1865 Letter Describing The Sadness In The Days After The Abraham Lincoln Assassination

Postage Stamp issued in 1866
This is the first postage stamp to depict Abraham Lincoln,
the earliest known use of this stamp is April 14th, 1866

Adams Export Company, Harpers Ferry, Virginia
April 19, 1865

My own Darling Jennie,
   Another day has past and I have no news from home. If you knew how lonesome and sad I am, I am sure you would write me a few words – or are you affected by the sad news of the Presidents’ death and like myself sad and mournful. The emblems of mourning are to be met everywhere in our town and in the country about, which presents a truly sad appearance. Never before has any calamity fallen upon any people which seems to be so justly appreciated by the popular mind. Rich and poor, men of all political views join in the demonstration of grief and today there is hardly a building where some emblem of grief is not displayed. With some, of course, the expression of sorrow is only outward but with a great majority of our citizens the grief is heartfelt. The heaviest blow which has ever fallen upon the people of the South has descended-    Abraham Lincoln, the President of the United States, has been assassinated!!!

  The decease of the Chief  magistrate of the nation at any period is an event which profoundly affects the public mind, but the time, manner, and circumstances of President Lincoln’s death render it the most mentous, the most appalling, the most deplorable calamity which has ever befallen the people of the United States. The thoughtless and the vicious may affect to derive satisfaction from the sudden and tragic close of the Presidents’ career, but every reflecting person will deplore the awful event. Just as everything was happily conspiring to a restoration of tranquility, under the benignant and magnanimous policy of Mr. Lincoln, comes this terrible blow. God grant that it may not rekindle excitement or inflame papion again. That a state of war, almost fratricidal, should give rise to bitter feelings and bloody deeds in the field was to be expected, but, that the assassins’ knife and bullet should follow the great and best loved of the nation in their daily walks and reach them when they are surrounded by their friends, is an atrocity which will shock and appall every honorable man and woman in the land. The secrecy with which the assassins pursued their victims indicates there were but few accomplices in this inhuman crime. The abhorrence with which it is regarded on all sides will, it’s hoped, deter insane and malignant men from the emulation of the infamy which attaches to this infernal deed.

  The war news continues bright and cheering. Sherman is said to be in communication with Johnston with a view to the surrender of the latter. Mobile has fallen! At any other time than just at the present, the news would have been received with acclamations of joy. Though all are glad, there is none of that popular rejoicing that filled our streets with jubilant citizens during the past week. The wires flashed good news yesterday but as might have been expected it was received with indifference. At any other time the capture of Mobile with its splendid results would have elicited cheers, and thanks, and congratulations in profusion. At any other time the encouraging prospects of Sherman would have evoked the acclamations of a grateful people. As it was the tidings came to hearts oppressed with sorrow. The loyal citizens were chilled by the horror of an awful crime. They had sustained a loss which was irreparable. They  had witnessed a culmination of treason for which they were unprepared and which so thoroughly shocked their moral sense, outraged their affection for a man they revered, and violated the tenderest and holiest ties by which they were bound to a faithful public servant that they have ever since been stunned and heart stricken. The sunshine which so lately beamed upon the country has been eclipsed by dreariness and gloom. A leaden pall hangs over us. Turn which way we may the somber hues of affliction meet our eyes. Our houses, our churches, our places of business are clad in the habiliments of mourning. The flag we venerate is everywhere draped in weeds of woe. There is earnest work before us, and we feel the need of active exertion.

  We go about our duties mechanically, the animating spirit is lacking. We must shake off this nervelessness, and awake to renewed Life. We must turn our attentions to the authors of our sad calamity. We must finish the work that is left upon our hands by this unexpected visitation. This we may do. We can resume old tasks and take up newly appointed ones. We can act in the living Present. While we take fresh courage and march on, we can vitalize and inspire others. But at the same time that we perform our allotted work, we cannot divest ourselves of the burden of a great sorrow. At the same time that we welcome new victories and new evidence that the rebellion is well nigh crushed, we cannot hurrah in that unalloyed spirit of rejoicing which animated us one week ago. The happy exhilaration of that period has passed away with him with whom we shared it, and in its place will hereafter be experienced a soberer joy and a more tempered satisfaction. We shall hail with profound gratitude to the Good Giver every additional triumph that brings us nearer to the end. Yet amid all our successes, and amid the crowning glories of the consummation of Peace we shall preserve in ever freshening and ever abiding memory the virtues of the President, the father and the friend we have lost- whose funeral ceremonies take place at the Executive Mansion in Washington at 12 o’clock noon today….on the evening which commemorates the crucifixion of the Savior of mankind, on the anniversary on the day when the flag of Sumpter was hauled down and where it was afterward restored. Abraham Lincoln, the head and the hope of the nation, was inhumanly butchered by an armed emissary of treason. On this day, the anniversary of the battle of Lexington, the day upon which, four years ago, the lurid ruffians of this same infamous rebellion, which is at the bottom of all the bloody slaughter which has held high carnival throughout the land, struck down the soldiers of Massachusetts who were hastening to repress it in its incipiency, the mortal remains of the President are to be consigned to the tomb.

