Click here to flash read.
of the 9th, inclosing the letter of HON. John Minor
Botts, was duly received. The latter is herewith returned according to
your request. It contains one of the many assurances I receive from the
South, that in no probable event will there be any very formidable effort
to break up the Union. The people of the South have too much of good sense
and good temper to attempt the ruin of the government rather than see it
administered as it was administered by the men who made it. At least so I
hope and believe. I thank you both for your own letter and a sight of that
of Mr. Botts.
Yours very truly,
TO THURLOW WEED
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. August 17 1860.
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 13th was received this morning. Douglas
is managing the Bell element with great adroitness. He had his men in
Kentucky to vote for the Bell candidate, producing a result which has
badly alarmed and damaged Breckenridge, and at the same time has induced
the Bell men to suppose that Bell will certainly be President, if they
can keep a few of the Northern States away from us by throwing them to
Douglas. But you, better than I, understand all this.
I think there will be the most extraordinary effort ever made to carry New
York for Douglas. You and all others who write me from your State think
the effort cannot succeed, and I hope you are right. Still, it will
require close watching and great efforts on the other side.
Herewith I send you a copy of a letter written at New York, which
sufficiently explains itself, and which may or may not give you a valuable
hint. You have seen that Bell tickets have been put on the track both here
and in Indiana. In both cases the object has been, I think, the same as
the Hunt movement in New York--to throw States to Douglas. In our State,
we know the thing is engineered by Douglas men, and we do not believe they
can make a great deal out of it.
Yours very truly,
SLOW TO LISTEN TO CRIMINATIONS
TO HON. JOHN ------------
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Aug. 31, 1860
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 27th is duly received. It consists almost
exclusively of a historical detail of some local troubles, among some
of our friends in Pennsylvania; and I suppose its object is to guard me
against forming a prejudice against Mr. McC------____, I have not heard
near so much upon that subject as you probably suppose; and I am slow to
listen to criminations among friends, and never expose their quarrels on
either side. My sincere wish is that both sides will allow bygones to be
bygones, and look to the present and future only.
Yours very truly,
TO HANNIBAL HAMLIN
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, September 4, 1860
HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN.
MY DEAR SIR:--I am annoyed some by a letter from a friend in Chicago, in
which the following passage occurs: "Hamlin has written Colfax that two
members of Congress will, he fears, be lost in Maine, the first and sixth
districts; and that Washburne's majority for governor will not exceed six
I had heard something like this six weeks ago, but had been assured since
that it was not so. Your secretary of state,--Mr. Smith, I think,--whom
you introduced to me by letter, gave this assurance; more recently, Mr.
Fessenden, our candidate for Congress in one of those districts, wrote a
relative here that his election was sure by at least five thousand, and
that Washburne's majority would be from 14,000 to 17,000; and still
later, Mr. Fogg, of New Hampshire, now at New York serving on a national
committee, wrote me that we were having a desperate fight in Maine, which
would end in a splendid victory for us.
Such a result as you seem to have predicted in Maine, in your letter to
Colfax, would, I fear, put us on the down-hill track, lose us the State
elections in Pennsylvania and Indiana, and probably ruin us on the main
turn in November.
You must not allow it.
Yours very truly,
TO E. B. WASHBURNE.
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, September 9, 1860
HON. E. B. WASHBURNE.
MY DEAR SIR: Yours of the 5th was received last evening. I was right
glad to see it. It contains the freshest "posting" which I now have. It
relieved me some from a little anxiety I had about Maine. Jo Medill, on
August 30th, wrote me that Colfax had a letter from Mr. Hamlin saying we
were in great danger of losing two members of Congress in Maine, and that
your brother would not have exceeding six thousand majority for Governor.
I addressed you at once, at Galena, asking for your latest information.
As you are at Washington, that letter you will receive some time after the
Yours very truly,
TO W. H. HERNDON.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., OCTOBER 10, 1860
DEAR WILLIAM:--I cannot give you details, but it is entirely certain that
Pennsylvania and Indiana have gone Republican very largely. Pennsylvania
25,000, and Indiana 5000 to 10,000. Ohio of course is safe.
Yours as ever,
TO L. M. BOND.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., October 15, 1860
L. MONTGOMERY BOND, Esq.
MY DEAR SIR: I certainly am in no temper and have no purpose to embitter
the feelings of the South, but whether I am inclined to such a course as
would in fact embitter their feelings you can better judge by my published
speeches than by anything I would say in a short letter if I were inclined
now, as I am not, to define my position anew.
LETTER SUGGESTING A BEARD
TO MISS GRACE BEDELL, RIPLEY N.Y.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., October 19, 1860
MISS GRACE BEDELL.
MY DEAR LITTLE MISS:--Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received.
I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have three
sons--one seventeen, one nine, and one seven. They with their mother
constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, as I have never worn any,
do you not think that people would call it a piece of silly affectation
were I to begin wearing them now?
I am your true friend and sincere well-wisher,
EARLY INFORMATION ON ARMY DEFECTION IN SOUTH
TO D. HUNTER.
(Private and Confidential.) SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, October 26, 1860
MAJOR DAVID HUNTER
MY DEAR SIR:--Your very kind letter of the 20th was duly received, for
which please accept my thanks. I have another letter, from a writer
unknown to me, saying the officers of the army at Fort Kearny have
determined in case of Republican success at the approaching Presidential
election, to take themselves, and the arms at that point, south, for the
purpose of resistance to the government. While I think there are many
chances to one that this is a humbug, it occurs to me that any real
movement of this sort in the Army would leak out and become known to you.
In such case, if it would not be unprofessional or dishonorable (of which
you are to be judge), I shall be much obliged if you will apprise me of
Yours very truly,
TO HANNIBAL HAMLIN
(Confidential.) SPRINGFIELD. ILLINOIS, November 8, 1860
HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN.
MY DEAR SIR:--I am anxious for a personal interview with you at as early a
day as possible. Can you, without much inconvenience, meet me at Chicago?
If you can, please name as early a day as you conveniently can, and
telegraph me, unless there be sufficient time before the day named to
communicate by mail.
Yours very truly,
TO SAMUEL HAYCRAFT.
(Private and Confidential.)
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Nov.13, 1860
HON. SAMUEL HAYCRAFT.
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 9th is just received. I can only answer
briefly. Rest fully assured that the good people of the South who will put
themselves in the same temper and mood towards me which you do will find
no cause to complain of me.
Yours very truly,
CELEBRATION OF LINCOLN'S ELECTION,
REMARKS AT THE MEETING AT SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS
NOVEMBER 20, 1860
FRIENDS AND FELLOW-CITIZENS:--Please excuse me on this occasion from
making a speech. I thank you in common with all those who have thought fit
by their votes to indorse the Republican cause. I rejoice with you in the
success which has thus far attended that cause. Yet in all our rejoicings
let us neither express nor cherish any hard feelings toward any citizen
who by his vote has differed with us. Let us at all times remember that
all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell
together in the bonds of fraternal feeling. Let me again beg you to accept
my thanks, and to excuse me from further speaking at this time.
