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Professor Bernard teaches history at Boston University , where he also serves as Curator of the Lincoln Collections. His published writings have included studies on the Civil War and Lincolniana. Lincoln and the Music Of the Civil War KENNETH A. BERNARD FOH sometime, the evening of March 4, 1861, Prof. Weber's Band had been playing lively dance tunes—waltzes, polkas, mazurkas—for the crowd assembled in the huge, 250 by 60 foot hall specially constructed, and vividly decorated, for the first social affair of the new administration, the Inaugural Ball. Then, well along in the evening, came the event for which all had been waiting—the appearance of the President and his guests. As Mr. Lincoln and Mayor Joseph Berret entered the hall, the Band struck up "Hail to the Chief," and to its stirring strains the Presidential party did the "grand march" the full length of the hall. Shortly, the dancing continued, well-wishers greeted the President, who looked "worried and exhausted," or who appeared to be the "one and only continuous bright spot"—depending upon the reporter or opinion—members of the Presidential party participated in the dancing (with Mrs. Lincoln and Senator Douglas partners in a quadrille), and it was well after twelve o'clock when the new occupants of the Executive Mansion left the hall. One of the Presidential party summed it up thus: Like all similar functions it was more of a reception, and "dress parade" where the President is on exhibition, and he and his family march through the ranks of observers and critics, and are then at liberty to leave the scene, after witnessing the attack of the hungry skirmishers on the supper table, and of this permission we most gladly availed ourselves at an early hour.1 ? Elizabeth Todd Grimsley, "Six Months in the White House," 111. State Hist. Soc. Journal, XIX (Oct. 1926-Jan. 1927), 47. 269 270KENNETH ?. BERNARD It had been a strenuous day, the first of many strenuous days to come, a day in which much of Mr. Lincoln's time had been devoted to important public functions, for he was now the head of a Union that apparently was crumbling. And as the public functions of the day had had a musical background with bands playing at the Inauguration and at the Inaugural Ball, so it was to be for the next four years; in the Capital, in the towns and cities of the North and the villages of the South, in the army camps and on the battlefields there was to be much music—martial music to stimulate and sustain, folk music to bind the ties, popular music to arouse enthusiasm, religious music to give comfort and hope. In the agony of war both the people and the people's President would hear this music. But though the President would hear much music, he would not always listen to what was being played or even be conscious of it, for much of the time he would be too preoccupied—or distracted—by matters ever pressing for attention. Yet there would be times when he would hear and would listen, times when he would be deeply thrilled and deeply moved, times when he could relax and be soothed by the familiar tunes, times when he would make requests for particular pieces, times when he would compliment the players, times when he would be sustained, and times when he would be brought to tears. Mr. Lincoln was soon to become accustomed to the piece that was played both at the Inaugural ceremonies and the Inaugural Ball on March 4, 1861. He had heard it a few evenings before when a large crowd gathered outside Willard's Hotel to serenade him. Responding with a brief speech of good will, he had closed by saying; "And now my friends with these very few remarks, I again return my thanks for this compliment, and expressing my desire to hear a little more of your good music, I bid you good night."2 He was to hear the piece numberless times in the next four years. Hail to the Chief, who in triumph advances— The tune may have been adaptable to the bands...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 269-283
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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