End of Unrequited Toil
March 4, 1865, was a dark, dreary, gusty day in the nations capital, but the future of the nation seemed bright. Arkansas, Louisiana, Maryland, and Missouri had abolished slavery by act of their legislatures. Congress had passed the resolution that, before the end of the year, was to become the Thirteenth Amendment. The President still favored compensation to the owners of emancipated slaves, but the hearing he received from his Cabinet in 1865 was no more sympathetic than the one he received in 1862. The Confederate armies were in flight, and the end of the war was in sight.
As the inaugural party took its place on the Capitol portico, the assembled throng could see the complete dome with the bronze statue of Freedom at long last adorning it. Meanwhile, the President and his party could look out on a crowd that was the most unique that had ever attended the inauguration of an American President. There were not only white Americans but black Americans—free black Americans—as well. It was a moving sight, the significance of which was not lost on President Lincoln. Looking out over the crowd, he caught the eye of the distinguished black leader, Frederick Douglass, whom he greeted warmly.