Skip to main content

tv   Discussion on President Lincolns Funeral Train  CSPAN  May 2, 2015 11:00pm-11:48pm EDT

11:00 pm
cable satellite corp. 2015] [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit] >> the civil war bears here every saturday at 6:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. eastern time. you're watching american history tv. all weekend, every weekend on c-span 3. >> next on american history tv we visit baltimore's bno railroad museum where actor fritz klein per trays at brown lincoln. they talk about public figures from the south and north and lens for reconstruction. he also discusses his upbringing in rural kentucky and reflects on his career. this is about 45 minutes. lincoln: ladies and gentlemen, my friends and fellow citizens i am very pleased to have this opportunity to be with you this afternoon.
11:01 pm
and i am highly gratified that we can meet together this day not in sorrow, but with gladness of heart. surely, the evacuation of petersburg and richmond, the surrender of the principal insurgent armies, has given all of us hope that we are going to see a righteous and speedy peace, whose joyous expression can hardly any longer be restrained. it was nearly a week after the signal news of the surrender at appomattox was received that i said to mrs. lincoln, finally, after all of these days, i am beginning to feel like all this is over.
11:02 pm
we attended theater just before easter. but in the midst of all of the celebrations, certainly he from whom all blessings flow must not be forgotten. the call for a national thanksgiving has been prepared and will be duly promulgated. surely those whose harder part has given us cause for rejoicing must not be forgotten. you know that i myself was very near the front, shortly before the surrender, and i had the great pleasure of transmitting much of the recent good news to the people. but my friends, no part of the honor for plan or execution falls to me.
11:03 pm
it goes to general grant, to his brave men and skillful officers. it is to them it all belongs. i think it would be hard to say whether anything has been more bravely or well done than it petersburg, antietam gettysburg, murphysboro, and many fields of lesser note. and of course we cannot forget uncle sam's webbed feet. it seems that all the watery margins, not only out on the open sea or down the rapid river, or up the narrow muddy bayou, but wherever the ground has been a little wet, they have made their tracks. i was to tender my thanks to all for this great union, for the principle it lives by, thanks to all. perhaps on this occasion i may
11:04 pm
be permitted to speak of some of my plans, our plans, for the future, after all of this for business is finally put aside. and if afterward you have occasion to tender a question to me, once i am concluded, i will be happy to entertain those questions, so be thinking, children. my friends, i should say that having served four years in this great national peril, i am perhaps a bit surprised, because over the course of that time, i have repeatedly felt a
11:05 pm
pre-sentiment that i should not even outlast the rebellion, that once the war had closed, my work would be concluded. and here i am now, reelected with the election and the inauguration behind me. so perhaps i can breathe a sigh of relief. but i do view this call to a second term in no way more flattering to myself than simply as a public expression of a judgment made that perhaps i might finish this most difficult work, in which i have been laboring from the very first better than anyone else less severely schooled than i have been. so with this view and with an absurd reliance on the almighty, who has so graciously sustained us thus far, and certainly with an increased sense of gratitude to this most generous people
11:06 pm
who has again tendered their confidence in me, i accept their renewed trust, with its onerous and yet very perplexing responsibilities. i think back four years ago, my friends. all looked towards the possibility of an impending civil war. all of us dreaded it. i think all sought to avert it. in fact, while my first inaugural was being delivered in washington city, devoted altogether to saving this union without war, there were already insurgent agents operating within the city, devoted altogether to destroying the union, without any war, to simply divide by negotiation. well, both parties deprecated war, but one would rather make
11:07 pm
more than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. and the war came. approximately 1/8 of the whole population were colored slaves not delivered through the entirety of the union, but located primarily in the southern part of it. and all knew that this was a powerful interest, and all new that this interest was somehow the cause for which these insurgents would rend the union, while this government claimed no right other than to simply restrict the territorial enlargement of it. strengthening, perpetuating, and extending this interest was the cause for which these insurgents
11:08 pm
would rend the union. neither party expected for this war -- the magnitude, the duration which it obtained. neither supposed that the very cause of the conflict would cease with or even before the conflict itself ceased. both rad the same bible, prayed to the same god. each invoked his aid against the other. not it may seem strange to watch, that anyone would dare to ask a just god's assistance in reading their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, lest we also
11:09 pm
be judged. the prayers of both would not be answered. that of neither has been answered fully. the almighty has had his own purposes. lo unto the world because of offenses. for it must needs be that offenses come, but woe unto that man by whom the offense cometh. my friends, if we shall suppose that american slavery is one of those offenses which, in the providence of god, must needs have come, and which having continued through his appointed time, he now will remove, and that he gives to both north and south this terrible war, as the woe due unto those by whom the offense came, shall we assume therein any departure from which any divine attributes that