TO ALEXANDER H. STEPHENS
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. NOV. 30, 1860
HON. A. H. STEPHENS.
MY DEAR SIR:--I have read in the newspapers your speech recently delivered
(I think) before the Georgia Legislature, or its assembled members. If you
have revised it, as is probable, I shall be much obliged if you will send
me a copy.
Yours very truly,
TO HANNIBAL HAMLIN
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, December 8, 1860
HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN.
DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 4th was duly received. The inclosed to Governor
Seward covers two notes to him, copies of which you find open for your
inspection. Consult with Judge Trumbull; and if you and he see no reason
to the contrary, deliver the letter to Governor Seward at once. If you see
reason to the contrary write me at once.
I have an intimation that Governor Banks would yet accept a place in the
Cabinet. Please ascertain and write me how this is,
Yours very truly,
BLOCKING "COMPROMISE" ON SLAVERY ISSUE
TO E. B. WASHBURNE
(Private and Confidential.)
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., December 13, 1860
HON. E. B. WASHBURNE.
MY DEAR SIR:--Your long letter received. Prevent, as far as possible, any
of our friends from demoralizing themselves and our cause by entertaining
propositions for compromise of any sort on "slavery extension." There is
no possible compromise upon it but which puts us under again, and leaves
all our work to do over again. Whether it be a Missouri line or Eli
Thayer's popular sovereignty, it is all the same. Let either be done, and
immediately filibustering and extending slavery recommences. On that point
hold firm, as with a chain of steel.
Yours as ever,
OPINION ON SECESSION
TO THURLOW WEED
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, DECEMBER 17, 1860
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 11th was received two days ago. Should the
convocation of governors of which you speak seem desirous to know my views
on the present aspect of things, tell them you judge from my speeches that
I will be inflexible on the territorial question; but I probably think
either the Missouri line extended, or Douglas's and Eli Thayer's popular
sovereignty would lose us everything we gain by the election; that
filibustering for all south of us and making slave States of it would
follow in spite of us, in either case; also that I probably think all
opposition, real and apparent, to the fugitive slave clause of the
Constitution ought to be withdrawn.
I believe you can pretend to find but little, if anything, in my speeches,
about secession. But my opinion is that no State can in any way lawfully
get out of the Union without the consent of the others; and that it is
the duty of the President and other government functionaries to run the
machine as it is.
SOME FORTS SURRENDERED TO THE SOUTH
TO E. B. WASHBURNE
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, December 21, 1860
HON. E. B. WASHBURNE.
MY DEAR SIR:--Last night I received your letter giving an account of your
interview with General Scott, and for which I thank you. Please present my
respects to the General, and tell him, confidentially, I shall be obliged
to him to be as well prepared as he can to either hold or retake the
forts, as the case may require, at and after the inauguration.
Yours as ever,
TO A. H. STEPHENS.
(For your own eye only) SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, DECEMBER 22, 1860
HON. ALEXANDER STEVENS
MY DEAR SIR:--Your obliging answer to my short note is just received, and
for which please accept my thanks. I fully appreciate the present peril
the country is in, and the weight of responsibility on me. Do the people
of the South really entertain fear that a Republican administration would,
directly or indirectly, interfere with the slaves, or with them about the
slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I
hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears. The South
would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of
Washington. I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think
slavery is right and ought to be extended, while we think it is wrong and
ought to be restricted. That, I suppose, is the rub. It certainly is the
only substantial difference between us.
Yours very truly,
SUPPORT OF THE FUGITIVE SLAVE CLAUSE
December [22?], 1860
Resolved: That the fugitive slave clause of the Constitution ought to be
enforced by a law of Congress, with efficient provisions for that object,
not obliging private persons to assist in its execution, but punishing all
who resist it, and with the usual safeguards to liberty, securing free men
against being surrendered as slaves.
That all State laws, if there be such, really or apparently in conflict
with such law of Congress, ought to be repealed; and no opposition to the
execution of such law of Congress ought to be made.
That the Federal Union must be preserved.
Prepared for the consideration of the Republican members of the Senate
Committee of Thirteen.
TO D. HUNTER.
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS December 22, 1860
MAJOR DAVID HUNTER.
MY DEAR SIR:--I am much obliged by the receipt of yours of the 18th. The
most we can do now is to watch events, and be as well prepared as possible
for any turn things may take. If the forts fall, my judgment is that they
are to be retaken. When I shall determine definitely my time of starting
to Washington, I will notify you.
TO I. N. MORRIS
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., Dec 24, 1860
HON. I. N. MORRIS.
MY DEAR SIR:--Without supposing that you and I are any nearer together,
politically, than heretofore, allow me to tender you my sincere thanks for
your Union resolution, expressive of views upon which we never were, and,
I trust, never will be at variance.
Yours very truly,
ATTEMPT TO FORM A COALITION CABINET
TO HANNIBAL HAMLIN
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, December 14, 1860.
HON. HANNIBAL HAMLIN.
MY DEAR SIR:--I need a man of Democratic antecedents from New England. I
cannot get a fair share of that element in without. This stands in the way
of Mr. Adams. I think of Governor Banks, Mr. Welles, and Mr. Tuck. Which
of them do the New England delegation prefer? Or shall I decide for
Yours as ever,
TO WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
SPRINGFIELD. ILL., January 3, 1861.
HON. W. H. SEWARD.
DEAR SIR:--Yours without signature was received last night. I have been
considering your suggestions as to my reaching Washington somewhat earlier
than is usual. It seems to me the inauguration is not the most dangerous
point for us. Our adversaries have us now clearly at disadvantage on the
second Wednesday of February, when the votes should be officially counted.
If the two houses refuse to meet at all, or meet without a quorum of each,
where shall we be? I do not think that this counting is constitutionally
essential to the election, but how are we to proceed in the absence of
it? In view of this, I think it is best for me not to attempt appearing in
Washington till the result of that ceremony is known.
It certainly would be of some advantage if you could know who are to be
at the heads of the War and Navy departments, but until I can ascertain
definitely whether I can get any suitable men from the South, and who, and
how many, I can not well decide. As yet, I have no word from Mr. Gilmer
in answer to my request for an interview with him. I look for something on
the subject, through you, before long.
Yours very truly,
TO W. H. SEWARD.
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., January 12, 1861
HON. W. H. SEWARD.
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 8th received. I still hope Mr. Gilmer will, on
a fair understanding with us, consent to take a place in the Cabinet. The
preference for him over Mr. Hunt or Mr. Gentry is that, up to date--he
has a living position in the South, while they have not. He is only better
than Winter Davis in that he is farther south. I fear, if we could get, we
could not safely take more than one such man--that is, not more than one
who opposed us in the election--the danger being to lose the confidence
of our own friends. Your selection for the State Department having become
public, I am happy to find scarcely any objection to it. I shall have
trouble with every other Northern Cabinet appointment--so much so that I
shall have to defer them as long as possible to avoid being teased into
insanity, to make changes.
