April 1865. President Abraham Lincoln is shot while attending a theater performance in Washington, DC. He dies the following morning.
“Here in Syracuse, people are absolutely devastated” says Robert Searing, Curator of History at the Onondaga Historical Association.
As people wept in the streets, Mayor Stewart announced that all schools, churches, and businesses would be closed.
On the day of President Lincoln’s funeral in Washington, thousands turned out in Syracuse for a nearly four-hour parade honoring him. Nearly every city church was represented, as were all local civic organizations.
The parade ended at Hanover Square, where a mock funeral was held for the President. A large platform decorated with flags and black and white cloth was the centerpiece. Former Republican Congressman Charles B. Sedgwick – a friend of President Lincoln’s – gave the eulogy.
“The multitudes that gathered at Hanover Square listened to Sedgwick give this stirring eulogy where he basically recounts some of his own dealings with the President, recounts the virtues of the President and then really lauds the President for sticking with the cause and ultimately he really gives him the most praise for seeing the cause of abolition through to the end and calls it the great national stain that has been removed and he says the last line is that Lincoln’s name has become historic” says Searing.
President Lincoln’s funeral train stopped briefly in Syracuse on April 26, 1865 – the same day that his
assassin was finally found in a barn in Maryland.
Sixty years later, OHA obtained an item known as the “Hairy Eagle.” The sculpture contains President Lincoln’s actual hair, along with that of Lincoln’s cabinet members and other prominent Republican politicians. It was made by two Brooklyn jewelers, Champney and Spies, for display at the Sanitary Commission Fair in Brooklyn in April 1864.
See the “Hairy Eagle” for yourself and learn much more about local history. The Onondaga Historical Association’s museum is located at 321 Montgomery Street in Syracuse.