11:10 pm
believers in a living god have always ascribed to him? fervently have we prayed that this mighty scourge of war should speedily pass away. but, my friends, if god had willed that it continue until all of the wealth piled by the bondman's 200 years of unrequited toil shall have been sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn by the last shall be repaid by another, drawn by the sword, nevertheless it would be
11:11 pm
said, as was said some 3000 years ago, the judgments of the lord are true and righteous altogether. now let me say here that i -- i am not possessed of any particular prejudice against southern people. i frankly think they are just what we would have been, had we been born in their circumstances. you know, if slavery had not already existed amongst them, i do not believe they would have introduced it. and if it had already existed amongst us, we would not have just instantly gotten rid of it
11:12 pm
either. this i have always believed of the people. and doubtless there were people on both sides who would have never owned a slave under any circumstances. and i can assure you that there are those now among us who would gladly see it reintroduced, if they could but find means. so far as i'm concerned, however, i wish to reiterate what i said before i was reelected, that while i remain in this position, i have no intention of revoking or modifying the promise of emancipation, nor shall i return to slavery any of the persons that have been freed by the terms of that document. now if the people should, by whatever motor means, have made -- mode or means, have made it an executive duty to re-enslave those persons, then i am afraid some other, not myself, would have to become their instrument to perform that.
11:13 pm
and in saying these things, i do not attempt, believe me, any complement to my own wisdom or sagacity. i do not even claim to have controlled events. i confess plainly, events have controlled me. now, at the end of this struggle, this nation's condition is not what either party, nor any man alone devised or expected. god alone can claim it.
11:14 pm
and so with high hope for the future, no predictions will be made today restricting it. my friends, the passage through congress last january of a constitutional amendment for the abolishment of slavery in all of the civil states is certainly an occasion for congratulations to this country, to you, to the world. and as much as we may triumph in this, we must remember that there remains yet a task for us as well. that passage, that noble act by congress, must yet be ratified in all of the several states, at least 27 of the 36 states must confirm it. we yet have a task to do. clearly, the emancipation proclamation fell far short of what this amendment, once it is fully consummated, can do. there are and were many objections as to the legality, the applicability of the proclamation to those who have not fled their bonds in the south, or to the children born to them later. but this amendment, my friends
11:15 pm
is the king's cure. it ends -- it consummates -- all of the evils. let me repeat my congratulations to you, this people, for your support of that great moral victory. now, as to the future, certainly with the recent successes and victories, the re-inauguration of the national authority reconstruction, which frankly has had a large share of my thought from the very beginning, is pressed much more closely upon our attention. and it is fraught with difficulties. let me simply address a few things here. it has come to my attention repeatedly that i have been censured and criticized for my
11:16 pm
participation in the support of the plan in louisiana, seeking to set up and sustain the new state government. my friends, i will admit that the amount of the constituency so-called, of this new government upon which it rests could well have been more. it would have been much more satisfactory, i think, to all, if we could of had the thousand or even 20,000, instead of the 12,000 that it does. and it is also unsatisfactory to many, including myself, in that the elective franchise, the vote, was not extended to the colored man. i myself would have much preferred it was conferred upon those with education, those who had served in our cause as soldiers in the late war.
11:17 pm
in fact, it is very difficult for me to even conceive of how anyone professing christianity or even having ordinary perceptions of right and wrong could think otherwise, to read the bible, which says, "as you would that men should do, unto you, do ye also unto them, and then deny -- unto them," and then deny a whole race, to me, is an insult to god and to his church. but as i said earlier, i must forbear. let us judge not lest we also be judged. but the question of louisiana is more a question of whether, as
11:18 pm
it stands -- is it all that is desirable? would it be wiser to take it as it is and help improve it, or to reject it and spurn it? in my estimation, if we spurn them in what they are now doing, we are doing our utmost to disorganize and destroy the good work which has thus far taken place. we are saying to the white man you are worthless. we will not help you, nor will we be helped by you. and to the black man, we are saying this cup of liberty which is being held to your lips by your former masters -- we now dash it to the ground and leave to your desserts its spilled contents at any time and way you might. but on the other hand, if we sustain this new government, the converse of all that is true. we encourage their hearts.
