Matthew Simpson Funeral Address

Publication Year: 1865

Simpson, Matthew. Funeral Address Delivered at the Burial of President Lincoln, at Springfield, Illinois, May 4, 1865. New York: Carlton & Porter, 1865. PHS Call number: PAM E 457.52 .S613 1865

Source note

Matthew Simpson (1811-1884) was a bishop of the Methodist church and a close friend and confidante of President Lincoln. Though Lincoln normally attended a Presbyterian church in Washington, D.C., he was not a member of any particular congregation, and Simpson was selected to give the funeral address at the president’s burial because of his close ties to the president, and for his renowned oratorical skills. A strong supporter of Reconstruction, Simpson argued that this period of political reform was Lincoln's legacy.

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Reading questions

1.    Who is the author of this source? Who is the intended audience?

2.   How did Lincoln’s childhood and upbringing shape the man he would become,  according to Simpson (pages 9, 10)?

3.   One example of Lincoln’s moral strength that Simpson provides (page 12) was  Lincoln’s assurance that preserving the Union was more important to him than  abolishing slavery (at least before the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation). What  does the use of this example say about contemporary perceptions of the Civil  War?

4.   In what ways is Simpson’s funeral address similar to Dr. Gurley’s funeral sermon  (Document 1)? In what ways is it different?

5.   Why does Simpson point out how stable the government transition was after  Lincoln’s assassination (page 19)? What point is he trying to make?

6.   The last paragraph of Simpson’s funeral address became famous after its  publication (page 21). What made it resonate with people after Lincoln’s death?  What tools does it use to make an impact on the listener/reader?

7.   What labels or titles for Lincoln does Simpson use throughout his address? What does this language say about how Lincoln was viewed by many Americans?

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Source type
History Topics
Abolition and Anti-slavery
American Religious History
Civil War
Time Period
Civil War and Reconstruction (1861-1877)