Homeward to His Final Resting Place: Lincoln’s Funeral Procession

Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
. . . .
With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs–where amid these you journey,
With the tolling tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
Here, coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.

— “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” Walt Whitman

Less than a week after his April 14, 1865 murder by assassin John Wilkes Booth, Abraham Lincoln’s body lay in state under the Capitol Rotunda on the 20th for thousands upon thousands of mourners to pay their respects. The day prior, the Lincoln funeral procession had begun in earnest when the hearse bearing him travelled along Pennsylvania Avenue from the White House to the Capitol. On the 21st, his body began the long slow journey by train from Washington to Springfield, Illinois, with stops for funeral processions through cities including Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York City and others before arriving at its final destination, Springfield, Illinois. The three stereo cards below show the president’s casket in elaborate open-air hearses that passed through the main streets of the cities; buildings draped in mourning bunting; and crowds lined up to see the procession.

Photograph shows Abraham Lincoln's casket conveyed by funeral car through the crowd on Broad Street in Philadelphia, April 22, 1865. (Source: Kunhardt, Dorothy Meserve, and Philip B, Twenty Days: A Narrative in text and pictures of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln...New York: Harper and Row, Inc., 1965, p. 149.)

“Lincoln’s Funeral,” Philadelphia. Stereograph by Ridgway Glover, April 22, 1865. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s04302

Photograph shows Abraham Lincoln's funeral procession on Broadway heading towards Union Square. The building on the left is the home of Cornelius Van Schaack Roosevelt, grandfather of Theodore Roosevelt. (Source: Kunhardt, Dorothy Meserve, and Philip B, Twenty Days: A Narrative in text and pictures of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln...New York: Harper and Row, Inc., 1965, p. 168.)

The Procession Approaching Union Square, New York. Stereograph by unidentified photographer, April 24, 1865. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s04309

Photograph shows a group of citizens entering the grounds of the Illinois state house to view the body of Abraham Lincoln on May 3 or 4, 1865. Two soldiers stand near the specially built arch. The African American man with the cane near the head of the line is Reverend Henry Brown. (Source: Kunhardt, Dorothy Meserve, and Philip B, Twenty Days: A Narrative in text and pictures of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln...New York: Harper and Row, Inc., 1965, p. 256-259)

Lincoln Lies in State, Springfield, Illinois. Stereograph by Ridgway Glover, May 3 or 4, 1865. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/stereo.1s04303

The three images above are one fourth of a dozen stereographs of President Lincoln’s funeral procession on his journey homeward to Springfield, his final resting place. The pictures capturing these solemn moments are part of the recently-acquired Robin G. Stanford Collection consisting of 540 rare and historic Civil War stereographs. The culmination of 40 years collecting, Mrs. Stanford’s pictures help fill “critical gaps in our Southern stereographs and in images by local photographers in both North and South. The Stanford Collection can provide scenes with slaves in 1860 South Carolina, views in Louisiana and Texas, rare coverage of naval and land battles, small Pennsylvania battlefront towns and much more,” according to Helena Zinkham, chief of the Prints and Photographs Division.

Learn More:

Lincoln's coffin on view at State House, Springfield, Illinois.

Lincoln’s Coffin on View at State House, Springfield, Illinois. Drawing by William Waud, May 3, 1865. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.19929

2 Comments

  1. frank fitch
    April 23, 2015 at 4:03 pm

    love your efforts

  2. Jack C. Templeton Jr.
    April 23, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Looking back through history to see President Lincoln on view
    in the Springfield , Illinois State House leaves me in AWE. Abe
    was a Great Leader !

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.