FDR reflects on Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address 75 years later:
The 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: FDR’s View
Today, one hundred-fifty years later, we pause to remember one of the greatest speeches ever made by a US President: Abraham Lincoln’s poetically beautiful Gettysburg Address, given November 19, 1863, upon the dedication of the National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
On July 3, 1938, speaking on the 75th Anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg, President Franklin D. Roosevelt reflected on Lincoln and his words:
“Immortal deeds and immortal words have created here at Gettysburg a shrine of American patriotism. We are encompassed by ‘The last full measure of devotion’ of many men and by the words in which Abraham Lincoln expressed the simple faith for which they died.
“It seldom helps to wonder how a statesman of one generation would surmount the crisis of another. A statesman deals with concrete difficulties—with things which must be done from day to day. Not often can he frame conscious patterns for the far off future.
“But the fullness of the stature of Lincoln’s nature and the fundamental conflict which events forced upon his Presidency invite us ever to turn to him for help.
“For the issue which he restated here at Gettysburg seventy five years ago will be the continuing issue before this Nation so long as we cling to the purposes for which the Nation was founded—to preserve under the changing conditions of each generation a people’s government for the people’s good.”
FDR found that Lincoln’s words were timeless. Roosevelt drew strength and insight from the promise of Lincoln’s words while leading the country in the defining battles of his own time.
Lincoln at Gettysburg
150 years ago on November 19, 1863, four months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg to dedicate the national cemetery for the Union dead. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the brave men who died there and insisted that their sacrifice would increase the will of the people to fulfill America’s promise. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a rhetorical masterpiece delivered in less than three minutes, defined the war as necessary for the survival of the nation and its ideals.
This rare photo from a glass plate negative by Matthew Brady is the first–and possibly only–photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg.
The Case of Dr. Samuel Mudd
On April 15, 1865, Dr. Samuel Mudd set the leg and allowed President Lincoln’s assassin John Wilkes Booth and his accomplice David Herold sleep at his house. Dr. Mudd was convicted of conspiring to help Booth escape because he did not alert the authorities to Booth’s presence at his farm. He was given a life sentence, but was pardoned by President Andrew Johnson on February 8, 1869 following his leadership and heroic action to help the sick during a yellow fever epidemic at Fort Jefferson where he was imprisoned.
Dr. Mudd’s grandson Dr. Richard Mudd worked hard to clear his grandfather’s of complicity in the assassination. He petitioned President Jimmy Carter who sent this reply on July 24, 1979.
"…Your petition and the petitions submitted to me on behalf of your grandfather by numerous members of Congress, several state legislatures, historians and private citizens have been exhaustively considered by my staff over the past two years. Regrettably, I am advised that the findings of guilt and the sentence of the military commission that tried Dr. Mudd in 1865 are binding and conclusive judgement, and that there is no authority under law by which I, as President, could set aside his conviction. All legal authority vested in the President to act in this case was exercised when President Andrew Johnson granted Dr. Mudd a full and unconditional pardon on February 8, 1869."
Read more documents about Dr. Samuel Mudd at the Jimmy Carter Library.
Major Genl Halleck
We have certain information that Vicksburg surrendered to General Grant on the 4th of July. Now, if Gen. Meade can complete his work so gloriously prosecuted thus far, by the litteral(sic) or substantial destruction of Lee’s army, the rebellion will be over.
The note, which had long eluded historians until it was found among the Adjutant General’s Records in 2007, expresses Lincoln’s optimism that if General Meade could destroy Confederate General Lee’s army, the war would be over. The President feared that once Lee crossed the river Meade’s golden opportunity to strike the wounded army would be lost. Lincoln’s fears became reality on July 14 when Lee’s army escaped Meade’s clutches and crossed the Potomac at Williamsport, Maryland, into Virginia.
Upon hearing the news a dispirited Lincoln sat down and wrote:
“… my dear general, I do not believe you appreciate the magnitude of the misfortune involved in Lee’s escape. He was within your easy grasp, and to have closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely…Your golden opportunity is gone, and I am distressed immeasureably(sic) because of it.”
Lincoln did not send this message to Meade, instead the President wrote on the envelope “To Gen. Meade, never sent, or signed.” And so the Civil War raged on until the spring of 1865.
"This is the private box in Ford’s Theater, Washington, where President Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, on the night of April 14, 1865. "
For another perspective on that evening, see the District of Columbia Metropolitan Police blotter of April 14, 1865.