11:19 pm
we have the arms of 12,002 fight for it, to proselytize for it, to feed it, to grow it until it finally comes to a full consummation of all that we desire. and the colored man seemed all united for him will be inspired with vigilance and energy and daring, to the very same ends. granted that he desires the elective franchise and it was not yet given. would he obtain it sooner by saving what we have already done, or by backing across all of our tracks and destroying
11:20 pm
what we have done? and what i am saying about louisiana could as well be said of the other states which must be brought back into their proper relation with the union. now, there are very great peculiarities pertaining to each of those several states. there are important and sometimes very sudden changes occurring in each of those states. and with all, the whole is so new to us as a case that i have personally believed that any exclusive or inflexible plan could not be safely prescribed for all of the states. such an inflexible plan, i think, would become an entanglement for us later. as the situation goes, so to say, it may be my duty to make an announcement to the people of the south.
11:21 pm
and i am considering such. i will not fail in that, once i am satisfied that such action will be proper. now, on another hand, looking to the future, last december in my annual message to congress, it was recommended to them that our indian system be reformed. i believe that the bureau of indian affairs is a stupendous piece of wickedness, and that we -- as we as a people fear god, we must see to its reformation. and once some of these war issues have been put safely to rest, i intend to see that justice is done for the indian both to his and to my satisfaction, above all other concerns. secondarily, it is my hope that with the return of domestic peace this country will once again resume the energy and enterprise and industry which we
11:22 pm
knew in aforetime. and it has been reassumed with great advantage, the great enterprise of connecting the atlantic with the pacific states by railways and by telegraph has already been undertaken with a vigor that gives us assurance that we are going to see its speedy consummation very soon. you know that the route, the railroad to the west, has already been determined for approximately 100 miles west of omaha city, out in nebraska. and on the other end, departing from sacramento, california to the great bend of the trekkie river in nevada. and so we look to its final completion.
11:23 pm
on that same hand, the proposed telegraph lines between america and europe, by way of the bering straits, has been undertaken with alacrity. it was sanctioned by congress in the last session, and is now being undertaken under very favorable circumstances by a hopeful american country, with the approval of the russian government and the english government, and several of the south american states have also given their concurrence and high appreciation of this enterprise. their readiness to cooperate in constructing a line tributary to an electrical world communication. i am also learning recently,
11:24 pm
with great satisfaction, that the former transatlantic cable which was severed before the war, will likely soon be reconnected, and from the east coast to england, we will soon once again have direct communication. finally, perhaps most importantly, the financial affairs of this government, due to mr. chase's conduct, have been exceedingly well done over these past four years. and i believe that the new national banking system has
11:25 pm
proved itself to be more than acceptable both to capitalists and the general people. so, what will the next four years actually bring? no man knows. i did not expect to be reelected. not since jackson has one been given such a gift on the people twice. but i am thankful to god for the approval of this people. and, while grateful for your confidence in me, at least if i know my heart, i think my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. it has not been a pleasure for me to triumph over anyone. but i give thanks to god for this peoples resolve -- this people's resolve to stand by free government and the principle it lives by.
11:26 pm
you see, my friends, i still believe that sentiment in our declaration of independence that declares, all men are created equal, remains the great fundamental principle upon which all of our future hopes and liberty rest. the question of this hour is cannot this government be reunited on that same principle? my friends, if it can, i will consider myself one of the happiest men alive, if i can so help to see it. if it cannot, it will be awful. my friends, if this government cannot be reunited without giving up that principle, i -- i was about to say, i would rather be assassinated on this very spot them to surrender that. i am loath to close. we are not enemies, but friends. friends, we must not be enemies. though a passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
11:27 pm
surely, the court of memory, stretching over every battlefield to every living heart, and hearts all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of union. we are touched by the better angel of our natures. and so, with malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right, as god gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish this work we are in, to bind up the nations wounds, to care for him
11:28 pm
who shall have borne the battle, for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just, a lasting peace, and with [indiscernible] if any of you wish to tender questions at this juncture, i think we have opportunity a few more moments. i do not know that i can answer them all, but i will certainly do my best. >> as a young boy growing up in kentucky, how did you learn to read, and why was reading so important to you that you like to do it so much?
11:29 pm
lincoln: as a young boy growing up in kentucky, how did i learn to read? and why was it so important to me, and why did i enjoy it? is that the safe rendition of your question? well, my mother taught me my letters. she had an old dilworth speller and a bible, and i stood at herne he and struggled through it all. my stepmother could not read but my mother could. and then of course, she sent me to what we call abc schools, what we children called lab schools, and i learned to put them together. and my first schoolmaster was an old jesuit priest, former, zechariah. you know what he used to tell us? he had a big stick. and he said, "licking and
11:30 pm
learning go together. if you don't get one, you get the other." [laughter] lincoln: that is why i learned. [laughter] lincoln: i lived in a very rough part of the country. there was almost nothing to excite any ambition for education. and yet it became something of a ticket for me. my father would literally, without any education -- he could only sign his own name. and largely because of that lost hundreds of acres of land -- that was one of the reasons we moved from kentucky. the loss -- that was a period of my life, building a home in the virgin forest of indiana probably harder than any other i
11:31 pm
have done, including these last four years. so i do not wish that upon anyone. i had any reason in the world to want to avoid it myself. without an education, we as a people will never appreciate the history of this country. if you can read the history of this country, compare it with the history of other countries or read the bible or other religious works of a moral or religious nature, that is the foundation on which this free country rests. so, without that, we are in the hands of others. somebody else. yes? >> why did they put abraham lincoln in a train and not in another transport?
