« PreviousContinue »
LINCOLN'S INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
be much safer for all, both in official what may be necessary for these ob-
A disruption of the federal that you who are dissatisfied hold thi Union, heretofore only menaced, is now right side in the dispute, there is still formidably attempted. I hold that in no single reason for precipitate action.
I the contemplation of universal law and Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, of the Constitution the union of these and a firm reliance on Him who has states is perpetual. Perpetuity is im- never yet forsaken this favored land, plied, if not expressed, in the funda. are still competent to adjust, in the mental law of all national governments. best way, all our present difficulties.
It follows from these In your hands, my dissatisfied fellowviews that no state, upon its own mere countrymen, and not in mine, is the motion, can lawfully get out of the momentous issue of civil war. The Union; that resolves and ordinances to government will not assail you. You that effect are legally void, and that can have no conflict without being acts of violence within any state or yourselves the aggressors. You have states against the authority of the no oath registered in Heaven to de. United States, are insurrectionary, or stroy the government; while I shall revolutionary, according to circum- have the most solemn one to preserve,
“ stances. I therefore consider that, in protect, and defend’ it. I am loath to view of the Constitution and the laws, close. We are not enemies, but friends. the Union is unbroken, and, to the ex- We must not be enemies. Though pastent of my ability I shall take care, as sion may have strained, it must not the Constitution itself expressly enjoins break our bonds of affection. The upon me, that the laws of the Union mystic cords of memory, stretching shall be faithfully executed in all the from every battle-field and patriot-grave states,
I trust this will to every living heart and hearthstone not be regarded as a menace, but only all over this broad land, will yet swell as the declared purpose of the Union, the chorus of the Union, when again that it will constitutionally defend and touched, as surely they will be, by the maintain itself. In doing this there better angels of our nature." need be no bloodshed or violence, and The oath of office was then adminis. there shall be none unless it is forced tered to Mr. Lincoln by the aged Chief upon the national authority. The power justice Taney, and the new president confided to me will be used to hold, oc- entered upon the duties of his office. cupy and possess the property and places He selected for his cabinet the following belonging to the government, and collect gentlemen : William H. Seward, of New the duties and imposts; but beyond York, secretary of state ; Salmon P
Chase, of Ohio, secretary of the trea. At the South, the secession, revolu sury; Simon Cameron, of Pennsylvania, tionary element was overriding every secretary of war; Gideon Welles, of thing, and the minds of the majority Connecti jut, secretary of the navy; were inflamed more and more with fu Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, secretary rious eagerness to rush into the contest. of the interior ; Montgomery Blair, of The forts and strongholds and public Maryland, postmaster · general; and property of the United States were Edward Bates, of Missouri, attorney seized upon everywhere, in the seceded general. The next day, March 5th, these states, without scruple or hesitation. appointments were confirmed in the In the loyal states there was no prepaSenate, assembled in extra session.* ration for war; there was, with few ex,
, Considerable debate was had on the all- ceptions, no belief in the near approach exciting topics of the day, but without of war. There were thousands pledged any result of moment; and the Senate to oppose and embarrass the incoming adjourned towards the close of the administration in every possible way. month.
