An appreciative Englishman, writing in the London Nation at the time of the Centennial commemoration, says of Lincoln:
The Committee in charge of the commemoration in New York arranged for a series of addresses to be given to the people of the city and it was my privilege to be selected as one of the speakers. It was an indication of the rapid passing away of the generation which had had to do with the events of the War, that the list of orators, forty-six in all, included only four men who had ever seen the hero whose life and character they were describing.
In December, we find correspondence between Lincoln and Gilmer of North Carolina, whom he had known in Washington. "The essential difference," says Lincoln, "between your group and mine is that you hold slavery to be in itself desirable and as something to be extended. I hold it to be an essential evil which, with due regard to existing rights, must be restricted and in the near future exterminated."
On the 4th of March comes the second inaugural, in which Lincoln speaks almost in the language of a Hebrew prophet. The feeling is strong upon him that the clouds of war are about to roll away but he cannot free himself from the oppression that the burdens of the War have produced. The emphasis is placed on the all-important task of bringing the enmities to a close with the end of the actual fighting. He points out that responsibilities rest upon the North as well as upon the South and he invokes from those who under his leadership are bringing the contest to a triumphant close, their sympathy and their help for their fellow-men who have been overcome. The address is possibly the most impressive utterance ever made by a national leader and it is most characteristic of the fineness and largeness of nature of the man. I cite the closing paragraph: