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Spiritualist Emma Hardinge delivers eulogy of President Abraham Lincoln

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On Saturday morning, April 15th, 1865, word of President Abraham Lincoln’s assassination was telegraphed to New York City.  Near the end of the day, Spiritualist Miss Emma Hardinge received an invitation from several influential citizens to deliver a eulogy. She agreed, and the following day she addressed a crowd of nearly 3,000 at the Cooper Institute (Cooper Union). Hardinge had little time to prepare for the address, but she commanded much attention and numerous applause. Fortunately, the eulogy was phonographically recorded and could be transcribed in full.

Harding began, “It seems to me as if I heard a tone, borne on the wings of time and sounding through the corridors of space, sweeping the earth like a breeze, from the shores of the remotest East to this land of the distant West–a voice that for eighteen hundred years has pleaded before the throne of Almighty Justice in the only strain that can solve the dire and dreadful problem of red murder saying, ‘Father, forgive them, they know not what they do.’ Friends, this voice most surely speaks, both to you and me, in this hour of awful grief.”

She shared her feeling of loss and mourning with the crowd, trying to set the event in history, saying  “all attempts at parallel grow pale and fail us utterly…. a nation’s noblest man, her brightest jewel; and in the hour of his noblest recorded acts inflicts on him the blow that recoils in an immortal stain upon a nation’s honor.”

Hardinge spoke of the perilous times in which they lived, the political hatred, and the factional discord. She praised Lincoln for uniting the country. “After having gallantly conquered, generously forgave the foe, uniting again in one fraternal clasp the severed hands of North and South, and silenced every jealous lip or rebellious tongue by a clemency calculated to win more hearts by his kindness than the invincible armies of the North have subdued by their arms.”

She spoke of his childhood, his work as “the hired farm hand, the clerk in the petty store, the agent, buyer, scribe, postmaster, captain in the Black Hawk war, surveyor, lawyer, legislator, but ever the same, good, self-made, self-taught, toiling, honest, truthful, studious man.”

She praised Lincoln for understanding and loathing “the monstrous blot that had crept into the national legislation in the form of legalized slavery.” She told the crowd, “To him you owe it that the name and dignity of the still united States towered like a monitor above the wreck and ruin, so high and grand and threatening, that in no hand but an armed American’s dare rise in presumptuous threat against the Stars and Stripes.” She condemned the southern states for embracing slavery, that it was a poisonous cause that pampered the shameful gains of others. She said, “the blood of Lincoln lies at the door of SLAVERY!”

“Rally around your President,” Hardinge said. “Mourn for Abraham Lincoln with your hearts, but prove your love to him by taking up the burden he’s laid down and finishing the noble purposes of his great life so untimely quenched. For you, his country, and the holy cause of patriotism, he perished.”

She ended with, “What matters it, then, that he we love and so bitterly deplore has gone before us? Sooner or later, for us all, his summons will be ours. God only give us grace to follow him to the land of light and never-setting sun, to clasp his immortal band again in eternal fellowship in our own Easter resurrecting day, and hear the glorious greeting that, with the arisen sun of his bright eternity, has welcomed him to the home he’s so justly earned: ‘Well done, thou good and faithful servant, enter thou into the joy of thy Lord.’”

 Full transcript available at: http://lincoln.digitalscholarship.emory.edu/britten.001/


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