[APPLAUSE] EMILY: Thank you all for coming. As you can tell from your programs, this is a program of music related to Lincoln. I've divided it into three parts that I hope complement each other well. As I looked through repertoire, it became clear to me that there was a fairly consistent reception of Lincoln through the ages musically, so I thought it would be nice to portray that.
So our first set is music from after his death, what we might call art songs, songs for piano and voice in sort of late romantic style. The second set are pieces from around his time, either related to him or responding to his death, more popular tunes.
And the last set are a selection of three pieces from a larger collection of songs written by, actually, Cornell alumn and Joseph Gregorio. And I'll tell you about the text for those songs as they arrive. But you have in front of you the text to all of the pieces.
And just a note about the first three. Two of them are settings of Whitman, Whitman's [INAUDIBLE], which some of you may know. Whitman wrote an extended poem known as Lincoln's Burial Hymn. And if you know it, the first three lines are, "When lilacs last in the door-yard bloomed and great stars early drooped in the Western sky in the night, I mourned, and yet shall mourn with ever returning spring."
And the selection from that burial hymn-- this is the last song that we'll do in this first set-- is from the central selection, central passage, of the Whitman poem. Stanford, who was a British composer, sat for the entire lengthy text for, actually, chorus and various vocal soloists and orchestra. So this is one portion of that larger piece, called Elegiac Ode, which he himself also arranged for piano and soloist.
And the other two on this first set, I couldn't find much out about Robert Braine, but it's a nice piece and I hope you enjoy it.
And Will Earhart was actually mainly a music educator, based in Pittsburgh, and composed a little bit. So in fact, the Whitman poems, the Whitman settings, are the first and third selections that you'll hear just now.
TYLER HERMAN: (SINGING) Oh Captain, my Captain, our fearful trip is done. The ship has weathered every rack. The prize we sought is won. The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting. While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
But oh heart, leave heart, leave you not the little spot where off the deck my Captain lies, fallen, cold, and dead.
O Captain, my Captain. Rise up and hear the bells. Rise up, for you the flag is flung. For you the bugle trills. For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths. For you the shores a-crowding. For you they call the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
Oh Captain, dear father. This arm I push beneath you. It is some dream that on the dock you've fallen cold and dead.
My Captain does not answer. His lips are pale and still. My father does not feel my arm. He has no pulse or will. But the ship, the ship is anchored safe, it's voyage closed and done. From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.
Exult, oh shores, and ring, oh bells. But I, with silent tread, walk the spot my Captain lies, fallen, cold, and dead.
(SINGING) Abraham Lincoln, what's in your eyes, hollow and sunken and as deep as the skies? The finger of sorrow, silent and lone, listening for God in the heart of a moan. Abraham Lincoln, whose was the art that touched you with humor, though broken of heart? Infinite tenderness, furrowed of face. Saw humanity's tears to laughter give place.
Abraham Lincoln, what is your thought of the woes of the world that injustice has wrought? Though the blood of the prophets of freedom be spilled, the thunders of Sinai cannot be stilled. Abraham Lincoln, what says your soul, whose gestures heroic span history's scroll, that the feet of devotion with glory be shod. Earth's martyrs keep step with this strides of our God.
Abraham Lincoln, why are you sad, when all of love's world would be smiling and glad? The age are pallid with the deeds of the wrong, and brotherhood cries and the night is so long. Abraham Lincoln, how came your power of sensing fate's clock to the stroke of time's hour? In the quiet of prayer was the world set apart. The better to hear the tick off God's heart.
Abraham Lincoln, immortal of fame, will righteousness rule in democracy's name. When the nations strike, and in love are made one, the shackles will fall and my work will be done.
(SINGING) Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet. Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome? Then I, I chanted for thee. I chanted for thee. I glorify thee above all. I glorify thee above all. I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come without faltering.
Approach, strong deliveress. Approach, strong deliveress. When it is so, when thou hast taken them, I joyously, joyously sing the dead. When it is so, when thou hast taken them, I joyously, joyously sing the dead.
