Abraham Lincoln’s Beautiful Face By Richard J. Behn

Abraham Lincoln’s Beautiful Face

We remember his grave face in granite and marble. Friends remembered Abraham Lincoln’s face differently. His “expression in repose was sad and dull; but his ever-recurring humor, at short intervals, flashed forth with the brilliancy of an electric light,” recalled Adjutant-General James B. Fry. “I observed but two well-defined expressions in his countenance; one, that of a pure, thoughtful, honest man, absorbed by a sense of duty and responsibility; the other, that of a humorist so full of fun that he could not keep it all in.” It was in telling a story that Mr. Lincoln’s face came most fully alive, according to Fry: “He invariably carried the listener with him to the very climax, and when that was reached in relating a humorous story, he laughed all over. His large mouth assumed an unexpected and comical shape, the skin on his nose gathered into wrinkles, and his small eyes, though partly closed, emitted infectious rays of fun.”1
President Lincoln’s face was a mobile instrument that left a lasting impression. One contemporary observed: “His large bony face when in repose was unspeakably sad and as unreadable as that of a sphinx, his eyes were as expressionless as those of a dead fish; but when he smiled or laughed at one of his own stories of that of another then everything about him changed; his figure became alert, a lightning change came over his countenance, his eyes scintillated and I thought he had the most expressive features I had ever seen on the face of a man.”2 Treasury Department clerk Levi S. Gould recalled that sometimes when the President visited the Treasury Department, “he appeared to be laboring under an indescribable air of sadness and dejection, and on such occasions he seemed to be entirely wrapped in thought, and was oblivious to all surroundings until the depression had passed away, when he was the same genial, kind-hearted soul as ever.”3
One Democratic friend, Orlando B. Ficklin, recalled: “He was naturally despondent and sad, like many another who has made mirth for a merry company. He could tell a story to make a group roar with laughter, but when his face was unlit by pleasantry it was dark, gloomy and peculiar. The pictures we see of him only half represent him, as they can only show him in repose. Lincoln was a man of two distinct personages. He was a man keen insight and absorbing meditation. His sudden changes from elated joy to silent brooding over the problems of life were noticeable to all his friends. One moment a boy exultant, sunny cheery, the next a care burdened man, deep in thought. His characteristics were honor, fidelity and transparent truth.”4
At a casual glance, Mr. Lincoln was ugly. Lincoln scholar Roy P. Basler wrote: “One who is acquainted with any of the collections of Lincoln photographs realizes very likely that Lincoln was an uncommonly ugly man.”5 Mr. Lincoln himself told jokes about his homeliness. Union officer James Grant Wilson recalled a the President told regarding “an incident that had occurred at Decatur [in 1860] when the Illinois Republicans named him as their choice for the presidency. An old Democrat from Egypt, as Southern Illinois was called, approached Mr. Lincoln and said, ‘So you’re Abe Lincoln.’ ‘Yes, that is my name.’ ‘They say you’re a self-made man.’ ‘Well, yes; what there is of me is self-made.’ ‘Well, all I have got to say,’ observed the old man, after a careful survey of the Republican candidate, ‘is that it was a damn bad job.’”6
Poet Walt Whitman spent much of the war in Washington and often observed the President on the street. “I think well of the President. He has a face like a Hoosier Michael Angelo, so awful ugly it becomes beautiful with its strange mouth, its deep cut, criss-cross lines, and its doughnut complexion,” Whitman wrote in 1863. 7 Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne visited the President in March 1862: “The whole physiognomy is as coarse a one as you would meet anywhere in the length and breadth of the States; but, withal, it is redeemed illuminated, softened, and brightened by a kindly though serious look out of his eyes, and an expression of homely sagacity, that seems weighted with rich results of village experience. A great deal of native sense; no bookish cultivation, no refinement; honest at heart, and thoroughly so, and yet, in some sort, sly – at least, endowed with a sort of tact and wisdom that are akin to craft, and would impel him, I think, to take an antagonist in flank, rather than to make a bull-run at him right in front. But, on the whole, I liked this sallow, queer, sagacious visage, with the homely human sympathies that warmed it; and, for my small share in the matter, would as lief have Uncle Abe for a ruler as any man whom it would have been practicable to put in his place.”8
