Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

Post image for Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne.

Letters and Diary of Laura M. Towne.

April 29, 2015

Letters and diary of Laura M. Towne

[The next letter refers to the death of President Lincoln.]

Saturday, April 29, 1865.

… It was a frightful blow at first. The people have refused to believe he was dead. Last Sunday the black minister of Frogmore said that if they knew the President were dead they would mourn for him, but they could not think that was the truth, and they would wait and see. We are going to-morrow to hear what further they say. One man came for clothing and seemed very indifferent about them — different from most of the people. I expressed some surprise. “Oh,” he said, “I have lost a friend. I don’t care much now about anything.” “What friend?” I asked, not really thinking for a moment. “They call him Sam,” he said; “Uncle Sam, the best friend ever I had.” Another asked me in a whisper if it were true that the “Government was dead.” Rina says she can’t sleep for thinking how sorry she is to lose “Pa Linkum.” You know they call their elders in the church — or the particular one who converted and received them in — their spiritual father, and he has the most absolute power over them. These fathers are addressed with fear and awe as “Pa Marcus,” “Pa Demas,” etc. One man said to me, “Lincoln died for we, Christ died for we, and me believe him de same mans,” that is, they are the same person.

We dressed our school-house in what black we could get, and gave a shred of crape to some of our children, who wear it sacredly. Fanny’s bonnet supplied the whole school.

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