughout the United States. "The celebrated Father Beeson, late of Oregon, is now in our city, endeavoring to direct public attention towards adopting measures to ameliorate the condition of the Indians."
He had already held a meeting Thursday evening at the Old Court house. At that time, he introduced a young white man who had lived 18 years among the tribes. Father Beeson then spoke. "He narrated a little of his own experience among the tribe on the plains and in Oregon, and drew a thrilling picture of the fiendish cruelty with which they are treated. He demonstrated that they were inclined to peace, but were goaded to very desperation by the outrages of a class of white ruffians, who always make capital out of an Indian war. He referred to the mock treaties made with them by government agents." He then submitted a paper to the meeting to give to the Senator of the district. There was a plan for a general meeting the following week in Boston and he hoped that the Six Nations (Iroquois) would be sending delegates. Several others spoke before the meeting came to an end.
Father Beeson preached at two churches on Sunday. At 10:00 A.M., he was at the United Presbyterian Church on Washington St., and at 3:00 P.M., the Baptist Church on Michigan Street. Finally, he spoke at St. James Hall at 7:30 P.M., in the presence of the President-elect. A fee of ten cents was charged at the door. There was a respectable crowd at the Hall, but it was not overcrowded. Although Lincoln had been invited, it was not known that he would attend. The lecture was probably similar to the one given at the Old Court House on Thursday evening. "Mr. Lincoln listened with much apparent interest in Father B's recitation of the wrongs which the Indians suffer, unredressed by the Government, which assumes their protection." Father Beeson gave a benediction on behalf of the President-elect and at the end, "the audience gathered at the door to shake hands with him."9
One significant reason for the stop in Buffalo was the President-elect's desire to see Mr. Fillmore. Lincoln had great respect for him, despite the fact that Fillmore's anti – Republican views were well known to him.
There was one final communication between the two men. In November 1861, Lincoln, now the President, received a letter from Fillmore regarding the appointment of his nephew, George M. Fillmore, as a lieutenant in the Army. Lincoln endorsed the letter, sending it to the Secretary of War remarking that, "… it be very agreeable to me for Mr. Fillmore to be obliged."10
The Commercial Advertiser of February 20, 1861, had an excerpt from the New York Times noting the amount of time Millard Fillmore spent with Lincoln during the weekend:
The almost entire monopoly of his time by ex-President Fillmore in Buffalo was by no means objected to by the Republicans of the city. Mr. Lincoln's ground, most firmly taken, is that he is to be President of the American people and not of the Republican party. Hence he meets and desires to be with men of all parties, and Mr. Fillmore, though not sympathizing with the principles of the Chicago Platform, is, nevertheless, the leading citizen of the city, and represents the Union-loving sentiment of the place. Therefore, the cordial welcome given by him to Mr. Lincoln was eminently gratifying. 11
Chapter 8 "This Immense Number of People"
Batavia & Rochester
The original departure time was set for Monday morning at 6:00 A.M. Late Sunday afternoon, the division manager for the New York Central suggested an earlier departure time of 5:45 A.M. in an effort to avoid a repeat of Saturday's mob scene. The Lincolns agreed with the decision.
The 54 members of Company "D" were present at the hotel and ready for duty by 4:30 A.M. They, along with the Union Cornet Band, were to escort the Presidential party to the Exchange Street Depot. Buffalo woke up early that morning to the sounds of a parade. The Union Cornet Band went first, followed by company "D", Mr. Lincoln's carriage and then several other carriages. The rest of the group formed in line. Most of the party, though, had left for the depot without waiting for the escort.
There was not much of a crowd on the way, certainly nothing like Saturday afternoon. A fire had broken out overnight on the Townsend Hall block of Main Street near Swan. The stores of Mr. Moore and Mr. White, boot and shoe dealers, along with the drug store of Mr. Matthews, were destroyed by fire. The firemen and a small group of fire watchers stopped their work for a few minutes to cheer the carriages as they went by.
There was a moderately sized gathering at the depot, considering the early hour that it was. "Mr. Lincoln passed unattended through the files of the escort to the train." He said his good-byes to the Committee and to the military. As the train slowly pulled away, Lincoln stood on the rear platform, bowing to the crowd. However, there was one blemish to the event. One prominent Buffalo citizen was not allowed to ride the train this day. "Almon Clapp, editor of the Buffalo Express, and candidate for Postmaster, was refused a ticket, which excited him to a degree. He threatened great things, but the train passed on and no one was affected by the rebuff except the editor." Clapp had been on the train from Cleveland to Buffalo. However, he had not been scheduled to ride to Albany and therefore had no ticket. Superintendent William Wood, keeping strict adherence to the rules, did not allow anyone on board without a ticket.1
Once the Lincolns left, Mrs. Sherman and her neighbors returned to her apartment. The rooms had been crowded with many people during the President-elect's stay, but no damage had been done. Mrs. Sherman looked for the autograph book but, unfortunately, could not find it. Disappointed, she thought that maybe he had signed it and then someone else took it. The next day, she received a letter from John Hay, now in Albany. Mr. Lincoln had taken the book to Albany so that the autographs of other members of the party could be obtained. The book would then be returned. A few days later, it was returned. On opening it, the first thing she saw was Lincoln's autograph, along with a few words that he wrote:
Buffalo, N.Y. Feb. 18, 1861
Mrs. Richard J. Sherman.
My dear madam,
By your leave I do
myself the honor of writing the first
name in this album.
It also included the signatures of Mary Lincoln, Robert T. Lincoln, John Hay, John
Nicolay, Col. Sumner, David Davis, Norman Judd, Elmer Ellsworth and several others.
The book is now in the collection of the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society.2
* * * * *
The New York Central Railroad Company was now in charge of providing travel accommodations. The "Dean Richmond" locomotive would carry the President-elect to Rochester. Dean Richmond was the Vice-President of the New York Central and, ironically, the State Chairman for the Democratic Party. Lincoln, elected on the Republican Party line, was being pulled across the state by a locomotive named after one of New York State's leading Democrats. That is exactly how Lincoln would have wanted it to be. He wished to be considered President of the whole United States, not President of the Republican Party.
The train consisted of three cars. Connected to the locomotive was the baggage car. Part of it was fitted up to be used as a smoking car. The one in the rear was the sleeping car used by Lincoln and his family. It "was gorgeously fitted up with sofas, centre tables, mirrors and carpets." The car located between the baggage car and Lincoln's sleeper was described as "a commodious and neatly arranged passenger coach." The committee members from Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse and Utica were cramped into it. So also were Governor Morgan's escort and the press from the various cities. By far, the vast majority of the 65 or so passengers were stuffed into this coach.
Why was there only one car used for the invited guests? On the journey from Cleveland to Buffalo, two cars were used. As the journey progressed across the country, there had been issues with more than an expected amount of committee members traveling along. "So many ‘deputations' and ‘local committees' accompanied the party from Cleveland that Mr. Lincoln had less rest between Cleveland and Buffalo than at any other portion of his route." Mr. William Wood, Superintendent of Arrangements for the journey, released a dispatch for the Associated Press which read, in part,
"Serious inconvenience has already been occasioned by the unnecessary
number of Committeemen who throng the cars – three gentlemen being able
to do the work more efficiently than twenty, which is the usual number.
Two cars will compose the special train hereafter. No change whatever will be
made to the programme now adopted, and a thoughtful attention to these suggestions
will contribute greatly to the comfort and health of Mr. Lincoln, who is physically
far from adequate to the demands made upon his strength."
In an effort to cut down on the number of Committeemen riding on the train, and thus not be a demand on Lincoln's time or health, Mr. Wood set the rules to have only one car supplied for the Committee's use.3
Horace Greeley was among the invited guests on the train. He had arrived in Buffalo on Sunday morning after his speaking engagement in Erie. The editor of the New York Tribune attended church services at the Universalist Church and stayed overnight at the Mansion House on Main and Exchange. Mr. E. C. Fellows of Syracuse, Superintendent of the Central Railroad Telegraph, and Mr. W. H. Kirkland of Rochester were also aboard the Special. They were in charge of telegraphic operations on the train, to be used in case of an accident along the way. The New York Central had taken other precautions as well. A pilot train was traveling ten minutes ahead of the Special and a flagman was stationed at every road crossing while a watchman was at every switch.
There were many who came out to view the train as it went by. "At all the stations, and at many of the cross-roads, large assemblages of people witnessed the passing of the train. At many single houses, remote from any others, flags were hoisted, and the families waved their handkerchiefs at the doors and windows."
"In the grey twilight of the early day crowds of country people had gathered at every little station along the first part of the route, and stood there, bidding a cordial God-speed to the rapidly flying train."4
Batavia's newspaper, the Daily Republic, hoped that the citizens would show up to see the President-elect, despite the early hour. "We hope that our people will turn out in good numbers on Monday morning to meet the President-elect at the Depot. It is not every day that we have the privilege of seeing a President, and when we do have, we should make the most of it."
The train left the Exchange Street Depot in Buffalo at 5:48 A.M. Traveling through the villages of Lancaster, Townline, Alden and others, they arrived in Batavia at 6:35 A.M., having gone a distance of 36.5 miles in a little under 50 minutes. As it came to a halt, several guns were fired. The enthusiastic crowd, estimated at between 1500 and 2000, was cheering and waving and calling for Mr. Lincoln. When he appeared on the platform, they erupted into a loud and enthusiastic roar. Lincoln spoke very briefly:
Fellow citizens – I appear before you this morning merely to bid you good-bye. I have not time, even if I had the strength, to make a speech to every multitude that assembles to greet me. I will, therefore, when the train leaves, merely bid you all farewell.
"Mr. Lincoln then re-entered the cars, and remained inside until just before the train moved, when he re-appeared, and bowed his farewell to the immense crowd." The entire stop had been for five minutes. The crowd was not just Republicans, but of all the political parties including Democrats, Breckinridge supporters and Bell-Everett men.5
Rochester's Committee of the Common Council, consisting of Mayor Scranton and about 30 aldermen, went to Buffalo during the President-elect's stay there and met him after his Saturday speech. The aldermen returned home on Sunday, but the Mayor stayed in Buffalo to ride the train with Lincoln and his party on Monday.
Meanwhile in Rochester, the city was getting ready for a visit. "The front of the Central Depot was decorated with several large American flags, beneath which was displayed the inscription, ‘Welcome to the President Elect.'" For two hours prior to his arrival, the local citizens were showing up in great numbers. The Niagara Falls train arrived, bringing large numbers from Brockport and other places along the way. The steps and balconies of Congress Hall were packed with spectators. "The upper balcony of the Waverly House was crowded with ladies" and "the lower balcony was occupied by Parkins' Silver Cornets", who were to play "Hail to the Chief" and "Hail Columbia" upon the train's appearance.
