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I

REMINISCENCES OF SECOND INAUGURATION

T

HIS book had its inception at about one o'clock on the

afternoon of Saturday, March 4th, 1865, during the

six minutes of my absorbing attention to the delivery of Abraham Lincoln's second inaugural address. That my attention was absorbing is evidenced by the fact that on the following day I was astonished to discover that I could repeat the address in its entirety with almost verbal accuracy, although I had neither seen it in print nor exchanged one word with any person concerning it. But during its delivery it held me so transfixed and entranced that each one of its seven hundred and two magic words was imprinted upon my mind as is a photographic picture upon a highly sensitized plate. Equally vivid was the picture of the entire scene that stood out before me, the central heroic figure standing erect, with scarce a movement save the handling of his manuscript, the one unstudied swaying of his massive head, and the shifting of his shoulders as he uttered with rhythmic emphasis and distinct enunciation, the sentence which is most widely known and most devoutly cherished of all his classic sayings—"With malice toward none; with charity for all.”

To have heard these words spoken by Abraham Lincoln upon the occasion which gave them their peculiar meaning was to experience an ecstatic wonderment which with recurrent movement ever since has filled my soul as they have been brought to recollection. Under the inspiration of that memorable inauguration and the wonderful inaugral address there took possession of my being a high purpose to give the world in abiding form, a record of the scenes I was witnessing, and an account of some of the distinctive features of the life which at that time reached the zenith of early glory. That purpose for more than half a century has held its place, and now finds fruition in this volume which I hope may contribute to a better understanding of one of the most interesting and instructive characters in modern history.

The inauguration ceremonies were conducted upon a very large temporary platform constructed at the east front of the Capitol building, covering and extending far out beyond the broad marble stairs which lead up to the eastern entrance of the rotunda—the great circular room beneath the Capitol Dome. This platform was so inclined as to be fully exposed to view from every part of the east-front Capitol grounds, and was provided with seats for a large number of specially favored guests. The city was thronged with people from all parts of the country, each one intent upon witnessing the ceremonies to the best possible advantage. Being employed in the Capitol building I had excellent opportunities while the platform was being built to select the most desirable place for witnessing the inauguration ceremonies and hearing the inaugural address. My choice was made with deliberation and without difficulty, but to secure and hold the chosen position was not so easy. It was my first opportunity to attend a Presidential inauguration and I was determined to make the most of it. Therefore, in the drenching rain of that cold March morning, a few minutes before seven o'clock, I took my station about twenty feet from the platform and directly in front of where I knew the President would stand while delivering his address and receiving the oath of office. For more than an hour I was the only occupant of the space upon which before noon, according to estimates at the time, fifty thousand men and women were shivering in the drenching rain, and either crowding to gain better positions or stubbornly holding those they had secured.

The scene was so inspiring and my anticipations were so vivid that I did not experience the least discomfort during the five hours of exposure to the cold precipitation which continued until twelve o'clock, and was followed by an hour of constant indications of further rain.

At noon, however, the storm ceased, and within thirty minutes the seats provided on the platform for invited guests were all occupied save those of the front section, which were reserved for the Presidential party and for invited guests who were attending the closing sessions of the two Houses of Congress, and witnessing the opening of the special session of the Senate called by the President. I was standing where I could see each one who came upon the platform, and I recognized among the number many of the nation's most distinguished citizens. While the multitude was gathering upon the platform and on the grounds, many famous bands contributed patriotic music, but the rain prevented the free and effective use of the fife and drum, at that time so essential to the fitting inspiration of such an assembly; and the sense of that lack lingered in the memory as an undefined yet real defect.

At twelve o'clock noon on that 4th of March, the thirtyeighth Congress of the United States ceased to exist and the strife and struggle of its closing activities were in tumultuous progress while the crowds were gathering outside to witness the inauguration. In the President's room near the senate chamber Mr. Lincoln was signing bills which had passed the two Houses of Congress and, immediately following the adjournment of Congress, the special session of the senate convened, and Andrew Johnson was inaugurated as VicePresident of the United States and President of the Senate. President Lincoln was in attendance upon these ceremonies and accompanied by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court immediately thereafter led the procession which passing out of the south door of the senate chamber proceeded through the long corridor to the great rotunda, and then turned east to the wide doorway opening out upon the inauguration platform.

It was nearly one o'clock when, from where I stood, there was seen a peculiar movement among the guards standing just outside those wide doors and between the magnificent Corinthian pillars of the Capitol. This indicated that the Presidential party was approaching, and in an instant the tumult was hushed to profound silence, and one could feel the waves of patriotic enthusiasm and devotion that swept over that immense assembly.

All eyes were turned to where the stalwart figures of the President and Chief Justice Chase were seen emerging through the wide door of the rotunda and advancing out upon the upper landing of the broad marble stairway and down the steps to the seats assigned them at the front and center of the great temporary platform. They were followed by the Justices of the United States Supreme Court, clothed in their long black official robes; members of the Cabinet and of both Houses of Congress; members of the diplomatic corps, each in the court costume of his country, and a large number of army and navy officers in brilliant uniform, together with many distinguished persons from all parts of the land.

The new Vice-President, Andrew Johnson, with Senator James R. Doolittle of Wisconsin, who accompanied him, were in the procession and were assigned seats at the front of the platform on the right of the President and the Chief Justice.

During all the morning and up to the time the Presidential party appeared there had not been a ray of sunshine, but just as President Lincoln stepped from beneath the shelter of the Capitol building, in front of the great eastern colonnade and out upon the platform, there was suddenly a wide opening in the thick black clouds above us, and the bright, glorious sunshine illuminated all the scene with ineffable splendor and beauty. The melancholy features of the President instantly became radiant with the joy we have since learned was awakened in his heart by the good omen from above; and the great waiting throng inspired by his coming and gladdened by that omen, greeted the sunburst with re

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CHIEF JUSTICE SALMON PORTLAND CHASE who, on the 4th of March, 1865, administered the oath of office to President

Abraham Lincoln.

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