New York State Pays Homage on 150th Anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Death

An 1889 map illustrates the journey of Lincoln's funeral cortege; the National Park Service is replicating the "Lincoln Journey Home," starting April 18 in Washington DC and ending May 3 in Springfield, Illinois (National Park Service).

An 1889 map illustrates the journey of Lincoln’s funeral cortege; the National Park Service is replicating the “Lincoln Journey Home,” starting April 18 in Washington DC and ending May 3 in Springfield, Illinois (National Park Service).

by Karen Rubin

New York State is commemorating the 150th anniversary of the death of President Abraham Lincoln starting this month with numerous special events statewide, including a full day of free activities on Saturday, April 25 at the New York State Capitol. This is the date the Lincoln Funeral Train arrived in Albany in 1865 carrying the slain President’s body that then laid in state at the old Capitol on April 26.

But before the funeral cortege arrives in Albany, it will come to New York City, on Friday, April 24, where programs will be held at Federal Hall National Memorial11 a.m. & 1 pm

(Federal Hall National Memorial is at 26 Wall Street, near the corner of Wall Street and Nassau Street. (Called the Birthplace of American Government, it was here on Wall Street, where George Washington took the oath of office as the first President, and this site was home to the first Congress, Supreme Court, and Executive Branch offices. The current structure, a Customs House, later served as part of the US Sub-Treasury. Now, the building serves as a museum and memorial to the first President and the beginnings of the United States of America.)

A mask of Abraham Lincoln's visage was made just before his death © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

A mask of Abraham Lincoln’s visage was made just before his death © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Lincoln guided our nation through one of its darkest times, and his commitment to unity and equality continues to inspire,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “As we recognize the 150th anniversary of his death, I encourage all New Yorkers to learn more about his life, his enduring legacy and his profound impact on our nation.”

The next day, the funeral train will come into Albany.

The East Gallery of the Capitol will feature an exhibit dedicated to Lincoln’s memory and the contributions New York made to the Union effort in the Civil War. Central to the exhibit is the flag that laid on the President’s coffin. In addition, numerous Lincoln-themed activities will take place at the Capitol including re-enactors, period music and more. To cap off the day, the National Parks Service is sponsoring a presentation by a noted actor who will portray Lincoln in the War Room of the Capitol at 3:30 and 6:30 p.m. All events are free and open to the public. However, because of limited seating, reservations are required for the Lincoln portrayal and can be made at www.governor.ny.gov/lincolntribute.

Saturday, April 25 1 pm – 7 pm, New York State Capitol

1 p.m. – Civil War reenactors representing the 123rd New York Volunteers, the 125th New York Volunteer Infantry Regiment, the 26th USCT, the 7th New York Heavy Artillery, and several other recreated Civil War units will gather in West Capitol Park near Swan Street and begin a ceremonial march down Washington Avenue to East Capitol Park where they will conduct a memorial service honoring President Lincoln.

Following the service, reenactors will remain outside taking questions, and conduct marching drills and Civil War military demonstrations. A period 12-pound Mountain Howitzer replica cannon that is part of the 7 th New York Heavy Artillery will also be on display throughout the day in East Capitol Park.

Hourly, from 2-6 p.m. – Free Capitol tours start at the base of the Senate staircase on the first floor.

Lincoln impersonator at the Smithsonian's Museum of American History The National Park Service program features accomplished Lincoln actor, Fritz Klein who will give voice Abraham Lincoln's commitment to the idea that the United States was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Lincoln impersonator at the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History The National Park Service program features accomplished Lincoln actor, Fritz Klein who will give voice Abraham Lincoln’s commitment to the idea that the United States was “conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

3:30 pm and 6:30 p.m. (Online reservations required) – Musicians Anne and Ridley Enslow, dressed in 1860s costumes, will recapture the drama and pathos of the great American Civil War through songs and tunes. This will be followed by a first person interpretative program presented by noted Lincoln impersonator Fritz Klein that focuses on Lincoln’s hopes and dreams for the country during his tenure as president. Seating is limited. The presentation will be approximately 90 minutes. Reservations can be made at www.governor.ny.gov/lincolntribute .

The train then continues on to Buffalo, and programs will be held on Sunday, April 26, at the Buffalo History Museum at 3 p.m. and then Monday, April 27, at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site, at 9:30 a.m. and at the Central Library Auditorium12 p.m.

Visitors will be able to experience the Lincoln exhibit at the Capitol throughout the summer. In addition, New York’s Path Through History program will feature sites and events statewide that explore President Lincoln, the Civil War and their connection to the Empire State. Information is available at www.iloveny.com/Lincoln. More information on the National Parks Funeral Train events can be found here.

“Over the last four years, the National Park Service has commemorated the 150th anniversary of this country’s greatest national crisis, while exploring its enduring relevance in the 21st century using the guiding theme of Civil War to Civil Rights,” National Park Service Director Jonathan B. Jarvis said. “As the sesquicentennial events come to a close, our commemorations of Abraham Lincoln’s funeral train highlight the major cities, including three in New York State, that held funeral ceremonies along the route to Springfield, Illinois. These events in New York, Albany and Buffalo recognize the Empire State’s significant role in the Union war effort, both on the battlefields and on the home front.”

