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THE PROGRESS AND CULMINATION OF THE
THE INAUGURATION OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN AND ORGANIZATION OF HIS ADMINISTRATION.
Mr. Lincoln's accession to the Presidency and formation of his Cabinet.
He refused to receive commissioners sent by the secessionists to Washington sceking recognition. Hereupon an attack on Fort Sumter, in South Carolina, was ordered by the authorities at Montgomery, and he was compelled to meet force by force. Accordingly, he called out the militia, proclaimed a blockade, and summoned an extra session of Congress.
The English government conceded belligerent rights to the secessionists. ter of the instructions issued by the American government to its foreign minis
State of public opinion at the time of Mr. Lincoln's accession.
MR. LINCOLN left his home at Springfield, Illinois, on the 11th of February (1861). Bidding farewell to his neighbors, he said:
"MY FRIENDS,-I can not sufficiently express to you the sadness I feel at this parting. To you I from Springfield. owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me perhaps greater than that which has devolved upon any man since the days of Washington. He never could have succeeded
except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I can do nothing without the same divine aid which sustained him, and on that Almighty Being I place my reliance for support. I hope that you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that divine assistance without which I can not succeed, but with which success is certain. I bid you all an affectionate farewell."
Mr. Lincoln's journey to Washington was in striking contrast to Mr. Davis's triumphant progress to Montgom
Davis, enthusiastic in the cause of which he had be come the chosen leader, met a welcome every where. He had to deal with a people animated by one influence, seeking one object, and comprehending distinctly the means to which they must resort for success. In the various speeches delivered by him, there is no hesitation in accepting without reserve his position. If the North will permit his people to separate peaceably, it is well; but if not, her rich valleys shall be devastated, her cities, the growth of time, the product of millions of money, shall be a prey to the torch; her people "shall smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel."
Davis's journey to Montgomery, and his intentions.
Lincoln's views of
Lincoln, on the contrary, has no correct idea of what is before him. He has none of the feroc secession. ity of his opponent; he is full of peace, and thinks there is no probability of war. He, the elected chief magistrate of the whole nation, will not ungraciously obtrude on his discontented fellow-countrymen; perhaps he may collect duties, stop the mails, endeavor to retake and hold the forts. He affirms that nobody is suffering any thing. Overflowing with good-nature himself, he "deems" that nothing more is necessary than to state the exceeding absurdity of the doctrine of secession,
CHAP. XXXIV.] HIS JOURNEY TO WASHINGTON.
and that its upholders, listening to reason, will forthwith submit. He can not understand how it is that a state should assert a right to rule all that is less than itself, and ruin all that is greater, nor what is to prevent a county, a town, an individual claiming a like power. In his eyes the Nation is every thing, States nothing.
When he reached Philadelphia on his way to WashingHis opinions change ton, his opinions, however, began to change. during his journey. He found that the difficulty he had to face was something more than an election squabble. Information was privately conveyed to him from General Scott and Mr. Seward that there was an intention to assassinate him, either by throwing the train off the track or by shooting him as he passed through Baltimore. It was in reference to this that he said, in a speech delivered in Philadelphia, "I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gives liberty not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the whole world, for all fu ture time." Acting under the advice of those who understood the malignant condition of the communities through which he had to pass much better than he, and who were profoundly impressed with the importance of his personal He reaches Wash- Safety to the nation, he submitted to be conington in safety. veyed from Harrisburg in disguise: the tel egraph wires were cut, and he passed through Baltimore in safety at an unexpected hour.
There was no need for Lincoln's friends to view that manner of his entrance into Washington with humiliation: they would have deserved censure had they advised him otherwise than they did. Their course was more than justified by his subsequent assassination in the theatre at Washington.
It had been declared in the South that he should never live to be inaugurated. There was an expectation that
THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
he would be assassinated in the act of taking the oath of office; but military arrangements were made which ena bled him to pass through that ordeal in safety. In a cool manner, and with a clear, audible voice, he delivered his address from the eastern portico of the Capitol. The day (March 4th, 1861) was serene, though cold, as are often the first days of spring.
His inaugural ad
In this inaugural address he hastened to assure the people of the Southern States that they had dress at the Cap- no cause for apprehension either as to their property or persons from the accession of a Republican administration, affirming that he had no purpose to interfere directly or indirectly with slavery in the states where it existed. "I believe I have no lawful right, and I have no inclination to do so." Referring to the disruption of the Union, heretofore only menaced, but now formidably attempted, he declared that he held the Union to be perpetual-a government, and not a mere association of the states; that no state of its own mere motion can lawfully go out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void; and that in this view he should take care, as enjoined by the Constitution, that all the laws of the Union should be faithfully executed in all the states; that in doing this there should be no bloodshed or violence unless this should be forced upon the national authority; that the power confided to him would be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the duties and imposts; that he should not attempt to force obnoxious strangers in the federal offices among the people of the dissatisfied states; that the mails, unless repelled, should be furnished to all parts of the Union; that he should do whatever he could with a view to a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the res
CHAP. XXXIV.] THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS.
toration of fraternal sympathies and affections. Reasoning with those who still held an attachment to the Union, he earnestly asked them to point out, if they could, a single instance in which a plainly written provision of the Constitution had ever been evaded. He tells them that either the minority or the majority must submit, or the govern ment must cease. If a minority will secede rather than submit, they make a precedent for their own ruin—a minority of their own will again secede whenever a majority refuses to be controlled; and hence it is plain that the central idea of secession is anarchy. If majorities are not to rule, anarchy or despotism is all that is left.
"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen," he added, "not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors."
The inauguration over, Buchanan rode with Lincoln Buchanan leaves the to the presidential residence—the White House-and bade him adieu, a heartfelt adieu, at the door. The ex-President, relieved from his heavy burden of cares, retired to the house of his friend, Mr. Ould. Even in this trifling incident may be seen the character of President Buchanan's associations, the quali ty of the social atmosphere in which he had been living. Mr. Ould shortly after left Washington and entered into the service of the Confederacy.
Every effort was made by the conspirators to pervert the meaning of the inaugural address, and exasperate the feeling of the South against the President. The most ferocious intentions were attributed to him: he was accused of a bloodthirsty purpose of devastating the innocent and muchenduring Southern States.
The American political system is liable to bring inex
The inaugural is misrepresented throughout the South