Your obedient servant,
TO E. D. MORGAN
SPRINGFIELD, ILL. FEB. 4, 1861
SIR:--Your letter of the 30th ult. inviting me, on behalf of the
Legislature of New York, to pass through that State on my way to
Washington, and tendering me the hospitalities of her authorities and
people, has been duly received. With the feelings of deep gratitude to
you and them for this testimonial of regard and esteem I beg you to notify
them that I accept the invitation so kindly tendered.
Your obedient servant,
P.S.--Please let the ceremonies be only such as to take the least time
possible. A. L.
TO THURLOW WEED
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., February 4, 1861
DEAR SIR:--I have both your letter to myself and that to Judge Davis,
in relation to a certain gentleman in your State claiming to dispense
patronage in my name, and also to be authorized to use my name to advance
the chances of Mr. Greeley for an election to the United States Senate.
It is very strange that such things should be said by any one. The
gentleman you mention did speak to me of Mr. Greeley in connection with
the senatorial election, and I replied in terms of kindness toward Mr.
Greeley, which I really feel, but always with an expressed protest that
my name must not be used in the senatorial election in favor of or against
any one. Any other representation of me is a misrepresentation.
As to the matter of dispensing patronage, it perhaps will surprise you
to learn that I have information that you claim to have my authority to
arrange that matter in New York. I do not believe you have so claimed; but
still so some men say. On that subject you know all I have said to you is
"justice to all," and I have said nothing more particular to any one. I
say this to reassure you that I have not changed my position.
In the hope, however, that you will not use my name in the matter, I am,
FAREWELL ADDRESS AT SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS,
FEBRUARY 11, 1861
MY FRIENDS:--One who has never been placed in a like position cannot
understand my feelings at this hour, nor the oppressive sadness I feel at
this parting. For more than twenty-five years I have lived among you, and
during all that time I have received nothing but kindness at your hands.
Here the most cherished ties of earth were assumed. Here my children were
born, and here one of them lies buried. To you, my friends, I owe all that
I have, all that I am. All the strange checkered past seems to crowd upon
my mind. To-day I leave you. I go to assume a task more difficult than
that which devolved upon General Washington. Unless the great God who
assisted him shall be with and aid me I cannot prevail; but if the same
almighty arm that directed and protected him shall guide and support me I
shall not fail; I shall succeed. Let us pray that the God of our fathers
may not forsake us now. To Him I commend you all. Permit me to ask that
with equal sincerity and faith you will all invoke His wisdom and goodness
With these words I must leave you; for how long I know not. Friends, one
and all, I must now wish you an affectionate farewell.
REMARKS AT TOLONO, ILLINOIS, FEBRUARY 11, 1861
I am leaving you on an errand of national importance, attended, as you are
aware, with considerable difficulties. Let us believe, as some poet has
expressed it, "Behind the cloud the sun is still shining." I bid you an
REPLY TO ADDRESS OF WELCOME, INDIANAPOLIS,
INDIANA, FEBRUARY 11, 1861
GOVERNOR MORTON AND FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF INDIANA:
Most heartily do I thank you for this magnificent reception, and while
I cannot take to myself any share of the compliment thus paid, more
than that which pertains to a mere instrument, an accidental instrument,
perhaps I should say, of a great cause, I yet must look upon it as a most
magnificent reception, and as such most heartily do thank you for it.
You have been pleased to address yourself to me chiefly in behalf of
this glorious Union in which we live, in all of which you have my hearty
sympathy, and, as far as may be within my power, will have, one and
inseparable, my hearty consideration. While I do not expect, upon this
occasion, or until I get to Washington, to attempt any lengthy speech,
I will only say to the salvation of the Union there needs but one single
thing--the hearts of a people like yours.
The people--when they rise in mass in behalf of the Union and the
liberties of their country, truly may it be said, "The gates of hell
cannot prevail against them." In all trying positions in which I shall be
placed--and, doubtless, I shall be placed in many such--my reliance will
be placed upon you and the people of the United States; and I wish you to
remember, now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if
the union of these States and the liberties of this people shall be lost,
it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great
deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and
to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and
preserve the Union and liberty for yourselves, and not for me.
I desire they should be constitutionally performed. I, as already
intimated, am but an accidental instrument, temporary, and to serve but
for a limited time; and I appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind
that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with
office-seekers, but with you is the question, Shall the Union and shall
the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations?
ADDRESS TO THE LEGISLATURE OF INDIANA, AT INDIANAPOLIS,
FEBRUARY 12, 1861
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF INDIANA:--I am here to thank you much for
this magnificent welcome, and still more for the generous support given
by your State to that political cause which I think is the true and just
cause of the whole country and the whole world.
Solomon says there is "a time to keep silence," and when men wrangle by
the mouth with no certainty that they mean the same thing while using the
same word, it perhaps were as well if they would keep silence.
The words "coercion" and "invasion" are much used in these days, and often
with some temper and hot blood. Let us make sure, if we can, the meaning
of those who use them. Let us get the exact definitions of these words,
not from dictionaries, but from the men themselves, who certainly
deprecate the things they would represent by the use of the words.
What, then, is coercion? What is invasion? Would the marching of an army
into South Carolina, without the consent of her people, and with hostile
intent toward them, be invasion? I certainly think it would, and it would
be coercion also, if the South Carolinians were forced to submit. But if
the United States should merely hold and retake its own forts and other
property, and collect the duties on foreign importations, or even withhold
the mails from places where they were habitually violated, would any or
all of these things be invasion or coercion? Do our professed lovers
of the Union, who spitefully resolve that they will resist coercion and
invasion, understand that such things as these, on the part of the United
States, would be coercion or invasion of a State? If so, their idea of
means to preserve the object of their great affection would seem to be
exceedingly thin and airy. If sick, the little pills of the homoeopathist
would be much too large for it to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a
family relation, would seem to be no regular marriage, but rather a sort
of "free-love" arrangement, to be maintained on passional attraction.
By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a State? I speak
not of the position assigned to a State in the Union by the Constitution,
for that is a bond we all recognize. That position, however, a State
cannot carry out of the Union with it. I speak of that assumed primary
right of a State to rule all which is less than itself, and to ruin all
which is larger than itself. If a State and a county, in a given case,
should be equal in number of inhabitants, in what, as a matter of
principle, is the State better than the county? Would an exchange of
name be an exchange of rights? Upon what principle, upon what rightful
principle, may a State, being no more than one fiftieth part of the
nation in soil and population, break up the nation, and then coerce a
proportionably large subdivision of itself in the most arbitrary way? What
mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country,
with its people, by merely calling it a State? Fellow-citizens, I am not
asserting anything. I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And
now allow me to bid you farewell.
INTENTIONS TOWARD THE SOUTH
ADDRESS TO THE MAYOR AND CITIZENS OF
CINCINNATI, OHIO, FEBRUARY 12, 1861
Mr. MAYOR, AND GENTLEMEN:--Twenty-four hours ago, at the capital of
Indiana, I said to myself, "I have never seen so many people assembled
together in winter weather." I am no longer able to say that. But it
is what might reasonably have been expected--that this great city of
Cincinnati would thus acquit herself on such an occasion. My friends, I am
entirely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the reception which has been
given, I will not say to me, but to the President-elect of the United
States of America. Most heartily do I thank you, one and all, for it.
