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FROM THE INAUGURATION TO THE MEETING OF CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1861.
THE INAUGURAL ADDRESS.-ORGANIZATION OF THE GOVERNMENT.-TUR BOMBARDMENT OF FORT SUMTER.-PASSAGE OF TROOPS THROUGH BalTIMORE. INTERVIEW WITH THE MAYOR OF BALTIMORE.-THE BLOCKADE OF REBEL PORTS.-THE PRESIDENT AND THE VIRGINIA COMMISSIONERS. INSTRUCTION TO OUR MINISTERS ABROAD.-RECOGNITION OF THE REBELS AS BELLIGERENTS.-RIGHTS OF NEUTRALS.
On the 4th of March, 1861, Mr. Lincoln took the oath and assumed the duties of the Presidential office. He was quite right in saying, on the eve of his departure from his home in Springfield, that those duties were greater than had devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. A conspiracy which had been on foot for thirty years had reached its crisis. Yet in spite of all that had been done by the leading spirits in this movement, the people of the slaveholding States were by no means a unit in its support. Seven of those States-South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana-had passed secession ordinances, and united in the establishment of a hostile Confederacy; but in nearly all of them a considerable portion of the people were opposed to the movement, while in all the remaining slaveholding States a very active canvass was carried on between the friends and the opponents of secession. In Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee especially, the Government of the United States was vindicated and its authority sustained by men of pre-eminent ability and of commanding reputation, and there seemed abundant reason for hoping that, by the adoption of prudent meas ures, the slaveholding section might be divided, and the Border Slave States retained in the Union. The authorities of the rebel Confederacy saw the importance of push
ing the issue to an instant decision. Under their directions nearly all the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, custom-houses, &c., belonging to the United States, within the limits of the seceded States, had been seized, and were held by representatives of the rebel government. The only forts in the South which remained in possession of the Union were Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson on the Florida coast, and Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, and preparations were far advanced for the reduction and capture of these. Officers of the army and navy from the South had resigned their commissions and entered the rebel service. Civil officers representing the United States within the limits of the Southern States could no longer discharge their functions, and all the powers of that Government were practically paralyzed.
It was under these circumstances that Mr. Lincoln entered upon the duties of his office, and addressed himself to the task, first, of withholding the Border States from joining the Confederacy, as an indispensable preliminary to the great work of quelling the rebellion and restoring the authority of the Constitution.
The ceremony of inauguration took place as usual in front of the Capitol, and in presence of an immense multitude of spectators. A large military force was in attendance, under the immediate command of General Scott, but nothing occurred to interrupt the harmony of the occasion. Before taking the oath of office, Mr. Lincoln delivered the following
Fellow-Citizens of the United States:
In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President "before he enters on the execution of his office."
I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.
Apprehension seems to exist, among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration their prope ty and
their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so." Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had never recanted them. And more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read:
Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to the balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend, and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.
I now reiterate these sentiments; and, in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitution and the laws, can be given, will be cheerfully given to all the States, when lawfully demanded, for whatever cause-as cheerfully to one section as to another.
There is much controversy about the delivering up of fugitives from service or labor. The clause I now read is as plainly written in the Constitution as any other of its provisions:
No person held to service or labor in one State, under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due.
It is scarcely questioned that this provision was intended by those who made it for the reclaiming of what we call fugitive slaves; and the inten tion of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their support to the whole Constitution-to this provision as much as any other. To the proposition, then, that slaves, whose cases come within the terms of this clause, "shall be delivered up," their oaths are unanimous. Now, if they would make the effort in good temper, could they not, with nearly equal unanimity, frame and pass a law by means of which to keep good that unanimous oath?
There is some difference of opinion whether this clause should be enforced by National or by State authority; but surely that difference is