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to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perform it so far as practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisite means, or in some authoritative manner direct the contrary. I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union, that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and imposts; but beyond what may be but necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people anywhere. Where hostility to the United States in any interior locality shall be so great and universal as to prevent competent resident citizens from holding the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people for that object.




So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that sense of perfect security which is most favourable to calm thought and reflection. The course here indicated will be followed, unless current events and experience shall show a modification or change to be proper; and in every case and exigency my best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing, and with a view and a hope of a peaceful solution of the national troubles, and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections."

Let us pause for an instant over this passage; for it indicates, at the outset, a remarkable feature of Abraham Lincoln's mind,—a very fallible appreciation of the immediate consequences of events, coupled with an abiding sense that the future must always be larger than what he sees of it, and that therefore he must not pledge himself irrevocably to any future course of action, even that which seems to him for the time the wisest and fairest. We all know how utterly his hope of "a peaceful solution of the national




troubles" went to wreck. We all know how unprofitable to the South was the season afforded to it of "calm thought and reflection." We all know how soon the Government had to use force for other purposes than that of holding, occupying, and possessing the property and places belonging to it-had to invade State after State, and to force "obnoxious strangers" among the people of each. But an unerring instinct had guarded Abraham Lincoln from mistaking on any of these points his own notions for the realities of things. He had from the first taken into account the possibility of those modifications and changes which "current events and experience" might show to be proper. He had reserved his "best discretion" for every case and exigency. And thus he went forth to his work free-handed, unfettered by those pledges of selfconceit which can manacle down a giant to a dwarf's weakness.

He now proceeds to plead with those who really love the Union. Has "any right plainly written in the Constitution" been denied? He



thinks not. "All our Constitutional controversies" have sprung from the absence of express provisions in the Constitution. "Shall fugitives from labour be surrendered by national or by State authority? The Constitution does not expressly say. May Congress prohibit slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say. Must Congress protect slavery in the Territories? The Constitution does not expressly say."

"Upon such questions we divide into majorities and minorities. If the minority does not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. If a minority, in such case, will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which, in time, will divide and ruin them; for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such minority. For instance, why may not any portion of a new Confederacy, a year or two hence, arbitrarily secede again, precisely as portions of the present Union now claim to secede from it?

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Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations, and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinions and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it, does of necessity fly to anarchy or to despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible. One section of

our country believes that slavery is right, and ought to be extended; while the other believes it is wrong, and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive slave clause of the Constitution, and the law for the suppression of the foreign slavetrade, are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured; and it would be

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