During their presidencies, both Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis suffered the death of a child—a not uncommon event for most American parents in the 19th century. Starting with the death of Willie Lincoln in 1862 and the tragic accident that befell Joseph Davis in 1864, Catherine Clinton explores Victorian mourning and the embrace of rituals of grief and symbols of remembrance during the Civil War.
Join us at noon on March 29 in the McGowan Theater at the National Archives Building in Washington, DC, or watch online at our Ustream channel.
Image: Abraham Lincoln and his youngest son Tad (ARC 52628). While Lincoln was President, Tad’s older brother Willie—the middle child—died of typhoid fever while living in the White House. Tad himself died at age 18 in Chicago in 1871. Only the oldest son, Robert, lived to adulthood.
Honest Abe’s Congressional Expenses:
Researchers at the National Archives are still finding fascinating records related to President Lincoln. Our guest blogger David Gerleman of the The Papers of Abraham Lincoln just found a missing piece of Lincoln’s history—his pay and mileage records for the 30th Congress.
Congressional pay was based on a per diem basis stemming from an 1818 law by which members received $8 per day and $8 per 20 miles traveled to and from their districts. However, the legislation did not specify the shortest route, a fact later prompting investigation when former member-turned-newspaperman Horace Greeley publicly reproached members for taking less-than-direct routes home
You can read the whole story here:
President Gerald R. Ford Walking away from the Lincoln Sculpture after Laying a Wreath at the Abraham Lincoln Memorial Wreath Laying Ceremony, 02/12/1975
The cornerstone of the Lincoln Memorial was laid on February 12, 1914, Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday. A little more than eight years later it was completed and dedicated on May 30, 1922 with Lincoln’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln attending the ceremony.
The Thirteenth Amendment, passed by Congress on January 31, 1865:
The news of the Emancipation Proclamation was greeted with joy, but it did not free all the slaves. Because of the limitations of the proclamation, and because it depended on a Union military victory, President Lincoln knew the Emancipation Proclamation would have to be followed by a constitutional amendment.
After the Senate passed a bill for an amendment in April 1864, but the House of Representatives did not, Lincoln suggested that the bill be taken up by the Republican Party in its 1864 platform for the upcoming Presidential elections.
His efforts met with success when the House passed the bill in January 1865. On February 1, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln approved the Joint Resolution of Congress submitting the proposed amendment to the state legislatures. The necessary number of states ratified it by December 6, 1865.
The 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution formally abolished slavery in the United States. It provides that ”Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”
Image: Joint Resolution Proposing the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, 01/31/1865–01/31/1865; Enrolled Acts and Resolutions of Congress, 1789–2008; General Records of the United States Government, 1778–2006, Record Group 11; National Archives (National Archives Identifier: 1408764)
When Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863, he came from standing in a reception receiving line. He is reported to have said that while his arm was tired and his signature shaky, he was convinced of the rightness of his proclamation. This detail of the signature on the Emancipation Proclamation shows the wavering ink line (top image). The ink lines of the signature have lost their intensity and are in poor condition. The mottled discoloration of the paper is also evident. Emancipation Proclamation, RG 11, ARC # 299998.
This signature by Abraham Lincoln appears on the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued in September 1862 (bottom image). Because the document has been handled and exhibited much less, it is in very good condition. The ink signature is dark and crisp in appearance. Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation RG 11.
A stern warning
Four days after President Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, U.S. Brig. Gen. R. H. Milroy put the citizens of Frederick County and Winchester, Virginia, on notice with this order. It warned that all those who opposed the Proclamation would be treated as “rebels in arms.”
U.S. Brigadier General R. H. Milroy’s Order to Citizens of Winchester and Frederick County, Virginia in Reference to the Emancipation Proclamation of President Abraham Lincoln, 01/05/1863
Some highlights from our commemoration of the Emancipation Proclamation's 150th anniversary:
On New Year’s Eve, over 4,000 people saw this important document. Then, on January 1, 2013, the National Archives celebrated the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation with special guests, songs, and a stamp.
If you didn’t see it this time, stay tuned. Although its display time is limited each year, the document does travel to other venues, and it will be on display here again.
You can learn more about the Emancipation Proclamation and related documents in our free eBook, available to download for iPad, iPad, Android, and other eReaders: http://www.archives.gov/publications/ebooks/
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth[)], and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence [sic]; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
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 first day of January, in the year of our Lord
one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD,
Secretary of State.