11:32 pm
lincoln: why did they put me in a train and not in another what? >> another form of transportation. lincoln: another form of transportation? when i was a boy, the best form of transportation was the two feet god gave you. the most reliable, anyway. maybe if you had a team of oxen or a horse, you could be cold in a wagon. but you know, the iron horse is the wonder of an age. i actually had my own special car given to me. that is why. welcome to a new, brave world, right? somebody else. yes? >> [indiscernible] lincoln: when did i know -- i never wanted to be a president. she said, when did you know you wanted to be a president? [laughter]
11:33 pm
lincoln: i really wanted to be senator. i mentioned the government claimed no right rather than to restrict the territorial enlargement of slavery. that was the object of the republican party from the beginning. it was not to save or destroy slavery, but to restrict its territorial enlargement, which would result eventually in its ultimate destruction. the president has no power to change the laws. he simply swore to make sure they are faithfully executed. so i really wanted to be a senator. but sometimes you just have to settle for second best. [laughter] lincoln: yes sir, back there. i am sorry, ma'am. >> can you tell children today with all the internet -- what would you tell them today? what would you tell children today? lincoln: what would i tell children today with -- >> internet.
11:34 pm
lincoln: internet? >> computers. lincoln: i don't know when you mean by that. [laughter] lincoln: is that a fishing device? >> what would you tell children? lincoln: i am not sure what i would, but it sounds dangerous to me. [laughter] lincoln: yes, ma'am. >> why do you think you were brave enough to do what you did, and the other presidents before you were not able to do what you did? lincoln: she says, why do i think i was brave enough to do what i did, when the other presidents before me were not able. you know, i am only the third president who was actually against slavery. the other two were the adamses and some people say they don't count. [laughter] lincoln: i think that what i saw -- if i could just back up a
11:35 pm
little bit -- i do not consider myself a courageous man. if i were out on the battlefield with bullets whizzing past my head, i probably would develop a pair of cowardly legs quite quickly, and they would carry my noble head away. but nonetheless, what i saw was very grave. right after the close of the mexican war, if you divided this country into four parts, only the southeast was given to slavery. the territory from mexico and the northeast were free. in five years, that equation had reversed. 3/4 of our territory -- i am not speaking of states in number but our national geography -- had been given for slavery, in
11:36 pm
just five years. that is why the republican party was founded, to stop the spread. and i came to be convinced that there was a conspiracy to make slavery universal. now when the threats of secession and war and so on began, i realized that like any soldier, i would have to consider that my life may end up being put on the line. but nonetheless, so far, so good. somebody else. yes ma'am. >> the surrender at appomattox -- johnson and the other armies will probably surrender in the next couple of months. lincoln: we still have some struggles in the deep south, yes. >> what are your plans, then
11:37 pm
after the south comes back to the union, to help both the landowner, those who have been affected and devastated by the war, to help them recover, and to help the slaves who are now free men to assimilate into free society? lincoln: oh my. her question was my plans to help the former landowners of the south, who in many cases have been devasting of their rightful property legally speaking, once they lay down their arms and are not using the property for rebellious purposes there is no legal reason to hold it anymore. so what is to become of them? and then their slaves. even before i was reelected, i made it clear that the condition would be no slavery. so that is one form of property that will not be returned. because i do not believe it to be property. i believe it rather to come under the rubric of mankind, and deserving of the rights and
11:38 pm
privileges of all, as jefferson prescribed. those two, however, have an already established relationship. the former landowners, being powerful, if they are reinstated in their original position, some of them were political in nature. with that thrust us back into the very same position that we were in before the war? we don't want that to happen. a provision in my particular plan i refer to with regard to louisiana is that those who have held high office would not be given the vote. now the objection that i have had to my plan, which was if 10% of those who voted in 1860 would
11:39 pm
sign an oath of allegiance agreeing with the emancipation proclamation, they could vote and reconstitute their government. and some in congress are objecting to that, because they say that is not democratic. i believe it is impossible to get a majority, even a simple majority of 51%, which means that we then have to thrust all of those states under the auspices of the nation -- i don't believe that is possible. i am standing by the 10% plan. if 10% of those people can vote and reconstitute their nation, and that excludes some of those land owners and those who were officers in a high position -- they would not be able to vote. but their properties would eventually be returned to them.