British journalist William Howard Russell wrote in 1861: “The impression produced by the size of his extremities, and by his flapping and wide projecting ears, may be removed by the appearance of kindliness, sagacity, and the awkward bonhommie of his face; the mouth is absolutely prodigious; the lips, straggling and extending almost form one line of black beard to the other, are only kept in order by two deep furrows from the nostril to the chin; the nose itself – a prominent organ – stands out from the face with an inquiring, anxious air, as though it were sniffing for some good thing in the wind; the eyes dark, full, and deeply set, are penetrating, but full of an expression which almost amounts to tenderness; and above them projects the shaggy brow, running into the small hard frontal space, the development of which can scarcely be estimated accurately, owing to the irregular flocks of thick hair carelessly brushed across it. One would say that, although the mouth was made to enjoy a joke, it could also utter the severest sentence which the head could dictate, but that Mr. Lincoln would be ever more willing to temper justice with mercy, and to enjoy what he considers the amenities of life, than to take a harsh view of men’s nature and of the world, and to estimate things in an ascetic or puritan spirit.”9
For those who came to know Mr. Lincoln, his face became a source of comfort. “I saw him when he was cheerful, gay, convulsed in hilarious laughter; saw him when he was being twitted by a friend, when he was humorously acknowledging the justice of that twitting; saw him when he was sad and sorrowful; saw from his own sorrows, saw for the sorrows of others, sad and at the same time cheerful for his sick and wounded boys in blue, sad and worried over the sufferings of his country,” wrote Robert B. Stanton who as a teenager often saw President Lincoln at the White House. “I saw all these moods at various times; and each and every feature of his face exactly as it was, but there was a something that came out from behind them, and spoke not in words, but shone and spoke through them by means of them, and turned them all into real beauty. And in all these moods, first or last, that spirit of beauty which I saw spread over his whole countenance and drew one to him as by the power of magic.”10
The key to his face’s power lay in its extraordinary mobility. “In Lincoln’s eloquent face and in his manner of meeting there was the appeal of a friendly and magnetic personality,” observed Lincoln biographer James G. Randall.11 “There was more difference between Lincoln dull & Lincoln animated, in facial expressions, than I ever saw in any other human being,” remembered journalist Horace White.12 He recalled meeting Mr. Lincoln in 1854 shortly before he delivered a political speech. “I had studied his countenance a few moments beforehand, when his features were in repose. It was a marked face, but so overspread with sadness that I thought that Shakespeare’s melancholy Jacques had been translated from the forest of Arden to the capital of Illinois. Yet when I was presented to him and we began a few words of conversation this expression of sorrow dropped from him instantly. His face lighted up with a winning smile, and where I had a moment before seen only leaden sorrow I now beheld keen intelligence, genuine kindness of heart, and the promise of true friendship.”13
In repose, Mr. Lincoln’s face bespoke a profound melancholy. Biographer Jesse W. Weik wrote: “The most marked and prominent feature in Lincoln’s organization was his predisposition to melancholy or at least the appearance thereof as indicated by his facial expression when sitting alone and thus shut off from conversation with other people. It was a characteristic as peculiar as it was pronounced. Almost every man in Illinois I met, including not only Herndon, but John T. Stuart, Samuel H. Treat, James C. Conkling, James H. Matheney, David Davis, Leonard Swett, and Henry C. Whitney, reminded me of it.”14
Animated, Mr. Lincoln’s face was a wonder. “Generally he was a very sad man, and his countenance indicated it. But when he warmed up all sadness vanished; his face was radiant and glowing, and almost gave expression to his thoughts before his tongue could utter them,” recalled longtime friend Joshua F. Speed.15 Congressman George W. Julian observed that “His face, when lighted up in conversation, as not unhandsome…” 16 Attorney Robert S. Rantoul observed that his face “lighted up with intelligence and enthusiasm the moment his mind found itself in touch with another.” 17 Another witness recalled that “When he smiled or laughed at one of his own stories or that of another then everything about him changed; his figure became alert, a lightning change came over his countenance, his eyes scintillated and I thought he had the most expressive features I had ever seen on the face of a man.”18 The effect was particularly pronounced when Mr. Lincoln was telling a joke or story – which seemed to make his eyes “twinkle.”19 Journalist Henry Villard that Mr. Lincoln enjoyed his own stories more than his listeners: “It was a joy indeed to see the effect upon him. A high-pitched laughter lighted up his otherwise melancholy countenance with thorough merriment. His body shook all over with gleeful emotion, and when he felt particularly good over his performance, he followed his habit of drawing up his knees, with his arms around them, up to his very face…”20 Writer James Grant Wilson met Mr. Lincoln in 1858. He recalled that “his grayish-brown eyes were perhaps the saddest I ever saw. However, when a good story was told, whether by himself or another, his homely face lighted up till he was positively handsome.”21
