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Schrader, Christian Abraham Lincoln Lying in State in the Indiana State House, 1865


Christian Schrader was born in Indianapolis in 1842 to German immigrant parents. His family had made the weekslong ocean crossing to the United States in a small, crowded sailing vessel. They settled in Pittsburgh, but learned of the wonderful improvements contemplated in the new state of Indiana and decided to journey there. They traveled by flatboat down the Ohio River to Jeffersonville, then came to Indianapolis by wagon in the early 1830s.

Christian Schrader became a successful china merchant, but he also had a natural gift for drawing. His artist’s eye saw the city changing and growing about him, and he was determined to preserve the picturesque scenes of early Indianapolis. His documentary sketches provide scenes and intimate glimpses of life in Indianapolis during his lifetime.

  • Abraham Lincoln Lying in State in the Indiana State House, 1865
  • 8 1/2″ x 8″
  • Indiana State Library
  • Keywords: drawings, narrative, pencil
  • Subjects: indoors, events, buildings, presidents, people

Following Lincoln’s assassination on April 14, 1865, the nation began to mourn the fallen President, and plans were made for his final journey to Illinois. Indianapolis had the honor of being one of the 12 cities where Lincoln’s body would lie in state. Plans and proclamations were immediately made for the solemn occasion in Indiana. The funeral train would be met at Richmond on the Indiana-Ohio border by Gov. Oliver P. Morton and other dignitaries. They would accompany Lincoln’s body to Indianapolis, where his body would lie in state in the rotunda of the State House. The funeral train would later continue to Chicago.

Sunday, April 30, was a rainy, miserable day. Citizens turned out to pay their respects as the train passed through the Indiana countryside. At Indianapolis the large and complex funeral procession made its way to the State House. The first group to be admitted were Sunday school children and their mothers. Finally the long lines of patient, rain-soaked citizens were admitted. Ladies were requested to wear their skirts unhooped to allow more room. The public viewing was from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.; at midnight Lincoln’s body was carried back to the funeral train.

This sketch is roughly drawn but has some amazing points of detail nonetheless. Schrader chose to portray the scene as a documentary view. The casket and mourners are dwarfed by the location, but the casket group is balanced by the light oval of the rotunda dome opening. Rather than focus in and show the grief of the mourners close up, Schrader has shown the event in context, with respect but not exploiting the emotion.

Some Points To Consider

  • Ask students why they think Schrader chose to draw this scene from this perspective. Do they think the drawing fits the description in the narrative of a solemn event? Have them list the ways the drawing depicts sorrow. Ask them to describe how this drawing makes them feel. (Art 4.3.2)

Suggested Activities for Classroom Follow-Up

  • Help students create a game board using landmarks on the way from your community to the State Capitol Building of Indiana. Have students choose a specific era and show modes of travel used in that time period. Help students calculate the length of time to make the trip and obstacles on the way. Ask them to record their calculations in their journals. Then, have them select a different time period with different transportation and compare the trips.
  • Tell students: As a reporter it is your assignment to document an important event. You can choose the event. Your camera is broken. You can take written notes, but your editor also wants visual images. How will you illustrate the event?