"According to the programme announced by the Committee of Arrangements, the train was to halt at State St. crossing and Mr. Lincoln was to be escorted to the lower balcony of the Waverly Hotel and there address the people. The crowd, therefore, was more dense in this vicinity than elsewhere." It was estimated that the crowd may have been as large as 15,000. By 7:30, the scheduled arrival time, they were getting restless and anxious and excited. However, the train was late. It had to stop for a few minutes just east of Batavia, near Bergen, due to an overheated journal on the locomotive.
At 7:40, a 34-gun salute from Falls Field signaled the arrival of the Inaugural train. "The moment the locomotive came in sight the air was rent with cheers from the multitude which pressed forward to meet it with such overwhelming force that it was difficult to clear a passage for the cars to the Depot. As this was effected and the train crossed State street advancing to the Depot, there was a general cry of disappointment and the multitude closed in about it and tumultuously followed like the relapsing waters in the wake of some monster vessel plowing the open seas…Then ensued a universal rush and pressure such as it were impossible to describe… but of the thousands who had evinced their eagerness to get within ‘critical' distance of the Rail Splitter, by early taking position in State street, very few succeeded in reaching the Depot when the train halted." When Lincoln stepped onto the rear platform of the train, a loud and deafening roar arose from the crowd. Mayor Scranton, who was also on the platform, introduced Mr. Lincoln to the citizens of Rochester:
Mr. President – I am charged with the pleasing duty, on behalf of my fellow citizens, of bidding you a most cordial and hearty welcome to the city of Rochester.
Fellow Citizens – It is with the greatest pleasure that I now present to you the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President-elect of the United States of America.
Lincoln was greeted with an ear-splitting ovation as he began to speak:
Ladies and Gentlemen: I confess myself, after having seen very large crowds many times, every day, during the past week, astonished at this immense number of people, gathered here at so early an hour this morning. I am very grateful to you for this opportunity to meet you, and for this demonstration of your regard, not for me, but for the representative, for the time being, of the American people. [Cheers.]
I could not, if I would, address you at any great length. I have not sufficient time, and have not the strength, to repeat any extended remarks, if I had the time. Therefore, I appear before you simply for the purpose of greeting you and also of bidding you farewell. [Cheers] I could do no more, and have sufficient time to reach the Federal Capital before the Inauguration.
Therefore, I hope it will not be attributed to a disposition to disoblige any one who might wish to hear extended remarks at this time. The circumstances in which I am placed forbid that I should address you at length before the cars are again in motion. Permit me again to thank you and to bid you farewell.
As he finished his remarks, the train began to move. A young boy had somehow made his way onto the rear platform and introduced himself to a very surprised Lincoln. The President-elect shook his little hand and cautioned him to be very careful as he got off the train. The crowd swarmed around the train and shouted and waved their hats "while the President leaned forward, on either side, alternately, gracefully bowing his adieus." A moment later, he was gone and the crowd began to disperse. The train had stopped for a total of six minutes.
The visit had not gone according to plan. Lincoln did not walk to the hotel as he never left the train. The plans had changed but apparently few in the crowd, if any, were aware of it. Thousands who had placed themselves in the wrong location were now very angry. The Rochester Evening Express reported that "it is probable that there were thousands in attendance who were unable to obtain even a glimpse of Mr. Lincoln, in consequence of the change in the published programme of the Committee and much dissatisfaction was expressed thereat. The detention of the train, however, was not anticipated, and the fault, therefore, does not rest with the Committee." The newspaper suggests the change of plans happened due to the overheated journal which caused it to be a few minutes late. However, it is highly unlikely that the Rochester plan of walking Lincoln to the balcony of the hotel would have been approved by William Wood, the Superintendent of Arrangements. It was a very rare stop indeed when Lincoln actually left the train. Most likely, the plan was canceled during the weekend in Buffalo or on the ride to Rochester. In any event, the local citizens were not made aware of the change in the program. 6 "The following, written by an aged and highly respectable citizen of Rochester, was handed to Mr. Lincoln during his brief stop in that city:
To Abraham Lincoln, President Elect of the United States, passing Rochester:
Honored Sir – I have watched you day by day, in your progress from Springfield, and caught an echo of the cheering shouts, from a patriotic and confiding people, that greet you on your way to the Capital. Earnest prayers go up from millions of true hearts, all crying ‘God bless him' One of these millions, now in the wane of life, who yet wishes the glorious old flag of the stripes and stars to float over his grave, comes to join his feeble voice to this swelling acclaim, and to say, with a full heart and tearful eyes, and good hope, also – God bless you, Sir, and have you ever in His holy keeping, and give you grace, and wisdom, and strength, in this time of difficulty and peril, to be a great blessing to your country! -- a worthy successor of Washington—to be remembered, revered and loved forever.
An Old Man 7
Chapter 9 "A Daguerrean Artist"
Clyde to Albany
Now following along the Erie Canal region of the state, the Special train slowed down as it passed through the depots in the villages of Fairport, Palmyra, Newark and Lyons. At 8:44 A.M., the train arrived at the scenic and important Erie Canal village of Clyde for a brief five minute stop.
Joseph Pain, editor of the Clyde Weekly Times, described the activity in the village as the Special approached. "On Monday morning, bright and early, notwithstanding the heavy snow and deep drifts of Saturday night and Sunday morning, the roads in every direction were filled with teams and leads of human beings coming to see the President – elect. The village streets were thronged with vehicles, and by eight o'clock a large concourse of people were assembled at the depot, anxiously awaiting the Presidential train. At 8:40 the train hove in sight, the work engine whistled, the canon belched forth its thunder notes, and every man, woman and child was agog with excitement. Nobly the train sped along; and as it moved towards the waterhouse the crowd closed in behind, and watched for the signs of the ‘coming man'. As soon as the train stopped, six feet four of humanity stepped out of the car, and when on the platform, an enthusiastic cheer greeted Hon. Abraham Lincoln, President elect of the U. S."
William Wood introduced the President-elect to the three thousand or so present. Typically, a local politician or townsman was given the honor of introducing Lincoln to the community. When, for whatever reason, no one was available, Wood stepped forward and filled in. Lincoln said only a few words:
Ladies & Gentlemen: -I merely appear before you to say good morning and farewell. I did not come to make a speech; nor have I time to make one if I did. I now bid you good morning, and when the train starts I will come out again and bid you farewell.
More than likely present in the crowd that morning was Levant Bedell, the older brother of Grace Bedell of Westfield, who had met Lincoln just two days earlier. Eleven years older than his soon-to-be famous sister, Bedell had lived in Clyde since 1859 and owned a jewelry business, which included clock & watch repairs.
Pain had climbed the car's rear platform as it stopped and presented his credentials to Mr. Wood. He then related to his readers the rest of Lincoln's time in the village. "When Mr. Lincoln re-entered the car, we again got upon the platform and conversed with Mr. Wood during the short period occupied in wooding and watering. As soon as the locomotive whistled for starting, Mr. Lincoln stepped out upon the platform, and saying, ‘I bid you all farewell,' bowed several times to the crowd, who returned the greeting with enthusiastic cheers. We were then introduced by Mr. Wood, to the President elect, and shaking hands with him, said, we would disperse the shake to our readers in our next edition. During this time the cars were in motion, and when we reached the lower crossing we parted company…" To put it another way, Joseph Pain had to jump off the moving train about 100 yards east of the depot.
Finally, Mr. Pain added a bit of insight into Lincoln's famed height. "We stood by Mr. Lincoln's side when he was bidding the crowd farewell, and to give some idea of his height, our head reached about half way between his elbow and shoulder; and though not tall, we are not among the smallest race of bipeds."1
Although it was a quaint and attractive upstate New York community located on the Erie Canal, it was not the political or economic center of Wayne County. So why did the Special train stop in Clyde? Simply put, the reason was geographical. Clyde was the midpoint between Rochester and Syracuse, and therefore a logical place to stop and obtain wood and water for the locomotive.
The only existing photograph of Lincoln during the twelve day Inaugural journey was taken at the Philadelphia flag raising ceremony on February 22nd. However, there was another photograph taken earlier in the trip and that was during the five minute stop at Clyde. At least three newspapers reported the event. The Buffalo Morning Express of February 21st, 1861 gave an account that "an enterprising artist had placed upon a convenient wood-pile a camera with which he secured pictures of the rear end of the car, of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Wood and others." The New York Times said that he took "pictures of the rear end of the car, of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Wood, a brakeman and an unlucky reporter." The "Unlucky reporter" was undoubtedly Joseph Pain. The Lyons Republican gives even more detail. "A daguerrean artist had made preparations to daguerreaotype Mr. Lincoln, and asked that he might stand still on the platform of the car long enough to afford the opportunity. One of the suit sent the ambitious artist an excellent engraved likeness of the President elect."2
Who took this picture? Who was the photographer? Was it an individual from Clyde, or was it someone from the surrounding countryside or nearby villages? One possibility is John B. Roberts of Clyde. A few months earlier, in October, Mr. Roberts had taken a photograph of Horace Greeley when he was in town during the 1860 election campaign. Roberts, described as an artist by the local newspaper, lived in Clyde until 1864 when he and his wife moved to Rochester where he died in 1868.
Despite the written evidence for its existence, the photograph has yet to make its way into the public eye. Was the photo ever developed, and, if so, is it in someone's private collection or even stashed away in someone's attic? Does John Roberts have any descendants who have any information on it? Whether it exists after all these years is still subject for conjecture. A serious search for the photo is needed. This would be a fascinating project for an individual with a strong interest in Lincoln.3
* * * * *
There was about an hour before the next stop. Lincoln took advantage of this time to rest for a few minutes in the sleeping compartment of his car. He seemed to be especially tired this particular morning as the week of hectic activity and travel seemed to be catching up with him. However, he wasn't the only one tired that morning. Henry Villard of the New York Herald, a competitor to Greeley's New York Tribune, reported cynically that "Mr. Greeley slept most of the way down, and while in a very graceful position he furnished a subject for the pencils of two artists of New York illustrated papers."
As the train continued toward its next destination, "the announcement was made by telegraph that a very large crowd was waiting for him at Syracuse, who were determined to have a speech." The president-elect was then reminded "by a gentleman that he was approaching the stronghold of extreme Republicanism, the hot-bed of Anti-Slavery principles, and the scene of the Jerry rescue, all of which information he received as though possibly he had known it before."4
The "Jerry" incident referred to the celebrated rescue of the fugitive slave, Jerry McHenry in 1851. McHenry escaped from slavery several years earlier and had been living and working as a free man in Syracuse. In 1851, his former master found him. He was seized and imprisoned by the federal authorities. A group of abolitionists converged on the building he was being held in and liberated the locally popular mulatto cooper. The rescue was made in open defiance of the Fugitive Slave Law, which had been enacted by Congress a year earlier. Jerry eventually made it to Canada, safe from his former slave master.