Lost in the loving, floating ocean, the loving ocean of thee. Laved in the flood of thy bliss. Laved in the flood of thy bliss. Laved in the flood, in the flood of thy bliss, oh death.
EMILY: It's my pleasure now to introduce someone local, who many of you may already know, a history professor here. Margaret Washington, who has recently come out with the book on Sojourner Truth, and is a well-respected expert on slavery and women's issues in slavery and life surrounding Lincoln. So it was very appropriate that she was willing to come here and speak about Lincoln's relationship with the abolitionists. And so I'm very happy to introduce to you Margaret Washington.
MARGARET WASHINGTON: Abraham Lincoln said that he was naturally anti-slavery, yet he repeatedly insisted, I am not an abolitionist. What was this label that our so-called great emancipator strove to separate himself from? An abolitionist advocated an immediate and unconditional emancipation.
An abolitionist believed that slavery should end, even at the price of union. In fact, radical abolitionists who followed William Lloyd Garrison embraced the motto, no union with slaveholders, and call the Constitution a covenant with death and a compact with hell. An abolitionist advocated equality without distinction of race, creed, or color.
It would seem that Lincoln did not fill this bill. Lincoln was a unionist. Indeed, asserted Walt Whitman, the only thing like passion or infatuation in the man was the passion for the union of these states. This was an obsession that Whitman, a Jacksonian Democrat and sometimes public southern sympathizer, shared. Both antislavery men disliked abolitionists, upheld white supremacy, advocated black colonization to Africa, and while excoriating the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, insisted that every self-emancipated person be returned because that was the law.
All of these shared philosophies bound the working man's poet, whose first leaves of grass nodded to black humanity, and the Kentucky-born commoner and prairie lawyer who believed that one should not eat their bread by the sweat of someone else's brow. Lincoln and Whitman's contradictions, to borrow the poet's own words, were multitudinous.
In Washington, where Whitman did hospital work during the Civil War, the two men saw each other in passing many times, sometimes nodded toward each other, and yet they never met. Speaking at his first inaugural address, Lincoln immediately clarified his position on abolition for any doubters, and there were many outside of the movement. He would uphold the Constitution as a compact of states that could not be broken.
And he supported the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, passed by Congress, that would forever guarantee slavery in the states from federal intervention. His position notwithstanding, Lincoln deeply felt the influence of abolitionists. They quickened their activist's pace for the first two years of the war.
They castigated him in the press, spoke against him from the platform, and took advantage of his open door policy to appeal to him personally. Republicans, in their zeal to create a victorious coalition, had even appealed to radical abolitionists for the first time in years and got them to vote for Lincoln.
Lincoln was also feeling the heat from a cultural perspective. For the 1860 presidential campaign, Republicans had at enlisted the singing power of the most popular group in America, the Hutchinsons, a New Hampshire farming family. The songs, wrote Walt Whitman, were fresh, simple, beautiful, and free of any spirit of European imitation. Their untrained vocals were naturally eloquent, melodious, and devoid of affectation or stage grimace. They sang of common American experience and ordinary lives.
When the Hutchinsons were just getting started in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1840, they met a tall, newly self-emancipated young black man with a gift of silver tongue speech. His name was Frederick Douglass. Douglass was a major influence on the Hutchinsons' uncompromising commitment to social justice causes and they developed a lifelong friendship. Lincoln loved the Hutchinsons's music. He also loved blackface minstrelsy.
The Hutchinsons were freedom singers, and they used Republican rallies to sing for immediate emancipation, women's rights, prison reform, and temperance. The Hutchinsons transformed blackface minstrel songs into abolitionist songs. For example, the racist, denigrating Old Dan Tucker became Get Off the Track!, a demand that everyone interfering with black freedom get out of the way.
The exegesis of war, the need for black troops, the valor of those troops, and Lincoln's personal contact with African American activists strained his anti-abolitionist philosophy, his African colonization perspective, and his white supremacy.
