Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 15, 1861 & 1865

On this day in 1865, President Abraham Lincoln died in a bed at the Peterson boarding house across the street from Ford's Theater at 7:22 a.m., after being shot in the back of the head at close range by famous actor John Wilkes Booth. He was 56.

Pandemonium broke out in Washington as the news of the attack on the president spread through the city. Secretary of War Edwin Stanton took over organization of the manhunt for Booth and his fellow conspirators. Ailing Secretary of State Seward, who was recovering from a carriage accident, had also been viciously attacked in his bed by conspirator Thomas Paine, but somehow lived. Vice President Johnson was on the conspirators' hit list, but slept soundly through the night at the Kirkwood hotel when his assigned assassin, George Atzerodt, spent the night drinking instead of killing.

Booth had meanwhile had made it across the Navy Yard bridge before news of the assassination reached the army guards. The guards posted at the bridge questioned Booth briefly, but with no reason (as of yet) to stop him, they waved him through. Booth, hampered by a broken leg that he suffered by landing badly on the stage after he shot the president (he apparently caught his spur on the presidential bunting as he leaped from the box,) rode into Maryland, where he met up with fellow conspirator David Herold.

After the president died, his body was carried out of the Peterson House in a temporary coffin, and an autopsy was performed:

Edward Curtis, an Army surgeon in attendance, later wrote that, during the autopsy, while he removed Lincoln's brain, a bullet “dropped out through my fingers” into a basin with a clatter. The doctors stopped to stare at the offending bullet, “the cause of such mighty changes in the world's history as we may perhaps never realize.” During the autopsy, Mary Lincoln sent the surgeons a note requesting they cut a lock of Lincoln's hair for her.

News of the president's death traveled quickly and, by the end of the day, flags across the country flew at half-staff, businesses were closed and people who had recently rejoiced at the end of the Civil War mourned Lincoln's shocking assassination.

Four years before: on this day in 1861, newly elected President Lincoln issued the Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress.

April 15, 1861


Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past, and now are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana and Texas, by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the Marshals by law,

Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, and the laws, have thought fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand, in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly executed. The details, for this object, will be immediately communicated to the State authorities through the War Department.

I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate and aid this effort to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs already long enough endured.

I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces hereby called forth will probably be to re-possess the forts, places, and property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event, the utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to avoid any devastation, any destruction of, or interference with, property, or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.

And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to disperse, and retire peaceably to their respective abodes within twenty days from this date.

Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective chambers, at 12 o'clock, noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July, next, then and there to consider and determine, such measures, as, in their wisdom, the public safety, and interest may seem to demand.

In Witness Whereof I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the city of Washington this fifteenth day of April in the year of our Lord One thousand, Eight hundred and Sixtyone, and of the Independence the United States the Eightyfifth.


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

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