Although Lincoln was anti-slavery in sentiment, he was not an abolitionist. He did not agree with their tactics. They were too harsh, too uncompromising, polarizing the country and pushing the Southerners into a defensive corner. He felt that if slavery could be confined to the South, it would then be on the road to extinction. He believed that gradual emancipation followed by colonization was the only workable solution to the problem. 5
Early that morning, Syracuse was astir with activity as the streets of the city began to fill in. Not only were the city residents flowing in, but so also were those from the surrounding areas. Special trains had been made up for the Cortland and Auburn areas. The Oswego train brought still more people. The crowd, estimated to be around 10,000, was everywhere and Salina Street was packed. The city buildings were decorated with many flags and banners. Ladies and their handkerchiefs occupied many of the windows overlooking the scene.
A platform was erected in the middle of the street, opposite the Globe Hotel, on the south side of the railroad depot. At nine thirty, Miller's Regimental Band and the military marched down from the Armory to the depot and formed a hollow square around the staging area. The Committee of Arrangements arrived next and took their place on the platform while the newspaper reporters stationed themselves nearby. Seated with the Committee as a special guest was Father Daniel Waldo. The venerable reverend was one of the last of the Revolutionary War veterans, an "honored link between the past and the present", and claimed the distinction of voting for both George Washington and Abraham Lincoln in the Presidential elections. Also present on the platform, perched on one of the railings, was a live bald eagle. Owned by Mr. Hawkins and Mr. Church, the bird attracted quite a bit of attention. The eagle seemed to be uncomfortable, as it "did not appear to feel ‘quite at home' in the crowd."
At 9:52 A.M., the Washington Artillery cannon fired, announcing the arrival of the train. The band played the Star Spangled Banner. "As it came down Washington street and approached the depot, it was greeted with hearty, continuous and almost deafening cheers from the enthusiastic populace." The train finally came to a halt just to the eastern side of the staging, with the last car near the west end of the depot.
Lincoln appeared on the rear platform of the train but declined to go onto the staging area provided. Mayor Westcott, in what seems to have been a rather long speech for such a short stop, introduced the President-elect to the people:
Mr. Lincoln—I have the honor to welcome you to our city and to tender to you the cordial
sympathy of our citizens in the trying position which you have been called to fill as the chief magistrate of the United States. Never in the history of our country has there been a time when there was such a demand for the exercise of sagacity and wisdom on the part of the chief executive of the nation as at the present moment. Sir, I am happy in the belief that you will, under Divine Providence, and aided by wise and honest counsels, be enabled to restore the integrity of the Union—to execute faithfully and fully the federal laws and to secure the enforcement of all the provisions of the Constitution established by our forefathers. We feel assured that you will so conduct the Government generally, that when you retire from the high office which has been bestowed upon you by the free and unsolicited suffrage of this great nation, you will be enabled to transmit to your successor our national flag, not merely with its stars undiminished in number, but with each star shining more brightly in the glorious constellation of Freedom and Liberty.I have now, fellow citizens, the honor of introducing to you Abraham Lincoln—the President elect
of the United States of America.
Lincoln spoke to Syracuse from the train's rear platform:
Ladies and Gentlemen: I see you have erected a very fine and handsome platform for me, and I presume you expected me to speak from it. If I should go upon it you would imagine that I was about to deliver you a much longer speech than I am. I wish you to understand that I mean no discourtesy to you by thus declining. I intend discourtesy to no one. But I wish you to understand that though I am unwilling to go upon this platform, you are not at liberty to draw any inferences concerning any other platform with which my name has been or is connected. [Laughter & applause.] I wish you a long life
and prosperity individually, and pray that with the perpetuity of those institutions under which we have all so long lived and prospered, our happiness may be secured, our future made brilliant, and the glorious destiny of our country established forever. I bid you a kind farewell.
The mayor's introductory speech was longer than Lincoln's! Had there not been time constraints, his words would have been appropriate. However, just as Dr. Burrows did at the stop in Geneva, Ohio, the mayor risked taking up too much time and not leaving enough for Lincoln. Fortunately, it worked out well. Why is it that so many politicians just don't seem to realize that they are not always the center of attention? Not one person showed up that morning to listen to the mayor speak. He had been given the honor of doing the introduction. Just do it. "Brevity is the brother of brilliance" is one of the wisest of the old sayings which unfortunately so few adhere to.
After Lincoln's words, Captain Titus, the Marshall of the day, walked up onto the stage and proposed three cheers for the next President and another three cheers for "the Union as it is." The crowd heartily responded. There were several cries of "Take the platform." The mayor and committeemen urged him to do so, but Lincoln responded, "No, sir, I cannot; that was decided some time since." Rev. Waldo, "who is so infirm as to be scarcely able to totter," was very appropriately the first to be presented and shake hands with him. Others followed, coming over to the train's rear platform and introducing themselves. He received "them with a good grace, and among other pleasant things, he said he should be very glad to shake hands and exchange greetings with all his fellow citizens who came out to see him, but was obliged to do this rather by deputies." So many people ended up on the train's platform that the 96 year old Mr. Waldo was very nearly pushed off of it.
Dean Richmond, among others, boarded the train for the ride to Albany. He was the vice-president of the New York Central for whom the first locomotive of the day had been named. The train slowly pulled away after a stop of some thirteen minutes. "Mr. Lincoln remained on the platform and bowed to the people assembled on each side of the track, and giving all an opportunity to see him distinctly."
There were two arrests made by the Syracuse police that morning. In the first one, a boy was charged with throwing a snowball at Lincoln. The second arrest was quite unique. "A cross eyed rag-picker was also arrested for squinting at the President, it being supposed that the vulgar creature was ‘making mouths' at Abraham." How times have changed! Is it possible to get arrested in this day and age for squinting at someone? It seems that a poor homeless man was arrested for looking strangely at Lincoln! One wonders what price he paid for his devious deed. Did he serve a jail term or was he just removed from the premises?
The opposition press in Syracuse commented on the event. "The poor eagle was more dead than alive, being maimed in one wing—emblematic of the present condition of the Union. It was synonymous with the future executive career of the incoming President." Their prediction on Lincoln's administration was not quite accurate.
The Syracuse Daily Standard commented on Lincoln's appearance. "It is a universal remark that he is a much finer looking man than the lithographs which are scattered about the country represent him to be." This was a very common opinion expressed by those that had seen Lincoln during the journey. Photographs were not yet a common everyday occurrence. Very few in the country had seen a photograph of Lincoln. However, many of them had seen the lithographs of him. Unfortunately, they tended to exaggerate his features so much so as to make him seem ugly and grotesque. Part of the public's interest in viewing him now was to see just how ugly a man he really was. City to city, the general consensus was that he was a better looking man than expected.6
* * * * *
Heavy snow now began to fall as lunch was served on the train. One of the cars had been set up especially for the meal, provided by Mr. Bloomer of Bloomer's Dining Saloon in Buffalo. It was an hour and ten minute ride between Syracuse and the next stop at Utica. The train slowed down while going through all the stations along the way, with the crowds of people "peering anxiously into the car windows to obtain a sight of the President's face."
The Lincoln boys kept themselves busy during the ride. Robert, the oldest, spent most of the time with the engineer learning how to handle the train. One reporter described him as "a gaunt, meager youth of twenty years with little of his father's character embodied in his physique." The "two jolly youngsters", Willie and Tad, "occupied themselves in having a good time generally on their couch, making such a racket at times that it became necessary for the president to admonish them by a motion of his hand. They were round-faced, good-humored, handsome boys."
"The time was passed by the President in conversing with his friends on topics of general interest. We heard not a word of politics during the journey between Syracuse and Utica. There was no stiffness or formality exhibited, nor did the dignity of the President suffer by the familiarity and ease with which he conducted himself towards all who approached him."7
There were 6,000 to 7,000 people crammed in the streets near the depot waiting for Lincoln. The crowd was so dense that one local reporter went to great lengths to describe it: "The mass writhed and twisted like a huge pythonic monster full of joints, backwards and forwards, to the right and to the left, as the spirit of patriotism (or curiosity) moved. We half expected every moment to see some small individual, or boy, shoot upwards from the dense mass, expulsed by the tremendous pressure, on the same principle that an apple seed is made to shoot by pressing it between the thumb and finger. Incredible as it may seem, there were in the crowd several ladies, and strange as it may appear, such is the force of circumstances, that they were actually crammed into as small a space as any man in the crowd… Gallant men attempted to protect the fair ones from the crush, but it was fruitless. A spasm would run through the crowd, and the protected and protector would ‘close in' with as much apparent affection as a couple of lovers… To illustrate the density of the crowd: A large number of snowballs were thrown among the crowd by boys on the outskirts of the multitude, and every snow ball when it fell, struck on a head… it was not a crowd for a fat man to relish, and if it had been summer time, the loss of life would doubtless have been large."
The train was due to arrive at 11: 35 A.M. However, in spite of the snowstorm, it showed up 18 minutes early. "On a freight-car had been elevated a large platform, the whole of which was rolled up to the rear of Mr. Lincoln's car. The entire Legislative Committee were on it, and expected to be introduced to Mr. Lincoln when he should make his appearance, but Mr. Wood peremptorily forbade it, saying that the time allotted to the citizens of Utica should not be used by the State." The State legislators from Albany had attempted to monopolize Lincoln's time in Utica with personal introductions and if there was any time left, he could then talk to the Utica crowd. Fortunately, Mr. Woods would not allow it to happen. This was Utica's few minutes with Mr. Lincoln and the legislators would just have to wait. Lincoln finally appeared to the shouts and cries of the crowd. He met Utica's Committee of Reception. Mr. Ward Hunt welcomed him to their city and then Mayor Grove introduced him to the multitude. Lincoln recited his "Best of the bargain" speech to the enthusiastic crowd:
Ladies & gentlemen: I have no speech to make to you…I have appeared here simply to thank you heartily for this noble reception, to see you and to allow you to see me. I am not sure but, at least as regards the ladies, I have the best of the bargain. In conclusion, I have only to say farewell.
The crowd on the other side called out for him to talk to them, so Lincoln walked over to the north side of the car and said:
Gentlemen… I can't ... say here exactly what I did on the other side, as there are no ladies on this. I said that there were so many ladies present that I had the best of the sight, but bear in mind I don't make any such admission now.
The crowd laughed and applauded their approval while Lincoln met several of the gentlemen on the car.
