From The Constitution, Wednesday, April 19, 1865 (volume 28, number 1425)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

“He stood upon an eminence and glory covered him.”

The American nation to-day is bowed down with a great sorrow. Millions of sad hearts lift up their cry of mourning to Heaven. It is but a few days since that great joy of glad tidings lit up every hearth-stone in the land, every roof tree was hung with the garlands of rejoicing, and heartfelt thanksgiving smiled at every board. These were gala days, for the dawning of the great era of peace and national grandeur, the compact sealed with patriot blood and written with the sword of justice, had come. But of a sudden like a thunder cloud in a bright day came a great bereavement to the people. Their joy was turned to sadness. Every heart in the city, town, hamlet and highway of this broad land was stricken with sadness as if a father had been taken from every household. Abraham Lincoln is dead. The great emancipator, and thus the most notable name that history will have the honor of writing for the nineteenth century, he who with one trenchant blow struck down the evil that the ages had contended with, Abraham Lincoln is dead. Dead by the cowardly hand of assassination. Why or wherefore we do not know – the great sad fact of these days for all the world is, though his good works still live and are invulnerable to the bullet and dagger of the murderer, he is dead—the saddest words that have been spoken to the American people since the birth of the republic. Stricken down in his and the nation’s prime. The well earned glory of this great internecine struggle had just begun to gather around this beloved leader and his people, after struggling through four dark years of wilderness just as the light had begun to break, like Moses of old, he was fated to die with a far off glimpse of the promised land. We can draw no parallel for this great and good man’s character in the whole; it is its own parallel; it stands out before the centuries unique, incomparable. It would be a work of superrogation to recapitulate the events that have transpired during the Executive career of our beloved President. They are familiar in all of their prominent points as household words to every loyal man and woman, and history will take care of the details. Already a monument has grown up in the hearts of the people in memoriam of this wise and good man that all coming generations will be glad and proud to add to in humble romance. History furnishes us no ruler that ever had such a deep abiding hold upon the hearts and confidence of a nation. He was hedged about by no kingly divinity born of superstition and royal heritage; but his fascinating power over this mighty and incongruous people consisted of the same elements of character, that distinguished Washington; his incorruptible integrity, his wonderful honesty, his unfaltering patience, his large hearted leniency and total lack of vindictiveness. And that too, in a time, every day of which developed events, startling and potent, unparalleled in the worlds past, unthought of by philosophers, undreamed of by reformers. Surrounded by ambitious advisers, he was deaf to temptation, goaded by hungry place seekers, he was unflinching in his settled policy. The scepter he swayed was not made of the stern material of haughty magistracy, but was simply the strong arm of a great people who loved him and confided in him. He was a patriot of the present type, when to be a patriot was a dangerous thing; his unalterable policy was simple, grand and enduring. All his dealings with halter deserving traitors have been tinctured with the christian spirit of “forgive and forget.” The great love of country mingled with conciliation that flowed from his first message has tempered his whole Executive career, and the motto “Sic semper tyrannis,” whether the deed was of a diseased mind of a Judas bargain, as uttered by the wretched dastard who did it, was simply absurd as applied to this generous man, and history and the divinity in history that never dies, will retract no comfort from this motto for the bloody wretch and those who sympathize with him. Whatever pretext the assassin might have assumed, he signally failed here. But repinings are useless, the arrow is sped and the blow cannot be recalled. Though the noble head is bowed low, the name of the good man shall remain forever a tower of strength, for “Virtue alone outbuilds the pyramids; her ornaments shall last, when Egypt’s fall.”

But we can make his memory hallowed, by cherishing his example, and applying his principles to the institutions of his beloved country. Now while his goodness is fragrant in our hearts, let us strike hands over his grave with the unflinching resolve to maintain the Union and the integrity of the nation at all hazards. Now that the traitors at the South, are nearly disposed of, let us maintain eternal vigilance among us at the North, in these delicate days of reconstruction. Let us hope and pray that the goodness and wisdom of our dear departed President may inspire and strengthen his successor. Let us remember in our bereavement that Right is still, through much blood and sacrifice, triumphant and lives.

