some very morbid way it is almost fitting that Abraham Lincoln’s sudden death
would bring the needed initiation of the unity of a nation grieving in the
concluding wake of civil unrest and conflict. His life was a very articulated portrait
that was framed in grief and loss. Neither Abraham nor Mary were ever able to
find a reasonable amount of resolution to the life long series of losses and
devastations that they experienced together and individually.
the North and the South would begin building the bridge of unity and
reconstruction by walking through the quagmire of Abraham Lincoln’s
assassination which occurred just days after the unofficial end of the Civil
War took place. Their unity would slowly
grow out of their mutual respect for Lincoln’s life that both sides witnessed
in conflict through those four horrible blood drenched years.
southern sympathizing actor, John Wilkes Booth had no idea when he pulled that
trigger in Ford’s Theatre that he would actually do more to cause a more rapid
uniting of the North and South than he would to ever reignite the dissident
passion of the two opposing sides of our Nation, which he so desired to do.
students of American history fall prey to the idea that Booth shot Lincoln that
fateful Good Friday in 1865 because Lincoln was the President that championed
the cause of anti slavery and inspired the North’s victory over the South.
Others still are certain that Abraham Lincoln was murdered because he issued
the Emancipation Proclamation.
reality is that Lincoln made a brief speech at the White House earlier in the
week that he was assassinated, to a group of people gathered to get Lincolns
reaction and official statements regarding the end of the Civil War. Among the
group gathered on the White House lawn was one John Wilkes Booth. In his speech
Lincoln made a definitive statement that African Americans should be issued the
right to vote. That one statement alone fired the emotions of Booth to change
his plans of kidnapping Lincoln to murdering him that coming Friday. Lincoln
was martyred because he advocated citizenship the right to vote for all African
Wilkes Booth “church” was the “theatre”. He knew Ford’s Theatre like the back
of his hand. When he was made aware that Lincoln would be in attendance that
Good Friday evening, it was the best possible scenario that Booth could ever
hope for. Shortly after 10 PM he stepped
unnoticed into the private balcony where the President and the First Lady were
seated and martyred Mr. Lincoln.
as Lincoln’s casket made the nearly 1700 mile journey back to Springfield,
Illinois, the relationship between the Yankees and the Rebels had started to
knit a healing process that would salvage Lincoln’s dream of preserving the
Union and putting a definitive end to slavery as it had been practiced in
America. Since Lincoln’s assassin sought to destroy the nation, the theme of
national survival was conspicuous in every eulogy.
His many funerals were a great
contribution to the reuniting of a divided collection of States.
a few weeks earlier in March of that year, Lincoln probably very unknowingly
and very intensely prophesied at his second Inaugural address about how his own
life and death would impact our Nation. That prophecy is found in the
concluding words of that address. When we read Lincoln’s writings with some
format of spiritual and psychological discernment, we may be able to detect
that in some very peculiar way, he might have had an insight of what potentially
could have been about to happen to him.
“With malice toward none, with charity for all, with
firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who
shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which
may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all
Lincoln’s martyrdom would indeed help to bind up the nation’s wounds, for it
brought them into a common emotional condition of grief over one who personally
cared about the well- being of the Union’s relationships, both North and South.
Now it was time for the people of the United States of America to “care for him who shall have borne the battle
and for his widow and his orphan”. This was Lincoln’s very subtle sub
conscious unknowing way that he rendered hoping that America would take care of
Barry Abraham Lincoln and the Forge of
National Memory (Chicago, Illinois, University of Chicago, 2000 ) p.52