The funeral procession of the late President of the United States has passed through the land from Washington to his final resting-place in the heart of the Prairies. Along the line of more than fifteen hundred miles his remains were borne, as it were, through continued lines of the people; and the number of mourners and the sincerity and unanimity of grief were such as never before attended the obsequies of a human being; so that the terrible catastrophe of his end hardly struck more awe than the majestic sorrow of the people. The thought of the individual was effaced; and men’s minds were drawn to the station which he filled, to his public career, to the principles he represented, to his martyrdom. There was at first impatience at the escape of his murderer, mixed with contempt for the wretch who was guilty of the crime; and there was relief in the consideration, that one whose personal insignificance was in such a contrast with the greatness of his crime had met with a sudden and ignoble death. No one stopped to remark on the personal qualities of Abraham Lincoln, except to wonder that his gentleness of nature had not saved him from the designs of assassins. It was thought then, and the event is still so recent it is thought now, that the analysis and graphic portraiture of his personal character and habits should be deferred to less excited times; as yet the attempt would wear the aspect of cruel indifference or levity, inconsistent with the sanctity of the occasion. Men ask one another only, Why has the President been struck down, and why do the people mourn? We think we pay the best tribute to his memory and the most fitting respect to his name, if we ask after the relation in which he stands to the history of his country and his fellow-man.
Before the end of 1865, it will have been two hundred and forty-six years since the first negro slaves were landed in Virginia from a Dutch trading-vessel, two hundred and twenty-eight since a Massachusetts vessel returned from the Bahamas with negro slaves for a part of its cargo, two hundred and twenty years since men of Boston introduced them directly from Guinea. Slavery in the United States had not its origin in British policy: it sprung up among Americans themselves, who in that respect acquiesced in the customs and morals of the age. But at a later day the importation of slaves was insisted upon by the government of the mother country, under the influence of mercantile avarice, with the further purpose of weakening the rising Colonies, and impeding the establishment among them of branches of industry that might compete with the productions of England. Climate and the logical consequences of the principles of the Puritans checked the increase of slaves in Massachusetts, from which it gradually disappeared without the necessity of any special act of manumission; in Virginia, the country within the reach of tide-water was crowded with negroes, and the marts were supplied by continuous importations, which the Colony was not suffered to prohibit or restrain.