There was little, if any, unanimity, or Sad and cheerless, for the most part, concord, or agreement, as to what the was the prospect which Abraham Lin. named four plans for Mr. Lincoln's consideration in coln had before him as James Buchan. the present emergency: “I. Throw off the old and an's successor. Seven states were already the conciliatory mcasures proposed by Mr. Crittenden
assume a new designation—the Union party. Adopt ranged under the flag of rebellion.t or the peace convention, and my life upon it we shall
, Several others on the borders between have no new case of secession ; but on the contrary, an
early return of many, if not all of the states which have the free and slave states were almost already broken off from the Union. Without some wild with excitement, and strongly in- equally benign measure, the remaining slave-holding clined to join the disunionists in their in less than sixty days; when this city, being included
states will probably join the Montgomery contederacy fratricidal attempts against the in a foreign country, would require a permanent garrilife of the nation. The wbole son of at least thirty-five thousand troops to protect the
government within it. II. Collect the duties on foreign country was in a state of unparalleled goods outside the ports of which the government has ferment, not knowing what a day lost the command, or close such ports by acts of Con
gress and blockade them. III. Conquer the seceded might bring forth. At the North and states by invading armies. No doubt this might be West the people, as a whole, were quite done in two or three years by a young and able genunable to realize that the Republic was dred thousand disciplined men, estimating a third for
eral-a Wolf, a Dessaix, or a Hoche-with three hunon the eve of war in its direst form, garrisons and the loss of a greater number by skirmand were full of anxious solicitude as ishes, sieges, battles and southern fevers. The destruc
tion of life and property on the other side would be to the course which the new president frightful, however perfect the moral discipline of the would adopt in the existing crisis. I invader. The conquest completed at that enormous
waste of human life to the North and Northwest-with * Among the principal diplomatic appointments at least $250,000,000 added thereto, and cui bono? were, Charles Francis Adams to England, William L. Fifteen devastated provinces ! not to be brought into Dayton to France, and Cassius M. Clay to Russia. harmony with their conquerors, but to be held for These gentlemen, with the others sent abroad in their generations by heavy garrisons, at an expense quadrucountry's service, were active and energetic in the dis- ple the net duties and taxes which it would be possible harge of their several duties.
to extort from them, followed by a protector or an emo• + See note, vol. iii. p. 556.
peror. IV. Say to the seceded states — Wayward sis General Scott, in a note to Mr. Seward, March 2d, ters, depart in peace !"
MR. LINCOLN'S POSITION AND TRIALS. emergency really was, or how it was to interested in everything which tended be met.* War, it was felt, was a ter- to indicate what were Lis qualifications rible alternative; war must be avoid. for the high office he was about to ased, if it were possible ; and even up to sume. They were naturally very de the very last moment, even when South sirous to know in how far he was fitted Carolina stood ready to fire the first to take the helm of state at a time gun, and initiate the horrible struggle, when was to be tested the ability of there were those who would not, who the Constitution and Union to weather could not believe, that war was the in the storm just ready to burst in every evitable issue, and that by force only direction. Up to this date, when Mr. could the rightful supremacy of the Lincoln became fully invested with the Constitution be maintained. Truly, powers of the presidential office, his it was a gloomy picture to look upon, sentiments and views, so far as made and it well might unnerve the stoutest known, pointed clearly to a policy of heart to feel that the responsibility of conciliation, and a desire to yield on all decision and action rested now almost points where it was possible to yield, wholly upon one man.
in order to preserve peace and the inAbraham Lincoln had never as yet tegrity of the Union.
There were been a prominent man in national af many who were not satisfied with this fairs. He was, comparatively, little course. There were men who longed
known throughout the country; for the fiery energy and action of An
and having been taken up by drew Jackson in the presidential chair; the republican party as their candidate, and who repeated the contemptuous rather as a compromise than because he sneers of southern demagogues and was the ablest man in their ranks, the traitors
, that the North could not be people, after his election, were deeply kicked into a war. On the other hand,
sober and reflecting men, appreciating * Mayor Wood, of New York, offers a curious illus- to some extent' the greatness of the tration of the state of things at the beginning of this
questions involved, were willing to see, year. Under date of January 6th, 1861, he addressed a Dessage to the Common Council, in which he speaks in the utterances of Mr. Lincoln, clear of " dissolution of the Union as inevitable,” of “our evidences of spirit and determination to aggrieved southern brethren of the slave states," of the “ fanaticul spirit of New England,” etc. Although maintain the integrity and completeness not quite ready to recommend extremes or present vio of the Union, peaceably if possible, if len: action, he nevertheless dared to use such language not
, by every other means legally in Disunion has become a fixed and certain fact, why may
SO, they were measur. not New York disrupt the bonds which bind her to a ably content to wait patiently the issue menial and corrupt master-to a people and a party that have plundered her revenues, attempted to ruin of events, hoping and trusting, even her commerce, taken away the power of self-govern- amidst the excitement and ferment all ment, and destroyed the confederacy of which she was the proud Empire City ? Amid the gloom which the around, that the honor and unity of our present and prospective condition of things must cast country would not suffer in Mr. Lin. orer the country, New York, as a Free City, may shed cold's hands. the only light and hope of a future reconstruction of our once blessed confederacy."
For a month or so, after the inaugu.