"A crazy man, with long moustache and beard, with a shepherd's crook for a cane, and whose legs were incased in red flannel coverings, attempted to address him, but being prevented, turned his attention to the crowd who hooted and yelled at his singular behavior." The Legislative Committee from Albany boarded and, with Mr. Lincoln bowing to the crowd, the train left.8
Little Falls to Albany:
Mrs. Lincoln could not take it anymore. Her husband looked terrible. "During the entire trip Mr. Lincoln has worn a shocking bad hat, and a very thin overcoat." Enough was enough. She sent their servant, William Johnson, to the baggage compartment. He returned a few minutes later carrying a new hat box and a clean broadcloth overcoat. All on the train felt that his appearance was improved by fifty percent. "If Mrs. Lincoln's advice is always as near right as it was in this instance, the country may congratulate itself upon the fact that its President elect is a man who does not reject, even in important matters, the advice and counsel of his wife."
The Special train was now into the last portion of its trip for the day. Twenty one miles later, it stopped at the village of Little Falls in Herkimer County. Arriving five or ten minutes ahead of the 12:15 PM scheduled time, the people were ready nonetheless. "The prettiest display seen by the party since leaving Springfield was made at Little Falls. During the entire tarrying of the train at this point, the church bells chimed most sweetly, presenting a novel and very enjoyable feature to the pleasures of the trip. Several hundred ladies were upon piazza of the hotel, and as the band played ‘Hail Columbia', they waved their handkerchiefs in unison, and the crowd below cheered and hurrahed with lusty vigor." Mr. Richmond, the president of the village, introduced the President-elect to the people. Lincoln responded with his typical short speech given at so many places along the way:
"…I am thankful for this opportunity of seeing you, and of allowing you to see me (Applause). And in this so far as regards the ladies I think I have the best of the bargain. (Applause)I don't make that acknowledgement, however, to the gentlemen. (Laughter). And now I believe I have really made my speech and am ready to bid you farewell when the train moves off."
The Herkimer County Journal , obviously a Republican newspaper, commented on their impression of Lincoln based on his very brief stop: "Those who saw the smile upon his countenance, wondered that that face could be called homely, those who heard his manly voice felt intuitively that it was the voice of an ‘honest man.'9
The Special traveled through St. Johnsville and Palatine Bridge before making a very brief stop at Fonda. Lincoln once again declined to mount the platform, saying that although he would not get on it, "he wished it to be distinctly understood that he would never shrink from a platform which he properly belonged."
"On the route, Mr. Lincoln engaged in conversation with the gentlemen of the Legislative Committee, with Horace Greeley, and other gentlemen of the company." There were large crowds at Amsterdam and Schenectady. "As the train approached [Schenectady], a cannon was recklessly fired point blank at the first coach – the concussion bursting in the door, tearing the lock off, and breaking to atoms three windows. Several persons near were covered with broken glass, though no one was injured." Judge Platt Potter, a New York State Supreme Court Justice, introduced Lincoln to the Schenectady crowd. His brief speech was similar to those he had given at the other stops. He combined his "Best of the Bargain" speech with his "Platform Declining" one. The train then pulled away, arriving in Albany at 2:20 P.M.10
Thus ended Lincoln's three days of travel through Western and Central New York. There were still several more days' journey left with overnight stays in Albany, New York [2 nights], and Philadelphia. He finally reached Washington, D.C. on February 23, just days before his inauguration as the 16th President of the United States.
"Smitten by the Charms"
A City's Reputation
One thing that hasn't changed in the 140 + years since Lincoln's visit to Buffalo is civic pride, with any criticism of the city taken personally. Just days after Lincoln left, the Buffalo Morning Express printed a story written by an out-of-town journalist who witnessed the festivities in the city. "Buffalonians who are in this city today [New York City] receive quite an electric shock to their city pride, on reading this morning's Herald, the telegraphic account of President Lincoln's reception there … See what the correspondent of that sheet spreads before the country:
The reception in this place was the most ill conducted affair witnessed since the departure from Springfield. A thick crowd had been allowed to await the arrival of the train in the depot, so that but a narrow passage could be kept open by the few soldiers and policemen detailed to protect the President. He had hardly left his car and, after heartily shaking hands with Mr. Fillmore, made a few steps towards the door, when the crowd made a rush, and overpowering the guard, pressed upon him and party with a perfect furor. A scene of the wildest confusion ensued. To and fro the ruffians swayed, and soon cries of distress were heard on all sides. The pressure was so great that it is really a wonder that many were not crushed and trampled to death. As it was, Major Hunter, of the President's escort, alone suffered a bodily injury by having his arm dislocated. The President elect was safely got out of the depot only by the desperate efforts of those immediately around him. His party had to struggle with might and maim for their lives, and after fighting their way to the open air found some of the carriages already occupied, so that not a few had to make for the hotel afoot as best they could.
The hotel doors were likewise blockaded by immovable thousands, and they had to undergo another tremendous squeeze to get inside. The indignation of the Presidential cortege at their rough treatment is great, and they insist that Mr. Lincoln should decline all further public receptions in case no better protection could be guaranteed.
Do you like the picture?"
The reporter was Henry Villard of the New York Herald, who had covered the train ride from its inception in Springfield to New York City.
Was the criticism of Lincoln's reception in Buffalo fair? Were the journalists justified in reporting to the country the poor treatment he received at the Exchange Street Depot?
The answer is both yes and no.
During the twelve day Inaugural journey, the crowd at the depot in Buffalo was the closest any crowd came to being out of control. The officials did a poor job of planning the proper amount of guards and military needed to handle that size of a confluence. Lincoln probably experienced rougher treatment here through the pushing and shoving than anywhere else on the trip. In this sense, the criticism was justified.
However, to suggest or imply that the rough gathering of citizens existed only in Buffalo ignores reality as several, if not most, of the cities and villages had crowd issues to some degree.
Indianapolis, the first major stop on the journey, encountered a few issues. As Lincoln entered his carriage, the crowd surged forward, breaking up the carriage line. With much difficulty, order was eventually restored and the parade resumed. The Bates House dining hall was so overcrowded that Lincoln waited for over a half hour before getting served. He then had to fight through a dense number of people to get to his hotel suite.
As the train entered Cincinnati, the people overran the tracks causing a delay until the police and military could regain control.
One of the more entertaining crowd issues happened on the journey from Cincinnati to Columbus. At the midway point of the day, the travelers pulled into Xenia expecting to have lunch provided for them. In those days, the railroad companies did not provide food for their customers. Xenia was therefore the only opportunity for them to eat between breakfast and dinner. And, indeed, the Committee in Xenia had prepared quite an extensive amount of food and laid it out in the depot prior to their arrival. However, the crowd waiting to see Lincoln, experienced pangs of hunger, overran the depot and fed themselves, leaving nothing behind for their soon to be arriving guests. The well fed crowd cheered the train's arrival. But for many of the travelers, the thought of not eating until later that evening was too much to bear. Several of them left the train in an attempt to find food but missed the departure and were left behind. Chasing the train in an unsuccessful attempt to catch it, they provided some after dinner entertainment for the crowd.
Lincoln was to shake hands and greet the public in the Capital Rotunda at Columbus. When the doors were opened, the crowd overwhelmed the guards, pushing, pulling and shoving in a frantic effort to shake his hand. Lincoln was forced to retreat up a stairway to gain distance between him and the enthusiastic mob.
There were other examples as well, such as the snowballs that were thrown in Syracuse and Utica. William Wood did not allow the president-elect to disembark in Albany until the crowd was brought under control, a wait of over 30 minutes. And in Jersey City, the police could not hold back the crowd which surged toward Lincoln as he finished his speech.
The point to be made here is that so many crowds along the way, and not only in Buffalo, were just one step from being a mob and out-of-control. The cities and villages had no firsthand knowledge in dealing with the sheer size of these crowds, and, unfortunately, at times their inexperience showed.
However, there was at least one reporter who looked past the negativity and found something good to say about Buffalo, or at least about the ladies of the city.
"A CLEVELAND EDITOR SMITTEN BY THE CHARMS OF OUR LADIES –Page, of the Cleveland Leader, who accompanied the President's party from Cleveland to this city, on Saturday last, writing of its reception here, waxes thus eloquent and enthusiastic over the remembrance of what charms our city displayed in the array of her fair daughters at the windows along the route of the procession.
If Buffalo cannot control a mob, she can at least boast of the beauty of her ladies. It was a glorious relief to get away from the crush and the provoking blunders at the depot, into the light of the sparkling eyes that shone in the windows as the procession passed, and to catch the sun-light as it glanced back from the rich auburn curls, or the jet black tresses which filled the windows with visions of beauty. Enthusiastic? Of course we are. Who wouldn't be, after the waving of handkerchiefs and the smiles, and the saucy nods of the pretty heads? Oh! Buffalo, Buffalo, how long would the ‘younglings' of the party have tarried with you, had they been the arbiters of their own moments. But Presidents, like Time, wait for no man, and so we tear ourselves away.
It will be wholly unnecessary for us to say that the writer of the above is a bachelor; and we certainly think that he deserves, for his eloquent compliments, to be granted an unreserved selection from among the beauties who dazzled him." 1
"The Solemn Spectacle"
The Funeral Train
President Abraham Lincoln died on Saturday morning, April 15, 1865, at 7:22 A.M. He had been shot by an assassin the previous night while attending a play at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C. Springfield, Illinois, Lincoln's home town, immediately pushed for burial there. However, the decision was not so simple. There were factions pushing for interment in the Capital's vault in Washington. In New York City, the newspapers were driving for a memorial for Lincoln so that he could be buried in that city. Mrs. Lincoln wanted to take her husband back to Springfield, and eventually her opinion prevailed.
As soon as the final destination was chosen, executives of the railroad companies telegraphed Stanton expressing their desire to be part of the procession. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was in charge of the details of the funeral and had formed a committee to work out the specifics. They recommended a route that would roughly follow the Inaugural journey of four years earlier. The train would leave Washington at 8:00 A.M. on Friday, April 21st and arrive in Springfield at 8:00 A.M. on Wednesday, May 3rd. "The Funeral train will not exceed nine cars, including baggage car and Hearse car." 1
Wednesday April 19, 1865:
At noon, a twenty-one gun salute was fired to honor the late commander-in-chief. It also signified the beginning of the memorial service. The coffin was laid out in the East Room of the White House. Members of the press were present, as were military and government personnel, governors and politicians including President Johnson and clergy from all denominations. Mrs. Lincoln, however, did not attend. She was in a dark room on the second floor grieving and agonizing alone. The simple service included an invocation, prayer, eulogy and a benediction. The ceremony now over, the casket was prepared for transport to the Capitol building.
