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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Publisher: Charles Magnus, New York

Medium: Print On Paper

Shelfmark: RB 23 b 7019 (0253)

Scale: Millimetres

Genre: Printed Music

Lyricist: Louise S. Upham

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The Library’s Civil War songster collection also contains several tunes that were written in response to President Lincoln’s death in 1865. Shot by Confederate support John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C, on 14 April, Lincoln’s assassination shocked America. Coming just days after the Confederate Army’s surrender at Appomattox, the Union had been celebrating victory and peace after four years of brutal conflict. At the time of Lincoln’s death, early on the morning of 15 April, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton was reputed to state 'now he belongs to the ages'. Certainly these selected songs convey that emotion, mourning a great national tragedy and placing Lincoln firmly in the pantheon of American history.

Abraham Lincoln, written by Louise S. Upham, links the notion that Lincoln’s death was a sacrifice for national peace. This refers to portrayals of Lincoln as a Christ–like figure, which were strengthened by the fact that he died on Good Friday. Uphman wrote several poems mourning the loss of the President and many, like this example, were put to music. The song makes reference to Lincoln 'breaking the shackles of four million slaves' and his exemplary leadership of the nation. Upham ends the piece by stating that Lincoln’s name will be placed 'next to our Washington', the country’s first President, and that the memory of his character will remain 'bright on the marble or History’s page' and a true American 'patriot, martyr, and sage!'   

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