These included meeting with Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, and black leaders from the South. Indeed, Lincoln's administration represented the first time black Americans had ever entered the presence of a president, other than as servants. As for servants, Lincoln had brought one with him from Illinois. We do not know much about William H. Johnson, not even his age, except that he was a grown man and Lincoln's valet.
Lincoln characterized him as honest, faithful, sober, industrious, and handy. I have confidence in his integrity, Lincoln said. A newspaper man had commented on Johnson's attentiveness to Lincoln in 1861 when they traveled to Washington together from Springfield. Johnson was the most useful member of Lincoln's party, the reporter said.
Johnson had a difficult time in Washington because the light-skinned black staff treated the dark-skinned man badly. Secretary of Treasury, Salmon P. Chase, found a place for Johnson, at Lincoln's suggestion, in the Treasury Department. And Johnson continued as Lincoln's personal valet, shaving him, serving as messenger, friend, and sometimes his bodyguard. In 1861 and 1862, Lincoln referred to Johnson in his writing as "my colored boy," not the black man.
By the time Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in September of 1862, he spoke of Johnson as a worthy man. He took Johnson with him to meet his generals, especially the very racist George McClellan. And when Lincoln prepared to go to Gettysburg, he wrote in a curt note, William goes with me.
At least one writer believes that in preparing his Gettysburg Address, Lincoln tried it out on William Johnson the night before he delivered it. In route back to Washington, Lincoln became ill. His face was shallow, eyes sunken, and he had a grievous headache. Johnson attended him, bathing his forehead with cold water. Back in Washington, a mild form of smallpox overtook Lincoln and his son Tad, and they were ill for nearly three weeks.
During that time, Johnson attended the president and he contracted the disease himself. He got a more severe strain of it and had to be hospitalized. Now it was Lincoln's turn to be concerned for Johnson. Lincoln saw to Johnson's personal affairs, especially money owed to him by the Treasury Department.
I am acting according to Johnson's wishes, he said to a reporter, as he counted greenbacks and put them in various envelopes and labeled them. Lincoln recovered, Johnson did not. In the cold January of 1864, Lincoln had William H. Johnson buried in the new National Cemetery at Arlington and personally paid for the burial.
The headstone he chose identifies William Johnson with the single word, citizen. Instead of the 13th Amendment passed by Congress in 1861, in 1865, Lincoln ushered through another 13th Amendment that just barely slipped past the House of Representatives. It forever abolished slavery in the land.
When the Civil War ended and Lincoln went to the former capital in Richmond, he asked William Lloyd Garrison to go with him. They marched together in the streets as throngs of African Americans cheered. In Lincoln's second inaugural address, a marked difference from the first, there were more African Americans present than whites.
Thousands listened as Lincoln quoted Isaiah, the abolitionist's famous and most favorite Old Testament seer. Lincoln's most memorable passage sounded like Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, or William Lloyd Garrison.
"Finally do we hope, he wrote, fervently do we pray that this mighty scores of war may soon pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsmen, 250 years of unrequited toil, shall be sunk and every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword." As was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said today. The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Was Lincoln an abolitionist? You be the judge.
EMILY: Well, so many things were mentioned in Professor Washington's talk that are on your program today. So you will shortly hear a song by Asa Hutchinson, one of the abolitionist minstrels. And the only other person in this second part that I want to talk about is George F. Root, who, in fact, we don't know him as well as Stephen Foster, but he was a contemporary and wrote as many or more songs in similar style. So you'll hear one of his pieces as well. I should say I introduced Professor Washington. Maybe I should say who we are. Obviously, one of us is Emily, and that's me.
And this is Tyler Herman, who graduated this past year with a BA and a major in theater.
TYLER HERMAN: Theater and dance and music.
TYLER HERMAN: Emily graduated this past spring.
EMILY: I just finished my PhD from here in musicology. And we both live in DC so we've been collaborating, rehearsing down there, and we're happy to be back.