  It is a solemn day. It is a day of sad memories made tenfold more saddening by the heavy affliction which has befallen the nation. He whom we mourn this day, and whose dust is now to commingle with its kindred elements, was not simply a hero- he was the noblest type of purely American character, the most distinctive representative of American institutions; he was not simply a wise and patriotic ruler, but a universal friend. When we meet in our sanctuaries and gather around our firesides, to speak of his virtues, to honor his life, to bear in remembrance his goodness, and to sorrow over his loss, it is with the solemn conviction that that loss is a personal one, that it enters our own household, disturbs our own family circle, and involves our most intimate family relations. This is not so much a day for eulogy as for tears. The spontaneous outpouring of millions of loyal hearts is the highest panegyric that can be offered to departed worth. No higher encomiums could  be bestowed upon any man than the sincerity of the popular manifestations of esteem and affection which we everywhere witness. They are tributes to his rare kindliness and gentleness, to his acknowledged integrity and high moral principle, to his intimate sympathy with the people and his willingness to mould his actions in accordance with the popular will, to his clear discernment and his conceded statesmanship. It is not to be wondered at, therefore, that in the realization of the loss of such a man the nation is bowed down with anguish. It is no light matter that such a bright example should thus perish by the rude hand of an assassin. It is no trifle over which we grieve in unison this day. We have lost a friend who had no private resentments, and no personal enemies. We have lost a ruler who was singularly capable of grasping the great problems given him to solve, and of meeting the great exigencies which arose at every step. We are only beginning to appreciate the inestimable value of his services. We have lost a President who, under the most trying responsibilities ever developing upon one man, and under the weightiest and mightiest cares and anxieties could yet preserve his patience, his composure, and his unfailing cheerfulness. Rising from an humble station to the pinnacle of  human power, he yet maintained his remarkable simplicity and disinterestedness of his character. Amid all the vast temptations to misuse a sovereign authority, he was at all times faithful to his trust and devoted to his duty. Amid the applause with which he was followed, the courtliness by which he was surrounded, and the grandeur with which his exalted position was invested, he never exhibited the slightest affectation, nor forgot himself.

  Let us therefore solemnize this day as befits so grave and sacred an occasion, “Hung be the heavens with black.” Let the emblems of mourning drape our country from one end to the other. Let those wear the badges of sorrow who have been the consistent friends of the late President, and the firm and true friends of the union, for which he was sacrificed, and for which he now wears the martyr’s crown. But let not Rebels disguise their real sentiments by the assumption and desecration of these outward tokens. Let them hide their wretched faces in shame and confusion of spirit, or if they unite with those true-hearted men and women who meet in the churches today to indicate their sense of the national calamity, let them pray that their rebellious spirit may be broken, and that they may be humanized and christianized!

  I  cannot pursue the subject further. I contemplate too deeply and painfully the terrible aspects of this calamity to comment upon it further and I imagine I hear you say when you have read this far that enough has been written in the gloomy style. But dear Jennie the office being closed today and having nothing to do but write, you will excuse me for stating as I feel for “from the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh” It is now train time and I will go to dinner and close this this evening. Yours of the 9th and 13th  have just been read, the news which they bring making me feel sadder if possible than before. You will please excuse me from writing more this time as I can hardly see the water will keep coming into my eyes every time I think of it. It’s no use trying to keep it back.
My health is still good,
Good night,

Postage Stamp issued in 1940
Thirteenth Amendment Issue
75th anniversary of the 
13th Amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery.
Emancipation Monument; Lincoln and Kneeling Slave, 

Postage Stamp issued in 1948
85th Anniversary of  Abraham Lincoln's 

Lincoln Sesquicentennial Issue
(Set of Four issued in 1958-1959)
Lincoln by Gutzon Borglum
The Centenary of the founding of Cooper Union
New York City

The Centenary of the Lincoln-Douglas Debates
from a painting by Joseph Boggs Beale

Daniel Chester French Statue of Lincoln 
as drawn by Fritz Busse