I have spoken but once before this in Cincinnati. That was a year previous
to the late Presidential election. On that occasion, in a playful
manner, but with sincere words, I addressed much of what I said to the
Kentuckians. I gave my opinion that we, as Republicans, would ultimately
beat them as Democrats, but that they could postpone that result longer by
nominating Senator Douglas for the Presidency than they could by any other
way. They did not, in any true sense of the word, nominate Mr. Douglas,
and the result has come certainly as soon as ever I expected. I also told
them how I expected they would be treated after they should have been
beaten, and I now wish to call their attention to what I then said upon
that subject. I then said:
"When we do as we say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will
do with you. I will tell you, as far as I am authorized to speak for the
Opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near
as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you.
We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your
institutions; to abide by all and every compromise of the Constitution,
and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you
so far as degenerate men, if we have degenerated, may, according to the
example of those noble fathers, Washington, Jefferson, and Madison.
"We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no
difference between us other than the difference of circumstances. We mean
to recognize and bear in mind always that you have as good hearts in
your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you
Fellow-citizens of Kentucky--friends and brethren, may I call you in my
new position?--I see no occasion and feel no inclination to retract a word
of this. If it shall not be made good, be assured the fault shall not be
ADDRESS TO THE GERMAN CLUB OF CINCINNATI, OHIO,
FEBRUARY 12, 1861
Mr. CHAIRMAN:--I thank you and those whom you represent for the compliment
you have paid me by tendering me this address. In so far as there is an
allusion to our present national difficulties, which expresses, as you
have said, the views of the gentlemen present, I shall have to beg pardon
for not entering fully upon the questions which the address you have now
I deem it my duty--a duty which I owe to my constituents--to you,
gentlemen, that I should wait until the last moment for a development of
the present national difficulties before I express myself decidedly as to
what course I shall pursue. I hope, then, not to be false to anything that
you have expected of me.
I agree with you, Mr. Chairman, that the working men are the basis of all
governments, for the plain reason that they are all the more numerous,
and as you added that those were the sentiments of the gentlemen present,
representing not only the working class, but citizens of other callings
than those of the mechanic, I am happy to concur with you in these
sentiments, not only of the native-born citizens, but also of the Germans
and foreigners from other countries.
Mr. Chairman, I hold that while man exists it is his duty to improve not
only his own condition, but to assist in ameliorating the condition of
mankind; and therefore, without entering upon the details of the question,
I will simply say that I am for those means which will give the greatest
good to the greatest number.
In regard to the Homestead law, I have to say that, in so far as the
government lands can be disposed of, I am in favor of cutting up the wild
lands into parcels, so that every poor man may have a home.
In regard to the Germans and foreigners, I esteem them no better than
other people, nor any worse. It is not my nature, when I see a people
borne down by the weight of their shackles--the oppression of tyranny--to
make their life more bitter by heaping upon them greater burdens; but
rather would I do all in my power to raise the yoke than to add anything
that would tend to crush them.
Inasmuch as our own country is extensive and new, and the countries of
Europe are densely populated, if there are any abroad who desire to make
this the land of their adoption, it is not in my heart to throw aught in
their way to prevent them from coming to the United States.
Mr. Chairman and gentlemen, I will bid you an affectionate farewell.
ADDRESS TO THE LEGISLATURE OF OHIO AT COLUMBUS
FEBRUARY 13, 1861
Mr. PRESIDENT AND Mr. SPEAKER, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF
OHIO:--It is true, as has been said by the president of the Senate, that
very great responsibility rests upon me in the position to which the
votes of the American people have called me. I am deeply sensible of that
weighty responsibility. I cannot but know what you all know, that without
a name, perhaps without a reason why I should have a name, there has
fallen upon me a task such as did not rest even upon the Father of his
Country; and so feeling, I can turn and look for that support without
which it will be impossible for me to perform that great task. I turn,
then, and look to the American people and to that God who has never
forsaken them. Allusion has been made to the interest felt in relation to
the policy of the new administration. In this I have received from some
a degree of credit for having kept silence, and from others some
deprecation. I still think that I was right.
In the varying and repeatedly shifting scenes of the present, and without
a precedent which could enable me to judge by the past, it has seemed
fitting that before speaking upon the difficulties of the country I should
have gained a view of the whole field, being at liberty to modify and
change the course of policy as future events may make a change necessary.
I have not maintained silence from any want of real anxiety. It is a
good thing that there is no more than anxiety, for there is nothing going
wrong. It is a consoling circumstance that when we look out there is
nothing that really hurts anybody. We entertain different views upon
political questions, but nobody is suffering anything. This is a most
consoling circumstance, and from it we may conclude that all we want is
time, patience, and a reliance on that God who has never forsaken this
Fellow-citizens, what I have said I have said altogether extemporaneously,
and I will now come to a close.
ADDRESS AT STEUBENVILLE, OHIO,
FEBRUARY 14, 1861
I fear that the great confidence placed in my ability is unfounded.
Indeed, I am sure it is. Encompassed by vast difficulties as I am, nothing
shall be wanting on my part, if sustained by God and the American people.
I believe the devotion to the Constitution is equally great on both sides
of the river. It is only the different understanding of that instrument
that causes difficulty. The only dispute on both sides is, "What are their
rights?" If the majority should not rule, who would be the judge? Where
is such a judge to be found? We should all be bound by the majority of
the American people; if not, then the minority must control. Would that be
right? Would it be just or generous? Assuredly not. I reiterate that
the majority should rule. If I adopt a wrong policy, the opportunity for
condemnation will occur in four years' time. Then I can be turned out, and
a better man with better views put in my place.
ADDRESS AT PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA
FEBRUARY 15, 1861
I most cordially thank his Honor Mayor Wilson, and the citizens of
Pittsburg generally, for their flattering reception. I am the more
grateful because I know that it is not given to me alone, but to the cause
I represent, which clearly proves to me their good-will, and that sincere
feeling is at the bottom of it. And here I may remark that in every short
address I have made to the people, in every crowd through which I have
passed of late, some allusion has been made to the present distracted
condition of the country. It is natural to expect that I should say
something on this subject; but to touch upon it at all would involve
an elaborate discussion of a great many questions and circumstances,
requiring more time than I can at present command, and would, perhaps,
unnecessarily commit me upon matters which have not yet fully developed
themselves. The condition of the country is an extraordinary one, and
fills the mind of every patriot with anxiety. It is my intention to
give this subject all the consideration I possibly can before specially
deciding in regard to it, so that when I do speak it may be as nearly
right as possible. When I do speak I hope I may say nothing in opposition
to the spirit of the Constitution, contrary to the integrity of the Union,
or which will prove inimical to the liberties of the people, or to the
peace of the whole country. And furthermore, when the time arrives for me
to speak on this great subject, I hope I may say nothing to disappoint the
people generally throughout the country, especially if the expectation has
been based upon anything which I may have heretofore said. Notwithstanding
the troubles across the river [the speaker pointing southwardly across the
Monongahela, and smiling], there is no crisis but an artificial one. What
is there now to warrant the condition of affairs presented by our friends
over the river? Take even their own view of the questions involved, and
there is nothing to justify the course they are pursuing. I repeat, then,
there is no crisis, excepting such a one as may be gotten up at any time
by turbulent men aided by designing politicians, My advice to them, under
such circumstances, is to keep cool. If the great American people only
keep their temper on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to
an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled,
just as surely as all other difficulties of a like character which have
originated in this government have been adjusted. Let the people on both
sides keep their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared
away in due time, so will this great nation continue to prosper as
heretofore. But, fellow-citizens, I have spoken longer on this subject
than I intended at the outset.
