Individual Stories

Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)

Much has been written about Abraham Lincoln's religiosity. His Christian attitude drew admiration from prominent figures in many religious traditions. Though his beliefs were generally nonsectarian, for a portion of his life he was a practicing Presbyterian. The Lincoln family attended the First Presbyterian Church in Springfield, Illinois. Mary Lincoln joined the church on April 13, 1852. (Her husband never officially became a member).

Many sermons and orations marked the occasion of President Lincoln's death on April 14, 1865. Among the most famous is the sermon delivered at the funeral, held at the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C. on the nineteenth of April. Rev. Phineas Gurley (1816-1868) had been the Lincoln family's pastor for four years at the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington. The sermon reveals how Lincoln's pastor viewed the president's place in history. "Where reason fails, with all her powers, There faith prevails, and love adores," Gurley states in his oration.