Harold Holzer, Senior Vice President for Public Affairs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, said, “No state contributed more soldiers, more money, or more innovation to Lincoln’s war to preserve the Union and destroy slavery than did New York. And no state grieved at his assassination more publicly and more passionately. Lincoln earned unforgettably grand farewells in Manhattan, Albany, and Buffalo. But as this exhibit reveals, small tributes occurred in many towns and villages in between, from the Hudson Valley to the Southern Tier—and all along the tracks where his funeral train rode in its journey back to Springfield, Illinois. This is an amazing, virtually untold story of which all New Yorkers should be proud. And they should be equally proud of the successful effort to preserve the flag that once covered his coffin in Albany—and was supplied in 1865 by the Albany woman who helped our state obtain the priceless Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in Lincoln’s hand. As chair of the Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, I’m proud to have supported the flag preservation effort. As a Lincoln historian, I’m honored to have worked with Mark Schaming and the New York State Museum on its interpretation. And as a New Yorker, I’m grateful to Governor Cuomo for all he has done to encourage history education and exhibitions in the Capitol and throughout the state.”

For example, New York helped propel Abraham Lincoln onto the national stage, and his presidency and legacy have deep ties to the state. His speech at New York City’s Cooper Union transformed him into a compelling candidate for president. New Yorkers were leaders in America’s anti-slavery movement that set the stage for the Civil War, and the state provided more money and soldiers to the war than any other, including Lincoln’s General-in-Chief. The 1865 funeral train carrying Lincoln’s slain body brought out tens of thousands of mourners both for public viewings in New York City, Albany and Buffalo, and all along the train route as well.

150 years later, New York’s Path Through History takes visitors to sites pivotal to Lincoln and his times:

In addition, The New York-Historical Society has opened a new exhibit, Lincoln and the Jews, on view through June 7, 2015 (170 Central Park West (77th Street), New York, NY 10024, 212-873-3400, nyhistory.org).

A Flag for the Ages Exhibit Highlights

President Abraham Lincoln's stovepipe hat © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

President Abraham Lincoln’s stovepipe hat © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

The Lincoln funeral train and Civil War exhibition will showcase the national flag placed around the bier, or platform, upon which the slain president’s casket rested as he laid in state in the Capitol in Albany, New York, on April 26, 1865. It also features additional funeral-related artifacts, chronicles Lincoln’s last day, tragic death, and the many ceremonies honoring Lincoln along the funeral train route that carried his body from Washington, D.C., through New York, to Springfield, Illinois. The exhibit will also highlight New York State’s contribution to the Civil War and related historical figures and artifacts.

The flag that draped the coffin was reportedly presented in 1861 by William H. Seward, Secretary of State and former New York State Governor and United States Senator, to Emily Weed Barnes, daughter of Thurlow Weed, a political adviser and close friend to Seward. When the casket bearing Lincoln’s body arrived at the Capitol, Mrs. Barnes wrapped the flag around the bier. The flag remained in the Barnes family and was donated to New York State Battle Flag Collection and accepted by Governor Franklin Roosevelt in 1930.

Office of General Services Commissioner RoAnn M. Destito said, “As the caretaker of the New York State Capitol, OGS is pleased that Governor Cuomo has transformed this building into a place where citizens can not only see government at work, but also learn about our state. The Lincoln exhibit is a wonderful opportunity to go back in time and experience the rich history associated with Lincoln and his legacy.”

Empire State Development Division of Tourism Executive Director Gavin Landry said, “New York State helped propel Abraham Lincoln onto the national stage, and his presidency and legacy have deep ties to the Empire State. From the homes and final resting places of New Yorkers key to the Civil War and its lead up, like Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman; abolitionist John Brown; Lincoln’s Secretary of State and confidant William H. Seward; and Union Army General Ulysses S. Grant, to sites whose industry and technology played a vital role in the Civil War, like the Burden Iron Works, Brooklyn Navy Yard and West Point Foundry, New York’s Path Through History is ready to take visitors one hundred and fifty years back in time.”

State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said, “Lincoln’s contribution to our country’s history and his connection to our great state will come to life this month as we commemorate the anniversary of his death. Through the numerous presentations and exhibits, New Yorkers will get a true sense of the Civil War era and understand better the events that framed our state’s storied past and how New York impacted the times. Lincoln was a monumental figure of his time and we look forward to seeing his legacy shared with thousands across our state.”

Path Through History highlights historically and culturally significant sites and events throughout New York State. The program, introduced by Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, builds on New York’s already robust heritage tourism attractions. The initiative, which is overseen by Empire State Development’s Division of Tourism/I LOVE NEW YORK, is currently focused on 13 themes including: Arts & Culture, Natural History, U.S. Presidents, Women’s Rights, Canals & Transportation, Civil Rights, Colonial History, Immigration, Innovation & Commerce, The Revolutionary War, Native American Heritage, Sports History and the War of 1812. Important heritage sites and events across the state were selected with input from leading historians. For more information, visit www.iloveny.com/paththroughhistory .

In an effort to raise the profile of historic destinations, New York State hosts Path Through History Weekends, utilizing live events to celebrate New York’s history and highlight the tremendous efforts of the people and organizations committed to its preservation and promotion. In 2014, 383 events were held in 55 of New York State’s 62 counties, a 43 percent increase from the prior year. This year, Path Through History Weekend will take place June 20 – 21, 2015.

Follow I LOVE NEW YORK on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram or use #LoveNYHistory to join us on the journey down New York’s Path Through History.
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