Pennsylvania Avenue was packed with humanity. Three hundred thousand people had traveled to Washington for the memorial. Thirty thousand took part in the march to the Rotunda. Soldiers, church groups, government employees, German singing societies & ethnic groups, along with cabinet members, Supreme Court justices and politicians made up many of those who marched. Ironically, it was the African-Americans who formed the first and the last group of the parade. It was not by design, however. A Negro Infantry regiment had just arrived in the city. Having halted on the road, the commanding officer realized that the procession was coming right at them. Ordering the regiment to turn around, the Twenty-second U. S. Colored Infantry now led the parade to the Capitol.
All eyes, however, were on the casket. Flower covered, it was drawn by six gray horses and surrounded by twenty-five sergeants and four officers. Trailing behind it was an unmounted horse with the rider's boots reversed. President Andrew Johnson rode behind the hearse and the family, followed by the Supreme Court justices and the diplomatic corps. The procession ended at the steps of the Capitol building where the pallbearers slowly walked the casket into the Rotunda and placed it in the center of the room.
Thursday, April 19, 1865:
The next morning at 8:00 A.M., the doors opened to the public. Slowly and silently, thousands of mourners passed the open coffin, taking one last look at their former leader.
Friday, April 20, 1865:
At 6:00 A.M., the casket was prepared for one final march through the streets of Washington. The Funeral train was scheduled for an 8:00 A.M. departure from the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Depot, located just a few blocks away. General Ulysses Grant and several other officers walked behind the hearse. President Johnson, among others, met the procession at the depot.
Mary Lincoln and her son, Tad, did not ride on the train. Experiencing such a deep depression, she did not even leave the White House until late in May.
Robert Lincoln, John Nicolay and John Hay, all three of whom rode on the Inaugural train, rode only to Baltimore before returning to Washington.
General David Hunter would ride the Funeral train all the way back to Springfield. He had joined the Inaugural train on the first day at the state line between Illinois and Indiana, just a few hours after the journey had begun.
However, it was only Ward Lamon who rode with Lincoln all the way to Washington and all the way back. During the 1861 trip, Lincoln was informed about an assassination plot against him in Baltimore. The decision was reluctantly made to take a different train into Washington. Only two others rode with Lincoln into the capital, detective Allan Pinkerton and Ward Lamon. Therefore, good friend and self-appointed bodyguard from Illinois, Ward Lamon, was the only person to completely travel both ways with Lincoln.2
* * * * *
The nine car funeral train was powered by a new locomotive, Number 238, with Thomas Beckett as the engineer. There were six passenger cars and one baggage car. Over three hundred guests were invited to take the ride to Springfield.
However, it was the two cars at the end that held the public's attention. The last car had been used by the President and Mrs. Lincoln on a few occasions in the past couple of years. Now it was set aside for the use of the family and for the Guard of Honor.
The second car from the end has become known as the Lincoln Funeral Car. On the inside, it was divided into three sections containing a parlor, a sitting room and a sleeping compartment. A walkway on the inside wall connected the parlor and sitting room. The bedroom was in the center, private and isolated from the rest of the car. The coffin containing President Lincoln was placed in the rear, on a bier covered with black cloth.
The train, inside and out, was trimmed and covered with black, as a sign of mourning for the President. A pilot engine was to run ten minutes ahead of the funeral train throughout the journey. The train itself was to travel only at a very low speed, around 20 miles per hour, so as to reduce the risk of an accident taking place.3
On Friday, April 21st, 1865, six days after he had passed away, President Lincoln was finally leaving Washington and heading home to Springfield, Illinois. However, Lincoln was not the only one going home. There was yet another casket on the train, a much smaller one than the President's. His son, Willie, had died in the White House in February of 1862 after a short illness. He was only eleven years old. Needless to say, it was a devastating loss for both Lincoln and Mary. But now Willie would be returning home to Springfield with his father.
The Funeral train left the Washington depot at 8:00 A.M. in the morning. It traveled along at twenty miles an hour, slowing down to a crawl as it advanced through the many villages along the way. Thousands of silent and somber mourners viewed the train as it passed by. So different from the Inaugural journey of four years earlier where the crowds were loud and cheering Lincoln's every step and word. Now, the multitudes were quiet, reflective and mournful. They traveled to Baltimore and Harrisburg on the first day. Over the next few days, layovers were made in Philadelphia, New York and Albany.
The train arrived in Albany at 11:00 P.M. on Tuesday, April 25th. The remains were taken to the Assembly chamber in the capitol, where at 1:15 A.M. the doors were opened to the public. Throughout the night and into the morning, 60 people a minute filed by the open casket. By the time the doors closed at 1:30 P.M. on Wednesday, over 50,000 had viewed the former President.4
Wednesday, April 26, 1865:
At 4:00 P.M. in the afternoon, the funeral train departed, pulled by the locomotive "Edward H. Jones". The New York Central was now in charge on the 298 mile journey to Buffalo. The train passed through the communities of Schenectady and Canajoharie. It arrived in Amsterdam at 5:25 P.M. and at Fonda twenty minutes later.
At Palatine Bridge, "a great crowd had assembled…, and while the cars remained at the station, a band discoursed music befitting the occasion."
At St. Johnsville, a small meal was prepared for those on the train. Twenty-two of the local women served and, in return, they were permitted to walk through the funeral car and see the coffin.
At Little Falls, "cannon heralded the approach of the train, and mournful dirges by the band deepened in each breast that sorrow and grief which so accorded with the event." The ladies of this village presented a crown and wreath which were laid on the coffin.
At Herkimer, "the bells of the village tolled and minute guns fired" as the train passed through.
At Utica, "not only the depot and Baggs Square was filled with a multitude, but the track on either side… was lined with thousands of people." The train arrived 8:25 P.M. and stayed for twenty minutes, giving the city plenty of time to view the train and the Hearse car. The engine was changed as the locomotive "Major Priest" now drew the cars westward.
The train traveled through Oriskany, Rome, Oneida, Canastota and other villages before entering Syracuse at 11:50 P.M. "The depot was found elaborately and tastefully draped. Evergreen trees were interspersed presenting a fine effect. In addition to the …gaslights, locomotive lamps illuminated the building. … The bells were tolled and minute guns fired. A band of musicians performed dirges, and a choir of 100 voices chanted appropriate hymns."5
Thursday, April 27, 1865:
The cortege went through Port Byron, Clyde, Lyons, Palmyra and Fairport, arriving in Rochester at 3:20 A.M. An estimated 10,000 people were present at this extremely early hour. Soldiers from the local hospitals formed the Guard of Honor around the train. The silence of the crowd was broken only by the notes of Newman's Band, which played an appropriate dirge during the 15 to 20 minute stay. The train was now drawn by the locomotive "Dean Richmond". About an hour later, a huge train, 25 car loads of people, left Rochester for Buffalo, to take part in the ceremonies there. 6
The Citizens' Committee for Buffalo left to meet the train in Batavia at 6:00 P.M. on the evening of the 26th. Led by former President Millard Fillmore, they were well received by their Batavia hosts. After dining at the Eagle, the group rested and waited.
Although Fillmore had no sympathy for the Republican cause, he had even less for the secession movement by the South. At the start of the Civil War in 1861, he was chosen as the first captain of the Union Continentals. It was their duty to encourage the recruiting of soldiers for the war. A year later, he became the chairman of the Buffalo Committee of Public Defense. However, as the war years dragged on, he became a severe critic of the Lincoln Administration. During the 1864 Presidential election, he supported the Democratic nominee, General George B. McClellan. Two days after the death of President Lincoln; there was an incident at the Fillmore residence. His house was not draped in black mourning cloth. The initial story circulated that an angry mob was at Fillmore's house, throwing mud at the door and calling the former President out. As it turns out, it was apparently only one angry citizen who put either mud or ink on the house in protest. Fillmore responded to the charges of not mourning the loss of the President by saying he was not aware it had happened. His wife had been ill and he was caring for her. He eventually did drape his home. A month later in May, Fillmore expressed his views on the fallen President at a meeting of the Buffalo Historical Society.
Perhaps no member of this society appreciates more fully than I do, the difficult task which President Lincoln had to perform, and I am sure none can deplore his death more sincerely than I do. It is well known that I have not approved of all acts which have been done in his name during his Administration, but I am happy to say that his recent course met my approbation, and I had looked forward with confident expectation that he would soon be able to end the war, and by his kind, conciliatory manner win back our erring and repentant brethren and restore the Union.
Fillmore was now in Batavia with eleven other prominent citizens of Buffalo to represent and serve as an escort for the funeral train to their city.
The firing of minute guns alerted the village that it was now time to proceed to the depot. Right on time, at 5:18 A.M. on Thursday morning, the "Dean Richmond" pulled into the station. The engine had a large full length portrait of President Lincoln in front underneath the headlights. A large choir consisting of both men and women was located on a platform in front of the depot. They sang two funeral dirges, the first being "Speed Away", while the silent and respectful crowd stood with uncovered heads. The ten minute stop was just long enough for the committees from Buffalo and Batavia to board the train.
Near Corfu, the morning express, traveling east, came to a halt to allow the Funeral train to pass. They now advanced through the communities of Alden, Wende, Town Line, Lancaster and Forks, inching closer and closer to Buffalo. "The various stations on the road were passed at the precise time set down; and at each place, and for that matter, all along the entire route, the inhabitants, notwithstanding the early hour, thronged the way, and silently and respectfully uncovered as the train passed."7
The pilot train arrived at 6:50 A.M., followed by the Funeral train ten minutes later. A reporter on the train described their approach to the Exchange Street Depot. "It seemed to us as we stood upon the platform of the car and looked over the vast multitudes which thronged every street and sidewalk, every window and house-top, every available position, in fact, the population of Buffalo must have been trebled since yesterday, and that all had flocked to that portion of the city through which the train passed on its way to the depot."
"The depot, the Wadsworth House, Bloomer's Dining Saloon and the buildings opposite were all elaborately arrayed in black and white." And most importantly, there was a chain stretched the entire length of the depot, so as not to allow anyone in the entrance. Buffalo had learned its lesson. There was to be no repeat performance of the near disaster in the 1861 Inaugural Journey. Everyone, including the population, wanted to make a good impression this time. The officers in charge, the escorts and all those involved with the burial party were taken into Bloomer's Railroad Dining Saloon for breakfast. Mr. Bloomer and his assistant, Mr. Smith, had prepared the meal for the weary travelers. By eight o' clock, the burial party was back on the train preparing the coffin for the procession through the city.
One week earlier on Wednesday April 19th, Buffalo, along with several other cities throughout the country, had staged a procession to publicly mourn the loss of the President. At that time, an empty coffin in a hearse was drawn by six white horses through the streets of the city. The leaders of Buffalo had no idea that the real funeral train would be coming through their city. It was only later that night, after the staged procession, when it was announced that Buffalo would be honored with a layover by the Funeral train.
Now a week later, the Guard of Honor carried the coffin from the train to the front of the depot and placed it on the funeral car, or hearse, supplied by the city. This was the very same hearse used in the ceremonies of the previous week. "It consisted of a broad platform, valenced to the very ground with black velvet; in its centre an elevated rest for the coffin, the whole surmounted by a temple formed canopy, with black plumes at its apex and large rosettes of white crape at the corners." The hearse was pulled by six white horses draped in black to their feet and were handled by African-American grooms.
The procession traveled the following route:
Exchange Street to Main
Main Street to Niagara
Niagara to Delaware
Delaware to Tupper
Tupper to Main
Main Street to Eagle
"The number of people along the line of march was immense – thronging all the available space on either side of the streets. The business places were all closed, but every window and housetop was filled and covered with a mass of human beings. The crowd in the vicinity of St. James Hall… was terrible and we heard of many cases of fainting on the part of ladies, who were not able to stand the severe pressure brought upon them."8
A few minutes before ten o' clock, the procession arrived at St. James Hall in the Young Men's Association building, located on Eagle Street between Main and Washington. The coffin was taken into the Hall through the Main Street entrance and placed upon a raised platform under a chandelier suspended from the center of the room. As the remains were placed upon the dais, the members of the St. Cecelia Society sang an emotional and impressive version of "Rest, Spirit, Rest". The Hall had been prepared for this moment. "It was in the form of an immense pavilion, sable and somber, but adorned in the most exquisite perfection of art. The walks of the pavilion were richly and tastefully decorated and wreathed with black and white crape, lace and fringe. Large bows of crape also decked its sides. Eight columns, elaborately decorated with wreaths, rosettes, and festoons, were placed in position around the inner line of the apartment. There were three arched entrances, or passageways, with the folds of the drapery looped up with rosettes and ties of white and black. The whole was set off by a magnificent chandelier suspended from the centre, directly over the dais and remains."
Before the public was allowed to view the remains, the embalmer and undertaker needed to prepare the body. How well was it holding up? After all, it had been twelve days since Lincoln had died. Several of the New York City papers had announced the body would not be exposed anymore after leaving their city. Rumors had also spread that the face had turned black. As it turned out, there was nothing to these reports. General Townsend, with the Funeral train in New York City, reported to the Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton, that he had examined the remains and found them to be in perfect condition. Therefore the trip would continue and the casket could still be opened.
Sometime soon after 10:00 A.M., the remains were exposed for public view.
"The corpse was dressed in plain black, and the face wore that same kind, benignant look that characterized the ‘People's President' when alive. The face was slightly discolored, but not as much as many had been led to expect, and the life-like expression of the features were surprising." John Harrison Mills of Bowmansville was given the honor of guarding the coffin while it lay in state in the Hall. As a member of the 21st New York Regiment, he had been wounded at the second battle of Bull Run in 1862. "I cannot remember how it came to pass that I was chosen to stand guard at the head of our beloved President Lincoln on that momentous day." Mills, who later worked with Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) at the Buffalo Express and had his own successful career as an artist, recalled that he was able to sketch Lincoln as he lay there. "After the procession the body was brought in from Main Street at 8 o'clock, and from that time up to ten o'clock … I was at liberty to sketch the beloved face, so calm in death."9
The men accessed the building through the Eagle Street entrance, near Washington Street, four at a time. "Upon entering the hall they divided, two passing to the right and two to the left of the coffin, and then uniting on the other side, passed down out of the entrance on Eagle, near Main St. The ladies entered through the Young Men's Club Rooms from Main street, and passing to the further side of the pavilion, turned back over an elevated passage, viewing the corpse over the heads of those who were entering from Eagle street." They exited the same way they entered. For the next ten hours, the vast crowd filed by the coffin. "The marching through the courts of death was as ceaseless as the flow of the mighty waters. All day long did the stream pass along uninterruptedly. Persons of all ages, sexes and conditions, came thence to pay their respect to the man they had so much admired and loved." It was estimated that between 80,000 to 100,000 people passed through the hall to view the President. Despite the huge numbers, St. James Hall "was oppressively silent, save with the constant tramp of the passing multitude."
At noon, the Common Council and city officials of Buffalo and Rochester made their appearance. Mayor William Fargo led the Buffalo delegation. He had been elected mayor in 1862 and served in that capacity until the end of 1865. However, he is famous now not because he served as mayor but instead due to the companies he was instrumental in forming. In 1850, at a meeting in the Mansion House on Exchange Street in Buffalo, William Fargo and John Butterfield worked out an agreement that formed the American Express Company. Two years later, Fargo and Henry Wells organized an express and banking company which they called Wells, Fargo & Company. Thus, William Fargo was a co-founder of American Express and Wells, Fargo; two highly successful and still existing American companies. These two endeavors helped to make him a very powerful and wealthy Buffalonian.
During the day, an immense crowd visited the Funeral Car at the Exchange Street Depot. It was actually set aside on a track some distance from the depot. The car was of a deep chocolate color and elaborately trimmed. Inside was a raised platform covered with black where Lincoln's remains were placed during travel. Many Canadians came over the border to view the car and the coffin. While they were here, the members of the funeral cortege were the guests of the city at the Mansion House. 10
At a few minutes past eight, the order was given by Nathan K. Hall to close the doors. Hall, Captain of the Continentals, was a well-known and prestigious member of the Buffalo community. He was Millard Fillmore's long time law partner and had also served in his Cabinet as Postmaster General from 1850 to 1853. "The Continentals formed a single file, and passed around the coffin to take a last look at the face of the illustrious dead; the embalmer and his assistant removed the wreaths of flowers from the coffin and silently brushed the dust from the velvet covering; the lid was screwed down and the flowers replaced; the manly looking sergeants and the Guard of Honor – the carriers- approached and reverently raised the coffin to their shoulders and proceeded with it out of the Hall- past their comrades and officers drawn up with sabers…- passed the Continentals in the outer hall – past the soldiers of the 74th – past the Committees" and placed it on "the funeral car which was in waiting in front of the Main street entrance."
Once again, a procession took place through the streets of the city with funeral dirges played by the Union Cornet and Miller's Bands. "At a little after ten o' clock the funeral cortege and escort took the train … and went their sorrowful way to the West."
General Dix of the funeral party mentioned to Mayor Fargo and others that "the arrangements for the reception and exhibition of the President's remains made here, are better and more complete than those of any other city in which the funeral party has stopped."11
What glorious words these were! They were music to the ears of the citizens of Buffalo. The community had been offended and embarrassed by the coverage of the national press during the Inaugural Journey of 1861. Whether justified or not, they were looked upon as a people not far removed from the uncivilized actions of savagery. Four years later, the city was given a second chance. And this time they were ready. This time they were prepared. This time there would be no rumble at the depot; there would be no sawing of the wood to disrupt the ceremonies. This time everything would go according to plan and the people could be proud of their hometown. And this time it did!
The city of Buffalo had done well and redeemed itself and its reputation. The citizens had given honor to their fallen leader in the most appropriate form. Even more important than redemption, however, was their ability to appreciate and grasp the significance and importance of the honor they had been given to host the funeral ceremonies of not only their fallen leader, but of, arguably, one of the greatest Americans ever. And no where were these thoughts and views expressed better than in the opening paragraphs of the Buffalo Morning Express of the 28th:
"The solemn spectacle has passed. The body of the great martyr has been borne through our hushed streets, and onward to its rest. We have looked upon the immortal face, and a sacred memory is in our hearts. We have hallowed a shrine in our midst forever, by the touch of the dead man's bier. The august procession of cities and States has swept on to the West and the funeral dirge which wailed upon us from the ocean a week ago is dying along the lakes. What a journey of the dead it is that we have seen! What a nation's performance of the funeral rites of a nation's Chief! What a nation's great testimony of love and grief!
We have borne our part in the majestic spectacle; we have paid our tribute of honor to the illustrious dead; we have done it lovingly, and reverently and well. The remembrance of the great solemnity is made forever grateful to us by the perfect harmony and decorum of its every circumstance. Our city has done honor to itself in the method and the manner of its honor to the mortal clay of ABRAHAM LINCOLN."
The Southern Tier:
The Funeral train traveled slowly towards the countryside and into the southern portion of Erie County, passing through Hamburg, North Evans, Lakeview, 18 Mile Creek, Derby, Evans Center, Angola, Farnham and Irving. The Buffalo and Erie Railroad was now in charge of the trip to Erie, Pennsylvania. As with all the various railroads along the way, a special timetable had been published for this section. It was bordered in black and titled, "The Nation Mourns." An American eagle and the flags with thirteen stars were below it. The legend read, "Special Time Table for funeral train conveying the Remains of the late President Abraham Lincoln, from Buffalo to Erie, Thursday, April 27, 1865." The table shows that the train left Buffalo at 10:10 P.M., preceded ten minutes by a pilot engine. It stopped in Silver Creek at 11:45 P.M.; Westfield at 1:00 A.M. Friday; and arrived in Erie, Pa at 2:30 A.M. Friday. William Van Duzer was the engineer for the pilot engine. Like all the employees of the railroad company, he had received his orders a few days earlier from his superintendent, which stated:
Buffalo, April 24, '65. To all operators; B. & E. R.R.:
On Thursday next, the day on which the funeral train of our late President moves over this road, you will be on hand promptly and in your offices at all hours of the day and night until after the train has passed your station, not leaving your offices without permission from headquarters. Any neglect of duty however great or small will be followed by immediate dismissal.12
Crossing over into Chautauqua County, the train stopped for wood and water in Silver Creek and then arrived in Dunkirk at midnight. A very large and solemn crowd was present. "The platform was elaborately decorated, festoons of evergreens extended all along the eaves of the structure. The ceiling was heavily draped in white and black, flags interlaced with crepe made the background." There were thirty-six young ladies dressed in white with a black scarf across their shoulders. They represented each of the states then present in the Union. The depot was lit by the many lamps and torches, while the tolling of the bells, the solemn music and the firing of guns added to the scene. The train continued on its way, passing through Van Buren, Salem, Brocton and Westfield. "At Brocton, the people assembled and the place was illuminated. At Westfield a party of ladies, Mrs. Drake, widow of Colonel Drake who fell at Cold Harbor, Mrs. Brewer and Misses Tinker, brought a wreath of flowers and a cross on which was inscribed the words: ‘Ours the cross, thine the crown.'"13 The train arrived in Erie at 2:30 A.M. on Friday, April 28th, 1865.
Over the next several days, the Funeral train had layovers in Cleveland, Columbus, Indianapolis and Chicago before arriving in Lincoln's home town of Springfield, Illinois on Wednesday, May 3rd. The next day, a procession led by General Joseph Hooker moved through the city, passing by Lincoln's home in the process, before heading out the country road to the Oak Ridge Cemetery. Following the hearse was Lincoln's sixteen year old horse, Old Bob, who was wearing a mourning blanket. The coffins of Lincoln and his son were laid inside the tomb. The door was closed and locked.14
The journey was over. He was home at last.
