Pension Office employee describes Washington D.C. immediately after Lincoln assassination
April 17, 1865
Emert A. Parker was 55 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Harriet S. Parker, was 24 when it was received.
Emert A. Parker died 18 years, 9 months, 3 days after writing this.
It was written 155 years, 11 months, 25 days ago.
It was a Monday.
April 17, 1865
Miss Hattie S. Parker
My Dear Daughter,
I have an hour or two before the distribution of our mail, will improve it in writing you. I confess I feel less like writing today than on Saturday. I have in common with the whole community been paralyzed, and we are just beginning to feel our sensibilities returning. And we in some measure comprehend our individual loss, our National loss. If ever a people had a father who loved them, who yearned over them, we are these people and that Father was Abraham Lincoln. He was kind and tender to a fault and he fully carried out the true sentiments of our Blessed Savior. Love your enemies, do good them which curse you, etc. The South have lost their best friend their benefactor who truly loves them as any children & cannot have it so that President Lincoln is no more. As I see his portraits in the windows draped in mourning, tears will flow unbidden. Friday was one of our most lovely days we have here, soft, balmy, glowing with a rich mellow flowing of yellow light toward night. Not a cloud was visible. It made one think of Heaven so calm and soft was the sunset. Mr. Howlet gave his church and people an account of his wife’s sickness and death in the evening, which was most triumphant. Louisa was present with me, at ½ past 9, I went with her to Mr. Dyer’s returned to my own room, about ½ past 10 retired early. Next morning Mrs. Hanover came to my room told me someone was dead. I understood her that it was Mr. Seward. As I had not yet a paper with that impression as I had known that in some circles Mr. Seward was considered in a critical condition after it was fractured. Therefore, I was not wholly taken by surprise. I procured a paper and you can judge of my emotions. In fact, I had none. What added to the general gloom during the night it clouded over and the morning was dark, cold, and raining, raining fast. But few places were opened at all, and all were soon closed. Soon emblems of mourning it increased all day until the stock of all mourning goods was exhausted.
The city government and the government sent to Baltimore and even to Philadelphia Sunday morning. Yesterday disclosed a sight seldom seen and never witnessed, never has mourning been so generally. Almost every house, great, or small, Palace and hut, the cabins of the poor Colored Men showed some signs of their feelings, of the humble inmates they feel they have lost all, their grief is unsupportable. The city cars were all draped. The churches outside over the entrance inside all deeply draped. Such a Sabbath was never seen. All the Pastors’ preached sermons appropriate. It was solemn everywhere. But the excitement in the street was much more intense than on Saturday. By papers I send, you will see how near we came to a general outbreak. It behooves everyone to remain calm and not to advocate any outburst or retaliation toward those of rebel proclivities, but here you, if one peeps he is arrested at once, to save him from execution. This morning I think the popular feeling is for extreme measures to pursuit towards all rebels. Gen. Butler has been ordered here and has arrived. I think everything points to more stringent measures. The day of limited measures is passed I think.
Papers I send will give you synopsis of many of the sermons, and many interesting items of a local character. No work will be attended to, or, done only that of necessity in any of the departments until after the funeral. Nearly all are gone from our dept.
I have never heard such fervent prayers as ever offered in all the churches, as were uttered for Pres. Johnson. I trust they may avail with the Heaven of prayer and that he may be kept once preserved and be made an instrument of good for our beloved country. Our dear country is becoming more and more dear as the sacrifices, more and more precious are offered up for her.
Our hospitals present the appearance of all times. Some terrible cases, I have never seen worse. But this is an old story--
It behooves us all to cling to our only refuge, God our Shield a strong tower into which the righteous may run and are safe. May you find peace and joy in trusting in Christ and He become to you a complete and full salvation.
Affct. Your Father,
E. H. Parker