It is often said that the tariff is the specialty of Pennsylvania.
Assuming that direct taxation is not to be adopted, the tariff question
must be as durable as the government itself. It is a question of national
housekeeping. It is to the government what replenishing the meal-tub is
to the family. Every varying circumstances will require frequent
modifications as to the amount needed and the sources of supply. So
far there is little difference of opinion among the people. It is as to
whether, and how far, duties on imports shall be adjusted to favor home
production in the home market, that controversy begins. One party insists
that such adjustment oppresses one class for the advantage of another;
while the other party argues that, with all its incidents, in the long run
all classes are benefited. In the Chicago platform there is a plank upon
this subject which should be a general law to the incoming administration.
We should do neither more nor less than we gave the people reason
to believe we would when they gave us their votes. Permit me,
fellow-citizens, to read the tariff plank of the Chicago platform, or
rather have it read in your hearing by one who has younger eyes.
[Mr. Lincoln's private secretary then read Section 12 of the Chicago
platform, as follows:]
"That, while providing revenue for the support of the General Government
by duties upon imports, sound policy requires such an adjustment of these
imposts as will encourage the development of the industrial interest of
the whole country; and we commend that policy of national exchanges which
secures to working-men liberal wages, to agriculture remunerating prices,
to mechanics and manufacturers adequate return for their skill, labor, and
enterprise, and to the nation commercial prosperity and independence."
As with all general propositions, doubtless, there will be shades of
difference in construing this. I have by no means a thoroughly matured
judgment upon this subject, especially as to details; some general ideas
are about all. I have long thought it would be to our advantage to produce
any necessary article at home which can be made of as good quality and
with as little labor at home as abroad, at least by the difference of the
carrying from abroad. In such case the carrying is demonstrably a dead
loss of labor. For instance, labor being the true standard of value, is it
not plain that if equal labor get a bar of railroad iron out of a mine in
England and another out of a mine in Pennsylvania, each can be laid down
in a track at home cheaper than they could exchange countries, at least
by the carriage? If there be a present cause why one can be both made
and carried cheaper in money price than the other can be made without
carrying, that cause is an unnatural and injurious one, and ought
gradually, if not rapidly, to be removed. The condition of the treasury
at this time would seem to render an early revision of the tariff
indispensable. The Morrill [tariff] bill, now pending before Congress, may
or may not become a law. I am not posted as to its particular provisions,
but if they are generally satisfactory, and the bill shall now pass, there
will be an end for the present. If, however, it shall not pass, I suppose
the whole subject will be one of the most pressing and important for the
next Congress. By the Constitution, the executive may recommend measures
which he may think proper, and he may veto those he thinks improper, and
it is supposed that he may add to these certain indirect influences to
affect the action of Congress. My political education strongly inclines me
against a very free use of any of these means by the executive to control
the legislation of the country. As a rule, I think it better that Congress
should originate as well as perfect its measures without external bias. I
therefore would rather recommend to every gentleman who knows he is to be
a member of the next Congress to take an enlarged view, and post himself
thoroughly, so as to contribute his part to such an adjustment of the
tariff as shall produce a sufficient revenue, and in its other bearings,
so far as possible, be just and equal to all sections of the country and
classes of the people.
ADDRESS AT CLEVELAND, OHIO,
FEBRUARY 15, 1861
Mr. CHAIRMAN AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF CLEVELAND:--We have been marching
about two miles through snow, rain, and deep mud. The large numbers that
have turned out under these circumstances testify that you are in earnest
about something or other. But do I think so meanly of you as to suppose
that that earnestness is about me personally? I would be doing you an
injustice to suppose you did. You have assembled to testify your respect
for the Union, the Constitution, and the laws; and here let me say that it
is with you, the people, to advance the great cause of the Union and the
Constitution, and not with any one man. It rests with you alone. This fact
is strongly impressed upon my mind at present. In a community like this,
whose appearance testifies to their intelligence, I am convinced that the
cause of liberty and the Union can never be in danger. Frequent allusion
is made to the excitement at present existing in our national politics,
and it is as well that I should also allude to it here. I think that
there is no occasion for any excitement. 'The crisis, as it is called,
is altogether an artificial crisis. In all parts of the nation there are
differences of opinion on politics. There are differences of opinion even
here. You did not all vote for the person who now addresses you. What is
happening now will not hurt those who are farther away from here. Have
they not all their rights now as they ever have had? Do they not have
their fugitive slaves returned now as ever? Have they not the same
Constitution that they have lived under for seventy-odd years? Have they
not a position as citizens of this common country, and have we any power
to change that position? What, then, is the matter with them? Why all this
excitement? Why all these complaints?
As I said before, this crisis is all artificial! It has no foundation in
facts. It is not argued up, as the saying is, and cannot, therefore, be
argued down. Let it alone and it will go down of itself.
[Mr. Lincoln then said that they must be content with a few words from
him, as he was tired, etc. Having been given to understand that the
crowd was not all Republican, but consisted of men of all parties, he
This is as it should be. If Judge Douglas had been elected and had been
here on his way to Washington, as I am to-night, the Republicans should
have joined his supporters in welcoming him, just as his friends have
joined with mine tonight. If all do not join now to save the good old
ship of the Union this voyage, nobody will have a chance to pilot her on
ADDRESS AT BUFFALO, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 16, 1861
Mr. MAYOR AND FELLOW-CITIZENS OF BUFFALO AND THE STATE OF NEW YORK:--I
am here to thank you briefly for this grand reception given to me, not
personally, but as the representative of our great and beloved country.
Your worthy mayor has been pleased to mention, in his address to me, the
fortunate and agreeable journey which I have had from home, on my rather
circuitous route to the Federal capital. I am very happy that he was
enabled in truth to congratulate myself and company on that fact. It is
true we have had nothing thus far to mar the pleasure of the trip. We have
not been met alone by those who assisted in giving the election to me--I
say not alone by them, but by the whole population of the country through
which we have passed. This is as it should be. Had the election fallen
to any other of the distinguished candidates instead of myself, under the
peculiar circumstances, to say the least, it would have been proper for
all citizens to have greeted him as you now greet me. It is an evidence of
the devotion of the whole people to the Constitution, the Union, and
the perpetuity of the liberties of this country. I am unwilling on any
occasion that I should be so meanly thought of as to have it supposed for
a moment that these demonstrations are tendered to me personally. They are
tendered to the country, to the institutions of the country, and to the
perpetuity of the liberties of the country, for which these institutions
were made and created.