Local News.

How the news was received in this City.

The news of the assassination of President Lincoln was received in this city with sadness and sorrow on Saturday morning last. Hon. Benj. Douglas received the news first, and at once made it public by tolling his bell, and displaying his flags at half mast. Business generally was suspended, and the citizens gathered in crowds, anxious to learn the particulars of the terrible tragedy. The arrival of daily papers fell short of the demands, and an extra was immediately issued from this office. The bells of the city commenced tolling at 10 o’clock. Strong men were seen weeping and the general expression was that a great calamity had befallen the people. One or two persons were fool-hardy enough to express joy at the event, and they at once met their desserts. Many private dwellings and stores were draped in mourning, while the same was done to all public building. All of the churches were appropriately draped in mourning, and appropriate sermons delivered on Sunday.

The South Church was draped in mourning. A flag covered with crape hung over the desk, and flags were festooned in front of the singers’ gallery and upon the organ. The vase before the pulpit contained a cross of white flowers. The exercises commenced with singing a hymn of trust in God. Mr. Dudley’s text was in Isaiah 24:11; “All joy is darkened, the mirth of the land is gone.” It was not the first time, he said, that the chief magistrate had died in office. Harrison and Taylor so died and the men to succeed them ruled quietly in their place. For the first time a President’s life has gone down suddenly by an assassin’s weapon. It destroys the tissues of official plans and gives us all things to fear and to doubt. Abraham Lincoln died in the height of his fame. He has accomplished a work, perhaps all that he was fitted to do.—He saw the soul of his adversary die before it took his bodily life. He was the mildest and meekest of men, offending even by his leniency. One lesson this deed makes emphatic, and we need stronger moral muscle to stand for it: that treason is the end of all honor, and that treason defeated is treason still. It is useless to kiss infamy into high places, or trying to love a dastard into a saint.

The sermon in the Methodist Church, in memory of our late President, was delivered by Dr. Cummings. He evinced much feeling over the sad event, and spoke of Mr. Lincoln as a man of the highest endowments; that he had been a father indeed to the American people, in whom they could confide their hope and trust inviolate. He attributed the fearful deed to a class of men who had neither the manly courage to go and take up arms with their southern brethren against us, nor openly to declare their purpose to destroy our national life, but that while our brave men stood like a wall of steel in battle defense and nobly died, they were drinking the life blood of the nation. That in this deed they have shown their total depravity. Yet, he thanked God that our noble President was permitted to lead us through the darkest hours of our trials; that he was permitted to see the signs of peace.

Rev. Mr. Gilbert delivered and impressive sermon from Deut. 34:5, “And Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, by the commandment of the Lord.”

Rev. Mr. Bruce preached from the 46th Psalm, 10th verse, “Be still, and know that I am God.” We shall give extracts from his sermon next week.

At the North Cong. Church, the text of the pastor was from Psalms 82; 6th and 7th verses. In the concluding portion of the sermon, Mr. Taylor spoke of the President being in a theatre at the time of the assassination, would have desired it should have been different. Alluded to the first inauguration and to escape the assassin’s dagger—he travelled from Baltimore to Washington in disguise. He concluded by remarking that the tragedy on Friday night, in his opinion, was not the work of any combination of persons—but simply that of the tragedian, to add interest to the drama.