One law student recalled observed Mr. Lincoln in his brother’s law office and the office of the court clerk: “Very often he could be seen there, surrounded by a group of lawyers and such he could be seen there, surrounded by a group of lawyers and such persons as are usually found about a courthouse, some standing, others seated on chairs or tables, listening intently to one of his characteristic and inimitable stories. His eyes would sparkle with fun, and when he had reached the point in his narrative which invariably and when had reached the point in his narrative which invariably and when he had reached the point in his narrative which invariably evoked the laughter of the crowd, nobody’s enjoyment was greater than his. Ah hour later he might be seen in the same place or in some law office near by, but alas, how different! His chair, no longer in the center of the room, would be leaning back against the wall; his feet drawn up and resting on the front rounds so that his knees and chin were about on a level; his hat tipped slightly forward, as if to shield or hide his face; his eyes no longer sparkling with fun and merriment, but sad and downcast, and his hands clasped around his knees. There, drawn up within himself, as it were, he would sit, the very picture of dejection and gloom. Thus absorbed, have I seen him sit for hours at a time, defying the interruptions of even his closest friends. No one ever thought of breaking the spell by speech; for, by his moody silence and abstraction, he had thrown about his a barrier so dense and impenetrable that no one dared to break through.”22
Unquestionably, that face had an impact on juries before which Mr. Lincoln appeared. Friend Augustus H. Chapman recalled: “His face always wore a sweetened and kindly expression, never sour, and burning to win them, his tall frame swaying as a pine, made him a resistless pleader.” 23 But Mr. Lincoln’s face usually changed when he began to speak, noted attorney Adam Bergen, who said: “Whenever he began to talk his eyes flashed and every facial movement helped express his idea and feeling. Then involuntarily vanished all thought or consciousness of his uncouth appearance, or awkward manner, or even his high keyed, unpleasant voice. It required a critical effort of the will to divert attention to the man himself or anything about him, away from the substance of what he was saying, whether it was earnest and dignified or humorous.”24 One Washington woman observed: “When Lincoln’s face is lighted up with the animation of public speech he is the handsomest man I ever saw.”25
Journalist Noah Brooks noted that “even when he was pensive or gloomy, his features were lighted up very much as a clouded alabaster vase might be softly illuminated by a light within.”26 Law partner William H. Herndon wrote: “Mr. Lincoln sometimes walked our street cheerily, he was not always gloomy, and then it was that on meeting a friend he greeted him with a plain ‘Howd’y?’ clasping his hand in both his own, and gave him a hearty soul-welcome. On a winter’s morning he might be seen stalking towards the market-house, basket on arm, his old gray shawl wrapped around his neck, his little boy Willie or Tad running along at his heels asking a thousand boyish questions, which his father, in deep abstraction, neither heeded nor heard. If a friend met or passed him, and he awoke from his reverie, something would remind him of a story he had heard in Indiana, and tell it he would, and there was no alternative but to listen.
Thus, I repeat, stood and walked and talked this singular man. He was odd, but when that gray eye and that face and those features were lit up by the inward soul in fires of emotion, then it was that all those apparently ugly features sprang into organs of beauty or disappeared in the sea of inspiration that often flooded his face. Sometimes it appeared as if Lincoln’s soul was fresh from its Creator.27
In 1859, Mr. Lincoln traveled to Milwaukee to address the Wisconsin Agricultural Society. Local Republicans decided to have a political meeting that night to which Mr. Lincoln would speak. But when the sponsors and Mr. Lincoln looked out on the street to check on the crowd, it was nearly deserted. Attorney Charles Caverno saw his face when he turned around: “His countenance was fallen! That afterward well known, indescribable, pathetic look of suffering sadness had taken the place of that equally indescribable smile. It was an awesome sight. He looked to me as though his soul was dreaming on something a thousand miles from that place. We were drifting along, a score or so of common-sized men, under his huge stature and he was looking into vacancy over our heads evidently paying no more attention to us than if we were ants on the ground. I had seen his face in sober, settled calm many times during the day, but this was something away beyond calm, something in the region of mental pain.”28
Historian Kenneth A. Bernard noted: “Seated of an evening in his armchair, in his faded dressing gown and well-worn but comfortable old slippers (and blue socks), turning over some difficult problem, listening to a discussion or an argument, or a request, perhaps bent slightly forward, his great bony hands clasping his left knee, or slumped back in his ‘folded up sort of way,’ Lincoln appeared listless and dull, his face somber and expressionless. But when the solution to the problem came to him, or an answer to an argument, or a story – then he became alert; his face lighted up, and his personality took on a gentle dominance.”29