Your worthy mayor has thought fit to express the hope that I may be able
to relieve the country from the present, or, I should say, the threatened
difficulties. I am sure I bring a heart true to the work. For the ability
to perform it, I must trust in that Supreme Being who has never forsaken
this favored land, through the instrumentality of this great and
intelligent people. Without that assistance I shall surely fail; with it,
I cannot fail. When we speak of threatened difficulties to the Country,
it is natural that it should be expected that something should be said by
myself with regard to particular measures. Upon more mature reflection,
however, others will agree with me that, when it is considered that these
difficulties are without precedent, and have never been acted upon by any
individual situated as I am, it is most proper I should wait and see the
developments, and get all the light possible, so that when I do speak
authoritatively, I may be as near right as possible. When I shall speak
authoritatively, I hope to say nothing inconsistent with the Constitution,
the Union, the rights of all the States, of each State, and of each
section of the country, and not to disappoint the reasonable expectations
of those who have confided to me their votes. In this connection allow me
to say that you, as a portion of the great American people, need only to
maintain your composure, stand up to your sober convictions of right, to
your obligations to the Constitution, and act in accordance with those
sober convictions, and the clouds now on the horizon will be dispelled,
and we shall have a bright and glorious future; and when this generation
has passed away, tens of thousands will inhabit this country where only
thousands inhabit it now. I do not propose to address you at length; I
have no voice for it. Allow me again to thank you for this magnificent
reception, and bid you farewell.
ADDRESS AT ROCHESTER, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 18, 1861
I confess myself, after having seen many large audiences since leaving
home, overwhelmed with this vast number of faces at this hour of the
morning. I am not vain enough to believe that you are here from any
wish to see me as an individual, but because I am for the time being the
representative of the American people. I could not, if I would, address
you at any length. I have not the strength, even if I had the time, for a
speech at each of these many interviews that are afforded me on my way to
Washington. I appear merely to see you, and to let you see me, and to
bid you farewell. I hope it will be understood that it is from no
disinclination to oblige anybody that I do not address you at greater
ADDRESS AT SYRACUSE, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 18, 1861.
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--I See you have erected a very fine and handsome
platform here for me, and I presume you expected me to speak from it. If
I should go upon it, you would imagine that I was about to deliver you
a much longer speech than I am. I wish you to understand that I mean no
discourtesy to you by thus declining. I intend discourtesy to no one.
But I wish you to understand that, though I am unwilling to go upon this
platform, you are not at liberty to draw inferences concerning any other
platform with which my name has been or is connected. I wish you long life
and prosperity individually, and pray that with the perpetuity of those
institutions under which we have all so long lived and prospered, our
happiness may be secured, our future made brilliant, and the glorious
destiny of our country established forever. I bid you a kind farewell.
ADDRESS AT UTICA, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 18, 1860
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--I have no speech to make to you; and no time to
speak in. I appear before you that I may see you, and that you may see me;
and I am willing to admit that so far as the ladies are concerned I have
the best of the bargain, though I wish it to be understood that I do not
make the same acknowledgment concerning the men.
REPLY TO THE MAYOR OF ALBANY, NEW YORK
FEBRUARY 18, 1861.
MR. MAYOR:--I can hardly appropriate to myself the flattering terms in
which you communicate the tender of this reception, as personal to myself.
I most gratefully accept the hospitalities tendered to me, and will not
detain you or the audience with any extended remarks at this time. I
presume that in the two or three courses through which I shall have to go,
I shall have to repeat somewhat, and I will therefore only express to you
my thanks for this kind reception.
REPLY TO GOVERNOR MORGAN OF NEW YORK, AT ALBANY,
FEBRUARY 18, 1861.
GOVERNOR MORGAN:--I was pleased to receive an invitation to visit the
capital of the great Empire State of this nation while on my way to the
Federal capital. I now thank you, Mr. Governor, and you, the people of
the capital of the State of New York, for this most hearty and magnificent
welcome. If I am not at fault, the great Empire State at this time
contains a larger population than did the whole of the United States of
America at the time they achieved their national independence, and I was
proud--to be invited to visit its capital, to meet its citizens, as I now
have the honor to do. I am notified by your governor that this reception
is tendered by citizens without distinction of party. Because of this
I accept it the more gladly. In this country, and in any country where
freedom of thought is tolerated, citizens attach themselves to political
parties. It is but an ordinary degree of charity to attribute this act to
the supposition that, in thus attaching themselves to the various parties,
each man in his own judgment supposes he thereby best advances the
interests of the whole country. And when an election is past it is
altogether befitting a free people, as I suppose, that, until the next
election, they should be one people. The reception you have extended me
to-day is not given to me personally,--it should not be so,--but as the
representative, for the time being, of the majority of the nation. If the
election had fallen to any of the more distinguished citizens who received
the support of the people, this same honor should have greeted him that
greets me this day, in testimony of the universal, unanimous devotion
of the whole people to the Constitution, the Union, and to the perpetual
liberties of succeeding generations in this country.
I have neither the voice nor the strength to address you at any greater
length. I beg you will therefore accept my most grateful thanks for this
manifest devotion--not to me, but the institutions of this great and
ADDRESS TO THE LEGISLATURE OF NEW YORK, AT ALBANY,
FEBRUARY 18, 1861.
MR. PRESIDENT AND GENTLEMEN OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF NEW
YORK:--It is with feelings of great diffidence, and, I may say, with
feelings of awe, perhaps greater than I have recently experienced, that I
meet you here in this place. The history of this great State, the renown
of those great men who have stood here, and have spoken here, and have
been heard here, all crowd around my fancy, and incline me to shrink from
any attempt to address you. Yet I have some confidence given me by the
generous manner in which you have invited me, and by the still more
generous manner in which you have received me, to speak further. You
have invited and received me without distinction of party. I cannot for
a moment suppose that this has been done in any considerable degree with
reference to my personal services, but that it is done in so far as I am
regarded, at this time, as the representative of the majesty of this great
nation. I doubt not this is the truth, and the whole truth of the case,
and this is as it should be. It is much more gratifying to me that this
reception has been given to me as the elected representative of a free
people, than it could possibly be if tendered merely as an evidence of
devotion to me, or to any one man personally.
And now I think it were more fitting that I should close these hasty
remarks. It is true that, while I hold myself, without mock modesty,
the humblest of all individuals that have ever been elevated to the
Presidency, I have a more difficult task to perform than any one of them.