TYLER HERMAN: And this is Brian Mastrol. You'll be hearing from him later. He's a current student here.
EMILY: Also, before I forget, there's a reception afterwards. So feel free-- actually, please join us.
TYLER HERMAN: (SINGING) Close his eyes, his work is done. What to him his friend or foe man, rise of moon or set of sun, hand of man or kiss of woman? Lay him low, lay him low under the clover or under the snow. What cares he. He cannot know. Lay him low.
Leave him to God's watching eye, trusting to the hand that made him. Mortal love wept idly by. God alone has power to save him. Lay him low, lay him low under the clover or under the snow. What cares he. He cannot know. Lay him low.
(SINGING) Toll, toll, toll. On every hand, on every hand, ye bells, he bells throughout the land. Ye bells throughout the land. Our noble leader, noble leader, in his glory lies. The damp of death, the damp of death upon his sealed eyes. A martyr true, a martyr true to liberty he dies.
Toll, toll, toll. On every hand, on every hand, ye bells, ye bells throughout the land. Toll, toll, toll. Mourn, mourn, mourn. On every hand, on every hand, ye heroes, heroes of the land. Ye heroes of the land.
Our chieftain's dead. Our chieftain's dead. Great God, can it be? Alas, how brief, alas, how brief is our mortality. Our Father help, oh help and bless to us this agony. Mourn, mourn, mourn. On every hand, on every hand, ye heroes, heroes in the land. Mourn, mourn, mourn.
(SINGING) 'Twas but a little while ago that the Copperheads were found with their great Vallandighammer, a-hammering around. And they tried to scare us with their doleful sound. Hm-ha [WHISTLING].
Then said they, oh, people dear, poor old Uncle Sam is dead. Let us put him in his coffin and hammer down the lid. And to work they all went as the words they said. Hm-ha [WHISTLING].
Said the people, is it so? Pray, what was it made him die? Though we never will believe you, you are so apt to lie. Was the nigger proclamation, they did cry. Hm-ha bum, bum, bum, bum, bum.
But the people only laughed at the story that they told, for they knew his constitution and answered up so bold. Oh, you silly Copperheads, you're badly sold. Hm-ha [WHISTLING].
Uncle Sam, he then arose, like a giant, hale and strong, with his people and his army, a glorious, loyal throng. And the Coppers sneaked to where they all belong. Hm-ha [WHISTLING].
Where they have gone to it is now impossible to tell, but if they are not repenting, we all know very well that when some time or other we shall bring their knell. Hm-ha [WHISTLING].
EMILY: So yes, our one last participant, aside from turning my pages, this is Brian Mastrol, who will read a poem that Lincoln wrote. Lincoln wrote a few poems in his life earlier. There's a set of three from 1844. And Brian will read one called But Here's an Object. Do you want to stand?
BRIAN MASTROL: Sure. "But here's an object more of dread than ought the grave contains, a human form with reason fled while wretched life remains. Poor Matthew, once of genius bright, a fortune-favored child, now locked for aye in mental night, a haggard madman wild.
Poor Matthew. I have never forgot, when first, with maddened will, yourself you maimed, your father fought, and mother strove to kill. When terror spread and neighbors ran, your dangerous strength to bind. And soon, a howling crazy man. Your limbs were fast confined.
How then you strove and shrieked aloud, your bones and sinews bared, and fiendish on the gazing crowd with burning eyeballs glared. And begged and swore and wept and prayed with maniac laughter joined. How fearful were those signs displayed by pangs that killed the mind.
And when at length, though drear and long, time soothed thy fiercer woes, how plaintively thy mournful song upon the still night rose. I've heard it oft, as if I dreamed, far distant, sweet, and lone, the funeral dirge, it ever seemed, of reason dead and gone.
To drink it's strains, I stole away, all stealthily and still. Ere yet the rising God of day had streaked the Eastern hill. Air held its breath. Trees, with the spell, seemed soaring angels round, whose swelling tears in dew drops fell upon the listening ground.
