National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Alan and Lois Fern Acquisition Fund
With victory for the Union all but certain after the fall of Richmond on April 3, 1865, Abraham Lincoln traveled by boat to the former Confederate capital on April 4, accompanied by a party that included his young son Tad, Admiral David Dixon Porter, and a small contingent of marines. Within moments of disembarking, Lincoln was recognized by a liberated bondsman who shouted, "Bless the Lord, there is the great Messiah! Glory, Hallelujah!" As the president walked from the waterfront to the Virginia statehouse, thousands of the city’s newly freed men, women, and children rushed to see the man they greeted as their liberator. As one contemporary observed, "Probably no mortal ever received such a greeting of prayers and tears and blessing as that which was conferred upon Abraham Lincoln by [those] whom the war had emancipated." Created by an eyewitness, this drawing captures the jubilation of that moment.