Source: "Lookin' Back" column, The Herkimer Evening Telegram, April 14, 2001
LINCOLN SPOKE HERE IN 1861
Few in County Who Will Honor Martyred President Monday
With the entire county, including the school children and students of history, ready to pay tribute to Abraham Lincoln, Monday, few will recall the Great Emancipator's visit to Herkimer county just 72 years ago, while en route from Springfield, Ill., to Washington to assume the Presidency which was to cost him his life after years of tribulation.
Newspapers of that day say he received an enthusiastic greeting here (Herkimer) and in Little Falls, where he made a brief address.
As far as is known, there is just one eye witness left who heard Lincoln speak at Little Falls in February, 1861. He is Victor Adams, then a small boy. He still remembers the occasion clearly despite his advanced years.
The Journal and Courier of Little Falls in its writeup of the visit at that time said:
"Those who saw the smile upon his countenance wondered that his face could be called homely, and all who heard his manly voice felt intuitively that it was the voice of an honest man."
A great tribute in 1861.
It was 10 minutes past noon on February 18, 1861, that Lincoln's train, bearing his family and some friends, arrived in Little Falls. As the train neared the New York Central station bells were rung, cannon roared a salute and the new local brass band struck up an inspiring anthem. All these welcomed sounds were nearly drowned out by the cheers of the thousands who had gathered for a glimpse of the lanky mid-westerner who had startled the effete east by winning the Presidency.
In the throng were several hundred women and, as the band played "Hail Columbia," they waved their handkerchiefs in unison. S. M. Richmond, president of the village, extended official greetings to Mr. Lincoln, who addressed the crowd as follows:
Ladies and Gentlemen: I appear before you merely for the purpose of greeting you, saying a few words and bidding you farewell. I can only say, as I have often said before, that I have no speech to make and no time to make one if I had; neither have I the strength to repeat a speech at all the places at which I stop, even though other circumstances were favorable. I am thankful for this opportunity of seeing you, and of allowing you to see me. (Applause.) And in this, so far as regard the ladies, I think I have the best of the bargain. (Applause.) I don't make that acknowledgement, however, to the gentlemen (Laughter.) And now I believe I have really made my speech and am ready to bid you farewell when the train moves off."
Mr. Lincoln spoke from the train and at the conclusion of his remarks the applause rang out long and loud. The President-elect must have been well pleased by the enthusiasm shown in a small community. E're long he was to have need of active and whole-hearted support, and Herkimer county was to respond with a patriotic fervor in keeping with the manifestation of affection shown the President when he was here.
The reception was such that the reporter for The Albany Journal, traveling with the presidential party, wrote:
"At Little Falls took place what was pronounced the prettiest brief reception that President Lincoln has received since he left Springfield, and that pleasantly attested that the go-ahead citizens of Little Falls were ready and prompt to do all they could in five minutes to attest the loyalty to the President-elect, their love of the man, and undying zeal in behalf of the institution he is called by the voice of the people to preserve and defend."
Copyright © 1933, 2001 The Herkimer Evening Telegram
Copyright © 2001 Betsy Voorhees
All Rights Reserved.