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Obituary of Eminent Persons

The Illustrated London News, vol. 46, no. 1313, p. 443.

May 6, 1865

OBITUARY OF EMINENT PERSONS.
President Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America during the most momentous period of rule since that of his great predecessor George Washington, was the grandson of Abraham Lincoln, killed by Indians in 1784, and was the son of Thomas Lincoln, of Virginia, by his wife, Nancy Hanks. He was born, Feb. 12, 1809, in Harden County, Kentucky. His father, Thomas Lincoln, when the young Abraham was about eight years of age, removed with his family to Spencer County, Indiana. There for the next twelve years Abraham Lincoln worked with his father in the ordinary pursuits of a settler, living in the log hut which the neighbours assisted them to build when they first came to the neighbourhood. He had not, however, during all these years the guiding hand of his mother, for she died shortly after they took up their residence in Indiana. In course of time, a Mr. Crawford came to settle in the neighbourhood, and opened a school in his own cabin, and Abraham Lincoln was his pupil. Abraham was a youth of manifold qualifications: he had perseverance, a desire for knowledge, truthfulness, and earnestness. The books which he loved to peruse at this period were Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," "Æsop's Fables," a life of Henry Clay, afterwards Lincoln's model of a statesman; and Weem's "Life of Washington." When he was nineteen he made a trip to New Orleans in a flat-boat with the son of one of his neighbours, with a cargo for the New Orleans market. In addition to a long voyage down the River Ohio, which bounds Indiana on the south, the young voyagers had at least one thousand miles of the Mississippi to traverse before they arrived at their destination. The voyage was successful, and raised the character of Abraham Lincoln in the vicinity as a youth of energy and promise. In 1830, when Abraham was twenty-one years of age, he migrated once more with his father to Decatur, Illinois. The father being there comfortably settled, Abraham started on his own account, hiring himself out first of all as a farm hand, and occasionally acting as a clerk in a store. When the war with the Indians broke out in 1832, commonly called the Black Hawk War, Mr. Lincoln was elected to the command of a company of volunteers. One who knew him at this period writes that "he was an efficient, faithful officer, watchful of his men, and prompt in the discharge of duty; and his courage and patriotism shrank from no dangers or hardships." After his military career, Lincoln kept a store; and then took to the business of a surveyor. In 1834 he was sent to the local Legislature, and during the time the House was not sitting he applied himself with vigour to the study of law. In 1836 he obtained a license to practise; and in 1837 went to Springfield, the chief town in Illinois, and commenced as a lawyer, in partnership with the Hon. John F. Stuart. He rose rapidly in public favour, and is said to have been very successful as on advocate in jury trials. In 1846 Mr. Lincoln was returned to Congress, and took his seat as the only Whig member from Illinois. He continued to belong to Congress till 1849. The Whigs were the forerunners of the present powerful Republican party, the chief point of difference being that of slavery. Lincoln was for freedom, and on that ground opposed the Mexican War. He supported a bill abolishing slavery in the district of Columbia. When the Wilmot proviso was discussed to exclude slavery from those territories which had been captured from Mexico, Mr. Lincoln voted for the proviso; and he afterwards stated that, in one way or another, he had cast his vote about forty times in favour of the abolition of slavery. In 1849 he stood, and was defeated, for the office of United States' Senator for Illinois, and consequently remained at home from that period until 1854 in the practice of his profession. In that year the Kansas Nebraska Bill was passed by the slaveholding party, aided by some of their supporters in the North. Mr. Stephen A. Douglas stood for United States' senator from Illinois, and Mr. Lincoln opposed him; the two champions ultimately holding seven joint debates in different towns of the State for the purpose of informing the people of the grounds of difference of policy upon which they were called on to decide. Upon his discussions with Douglas, however, the eyes of the whole country were fixed, and the ability and quaint humour which Mr. Lincoln exhibited, and the success which he gained for the party, made him very popular among the Republicans. The immediate practical question which then agitated the people, which came to be the turning-point of the presidential election of 1860, was whether or not slavery ought to be permitted in the new territories as, one by one, they came to be peopled. Mr. Lincoln believed that slavery ought to be excluded from the territories, although he did not see his way to interfere with slavery in those States where it existed. The Republican Convention, which met at Chicago, nominated Mr. Lincoln as their candidate for the presidency. The contest lay between him and Mr. Seward. The canvass was carried on with the usual good humour in the North, but amid threatenings and mutterings in the South in the prospect of their defeat. The polling resulted in the return of Mr. Lincoln--the numbers being, for Lincoln, 1,857,910; for Douglas, 1,291,574; for Breckenridge, 850,082; and for Bell (a Whig of long standing), 646,124. The election, in 1860, of Mr. Lincoln was hailed with delight by the people of the Northern States, and when he proceeded to Washington to execute the functions of President the whole country watched his progress with intense satisfaction. Mr. Lincoln's policy was to woo the South to submission to the constitutionally-expressed will of the people by every argument which would be supposed to have weight with American citizens. His appeal was vain. The men to whom it was addressed had for a long series of years encouraged the delusion that slavery was a Divine institution. The North, with Mr. Lincoln as President, had no choice but to enforce the laws and to use whatever powers the Constitution gave for the suppression of the South, which had burst out into open rebellion. The terrible war that followed and its ever-varying incidents are too much matters of present knowledge and history to need any detail here. Sufficient it is to say that in the west the national arms were almost uniformly successful. In the east the forces of the Union failed to capture Richmond until weary years of effort had been wasted and several successive Generals tried and removed. But the elasticity of free institutions permitted of these changes of commanders, and the patriotism of the people supported the President in whatever appointments he deemed best for the furtherance of the cause until--by his happy selection of General Grant, who had proved victorious in the west, and Grant's no less admirable appointments of Generals Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, and others--the power of the South has been completely battered down. The emancipation proclamation of President Lincoln was one of his boldest and greatest acts, and the cause of the Union seems to have prospered ever since. Lincoln had been a second time elected President, and the surrender of the Confederate army was just being looked on as the closing-in scene of the mighty struggle, when President Lincoln fell the victim of one of the foulest and most daring acts of assassination that has ever disgraced the pages of history. Assassination is a crime which seems to have peculiarly and invariably the curse of Heaven upon it; for in perusing the annals of the world we find it has not only not been followed by success, but it has been usually a fatal blow to the cause in support of which the murderer has done the deed. No doubt, therefore, this dreadful slaying of the President will tend more than aught else to cause a revulsion in the minds of his opponents and bring them round, and to thus establish the Northern triumph permanently, and to effect the long-desired pacification of America. President Lincoln died, on the 15th ult., from the shot fired at him by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theatre, Washington, on the previous evening. The President leaves a widow and family.

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