You have generously tendered me the support--the united support--of the
great Empire State. For this, in behalf of the nation--in behalf of the
present and future of the nation--in behalf of civil and religious liberty
for all time to come, most gratefully do I thank you. I do not propose
to enter into an explanation of any particular line of policy, as to our
present difficulties, to be adopted by the incoming administration. I deem
it just to you, to myself, to all, that I should see everything, that I
should hear everything, that I should have every light that can be brought
within my reach, in order that, when I do so speak, I shall have enjoyed
every opportunity to take correct and true ground; and for this reason I
do not propose to speak at this time of the policy of the Government. But
when the time comes, I shall speak, as well as I am able, for the good of
the present and future of this country for the good both of the North and
of the South--for the good of the one and the other, and of all sections
of the country. In the meantime, if we have patience, if we restrain
ourselves, if we allow ourselves not to run off in a passion, I still have
confidence that the Almighty, the Maker of the universe, will, through
the instrumentality of this great and intelligent people, bring us through
this as He has through all the other difficulties of our country. Relying
on this, I again thank you for this generous reception.
ADDRESS AT TROY, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 19, 1861
MR. MAYOR AND CITIZENS OF TROY:--I thank you very kindly for this great
reception. Since I left my home it has not been my fortune to meet
an assemblage more numerous and more orderly than this. I am the more
gratified at this mark of your regard since you assure me it is tendered,
not to the individual but to the high office you have called me to fill.
I have neither strength nor time to make any extended remarks on this
occasion, and I can only repeat to you my sincere thanks for the kind
reception you have thought proper to extend to me.
ADDRESS AT POUGHKEEPSIE, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 19, 1861
FELLOW-CITIZENS:--It is altogether impossible I should make myself heard
by any considerable portion of this vast assemblage; but, although I
appear before you mainly for the purpose of seeing you, and to let you
see rather than hear me, I cannot refrain from saying that I am highly
gratified--as much here, indeed, under the circumstances, as I have been
anywhere on my route--to witness this noble demonstration--made, not
in honor of an individual, but of the man who at this time humbly, but
earnestly, represents the majesty of the nation.
This reception, like all the others that have been tendered to me,
doubtless emanates from all the political parties, and not from one alone.
As such I accept it the more gratefully, since it indicates an earnest
desire on the part of the whole people, with out regard to political
differences, to save--not the country, because the country will save
itself but to save the institutions of the country, those institutions
under which, in the last three quarters of a century, we have grown to
a great, and intelligent, and a happy people--the greatest, the
most intelligent, and the happiest people in the world. These noble
manifestations indicate, with unerring certainty, that the whole people
are willing to make common cause for this object; that if, as it ever must
be, some have been successful in the recent election and some have been
beaten, if some are satisfied and some are dissatisfied, the defeated
party are not in favor of sinking the ship, but are desirous of running it
through the tempest in safety, and willing, if they think the people have
committed an error in their verdict now, to wait in the hope of reversing
it and setting it right next time. I do not say that in the recent
election the people did the wisest thing, that could have been
done--indeed, I do not think they did; but I do say that in accepting the
great trust committed to me, which I do with a determination to endeavor
to prove worthy of it, I must rely upon you, upon the people of the whole
country, for support; and with their sustaining aid, even I, humble as I
am, cannot fail to carry the ship of state safely through the storm.
I have now only to thank you warmly for your kind attendance, and bid you
all an affectionate farewell.
ADDRESS AT HUDSON, NEW YORK.
FEBRUARY 19, 1860
FELLOW-CITIZENS:--I see that you are providing a platform for me. I shall
have to decline standing upon it, because the president of the company
tells me that I shall not have time to wait until it is brought to me. As
I said yesterday, under similar circumstances at another gathering, you
must not draw the inference that I have any intention of deserting any
platform with which I have a legitimate connection because I do not stand
on yours. Allow me to thank you for this splendid reception, and I now bid
ADDRESS AT PEEKSKILL, NEW YORK,
FEBRUARY 19, 1861
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--I have but a moment to stand before you to listen
to and return your kind greeting. I thank you for this reception, and for
the pleasant manner in which it is tendered to me by our mutual friends.
I will say in a single sentence, in regard to the difficulties that lie
before me and our beloved country, that if I can only be as generously and
unanimously sustained as the demonstrations I have witnessed indicate I
shall be, I shall not fail; but without your sustaining hands I am sure
that neither I nor any other man can hope to surmount these difficulties.
I trust that in the course I shall pursue I shall be sustained not only
by the party that elected me, but by the patriotic people of the whole
ADDRESS AT FISHKILL LANDING
FEBRUARY 19, 1861
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--I appear before you not to make a speech. I have
not sufficient time, if I had the strength, to repeat speeches at every
station where the people kindly gather to welcome me as we go along. If I
had the strength, and should take the time, I should not get to Washington
until after the inauguration, which you must be aware would not fit
exactly. That such an untoward event might not transpire, I know you will
readily forego any further remarks; and I close by bidding you farewell.
REMARKS AT THE ASTOR HOUSE, NEW YORK CITY, FEBRUARY 19, 1861
FELLOW-CITIZENS:--I have stepped before you merely in compliance with what
appears to be your wish, and not with the purpose of making a speech. I
do not propose making a speech this afternoon. I could not be heard by any
but a small fraction of you, at best; but, what is still worse than that,
I have nothing just now to say that is worthy of your hearing. I beg you
to believe that I do not now refuse to address you from any disposition to
disoblige you, but to the contrary. But, at the same time, I beg of you to
excuse me for the present.
ADDRESS AT NEW YORK CITY,
FEBRUARY 19, 1861
Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN:--I am rather an old man to avail myself of
such an excuse as I am now about to do. Yet the truth is so distinct, and
presses itself so distinctly upon me, that I cannot well avoid it--and
that is, that I did not understand when I was brought into this room that
I was to be brought here to make a speech. It was not intimated to me that
I was brought into the room where Daniel Webster and Henry Clay had made
speeches, and where one in my position might be expected to do something
like those men or say something worthy of myself or my audience. I
therefore beg you to make allowance for the circumstances in which I
have been by surprise brought before you. Now I have been in the habit
of thinking and sometimes speaking upon political questions that have for
some years past agitated the country; and, if I were disposed to do so,
and we could take up some one of the issues, as the lawyers call them, and
I were called upon to make an argument about it to the best of my ability,
I could do so without much preparation. But that is not what you desire to
have done here to-night.
I have been occupying a position, since the Presidential election, of
silence--of avoiding public speaking, of avoiding public writing. I have
been doing so because I thought, upon full consideration, that was the
proper course for me to take. I am brought before you now, and required
to make a speech, when you all approve more than anything else of the fact
that I have been keeping silence. And now it seems to me that the response
you give to that remark ought to justify me in closing just here. I
have not kept silence since the Presidential election from any party
wantonness, or from any indifference to the anxiety that pervades the
minds of men about the aspect of the political affairs of this country. I
have kept silence for the reason that I supposed it was peculiarly proper
that I should do so until the time came when, according to the custom of
the country, I could speak officially.
