Diary from Apr. 19, 1865

Johannes Oertel Diary

  • Full Title

    Johannes Oertel Diary

  • Description

    Johannes Oertel, a minister who later became an artist, wrote about his feelings on the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln five days before.

  • Transcription

    Wednesday, April 19, 1865

    Most memorable day! A day of mourning and lamentation! A continent in tears! The Nation weeping, and her foes dismayed and fleeing in disguise and terror! This cursed rebellion has culminated its gigantic atrocities in the foul murder of our great, good, beloved President. The hand of a vile assassin extinguished his precious life last Friday evening, and today over twenty millions of people mourn after his hearse, and swear over his grave by High Heaven a solemn, determined oath, that the black wickedness, which has for four bloody years made our beautiful country old in deeds of carnage and violence, shall be utterly wiped out of existence, and evenhanded Justice have her uninterrupted work with the leaders, who caused such widespread misery.

    As the dreadful news of the assassination of Mr. Abr. Lincoln flashed over the thousands of miles of this continent, the nation received a paralysis shock indeed. A feeling of horror and deep gloom spread over the land, and men were struck dumb with awe. All fealt the fearful calamity and felt the national bereavement. We have lost a Father! A great man has fallen. For four years, with a far-seeing, calm and clear mind, steady and unwavering in high principle and sterling integrity, with the purest patriotism and self-sacrifice, an all-embracing love and tender care, patient and untouched by censure or calumny, looking with devout faith and childlike trust to the end, as a merciful Providence would surely protect the right and bring it to victory, he has guided his distressed county in her greatest dangers and perils, has firmly established the principle of universal freedom, subdued the power of her enemies, and raised again, our proud banner upon the ruined walls of that very fortress whence treason struck it down just four years before, and now that the future rose up before his gratified vision, radiant with glory and happiness and strength, and his herkulean labors found a sweet reward, malicious hatred cut him off in the height of his usefulness. The hellish spirit of slavery and treason has done its perfect work--but it has struck the death blow at its own black heart. If there has existed any tendency to forget the depth of its heinous wickedness and to be easy with those men who led in treason and infamy, that tendency has vanished. There never was a more sudden revolution of feeling in the common mind of a whole great nation, as has been effected by the assassination of our lamented President. Treason could have done nothing so destructive of its own ends, so suicidal to its own existence. Both at home and with the whole civilized world it stands now utterly and forever condemned. It has fully revealed its true character, and the reckless, godless barbarity which has indeed marked the conduct of the South throughout this war, the outgrowth and legitimate consequence of that revolting inhuman system of slavery. But thank God! Henceforth our flag must wave over a country undivided and free, where no cruel lash drives a human chattel to their unwilling work; where no being created immortal and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ is bought and bartered away for money; where no wanton outrage can under the sanction of law trample under foot the ties of marriage and family relations; where education can no more be made a penal offence; where life is held sacred; where a man can travel from Maine to Florida and to the far Pacific without carrying revolver and knife; where, within the bounds of reason and law, he can utter his sentiments without fear and restraint; where on every foot of it he can truly feel that it is his fatherland, belonging to him and every citizen from one end to the other throughout its vast extent; where he has the right of a freeman, the protection of the law, the consciousness of security, and a just pride in a great country and a superior form of government, that has stood the fiery trial of an unparalleled insurrection most victoriously and approved itself more worthy of the confidence of all mankind, and the respect of foreign powers, than ever before it was so severely tried.

    And to this end President Abraham Lincoln has contributed more than any other man. Be has established freedom, and has died its martyr. He lived for a great, noble principle, and died for it. His death is the seal of Liberty. Be is our Martyr-President. The grateful heart of the nation will hold his name most dear and all future history will call him the Great and the Good. His name is enshrined in sacred memory in the hearts of the poor, the oppressed, and down-trodden, whose father and liberator he emphatically has been, and wherever and whenever, the crushing out of the system of human slavery upon the soil of these United States is mentioned, by word or print, there will be associated with it inseperably and most favorably the venerated, beloved name of Abraham · Lincoln, the great Liberator, and martyr of freedom!

    The Nation has prayed to day, and is praying, that the mercyful and almighty God, our ruler and our guide may impart wisdom, and strength, and firmness to his successor, Mr. Andrew Johnson, and make him a willing and fit instrument in His Land to do His heavenly will, and lead this people through the mazes of difficulties which yet surround us on every side, to peace, and justice, and happiness, in the fear of God, to His honor and glory, Amen.

  • Source

    The Leo Pascal Collection

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    This item may be reproduced and used for any purpose, including research, teaching, private study, publication, broadcast or commercial use, with proper citation and attribution.

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    Johannes Oertel. "Johannes Oertel Diary". Remembering Lincoln. Web. Accessed September 23, 2023. https://rememberinglincoln.fords.org/node/365