Presidential aide William Stoddard wrote: “More than a few times have we laid in wait for him in the hall, and gathered the purport of the despatches with almost unerring certainty from the expression of his face. In spite of its strongly marked outline, by the way, his countenance was a very mirror of his emotions. Oh! How it was darkened with pain after the Fredericksburg fight! – though even victory, however thoroughly appreciated, seemed for him to have its element of sadness.”30 David Homer Bates, a telegraph operator in the nearby War Department noted: “Oftentimes indeed in those days of stress he would lean back in his chair, with his feet upon a near-by table, and relapse into a serious mood, idly gazing out of the window upon Pennsylvania Avenue, that great thoroughfare over which he had seen so many brave soldiers march to the front never to return. In these intervals of repose, Lincoln’s face was a study; the inherent sadness of his features was evident even to us youngsters. Indeed, it was sometimes pathetic. We often wondered of what he was thinking; but he would not long remain idly pensive. Soon he would come out of the clouds, his expressive face would light up, and he would make some humorous remark as Stanton entered the room, or as he observed one of the cipher-operators make a movement toward the little drawer in which the incoming despatches were filed.”31
Lincoln scholar Helen Nicolay wrote of Lincoln’s Cabinet: “The President’s habit of passing suddenly from mirth to extreme seriousness left them dazed and wondering. None of them seemed to realize how much this power of getting out for a moment from under his load of care, helped him to take it up again and bear his burden without going insane.”32 Journalist David R. Locke, wrote humorous works under the pen name Petroleum Nasby. To the consternation of some Cabinet members and White House visitors, President Lincoln liked to read Nasby’s work out loud. Locke later wrote: “Those who accuse Lincoln of frivolity never knew him . I never saw a more thoughtful face. I never saw a more dignified face. I never saw so sad a face. He had humor of which he was totally unconscious, but not frivolity.”33
Illinoios Congressman Isaac N. Arnold wrote:” There was in his character a singular mingling of mirthfulness and melancholy. While his sense of the ludicrous was keen, and his fun and mirth was exuberent [sic], and sometimes almost irrepressible; his conversation sparkling with jest, story, and anecdote and in droll description, he would pass suddenly to another mood, and become sad and pathetic – a melancholy expression of his homely face would show that he was ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”34
Young Henry Stanton thought President Lincoln had three smiles: “The first was when speaking he seemed to wish to impress you with the interest he had in you. This smile was very faint, but beautiful and bewitching. The second was much more open and broad, and when listening to another speak.” The third kind Stanton witnessed when Mr. Lincoln visited army hospitals in Washington: “as he alighted from his carriage and entered the building, particularly toward the end of the war, I was impressed by the sadness of his countenance. It seemed as thought all the suffering in that hospital had come out to meet him and had entered into his face. As he went along the rows of cots, pausing here and there and leaning over some especially suffering lad to speak a kind word or two, the sadness of his face did not entirely disappear, but over it came a light and such a bright, cheering, though gentle smile that his whole countenance was illumined by something more than human interest, as sympathy and love came out to the boy, from his very soul. Those were some of the times when I felt that no one could see in that charming face anything except beauty.”35
“The face of Lincoln told the story of his life – a life of sorrow and struggle, of deep-seated sadness, of ceaseless endeavor…the rugged energy [was] stamped on that uncomely plebeian face, with its great crag-like brows and bones…[and] the deep melancholy that overshadowed every feature of it,” wrote journalist Allen Thorndike Rice.”36 In her memoirs, Princess Salm Salm recalled Mr. Lincoln early in his first term, “President Lincoln’s appearance was peculiar. There was in his face, besides kindness and melancholy, a sly humor flickering around the corners of his big mouth and his rather small and somewhat tired-looking eyes.”37
The White House years took their toll. Sculptor Thomas Jones worked on a sculpture of the President in the months after his election. “About two weeks before Lincoln left Springfield for Washington a deep-seated melancholy seemed to take possession of his soul,” wrote Jones. The former Lincoln was no longer visible to me. His face was transformed from mobility into an iron mask.” 38 By 1862 when journalist Noah Brooks saw President Lincoln after several years apart, he was shocked by his friend’s appearance: “His eyes were almost deathly in their gloomy depths, and on his visage was an air of profound sadness. His face was colorless and dawn and new grown whisker added to the agedness of his appearance When I had seen him last in Illinois, his face, although always sallow, wore a tinge of rosiness in the cheeks, but now it was pale and colorless.”39 A year later, Walt Whitman described Mr. Lincoln to his family: “I had a good view of the president last evening. He looks more careworn even than usual, his face cut with deep lines, seams, and his complexion gray through very dark skin – curious looking man, very sad.”40
