Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln on the Mountaintop

What did Lincoln do on Tuesday, April 11, 1865?

Throughout the previous two summers, Lincoln had become accustomed to being serenaded on summer evenings. Sometimes it was the Marine Corps Band; at other times it was unofficial music groups that performed on the White House lawn. Because of the excitement and joy in Washington, D.C., another such performance was scheduled for the evening of April 11.

When the music finished, Lincoln pulled out sheets of paper and spoke from the portico. “We meet this evening not in anxiety but in gladness of heart,” he began. The crowd began chanting, expecting a victory speech. But Lincoln soon transitioned to the difficult processes that lay ahead. How would the former Confederate states be reintegrated, he asked? The most reasonable course of action, he declared, was to follow what had begun in Louisiana the previous year. When 12,000 Unionists turned out to vote in the federally sponsored elections of 1864, Lincoln declared that Louisiana had resumed its former statehood.


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