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marked degree the humanity of his disposition and the tender and forgiving spirit that so eminently distinguished him.”
“The 14th of April,” write Nicolay and Hay, “was a day of deep and tranquil happiness throughout the United States. It was Good Friday, observed by a portion of the people as an occasion of fasting and religious meditation; but even among the most devout the great tidings of the preceding week exerted their joyous influence, and changed this period of traditional mourning into an occasion of general and profound thanksgiving. Peace, so strenuously fought for, so long sought and prayed for, with prayers uttered and unutterable, was at last near at hand, its dawn visible on the reddening hills. The sermons all day were full of gladness; the Misereres turned of themselves to Te Deums. The country from morning till evening was filled with a solemn joy; but the date was not to lose its awful significance in the calendar; at night it was claimed once more, and forever, by a world-wide sorrow.
"The thanksgiving of the nation found its principal expression at Charleston Harbor. A month before, after Sherman had 'conquered Charleston by turning his back upon it,' the government resolved that the flag of the Union should receive a conspicuous reparation on the spot where it had first been outraged. It was ordered by the president that General Robert Anderson should, at the hour of noon on the 14th day of April, raise above the ruins of Fort Sumter the identical flag lowered and saluted by him four years before. In the absence of General Sherman, the ceremonies were in charge of General Gillmore. Henry Ward Beecher, the most famous of the anti-slavery preachers of the North, was selected to deliver an oration. The surrender of Lee, the news of which arrived at Charleston on the eve of the ceremonies, gave a more transcendent importance to the celebration, which became at once the occasion of a national thanksgiving over the downfall of the rebellion. On the day fixed Charleston was filled with a great concourse of distinguished officers and citizens. Its long-deserted streets were crowded with an eager multitude, and gay with innumerable flags, while the air was thrilled from an early hour with patriotic strains from the many bands, and shaken with the thunder of Dahlgren's fleet, which opened the day by firing from every vessel a national salute of twenty-one guns. By eleven o'clock a brilliant gathering of boats, ships, and steamers of every sort had assembled around the battered ruin of the fort; the whole bay seemed covered with the vast flotilla, planted with a forest of masts, whose foliage was the triumphant banners of the nation. The Rev. Matthias Harris, the same chaplain who had officiated at the raising of the flag over Sumter, at the first scene of the war, offered a prayer; Dr. Richard S. Storrs and the people read, in alternate verses, a selection of psalms of thanksgiving and victory, beginning with those marvellous words which have preserved for so many ages the very pulse and throb of the joy of redemption:
When the Lord turned again the captivity of Zion, we were like them that dream.
Then was our mouth filled with laughter, and our tongue with singing; then said they among the heathen, the Lord hath done great things for them.
The Lord hath done great things for us; whereof we are glad. Turn again our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the south. They that sow in tears shall reap in joy.
He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.
“And at the close, before the Gloria, the people and the minister read all together, in a voice that seemed to catch the inspiration of the hour:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses; but we will remember the name of the Lord our God.
We will rejoice in thy salvation, and in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
"General Townsend then read the original dispatch announcing the fall of Fort Sumter, and precisely as the bells of the ships struck the hour of noon, General Anderson, with his own hands seizing the halyards, hoisted to its place the flag which he had seen lowered before the opening guns of rebellion. As the starry banner floated out upon the breeze, which freshened at the moment as if to embrace it, a storm of joyful acclamation burst forth from the vast assembly, mingled with the music of hundreds of instruments, the shouts of the people, and the full-throated roar of great guns from the Union and the captured rebel forts alike, on every side of the harbor, thundering their harmonious salute to the restored banner. General Anderson made a brief and touching speech, the people sang “The Star-Spangled Banner,” Mr. Beecher delivered an address in his best and gravest manner, filled with an earnest, sincere, and unboastful spirit of nationality; with a feeling of brotherhood to the South, prophesying for that section the advantages which her defeat has in fact brought to her; a speech as brave, as gentle, and as magnanimous as the occasion demanded. In concluding, he said, and we quote his words, as they embodied the opinion of all men of good will on this last day of Abraham Lincoln's life: 'We offer to the president of these United States our solemn congratulations that God has sustained his life and health under the unparalleled burdens and sufferings of four bloody years, and permitted him to behold this auspicious consummation of that national unity for which he has waited with so much patience and fortitude, and for which he has labored with such disinterested wisdom.'
“At sunset another national salute was fired; the evening was given up to social festivities; the most distinguished of the visitors were entertained at supper by General Gillmore; a brilliant show of fireworks by Admiral Dahlgren illuminated the bay and the circle of now friendly forts, at the very moment when at the capital of the nation a little group of conspirators were preparing the blackest crime which sullies the record of the century.”
The president and Mrs. Lincoln, with Miss Harris and Major Rathbone, were sitting in a box at Ford's Theatre, in Washington, listening to Laura Keene's company in the comedy, “Our American Cousin.” John Wilkes Booth stealthily entered the box, about half past ten, put a pistol to Lincoln's head and shouting, Sic semper tyrannis, fired. He then leaped from the box, his spur catching in the folds of the flag which draped the front, and fell to the stage, breaking his leg. He quickly sprang up, brandished his knife before the audience, rushed through one of the wings of the theatre to a back entrance, sprang upon a horse in waiting and galloped away in the moonlight. For a moment the audience thought Booth's action, and the report of his pistol a part of the play. Major Rathbone, severely wounded by the murderer, shouted, “Stop him!” and some one cried out, “He has shot the president!” Instantly there was consternation and confusion; an elderly man, sitting well forward in the parquet rose and assured the audience that nothing had happened. Two nephews of John A. Bingham who happened to have seats close to the foot-lights sprang upon the stage and climbed into the box. One of them, who later became a physician and long practised in Walla Walla, Oregon, relates that he saw the president, his head fallen back, and as if dead; Major Rathbone was removing the bar which Booth had placed against the door of the box, thus preventing entrance from the outside; Mrs. Lincoln had swooned and Miss Harris was quite unconscious of her surroundings; blood was streaming from Major Rathbone's arm, Booth's knife having severed an artery. The crowd poured into the box, among others a young officer named Crawford and two army surgeons. An examination quickly revealed that the wound was mortal. Young Bingham and others joined hands and supporting the unconscious form of the president bore him from the theatre across the way to a house opposite, where he died at twenty-two minutes after seven, next morning, never having regained consciousness.