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THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN

CHAPTER I

THE FIRST INAUGURAL

IN THE first weeks following his election, Lincoln lived much as he had lived in the interval between his nomination and election. He had already deserted the office and left his law practise to Herndon, practically from the time of his nomination, and occupied an office temporarily assigned him in the state capitol building, which, it must be remembered, stood in the center of the town, and not as now at one side. About a month after his election, it had become apparent that he must adopt some schedule, or at least an approach to one. The Journal each day announced his program for the day following, and the hours at which he would receive callers. That he did not adhere to this plan very rigidly is certainly true; but in the last two months he was compelled to reserve for himself some time to devote to preparation for his impending responsibilities. Every day these grew more serious.

Late in January he began his work on his inaugural address. Across the street from the state-house, in an upper room, dingy, dusty and at the back of the building on whose ground floor was a store, Lincoln hid himself away from intruders and began serious work upon this paper whose content might wreck or reunite the Union.

Lincoln owned very few books. He had a modest law-library, Herndon pro

and there were a few gilded volumes on the center-table in his parlor; but a library he can not be said to have had. Herndon, on the contrary, was a buyer of books and a great reader. When Lincoln was ready to prepare his address, he gave to Herndon a list of the books he wanted to use. cured them for him. He asked for a copy of the Constitution of the United States, and copies of Clay's speech on the Compromise of 1850, and Jackson's proclamation against Nullification. Later he asked for Webster's reply to Hayne. These, according to Herndon, were the only books which he had with him in the dingy back room where, locked away from the visitors then thronging Springfield, he prepared his address. We know how he wrote, pronouncing each word as he wrote it down, and we can imagine with what painstaking care he did his work. When the address was finished, and just before he left for Washington, he took the manuscript to the office of the Journal, had it set in pica type, and a very few copies struck off for his own use. We have already reminded ourselves how nearly he lost his copy at Harrisburg, and it would appear from this fact that his duplicates, if he had any with him, were in the same carpet-bag with the original, on which he had been making, and was still to make, corrections and changes.

Lincoln carefully guarded the text of his inaugural address from any premature publication. At one time he appears to have believed that that message could be made at once so firm and so conciliatory that it would be received alike by North and South, as speaking the final and unifying word. He was not, however, quite as silent as is commonly supposed. There is good reason to believe that some addresses in Congress delivered by Illinois members incorporated ideas of the president-elect. It is practically certain that the Illinois State Journal gave forth editorial utterances which had Lincoln's approval, and some of them may have come from his own pen. How firm Lincoln deemed it wise to be is shown in an editorial which appeared in that paper on January 22, 1861, entitled The Right of Coercion and Mak

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ing War on the States. This contained four definite proposi-
tions:

1. No state has a right to secede.
2. It is the duty of the president to enforce the laws.

3. The first Republican president will discharge that duty fearlessly and faithfully.

4. He will confine himself to the enforcement of those laws which affect the interests of the country at large--the collection of revenue and protection of national property—but will not invade a state to secure a repeal of unconstitutional acts of its Legislature; he will merely resist encroachments upon federal authority.

This appeared to some of Lincoln's friends as definite and as kindly a statement as could have been formulated, but it did not meet with universal approval. James Gordon Bennett commented upon this utterance in a leading editorial in the New York Herald of Monday, January twenty-eighth:

The great difficulty to any proposition of compromise from the Republican party is not located at Washington, but at the little village of Springfield, Illinois. The President-elect is this difficulty. The magnates, the managers and the Wide-Awakes of the Republican camp look upon Mr. Lincoln now as their fountain of authority, power and spoils. ... The Union is dissolved. Within a month there will be an organized Southern Confederacy; and then, as the attempt to enforce the Federal laws within its boundary will be the inauguration of a general war, the question recurs, not how to save the Union for the Union is gone—but how can we preserve the relations of peace? We answer, in the recognition of the Southern Confederacy for the sake of peace.

Just before he left Springfield, Lincoln authorized another utterance in the columns of the State Journal. The phraseology is more rhetorical than Lincoln at this time was accustomed to employ, and we can hardly assume that it is wholly the product of his pen; still less can we believe that it was published without his full knowledge and approval:

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