Painter Thomas Hicks painted Mr. Lincoln’s portrait in the spring of 1860: “Seeing Mr. Lincoln under a variety of circumstances and in the intimate relation of the sitter and the painter, I observed the leading traits of his character. But when I saw him in Washington, three years later, the elements which I had studied in our intercourse at Springfield, and others, newly developed, were so broadened and sharpened by the great events of the time, both of success and disaster, that he seemed almost transfigured by the change.”41 A French writer who saw the President in the weeks before his death, concluded: “His face denotes an immense force of resistance and extreme melancholy. It is plain that this man has suffered deeply.”42
Historian James G. Randall observed: “One factor of his appearance was not seen in photographs: the sparkle of the face in animation noted by those who described him from life, but too much a part of the face in action to be captured by the camera. ‘The moment Lincoln took his seat at the photo machine [wrote Herndon] and looked down the barrel of it he became sad – rather serious, as all business with him was serious, life included.’ To Whitney, it seemed: ‘His mobile face ranged…through a long gamut: it was rare that an artist could catch the expression, and Lincoln’s face was of that kind that the expression was of greater consequence than the contour of the features.”43
Mr. Lincoln’s face caused great trouble for painters and sculptors, noted John G. Nicolay, who wrote that he “saw nearly a dozen, one after another, soon after his first nomination to the presidency, attempt the task. They put into their pictures the large rugged features, and strong prominent lines; they made measurements to obtain exact proportions; they ‘petrified’ some single look, but the picture remained hard and cold. Even before these paintings were finished it was plain to see that they were unsatisfactory to the artists themselves, and much more so to the intimate friends of the man; this was not he who smiled, spoke, laughed, charmed….Graphic arts was powerless before a face that moved through a thousand delicate graduations of line and contour, light and shade, sparkle of the eye and curve of the lip, in the long gamut of expression from grave to gay, and back against from the rollicking jollity of laughter to that serious far-away look that with prophetic intuitions behind the awful panorama of war, and heard the cry of oppression and suffering. There are many pictures of Lincoln; there is no portrait of him.”44
Sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens recalled: “When I began this work I despaired of making a worthy or satisfactory statue. So many, almost all, of the likenesses of Lincoln represent him as ungainly, uncouth, homely unpicturesque; but when I had made a study of his life, had learned more and more of his character, of his natural nobility and lovableness, his deep and true human sympathy, had read of him, talked of him with men who knew him and loved him, I became more and more convinced that his face must been the most truly beautiful of all I have tried to model.”45
Mr. Lincoln sat for painter Alban Jasper Conant in 1860. Several decades later, Conant wrote: “The secret lay in his sensitive muscular control of the mouth. That sensitive mouth of his was the index of the mellow human sympathy of his disposition. He was acutely alive to distress in any form, and the cry of a child, particularly, would arrest his attention, no matter what he was engaged upon. Several times, when we were alone together, both working busily, I saw him stop and call to him, for a jocose remark and a handshake, some barefoot boy who had stolen softly up the stairs and was gazing around the half-open door in awe at the famous candidate.”
Francis B. Carpenter, who painted the Cabinet for “The First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln”, wrote that “Mr. Lincoln had the saddest face I ever attempt to paint. During some of the dark days of the spring and summer of 1864, I saw him at times when his care-worn, troubled appearance was enough to bring tears of sympathy into the eyes of his most bitter opponents. I recall particularly one day, when, having occasion to pass through the main hall of the domestic apartments, I met him alone, pacing up and down a narrow passage, his hands behind him, his head bent forward upon his breast, heavy black rings under his eyes, showing sleepless nights – altogether such a picture of the effects of sorrow and care as I have never seen!”46
Granting a pardon or other kindness made Mr. Lincoln smile. The deaths of soldiers pained him unspeakably. Army Colonel A. H. Markland saw President Lincoln in the winter of 1864-1865 before he left to join General William T. Sherman in the Carolinas. “Say to General Sherman, for me, whenever and wherever you see him, ‘God bless him and God bless his army.’ That is as much as I can say and more than I can write,” President Lincoln told Markland. “He held my hand during the delivery of this message, and our eyes looked into each other’s. The tear-drops gathered in his eyes, his lips trembled, and his voice faltered,” recalled Markland. As he departed, the President called to him again: “‘Now, remember what I say,’ and then he repeated the message. I passed out the door and never saw Mr. Lincoln again, but the language and picture of that meeting will never be forgotten.”
