« PreviousContinue »
At Trenton he was received by a committee of the Legislature, and escorted to both branches, which were in session. The President of the Senate welcomed him in a brief address, to which he made the following reply:
MR. PRESIDENT AND "GENTLEMEN OF THE SENATE OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY: I am very grateful to you for the honorable reception of which I have been the object. I cannot but remember the place that New Jersey holds in our early history. In the early revolutionary struggle few of the States among the old thirteen had more of the battlefields of the country within their limits than old New Jersey. May I be pardoned if, upon this occasion, I mention that away back in my childhood, the earliest days of my being able to read, I got hold of a small book, such a one as few of the younger members have ever seen, “ WEEM's Life of Washington.” I remember all the accounts there given of the battle-fields and struggles for the liberties of the country, and none fixed themselves upon my imagination so deeply as the struggle here at Trenton, New Jersey. The crossing of the river; the contest with the Hessians; the great hardships endured at that time, all fixed themselves on my memory, more than any single revolutionary event; and you all know, for you have all been boys, how these early impressions last longer than any others. I recollect thinking then, boy even though I was, that there must have been something more than common that these men struggled for. I am exceedingly anxious that that thing which they struggled for; that something even more than National Indeperdence; that something that held out a great promise to all the people of the world to all time to come, I am exceedingly anxious that this Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people shall be perpetuated in accordance with the original idea for which that struggle was made, and I shall be most happy indeed if I shall be an humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty and of this, his most chosen people, as the chosen instrumentalso in the hands of the Almighty-for perpetuating the object of that great struggle. You give me this reception, as I understand, without distinction of party. I learn that this body is composed of a majority of gentlemen who, in the exercise of their best judgment in the choice of a Chief Magistrate, did not think I was the man. I understand, nevertheless, that they come forward here to greet me as the constitutional President of the United States--as citizens of the United States to meet the man who, for the time being, is the representative man of the nation-unitod by a purpose to perpetuate the Union and liberties of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully than I could do did I believe it was tendered to me as an individual.
Mr. LINCOLN then passed to the Assembly Chamber, where, in reply to the Speaker, he said :
MR. SPEAKER AND GENTLEMEN: I have just enjoyed the honor of a reception by the other branch of this Legislature, and I return to you and them my thanks for the reception which the people of New Jersey have given through their chosen representatives to me as the representative, for the time being, of the majesty of the people of the United States. I appropriate to myself very little of the demonstrations of respect with which I have been greeted. I think little should be given to any man, but that it should be a manifestation of adherence to the Union and the Constitution. I understand myself to be received here by the representatives of the people of New Jersey, a majority of whom differ in opinion from those with whom I have acted. This manifestation is, therefore, to be regarded by me as expressing their devotion to the Union, the Constitution, and the liberties of the people. You, Mr. Speaker, have well said that this is a time when the bravest and wisest look with doubt and awe upon the aspect presented by our national affairs. Under these circumstances, you will readily see why I should not speak in detail of the course I sliall deem it best to pursue. It is proper that I should avail myself of all the information and all the time at my command, in order that when the time arrives in which I must speak officially, I shall be able to take the ground which I deem the best and safest, and from which I may have no occasion to swerve. I shall endeavor to take the ground I deem most just to the North, the East, the West, the South, and the whole country. I take it, I hope, in good temper, certainly with no malice towards any section. I shall do all that may be in my power to promote a peaceful settlement of all our difficulties. The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am. (Cheers.] None would more to preserve it, but it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly. [Here the audience broke out into cheers so loud and long, that for some moments it was impossible to hear Mr. LINCOLN's voice.] And if I do my duty and do right you will sustain me, will you not? [Loud cheers, and cries of "Yes, yes, we will.”] Received, as I am, by the members of a Legislature, the majority of whom do not agree with me in political sentiments, I trust that I may have their assistance in piloting the ship of State through this voyage, surrounded by perils as it is, for if it should suffer wreck now, there will be no pilot ever needed for another voyage. Gentlemen, I have already spoken longer than I intended, and must beg leave to stop here.