11:40 pm
but they would not have the political influence. that is, in its simplest form, the best answer i could come up with right now without getting into too many caveats and spurs, since i am standing on our tracks, ma'am. >> the beginning of slavery in the western world -- i realize that slaves came from africa to three places -- brazil, the caribbean, and the chesapeake. who was at that beginning edge? where did these slaves come from? were they urban slaves in africa? who gathered these black people up? who put them on the ships?
11:41 pm
lincoln: who gathered the black people up at the beginning of the whole enterprise of slavery? near as i can tell, it was even older than that, and nations have for countless eons enslave those who lost battles or wars and made them their vassals or servants in one form or another. now, i do not pretend to be an historian. but i do have some familiarity with what is going on in africa right now, in liberia, because i have had many opportunities to speak with those who were at one time in favor of colonization, as i was. and there continues to be intercourse between the tribal groups around liberia with any -- and many of them are the mohammedan nations, who trade in these poor black victims with other black tribes in africa. now, of course, before some of the international barriers were enforced against the slave trades, and which the united states finally joined, european powers were participating as well.
11:42 pm
and there are still -- we have had in the last four years some that are participating in legally in the slave trade. but it is a multifaceted trade and it has gone back for eons. the children of israel were slaves in egypt, as we all recall. how about this young soul back here in the gray shirt? speak loudly. >> where did you learn how to write? lincoln: back when i was in the log cabin, i would see the letters in the book and get a stick and draw on the dirt floor of our little house. sometimes, i had to empty -- sometimes daily, i had to empty the old ashes out of the fireplace. sometimes, i could find bits of
11:43 pm
charcoal from the old burnt pieces of wood. we had a wooden shovel that i shoveled it up into. and i would write on the shovel with that. i wrote in the snow. anyplace i could. paper was pretty expensive, and we were poor. but i learned my letters the hard way. in the very back. and then we want to put a time limit on this of some sort. i think we are going to make this the last question. if you would like to come up and speak to me afterwards, i would be happy to. but i see some of your falling asleep, so i need to wrap this up quickly. [laughter] >> what is your relationship with elizabeth keckley, the dressmaker for your wife. how well do you know her? lincoln: mrs. keckley, mrs. lincoln's dressmaker in washington, is a well-favored and renowned artisan, i should say. in fact, jeff davis's wife used to employ her, and tried to
11:44 pm
beckon her into the rebel environs, but she was not having any of that. she found mrs. lincoln, and they have become quite good friends. i, at times, have found some great insights in speaking with her. she has a young son. she was a woman who was enslaved. and through this assiduous nature that she has earned her own freedom, and then continued on to buy her son, and left for parts north before the war, of course. she is a woman of great determination and great insight. i have had many conversations with him.
11:45 pm
-- with her. my relationship with her is very cordial. she was comforting, in fact, when will he passed away back in february of 1862. -- when willie passed away back in february of 1862. you have been a very kind audience. let me break character for a moment before we get the rangers, to just tell you -- my name is fritz klein. you do not have to go that far away. come back. i'm not going to take that long. but what you heard before i started doing the q and a was taken from lincoln's words. just about all of the second inaugural was in that, and some of the projections were made in early 1865, some in late 1864, in his annual message to congress. i picked a couple of things from the first inaugural. you probably, if you are familiar with lincoln quotes, no -- you probably noticed a bit. it was 99% lincoln's own words,
11:46 pm
taken from the later part of his life. i hope you enjoyed it. [applause] >> sunday on american history tv on c-span3, we will be live from oak ridge cemetery in springfield, illinois, for a reenactment of president lincoln's free 150 years later. we will have live coverage from 4:00 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. including the eulogy, speeches, musical performances and 36-cannon salute. president lincoln's funeral, 150 years later, sunday at 2:30 p.m. eastern on c-span3. >> all weekend long, american
11:47 pm
history tv is featuring to be good, cancers. bleeding kansas refers to a series of confrontations one the border of the kansas territory and missouri the between 1864 -- 1854 and 1861. it helps established the guy as a major force in -- topeka as a major force in the area. learn more about to become all weekend here on american history tv. >> wi-lan to be good, we spoke with republican governor sam brownback in the governor's mansion. >> is there an era or event that interests or resonates with you? governor brownback: a lot of them do. probably the period th


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on