In the Church of the Holy Trinity in this city, a prayer for a sick person was offered in behalf of the Secretary of State, also the prayer for persons under affliction adapting it to the sorrowing family and relatives and the sorrows of a whole people. The sermon was dispensed with, only a few brief remarks being made, appropriate for the occasion. The officiating clergyman, the rector of the Church, reminded the congregation of the day, as the joyous festival of Easter. We commemorate, he observed, to-day the all glorious resurrection of our Saviour from the dead, and the certainty of our own resurrection also. It is a day ever associated in our minds with feelings of the deepest interest and the most heartfelt thankfulness, gladness and rejoicing. It is a day identified with our highest interests and our brightest hopes. These beautiful flowers, so appropriately laid here upon the morning of this festival season and so tastefully arranged, are fit emblems of the pure, the delightful, the life inspiring, the glorious associations connected with a day like this.—But we evince our gladness and our rejoicings to-day mid the deepest gloom and sadness, gloom and sadness pervading the thoughts, the minds and the hearts of all alike, irrespective of everything like party or political feeling and hence it is we have these indications of mourning and sorrow, which have so long been before us, in the very midst of this happy festival, still continued, still kept up. We are sorrowing at the terrible calamity that has befallen us as a people, at the awful crime that has been perpetrated at our national capital, and the possible, most fearful future results that yet may follow. Our Chief Magistrate has been stricken down by the hand of an assassin and is now no more. Abraham Lincoln is dead. He has died a martyr to his country. We feel ourselves unsuited and utterly unequal to the task of saying another word, and we proceed at once to the administration of the holy communion.”

At a meeting of the citizens of Middletown at Town Hall, Monday, to take into consideration the subject of having some appropriate exercises on the occasion of the Funeral of President Lincoln, Hon. Benj. Douglas was appointed Chairman, and A. Putnam and B. Bent, Jr. were appointed Secretaries. …

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Returned from Dixie.—Samuel Birdsey who was a resident of this town some years before the breaking out of the war, but who removed to Wilmington, N. C. some five years since, returned to this city Saturday before last. After the breaking out of the war he visited here, and it was well known that he was then a strong sympathizer with the south. After his return he entered the rebel service, and remained there three years.—During the war his father died at Wilmington, the owner of property both at the north and the south. The son now returns without a farthing, while the property at the north has remained safe and increasing in value under the protection of the government which for three years he has sought to destroy.

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We are gratified to learn that there is now a certainty that a public institution of great value, is to be established in this city, and, by the liberality of various friends, placed on a firm basis. We refer to the plan in contemplation of establishing a “Home for aged and destitute women,” to be known as “St. Luke’s Home”; and to be connected with the Church of the Holy Trinity, of this city. We are informed that although the management of the institution will be under the control of the Episcopal Church, the charity will include persons from all religious denominations, others than Episcopalians, having generously and with true christian philanthropy, contributed to the institution. It is also intended to offer the benefit and shelter of the Home to those who, desirous of its privileges may yet be enabled, in whole, or in part, to defray the expenses of their residence. We understand that the committee, having the matter in hand, have purchased from Mr. Peck, for the sum of $3,350, the large house, corner of Court and Pearl street, now in part occupied by the “Widows Home”; it being intended that this last institution shall be merged in “St. Lukes Home.” Among the liberal contributions and pledges to this noble charity are the following: One subscription of $1000; three of $500; four of $300; one of $250; one of $200; six of $100; and several of $50. The names of the contributors thus far, are: Mrs. Margaret DeKoven; Mrs. Henry DeKoven; Mrs. Mutter; Mrs. Jane Huntington; the Misses Sebor; Mrs. Elizabeth S. Dyer; Mrs. Frances Russell; Mrs. H. G. Hubbard; Mrs. F. B. S. Smith; Miss Oliver; Mrs. Oliver; Mrs. Joseph Alsop; Mrs. C. S. Watkinson; Aaron Pease, Esq.; Clinton Sage, Esq.; C. R. Sebor, Esq.; Dr. J. W. Alsop and S. W. Russell, Esq.; &c, &c. We trust that others of our citizens may become interested in this excellent object and subscribe liberally to the permanent endowment and efficacy of so important a charity in our midst.

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It has been supposed that the genius who conducts the Sentinel, could occasionally tell the truth; but perhaps being in the constant habit of publishing political falsehoods, his disease has become chronic. He says in his last paper, “That he saw last summer, the City Street Repairers and Teams at work on a portion of the Road between the Ferry and Cromwell.

The fact is, he never saw any such thing. No City Street Repairers or Teams have ever worked on said road since the Turnpike was chartered. The next time you repeat your attacks upon the Street Commissioner, we beg of you to keep as near the truth as your habits will admit of.

C.

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Middletown obituaries, April 1865Obituary poem, 1865