The procession then moved to the Trenton House, where the President-elect made the following speech to the crowd outside:
I have been invited by your representatives to the Legislature, to visit this, the Capital of your honored State, and in acknowledging their kind invitation, compelled to respond to the welcome of the presiding officers of each body, and I suppose they intended I should speak to you through them, as they are the representatives of all of you; and if I was to speak again here, I should only have to repeat, in a great measure, much that I have said, which would be disgusting to my friends around me who have met here. I have no speech to make, but merely appear to see you and let you look at me, and as to the latter I think I have greatly the best of the bargain. [Laughter.] My friends, allow me to bid you farewell.
The party arrived at Philadelphia at 4 o'clock, and the President-elect, proceeding immediately to the Continental Hotel, was welcomed in a brief speech from Mayor Henry, to which he replied as follows:
MR. MAYOR AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF PHILADELPHIA: I appear before you to make no lengthy speech, but to thank you for this reception, The reception you have given me to-night is not to me, the man, the individual, but to the man who temporarily represents, or should represent the majesty of the nation. [Cheers.] It is true, as your worthy Mayor has said, that there is anxiety amongst the citizens of the United States at this time. I deem it a happy circumstance that this dissatisfied position of our fellow-citizens does not point us to any thing in which they are being injured, or about to be injured, for which reason I have felt all the while justified in concluding that the crisis, the panic, the anxiety of the country at this time, is artificial. If there be those who differ with we upon this subject, they have not pointed out the substantial difficulty that exists. I do not mean to say that ən artificial panic may not do considerable harm: that it has done such I do not deny. The hope that has been expressed by your Mayor, that I may be able to restore peace, harmony, and prosperity to the country, is most worthy of him; and happy, indeed, will I be if I shall be able to verify and fulfil that hope. [Tremendous cheering.] I promise you, in all sincerity, that I bring to the work a sincere heart. Whether I will bring a head equal to that heart will be for future times to determine. It were useloss for me to speak of details of plans now; I shall speak officially next Monday week, if ever. If I should not speak then it were useless for me to do so now. If I do speak then it is useless for me to do so now. When I do speak I shall take such ground as I deem best calculated to restore peace, barmony, and prosperity to the country, and tend to the perpetuity of the nation and the liberty of these States and these people. Your worthy Mayor has expressed the wish, in which I join with him, that it were convenient for me to remain in your city long enough to consult your merchants and manufacturers; or as it were, to listen to those breathings rising within the consecrated walls wherein the Constitution of the United States, and I will add the Declaration of Independence, were originally framed and adopted. [Enthusiastic applause.] I assure you and your Mayor that I had hoped on this occasion, and upon all occasions during my life, that I shall do nothing inconsistent with the teachings of these holy and most sacred walls. I never asked any thing that does not breathe from those walls. All my political warfare has been in favor of the teachings that came forth from these sacred walls. May my right hand forget its cunning, and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if ever I prove false to those teachings. Fellow-citizens, I have addressed you longer than I expected to do, and now allow me to bid you good night.
On the 21st Mr. LINCOLN visited the old Independence Hall, from which was originally issued the Declaration of Independ
He was received in a cordial speech by Mr. Theodore Cuyler, to which he made the following response :
MR. CUYLER: I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle from which sprang the institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to the present distracted condition of the country. I can say in return, sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated in and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here, and framed and adopted that Declaration of Independence. I have pondered over the toils that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army who achieved that Independence. I have often inquired of myself what great principle or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the mother land, but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. [Great applause.] It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men. This is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Now, my
friends, can this country bę saved upon that basis? If it can, I will , consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to
save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it. [Applause.] Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there need be no bloodshed or war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed, unless it be forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defence. [Applause.]
My friends, this is wholly an unexpected speech, and I did not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here. I supposed it was merely to do something towards raising the flag-I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. [Cries of “ No, no."] I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.