But this is past and nought remains, that raised thee over the brute. Thy piercing shrieks and soothing strains are like forever mute. Now fare thee well, more thou the cause, than subject now of woe. All mental pangs, by time's kind laws, hast lost the power to know.
Oh death, though awe-inspiring prince that keepst the world in fear, why does thou tear more blest ones hence and leave him lingering here?
EMILY: A few notes about this last piece. As I mentioned, it was written by a friend of mine, Joseph Gregorio. He's a composer living in San Francisco. He wrote this piece for the Ives Quartet. It's a string quartet. They commissioned him. And it was premiered by them and baritone, and he then arranged it for us, for piano and voice.
It was a collaboration between him and his sister, Julia Gregorio. She was responsible for compiling the text. The whole of the piece is sudden movements, so you'll be hearing movements 1, 3, and 7, which were Joe's choice. So those are his favorites among the 7th. Julie Gregorio was responsible for putting the text together, and she, in some cases, wrote the text. For the 7th movement, she wrote that a longer poem. For the first and third, she adapted some texts.
We heard about Frederick Douglass in Professor Washington's address. He gave a speech in 1876 about Lincoln, and Julie culled some lines from that and adapted it for the 3rd movement that you'll hear. And the 1st movement is a fable, which you can tell from your text, that Abraham Lincoln copied when he was 13. It was one of his favorite fables. And Julie Gregorio added the short introduction and then the moral at the end.
TYLER HERMAN: (SINGING) These are the words copied by the pen of Abraham Lincoln, aged 13 years, son of Thomas Lincoln of Perry County, Indiana. A lion used to prowl about a field in which four oxen dwelt together.
Many a time he would try to attack them, but whenever he approached they turned their tails on one another and met the lion with a ring of horns.
At last, through the lion's deceitful words, they felt a-quarreling among themselves, and each went off to graze alone in a separate corner of the field. The lion seized his chance and devoured them easily, one by one, one by one. As it is with people, so it is with nations in union there is strength. A kingdom divided against itself cannot stand, cannot stand.
(SINGING) Never shall I forget that night as all the world waited. Would Abraham Lincoln keep his word? We waited and listened as for a bolt from the sky. We watched by the stars' dim light for the dawn of a new day. We longed, we longed, we longed for the answer to the prayers of centuries.
Never shall I forget that morning when cries of joy rent the air as lightning. When our arms, shackled scarred, were raised to the sky. When our backs, lashed and torn, stood straight at last. When the yoke of slavery, the horror and the shame, was lifted from my people's shoulders.
Never shall I forget this great man. This greatest of all men knew that no union could survive unless all of us, all of us were free.
(SINGING) I dreamt that I was carried at great speed on a singular vessel of unfathomable desire toward a distance, indefinite shores. And from this vessel I seemed to rise. And beyond the vastness of the sea I beheld the land of deep forests and wide, fertile valleys and trout silver rivers with water wheels splashing and red dust roads and high mountain passes and farms picked out in pastures green and brown. And the full blush of summer was blowing bright on the land.
I saw shining cities on the coasts and on the plains. Broad avenues of white light and golden light, and children laughing amid the fountains. I saw men and women clear-eyed and unbowed, speaking together in voices joyous and great, walking freely in the square in the first true blue of dusk. I saw black skinned men and white and every shade in all the richness of the earth. And there was room enough for all, for all.
I saw industry and ingenuity and prosperity. and there, in the fading light I saw peace, peace flowing from the fullness of their heart. Peace. The golden raiment [INAUDIBLE] on the lake and breath of the land.
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Pianist Emily Green, Ph.D. '09, and baritone Tyler Herman, B.A. '09, perform music from Abraham Lincoln's era, with a lecture by history professor Margaret Washington.
The event, along with the Library's exhibition, "The Lincoln Presidency: Last Full Measure of Devotion," marked the 200th anniversary of Lincoln's birth.