Lincoln “Celebrates” 52nd Birthday.

John Hay

Tuesday, February 12, 1861

Lincoln aide John Hay wrote a newspaper report about the President’s travels from Indiana into Ohio. In Indianapolis, he “breakfasted this morning with Gov. Dennison. Several members of his suite were also invited; and the occasion, though necessarily brief, was brilliant, convivial and elegant. Mr. Lincoln charmed all whom he met with his graceful bonhomie, his quaint which was noticed during the first day’s journey, and now, as his friends say, looks and talks like himself. Good humor, wit and geniality are so prominently associated with him in the minds of those who know him familiarly, that to see him in a melancholy frame of mind, is much as seeing Reeve or Liston in high tragedy would have been. The party returned to the hotel at 9 o’clock. A crowd, the nucleus of which had gathered at daylight, blocked up the streets in the vicinity of the Bates house to an extent which was quite embarrassing, and which called for the exercise of a good deal of energy to penetrate. There was such vociferous and prolonged cheering that the President, on behalf of his ears, proceeded to the balcony and made a little speech a minute long, whereat the noise was redoubled. The call this time was for Bob [Lincoln], of whom rumors had percolated the assemblage, rendering it wild. Bob, with a fine display of pluck, came forward, and with a still firmer display of pluck declined to make a speech. He waved his hat, however, bowed, and retired, his debut being pronounced a success. Bob seems to inherit the paternal energy, is visible everywhere simultaneously, and wears the plume of his new title, ‘the prince of rails,’ with jaunty self possession and grace.
“The brief internal which elapsed between the speech and the departure was rendered riotous by the proceedings of two gentlemen, early friends of the President, who threw themselves upon Abraham’s bosom, and sought to macadamize him with hydraulic embraces. They then feloniously abstracted a lock of his hair, gravely divided the trophy between them, and disappeared.
“The party, attended by apparently the entire population of Indianapolis and the surrounding territory, started for the depot at half past 10. The crowd there was excessive, and its enthusiasm at fever heat. Shortly after the arrival at the depot, the special train bearing Mrs. Lincoln appeared, and she was conducted to the car reserved for her in the President’s train. At 11 o’clock the start took place, shortly after which a committee from Cincinnati and adjoining towns in Kentucky were introduced to the President, who received them with the utmost affability. All the towns along the route were gayly decorated with flags and streamers; in some places guns were fired, and the train seemed to ride upon the crest of one continued wave of cheers. Only four stoppages were made at the principal places where crowds were gathered, to whom Mr. Lincoln addressed a few words of thanks and recognition The train arrived at Cincinnati at 3 P.M. The gathering along the track was so dense that the train was forced to stop for a time. The depot was so fully packed that the municipal and military authorities were forced to intervene before the train could enter. Mr. Lincoln was received by the mayor, conducted to a carriage drawn by six horses, and escorted by militia and a deputation of citizens, started for the Burnet house.
“The streets along the line were populous as the cities of the Orient. Every window was thronged, every balcony glittered with bright colors and fluttered with handkerchiefs; the sidewalks were packed; even the ledges and cornices of the houses swarmed with intrepid lookers-on. The steps of the Burnet house rise in a succession of terraces, and those swarming with men and women, as the cavalcade appeared in sight, presented a most impressive spectacle. The display of flags from the roof was almost laughably profuse. The stars and stripes flouted the sky from corner, and in the interspaces, in a manner which would have fanned the most fiery secessionist cold, had there been one there to see. The post office in the immediate vicinity was radiant with half a score of silken constellations; there were flags everywhere where there were not patriots; and patriots everywhere were not flags; and in the midst of all, to the excellent not yet wholly discredited tunes of ‘Hail Columbia’ and ‘Yankee Doodle,’ done upon brass, the President descends, and enters the house. Tremendous cheering — a phrase which is apt to become slightly repetitive in chronicles like this — is an actual essential here A speech from the balcony followed. It was apparently unpremeditated, and had the happiest effect. He quoted from a speech he had made at a time when he could not have dreamed of the crescent honors which were in store for him, and the patriotic, kindly and conciliatory tone of Abraham Lincoln, citizen, came gracefully and nobly from the lips of the citizen-made President. When, as a simple citizen of the West, the told his audience, composed partly of Kentuckians a year ago, that ‘we mean to remember that you are as good as we, that there is no difference between us other than the difference of circumstances, we mean to recognize always that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you according,’ it probably did not occur to him that he was so soon to repeat the same sentiments to the same audience as President of the states which he is to reunite.
“There is a plethora of politicians here. Some from the neighboring state of Kentucky, a few from New-York, and a legion from the West and Northwest. Some of them are much given to embracing the President, as if he required a little of that sort of affectionate fortification. He puts up with it gravely, although I think he wishes they wouldn’t. After the speech he retired til after supper, which was served in private apartments to the President, his lady and sons, and a few guests. A repetition of the Indiana levee on a more extended scale, took place in the great dining-room from seven till ten, at which hour, although the crowd still hungered and thirsted fro an opportunity of shaking his hand, he succumbed, leaving the disappointed to shake their own hands, or find some friend upon which to vent that painful ceremonial.”

Published in: on February 11, 2011 at 5:53 pm  Leave a Comment  
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