Less than three weeks elapsed from the time President Lincoln departed this life to his burial in Springfield. During that time, over one million people walked past his coffin and viewed his remains. In those twenty days, there were twelve major funeral services given to the assassinated leader; one at the beginning and at the end of the journey and at each city along the route where a stop was made. Thousands more stood in silence along the roadsides paying their respects as the Funeral train passed by. The train itself traveled through nine states and passed through more than 440 communities across the nation in its 1,654 mile journey from Washington, D. C. to Springfield, Illinois. The itinerary homeward for the most part followed the Inaugural journey of four years earlier. The only exceptions were the elimination of Pittsburgh and Cincinnati and the addition of Chicago. President Lincoln's funeral is often referred to as the greatest funeral in the history of the United States. It was certainly the greatest spectacle of its time.
Lincoln has been memorialized as much as any individual in history. His image is on the five dollar bill and the one cent coin. The Lincoln Memorial in Washington is one of the significant structures in the city. His face is one of only four on Mount Rushmore. His birthday was a national holiday for years until it was replaced by Presidents day. There is even a state capital named after him. He has received national and international acclaim. Streets, schools, businesses, automobiles and even aircraft carriers have been named after him. And Western New York is no different. There is Lincoln Parkway, Lincoln Avenue and Lincoln Square. There are businesses, streets and statues. Westfield has a statue of Lincoln meeting Grace Bedell. Buffalo has at least two statues of him. One is located in Delaware Park behind the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, while the other is outside the Buffalo & Erie County Historical Society.
However, in the midst of all these evident and visible signs of respect and admiration for our sixteenth President, there remains one more memorial to mention. In the town of Hanover, Chautauqua County, on Alleghany Road in the hamlet of Balltown, there is a unique and personal remembrance. On the west side of the road there is a small gray house where Mackinaw Road intersects with Allegany Road. Originally, it had been a school house, but by the 1860's it had been converted to a private residence and owned by the Hartmans. Soon after Lincoln's death in April of 1865, young Avril Hartman and his mother planted a tree in front of the house as a memorial for Abraham Lincoln.1 A mother and her son, distressed and grieved by the loss of their country's leader, did what they could do. Not having the means and resources to erect a statue or memorial, they nevertheless wanted to express their respect and admiration of their fallen leader in some outward manner. In a simple and effective way, this typical American family did what they could do and planted a tree. Well over one hundred years later, this tree, known as the Lincoln Maple, still exists and is a living reminder of the effect and influence that his life had on others.
The sources may be supplied upon request.
Albany & Buffalo
By Rail: 324 miles
Going West: Albany to Buffalo:
Going East: Buffalo to Albany:
1847 – 1848 The Commercial Advertiser Directory for the City of Buffalo
Published by Jewitt, Thomas and Company & T.S. Cutting
FRAGMENT ON NIAGARA FALLS
LECTURE ON NIAGARA FALLS
Written by A. Lincoln sometime after visiting Niagara Falls.
Niagara-Falls! By what mysterious power is it that millions and millions, are drawn from all parts of the world, to gaze upon Niagara Falls? There is no mystery about the thing itself. Every effect is just such as any intelligent man knowing the causes, would anticipate, without it. If the water moving onward in a great river, reaches a point where there is a perpendicular jog, of a hundred feet in descent, in the bottom of the river, -- it is plain the water will have a violent and continuous plunge at that point. It is also plain the water, thus plunging, will foam, and roar, and send up a mist, continuously, in which last, during sunshine, there will be perpetual rain-bows. The mere physical of Niagara Falls is only this. Yet this is really a very small part of that world's wonder. It's power to excite reflection, and emotion, is it's great charm. The geologist will demonstrate that the plunge, or fall, was once at Lake Ontario, and has worn it's way back to it's present position; he will ascertain how fast it is wearing now, and so get a basis for determining how long it has been wearing back from Lake Ontario, and finally demonstrate by it that this world is at least fourteen thousand years old. A philosopher of a slightly different turn will say Niagara Falls is only the lip of the basin out of which pours all the surplus water which rains down on two or three hundred thousand square miles of the earth's surface. He will estimate with approximate accuracy, that five hundred thousand tons of water, falls with it's full weight, a distance of a hundred feet each minute –thus exerting a force equal to the lifting of the same weight, through the same space, in the same time. And then the further reflection comes that this vast amount of water, constantly pouring down, is supplied by an equal amount constantly lifted up, by the sun; and still he says, "If this much is lifted up, for this one space of two or three hundred thousand square miles, an equal amount must be lifted for every other equal space"; and he is overwhelmed in the contemplation of the vast power the sun is constantly exerting in quiet, noiseless operation of lifting water up to be rained down again.
But still there is more. It calls up the indefinite past. When Columbus first sought this continent—when Christ suffered on the cross –when Moses led Israel through the Red Sea – nay, even, when Adam first came from the hand of his Maker – then, as now, Niagara was roaring here. The eyes of that species of extinct giants, whose bones fill the mounds of America, have gazed on Niagara, as ours do now. Contemporary with the whole race of men, and older than the first man, Niagara is strong, and fresh to-day as ten thousand years ago. The Mammoth and Mastodon – now so long dead, that fragments of their monstrous bones, alone testify, that they ever lived, have gazed on Niagara. In that long – long time, never still for a single moment. Never dried, never froze, never slept, never rested,
Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1832 – 1858; The Library of America; p. 222 - 224
Lincoln's Letter to
Alexander W. Harvey
Alexr. W. Harvey, esq Springfield, Ills.
Dear Sir March 14, 1860
Your despach of the 27th ult. To Mr. Greely, asking if you could have
a speech from me on my return, was forwarded to me by Mr. G.
reaching me at Exeter, N.H.
The appointments I had then already made carried me so far beyond
my allotted time that I could not consistently add another.
I hope I may yet be allowed to meet the good people of Buffalo
before the close of the struggle in which we are engaged. Yours
Respectfully A. Lincoln
Alexander W. Harvey was an attorney in Buffalo, New York
Roy P. Basler, editor. The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
Volume IV, p 31
Grace Bedell to A. Lincoln
Hon A B Lincoln Westfield Chatauque Co
Dear Sir Oct. 15, 1860
My father has just home from the fair and
brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only eleven
years old, but want very much you should be President of the United States
so I hope you wont think me very bold to write to such a great man as you
are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love
and tell her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4
brother's and part of them will vote for you anyway and if you will let your
whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you you would
look a great deal better for your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and
they would tease their husband's to vote for you and if I was a man I would
vote for you to but I will try and get every one to vote for you that I can
I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have
Got a little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be.
When you direct your letter dir[e]ct to Grace Bedell Westfield Chatauque
County New York
I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye
Miss. Grace Bedell Springfield, Ills.
My dear little Miss. Oct 19. 1860
Your very agreeable letter of the 15th. is received.
I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters. I have three
sons---one seventeen, one nine, and one seven, years of age. They,
with their mother, constitute my whole family.
As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think
People would call it a piece of silly affection if I were to begin it
now? Your very sincere well-wisher A. Lincoln
The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln
Roy P. Basler, editor.
News Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers University press, 1953
Volume IV, Page 129 - 130
Buffalo Committee to Accompany
Mr. Lincoln from Cleveland
Saturday, February 16, 1861
A.M. Clapp, Chairman Alderman Howard
F. J. Fithian Alderman Storck
F. P. Stevens Alderman Yaw
Erie, Pa. Committee to Accompany
Mr. Lincoln from Cleveland
Saturday , February 16, 1861
Gen. C. M. Read, Chairman Wilson King
John H. Walker Dr. Brandith
John Vincent Mr. Lane
Buffalo Committee to Accompany
Mr. Lincoln to Albany
Monday, February 18, 1861
General Scroggs Asaph Bemis, alderman
P. Dorsheimer Dorr, alderman
O. G. Steele A. A. Howard, alderman
Rochester Committee to Welcome
Mr. Lincoln in Buffalo
Saturday, February 16, 1861
O. L. Angevine J. M. French
Geo. Shelton C. T. Amaden
Benj. Butler H. S. Fairchild
A. Longmuir Thes. Parsons
N. A. Stone Wm. M. Burtis
W. F. Holmes J. L. ReQua
John Lutes C. R. Babbitt
Alonzo Stearns Sam'l Wilder
H. S. Hehard Francis Gorton
L. S. Waring J.R. Whitney
D. R. Barton J. C. Casey
H. G. Warner W. F. Lathron
Ex – mayors Andrews, Kemshall, Stilwell and Moore.
The aldermen returned to Rochester on Sunday, February 17, 1861.
The Mayor remained in Buffalo, returning on Monday, February 18, 1861
in the Special train with Lincoln.
Rochester Evening Express, Monday, February 18, 1861
The Govenor's Staff
Detailed to escort Mr. Lincoln
From Buffalo to Albany
Saturday, February 16, 1861
Commissary – General Welsh
Adjutant – General Read
Inspector – General Jackson
Quartermaster – General Van Vechten
Col. Morgan, Aid – de – Camp
Buffalo Morning Express, Friday, February 15, 1861
Buffalo Reception Committee
Saturday, February 16, 1861
The Committee of Thirty-Four. - Report of Judge Stevens. – In pursuance of a resolution passed at the meeting of the citizens of Buffalo held at the Court House, on the evening of the 5th inst, authorizing the Chairman to appoint a committee of thirty-four, of which the Chairman shall be one, to act with the Committee of the Common Council, to receive the President, on his way to the city of Washington, I have named the following gentlemen to act as such committee:
Almon M. Clapp Wm. A. Sutton
Millard Fillmore P. Vortriede
Geo. W. Clinton Edward Pierson
John L. Talcott Lyman B. Smith
Joseph G. Masten Henry Tanner
G. A. Scroggs John Allen
Stephen G. Austin Wm. A Bird
Isaac A. Verplanck Alanson Robinson
Alex. W. Harvey Stephen Champlin
James M. Humphrey Rollin Germain
John Ganson Henry Martin
Lewis L. Hodges S. B. Hunt
Oliver G. Steele Lewis F. Allen
F. O. Brunck Edward S. Warren
Noah P. Sprague F. J. Fithian
P. Dorsheimer Wm. Foote
Andrew J. Rich F. P. Stevens
Buffalo Morning Express, Thursday, February 7, 1861
German Reception Committee
Saturday, February 16, 1861
J. Vortriede, Chairman W. C. Zimmermann, Secretary
John Greiner, Jr. A. Roeder
Jacob Beyer G. J. Hofheins
J. F. Schwartz H. Baethig
J. W. A. Meyer John Chretlen
E. G. Grey George Richert
Dr. Weyland Ph. Mugler
Dr. E. Stork J. F. E. Plogsted
M. Wiedrich Gottlieb Woelfle
P. J. Heimlich Louis Kuempel
F. A. Georger M. Danner
H. B. Miller Lorenz Gillig
J. N. Welzel
Buffalo Morning Express, Monday, February 11, 1861
Reporters & Their Newspapers
Present During the Journey
February 16th through February 18th
A. Howard, Jr. New York Times
T.E. Evans New York World
O.H. Dutton New York Daily Tribune
Henry Villard New York Herald
Henri Lovie Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
U.H. Painter Philadelphia Inquirer
W.G. Terrell Cincinnati Gazette
H.M. Smith Chicago Tribune
D. Page Cleveland Leader
J. H. A.?? Utica???
J.B. Drake Associated Press
Mr. Vandiner Associated Press
Theo. Stager Western Telegraph Company
W.T. Tinney Lyons Republican
Cleveland to Erie Cleveland & Erie
Erie to Buffalo Buffalo & Erie
Buffalo to Rochester New York Central
Rochester to Syracuse New York Central
Syracuse to Utica New York Central
Zenas C. Priest
Utica to Schenectady New York Central
Schenectady to Albany New York Central
Erastus Corning, Jr.