The ravages of the Civil War were written on Mr. Lincoln’s countenance. Chicago resident Mary A. Livermore was impressed with how “haggard” President Lincoln looked when she visited him in November 1862. “No one can ever estimated the suffering endured by President Lincoln during the war. I saw him several times afterwards, and each time I was impressed anew with the look of pain and weariness stereotyped on his face. ‘He envied the soldier sleeping in his blanket on the Potomac,’ he would say, in his torture. And sometimes, when the woes of the country pressed most heavily on him, he envied the dead soldier sleeping in the cemetery.”47
Aide John Hay observed: “As time wore on and the war held its terrible course, upon no one of all those who lived through it was its effect more apparent than upon the President. He bore the sorrows of the nation in his own heart; he suffered deeply, not only from disappointments, from treachery, from hope deferred, from the open assaults of enemies and rom the sincere anger of discontented friends, but also from the world wide distress and affliction which flowed from the great conflict in which he was engaged and which he could not evade. One of the most tender and compassionate of men, he was forced to give orders which cost thousands of live; by nature a man of order and thrift, he saw the daily spectacle of unutterable waste and destruction which he could not prevent. The cry of the widow and the orphan was always in his ears; the awful responsibility resting upon him as the protector of an imperilled republic kept him true to his duty, but could not make him unmindful of the intimate details of that vast sum of human misery involved in civil war.”48
Hay continued: “Under this frightful ordeal his demeanor and disposition changed; so gradually that it would be impossible to say when the change began; but he was in mind, body and nerves a very different man at the second inauguration from the one who had taken the oath in 1861. He continued always the same kindly , genial and cordial spirit he had been at first; but the boisterous laughter became less frequent year by year; the eye grew veiled by constant meditation on momentous subjects; the air of reserve and detachment from his surroundings increased. He aged with great rapidity.”49
No man but Mr. Lincoln ever knew how great was the load of care which he bore, nor the amount of mental labor which he daily accomplished,” wrote California reporter Noah Brooks. “With the usual perplexities of the office – greatly increased by the unusual multiplication of places in his gift – he carried the burdens of the civil war, which he always called ‘This great trouble.’”50 Another journalist, William A. Croffut: “I have never known so great a change to take place in any man’s appearance as in Mr. Lincoln’s during the three years following the day when I first sw him – March 4, 1861. He was never handsome, indeed, but he grew more and cadaverous and ungainly month by month. The terrible labor which the war imposed prevented him from taking systematic exercise, and he became constantly more lean and sallow. He had a very dejected appearance, and ugly black rings appeared under his eyes.51 Nevertheless, noted Croffut, “He never was quite as sad as he looked, and amid his heaviest responsibilities, he generally decorated the situation with a story, an allegory, or a joke – though the latter were less broad than reported. And occasion he was not without real vigor.”
Of a committee that came to protest against making the South so angry that it would never reunite, he asked, ‘Would you prosecute the contest in future with alder-stick squirts, filled with rose water?”52
On April 15, 1865, Mr. Lincoln became the Civil War’s most prominent casualty. Perhaps appropriately, the tragic deed was done was he was watching a comedy. Humorist David R. Locke observed: “I saw him, or what was mortal of him, on the mournful progress to his last resting-place, in his coffin. The face was the same as in life. Death had not changed the kindly countenance in any line. There was upon it the same sad look that it had worn always, though not so intensely sad as it had been in life. It was if the spirit had come back to the poor clay, reshaped the wonderfully sweet face, and given it an expression of gladness that he had finally gone ‘where the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are at rest.’ The face had an expression of absolute content, of relief, at throwing off a burden such as few men have been called upon to bear – a burden which few men could have borne. I had seen the same expression on his living face only a few times, when, after a great calamity, he had come to a great victory. It was the look of a worn man suddenly relieved.”53
The suffering was relieved. The grace of Mr. Lincoln’s words remained. But the beauty of his face has regrettably been lost.

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