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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 to a peaceful solution of the national trouble and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affections.
"That there are persons, in one section or another, who seek to destroy the Union at all events, and are glad of any pretext to do it, I will neither affirm nor deny; but if there should be such I need address no word to them. To those, however, who really love the Union, may I not speak? Before entering upon so grave a matter as the destruction of our national fabric, with all its benefits, its memories and its hopes, would it not be well to ascertain precisely why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step, while there is any possibility that any portion of the ills that you fly from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly to are greater than all the real ills you fly from, will you risk the commission of so fearful a mistake?
"All profess to be content in the Union if all constitutional rights can be maintained. Is it true, then, that any right plainly written in the Constitution has been. denied? I think not. Happily the human mind is so constituted that no party can reach the audacity of doing this. Think, if you can, of a single instance in which a plainly-written provision of the Constitution has ever been denied.
"One section of our country believes 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 worse, in both cases, after the separation of the sections, than before. The foreign slave-trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section,. while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at all by the other. Physically speaking, we cannot separate; we cannot remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each other; but the different parties of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face, and intercourse either amiable qr hostile relations must continue between them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws. among friends ? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease fighting, the identical questions, as to terms of intercourse, are again upon you.
"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government they can exercise their constitutional right of amending, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendment, I fully recognize the authority of the people over the whole subject, to be exercised in either of the modes prescribed in the instrument itself; and I should, under existing circumstances, favor rather than oppose a fair opportunity being offered the people to act upon it.
"I will venture to add that, to me, the convention mode seems preferable, in that it allows amendments to originate with the people themselves, instead of only permitting them to take a proposition originated by others, not especially chosen for the purpose, and which might not be precisely such as they would wish to either accept or refuse.
"I understand a proposed amendment to the Constitution, which amendment I have not seen, has passed Congress, to the effect that the federal government shall never interfere with the domestic institutions of the States, including that of persons held to service. To avoid misconstruction of what I have said, I depart from my purpose not to speak of particular amendments so far as to say, that, holding such a provision to be now implied constitutional law, I have no objection to its being made express and irrevocable.
"The chief magistrate derives all his authority. from the people, and they have conferred none upon him to fix terms for the separation of the States; the people themselves can do this alone, if they choose, but the Executive, as such, has nothing to do with it. His duty is to administer the present government, as it came to his hands, and to transmit it unimpaired by him to his
Why should there not be a patient confidence in the ultimate justice of the people? Is there any better or equal hope in the world? In our present differences is either party without faith of being right? If the Almighty Ruler of Nations, with his eternal truth and justice, be on your side of the North, or on yours of the South, that truth and that justice will surely prevail, by the judgment of this great tribunal- the American people.
"By the frame of government under which we live, the same people have wisely given their public servants but little power for mischief, and have, with equal wisdom,
provided for the return of that little to their own hands, at very short intervals. While the people retain virtue and vigilance, no administration of any extreme of wickedness or folly can very seriously injure the government in the short space of four years.
'My countrymen, one and all; think calmly and well upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time ; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new administration have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there is still no single good cause for precipitate action.
"Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulties. In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and 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. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it.
"I am loth to close; we are not enemies, but friends; we must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth-stone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."
Mr. Lincoln's delivery was good, with but little gesture and small pretence of oratory, yet it fell upon the ear like right words, well spoken; and as he uttered the closing sentence of the address, a loud and still louder and more prolonged cheer announced that the inaugural was delivered, and the long, fearful struggle was over, and a republican President safely inaugurated; and not even with the close of the ceremony did the curious cease to speculate as to the probabilities and chances of his assassination, which was confidently expected, though of course greatly to be dreaded, followed as it would be by riot, panic, and an immediate necessity for a display of force.
But that brave old veteran, General Scott, was prepared for any emergency, and three minutes would have found artillery, cavalry and infantry ready at their posts to put down insurrection and protect the national capital, at all hazards. But the day passed off peaceably, and no foul deed was done to stain our country's honor.
Mr. Lincoln, on being asked whether he felt at all frightened while delivering his inaugural address, the threats of assassination having been so numerous, replied that he had no such sensation, and that he had often experienced much greater fear in addressing a dozen Western men on the subject of temperance.
The delivery of the message commenced at 1.30 P. M., and at four o'clock it had been telegraphed to all the principal cities, and was in the hands of all the agents of the associated press.
The inaugural of President Lincoln met with very general commendation throughout the free States. The journals that give voice to the popular feeling praise the candor, ability, and firm yet conciliatory spirit, of the address, while a few papers, politically opposed to the President, condemn, though faintly, its leading features. But he will be sustained by the great mass of the people, whose sentiments he has so truly reflected. In speaking of the