Father Beeson's Call for Meeting
In Behalf of the Indians
CALL FOR A GENERAL CONVENTION IN BEHALF OF THE INDIANS—The undersigned, having been a personal witness of the outrages which are of frequent occurrence upon our frontiers, and having numerous public meetings on the subject, in the States of New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Hew Hampshire and Rhode Island, at most of which resolutions were adopted in favor of a National Convention. Therefore, with the assurance that he is carrying out the desire of the best minds of all parties throughout the country, a General Convention is hereby invited to be held in the city of Boston, on the 20th and two following days of February, 1861. The object of this Convention will be to discuss a plan for Congressional action, by which existing difficulties with the Indians may be equitably adjusted and peace maintained upon our borders. The present crisis in our national affairs is of itself a sufficient argument for this Convention, for in the clamor for Southern and Northern and Negro rights, the Indian rights should not be overlooked.
The Indians are yet a power in the country, and in case of civil war, they may become a terrible scourge to either party upon our sparsely populated territory. To prevent this, it is necessary that the friends of justice of all parties, should convene and give the Indians a positive assurance that in the final adjustment of the present difficulties, they shall have a domain, and protection in their enjoyment of their natural rights. It is desirable that this convention should be spontaneous, and that it should consist of such as have a sympathetic interest in the well-being of humanity at large, without exception to the down-trodden outcasts of the weaker races of mankind. Among the questions for discussion the following are proposed:
1st. Is it true that the Indians, as a race, cannot be civilized?
2d. Is it true that a law of nature or necessity decrees that they should perish before the march of civilization?
3d. What arrangements are best for their elevation and perpetuity?
The following will be submitted to the action to be held at the Court House on Friday evening, 15th, inst.:
To the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress Assembled.—Your memorialists respectfully represent that, from credible testimony, there is reason to believe that the onslaughts of the Indians upon the emigrants and settlers of the West, are but the response of outrages committed upon them by lawless men, and that the enormous expenditures of the military department ostensibly for wars against the Indians, are in reality a vile swindle of fraudulent speculators, purposely got up to enrich themselves from the public treasury. Therefore, your memorialists respectfully pray that hostilities against the aborigines be immediately suspended, and instead thereof peace commissioners of well selected persons may be appointed to visit every tribe, to ascertain the nature of their grievances, to be presented for Congressional redress as early as practicable .
The Buffalo Morning Express, Wednesday February 13, 1861.
FUNERAL TIME TABLE
ROCHESTER TO BUFFALO
Thursday, April 28, 1865
Pilot Engine Funeral Train
Leave Rochester 3:25 AM 3:35 AM
" Cold Water 3:45 AM 3:55 AM
" Chill 3:58 AM 4:08 AM
" Churchville 4:10 AM 4:20 AM
" Bergen 4:20 AM 4:30 AM
" West Bergen 4:30 AM 4:40 AM
" Byron 4:40 AM 4:50 AM
" Batavia 5:08 AM 5:18 AM
" Crofts 5:25 AM 5:35 AM
" Corfu 5:40 AM 5:50 AM
" Alden 5:53 AM 6:03 AM
" Wende 6:01 AM 6:11 AM
" Townline 6:06 AM 6:16 AM
" Lancaster 6:20 AM 6:30 AM
" Forks 6:27 AM 6:37 AM
Arrive Buffalo 6:50 AM 7:00 AM
Rochester Daily Evening Express, Wednesday, April 26, 1865
Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln Volume II – V (New Brunswick, New Jersey. Rutgers University Press, 1953)
Richard C. Brown & Bob Watson, Buffalo, Lake City in Niagara Land (Windsor Publications, Inc 1981)
John H. Conlin, editor, Western New York Heritage (Western New York Heritage Press, Inc, Cheektowaga)
David Donald, Lincoln's Herndon (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1948)
David Herbert Donald, Lincoln (Simon & Schuster, New York, 1995)
Edward T. Dunn, A History of Railroads in Western New York (Canisius College Press 2000)
Don E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1832 – 1858, The Library of America (Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., New York, NY 1989)
Don E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Abraham Lincoln, Speeches and Writings 1859 – 1865, The Library of America (Literary Classics of the United States, Inc., New York, NY 1989)
Ralph Gary, Following in Lincoln's Footsteps (Carroll & Graf Publishers, New York 2001)
Stephen Gredel, Pioneers of Buffalo, Its Growth & Development (City of Buffalo Commission on Human Relations 1966)
William S. Herndon & Jesse W. Weik, Herndon's Life of Lincoln (Fawcett Publications, Inc. Greenwich,Conn 1961)
Michael F. Holt, The Rise & Fall of the American Whig Party, Jacksonian Politics and the Onset of the
Civil War (Oxford University Press, New York, Oxford 1999)
Harold Holzer, Lincoln at Cooper Union, The Speech that made Abraham Lincoln President (Simon &
Henry Mayer, All on Fire, William Lloyd Garrison and the Abolition of Slavery (St. Martin's Press 1998)
Earl S. & Miers & others, editor. Lincoln Day By Day: A Chronology, 1809-1865 Three volumes,
(Washington, D.C. Lincoln Sesquicentennial Commission: 1960)
Herbert Mitgang, Abraham Lincoln, A Press Portrait (Fordham University Press, New York, 2000)
Wayne E. Morrison, Sr, Morrison's History of Clyde, Wayne County, New York, 1860 – 1865 Volume II
John G. Nicolay & John Hay, abridged & edited by Paul M. Angle, Abraham Lincoln, A History (The
University of Chicago Press 1966)
Stephen B. Oates, With Malice Toward None, The Life of Abraham Lincoln (Harper & Row, New York, 1977)
Mary Kay Phelan, Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural Journey (Thomas Y. Crowell Company, N.Y. 1972)
Paul V. Pietrak, Joseph G. Streamer, James A. Van Brocklin, Western New York and Pennsylvania
Robert J. Rayback, Millard Fillmore, Biography of a President (Buffalo 1959)
Robert J. Scarry, Millard Fillmore (McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers 2001)
Victor Searcher, Lincoln's Journey to Greatness (The John C. Winston Company, Philadelphia - Toronto, 1960)
Victor Searcher, The Farewell to Lincoln (Abingdon Press, New York – Nashville, 1965)
Frank H. Severance, Millard Fillmore Papers, Volumes 1 & 2 (1907)
John Gilmary Shea, editor, The Lincoln Memorial: A Record of the Life, Assassination, and Obsequies of
the Martyred President (Bunce & Huntington, New York 1865)
Brian Solomon, The Heritage of North American Steam Railroads (The Reader's Digest Association, Inc., Pleasantville, New York/Montreal 2001)
Wayne C. Temple, Lincoln's Connections with the Illinois & Michigan Canal, His Return from
Congress in '48 and his Invention (Illinois Bell, Springfield, Illinois, 1986)
Fred Trump, Lincoln's Little Girl
Justin G. Turner & Linda Levitt Turner, editors, Mary Todd Lincoln: Her Life and Letters (Alfred & Knopf, New York, 1972)
Henry Villard, Lincoln on the Eve of '61, Edited by Harold G. & Oswald Garrison Villard, 1941
Evening Journal September 23, 1848
February 18, 1861
The Daily Republican Advocate February 15, 1861
February 18, 1861
Spirit of the Times April 29, 1865
Commercial Advertiser September 25, 1848
September 26, 1848
February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
February 20, 1861
April 27, 1865
April 28, 1865
March 5, 1897
Daily Courier February 15, 1861
February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
Daily Republic February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
Evening Post February 15, 1861
February 19, 1861
April 28, 1865
Morning Express September 30, 1848
October 2, 1848
February 7, 1861
February 13, 1861
February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
February 20, 1861
February 21, 1861
January 26, 1865
April 28, 1865
Evening News September 2, 1950
Daily Commercial February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
Daily Gazette February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
Daily Herald February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
Leader February 18, 1861
Plain Dealer February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
Times Weekly February 23, 1861
Advertiser February 15, 1861
Censor February 13, 1861
Herkimer County Journal February 21, 1861
Republican February 19, 1861
Sentinel & Gazette October 5, 1848
October 6, 1848
New York City:
Frank Leslie's Illustrated March 2, 1861
Herald February 17, 1861
February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
Times February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
Tribune February 18, 1861
February 19, 1861
World February 19, 1861
Gazette October 15, 1945
October 16, 1945
Inquirer February 16, 1861
February 18, 1861
Evening Express February 18, 1861
Courier February 19, 1861
February 20, 1861
Daily Journal February 18, 1861
Daily Standard February 18, 1861
Morning Herald February 19, 1861
Evening Star February 18, 1861
Republican February 20, 1861
Wayne C. Temple of Springfield for his viewpoints on Lincoln's 1848 trip home from Washington, D.C., most significantly pointing out the lack of time Lincoln had from Albany to Buffalo- based on shipping schedules- that seriously questions a side trip to Niagara Falls.
Vince Martonis, town of Hanover historian, who showed me the location of the Silver Creek train station and the Lincoln Maple. He also allowed me the use of an article in his files depicting the last living Silver Creek citizen who witnessed Lincoln's Inauguration journey through the village.
A special thanks to Wayne E. Morrison, historian and author of several books on the Erie Canal village of Clyde. Wayne graciously spent many hours with me on the phone and in person discussing the Inaugural Journey and the mystery of the missing Lincoln photograph taken during the stop at Clyde.