I still suppose that, while the political drama being enacted in this
country at this time is rapidly shifting its scenes--forbidding an
anticipation with any degree of certainty to-day of what we shall see
to-morrow--it is peculiarly fitting that I should see it all, up to the
last minute, before I should take ground that I might be disposed, by the
shifting of the scenes afterward, also to shift. I have said several times
upon this journey, and I now repeat it to you, that when the time does
come, I shall then take the ground that I think is right--right for the
North, for the South, for the East, for the West, for the whole country.
And in doing so I hope to feel no necessity pressing upon me to say
anything in conflict with the Constitution, in conflict with the continued
union of these States, in conflict with the perpetuation of the liberties
of this people, or anything in conflict with anything whatever that I have
ever given you reason to expect from me. And now, my friends, have I said
enough? [Loud cries of "No, no!" and, "Three cheers for LINCOLN!"] Now, my
friends, there appears to be a difference of opinion between you and me,
and I really feel called upon to decide the question myself.
REPLY TO THE MAYOR OF NEW YORK CITY,
FEBRUARY 20, 1861
Mr. MAYOR:--It is with feelings of deep gratitude that I make my
acknowledgments for the reception that has been given me in the great
commercial city of New York. I cannot but remember that it is done by
the people who do not, by a large majority, agree with me in political
sentiment. It is the more grateful to me because in this I see that for
the great principles of our Government the people are pretty nearly or
quite unanimous. In regard to the difficulties that confront us at this
time, and of which you have seen fit to speak so becomingly and so justly,
I can only say I agree with the sentiments expressed. In my devotion to
the Union I hope I am behind no man in the nation. As to my wisdom in
conducting affairs so as to tend to the preservation of the Union, I fear
too great confidence may have been placed in me. I am sure I bring a
heart devoted to the work. There is nothing that could ever bring me to
consent--willingly to consent--to the destruction of this Union (in which
not only the great city of New York, but the whole country, has acquired
its greatness), unless it would be that thing for which the Union
itself was made. I understand that the ship is made for the carrying and
preservation of the cargo; and so long as the ship is safe with the cargo,
it shall not be abandoned. This Union shall never be abandoned, unless the
possibility of its existence shall cease to exist without the necessity of
throwing passengers and cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible
that the prosperity and liberties of this people can be preserved within
this Union, it shall be my purpose at all tunes to preserve it. And now,
Mr. Mayor, renewing my thanks for this cordial reception, allow me to come
to a close.
ADDRESS AT JERSEY CITY, NEW JERSEY
FEBRUARY 21, 1860
MR. DAYTON AND GENTLEMEN OF THE STATE OF NEW JERSEY:--I shall only thank
you briefly for this very kind reception given me, not personally, but as
the temporary representative of the majesty of the nation. To the kindness
of your hearts, and of the hearts of your brethren in your State, I should
be very proud to respond, but I shall not have strength to address you
or other assemblages at length, even if I had the time to do so. I appear
before you, therefore, for little else than to greet you, and to briefly
say farewell. You have done me the very high honor to present your
reception courtesies to me through your great man a man with whom it is an
honor to be associated anywhere, and in owning whom no State can be poor.
He has said enough, and by the saying of it suggested enough, to require a
response of an hour, well considered. I could not in an hour make a worthy
response to it. I therefore, ladies and gentlemen of New Jersey, content
myself with saying, most heartily do I indorse all the sentiments he has
expressed. Allow me, most gratefully, to bid you farewell.
REPLY TO THE MAYOR OF NEWARK, NEW JERSEY,
FEBRUARY 21, 1861.
MR. MAYOR:--I thank you for this reception at the city of Newark. With
regard to the great work of which you speak, I will say that I bring to it
a heart filled with love for my country, and an honest desire to do what
is right. I am sure, however, that I have not the ability to do anything
unaided of God, and that without His support and that of this free, happy,
prosperous, and intelligent people, no man can succeed in doing that
the importance of which we all comprehend. Again thanking you for the
reception you have given me, I will now bid you farewell, and proceed upon
ADDRESS IN TRENTON AT THE TRENTON HOUSE,
FEBRUARY 21, 1861
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 were 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. My friends, allow me to bid you farewell.
ADDRESS TO THE SENATE OF NEW JERSEY
FEBRUARY 21, 1861
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 Revolutionary struggle few of the States among the
Old Thirteen had more of the battle-fields of the country within their
limits than 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 Weems'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 that something
even more than national independence, 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 a humble instrument in the hands of the Almighty, and of this his
almost chosen people, 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 constitutionally elected President of the
United States--as citizens of the United States to meet the man who, for
the time being, is the representative of the majesty of the nation--united
by the single purpose to perpetuate the Constitution, the union, and the
liberties of the people. As such, I accept this reception more gratefully
than I could do did I believe it were tendered to me as an individual.
ADDRESS TO THE ASSEMBLY OF NEW JERSEY,
FEBRUARY 21, 1861
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 shall 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 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 shall take it, I hope, in good temper,
certainly with no malice toward 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, none who would do
more to preserve it, but it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly.
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
Gentlemen, I have already spoken longer than I intended, and must beg
leave to stop here.
REPLY TO THE MAYOR OF PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA,
FEBRUARY 21, 1861
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. It is true, as your worthy mayor has said, that there is great
anxiety amongst the citizens of the United States at this time. I deem it
a happy circumstance that this dissatisfied portion of our fellow-citizens
does not point us to anything 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 me upon this
subject, they have not pointed out the substantial difficulty that exists.
I do not mean to say that an 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 most happy, indeed,
will I be if I shall be able to verify and fulfil that hope. I promise
you 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 useless
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, harmony, 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. 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
have never asked anything that does not breathe from those walls. All my
political warfare has been in favor of the teachings that come 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 goodnight.
ADDRESS IN THE HALL OF INDEPENDENCE, PHILADELPHIA,
FEBRUARY 22, 1861
MR. CUYLER:--I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing
here, in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, 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 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 the confederacy so long together. It was not the mere
matter of separation of the colonies from the motherland, 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. 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 the country be 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. 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 is forced upon the
Government, and then it will be compelled to act in self-defence.
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 toward raising the flag. I may, therefore, have said
something indiscreet. I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by
and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.
REPLY TO THE WILMINGTON DELEGATION,
FEBRUARY 22, 1861
MR. CHAIRMAN:--I feel highly flattered by the encomiums you have seen fit
to bestow upon me. Soon after the nomination of General Taylor, I attended
a political meeting in the city of Wilmington, and have since carried with
me a fond remembrance of the hospitalities of the city on that occasion.
The programme established provides for my presence in Harrisburg in
twenty-four hours from this time. I expect to be in Washington on
Saturday. It is, therefore, an impossibility that I should accept your
kind invitation. There are no people whom I would more gladly accommodate
than those of Delaware; but circumstances forbid, gentlemen. With many
regrets for the character of the reply I am compelled to give you, I bid
ADDRESS AT LANCASTER, PENNSYLVANIA,
FEBRUARY 22, 1860
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN OF OLD LANCASTER:--I appear not to make a speech. I
have not time to make a speech at length, and not strength to make them on
every occasion; and, worse than all, I have none to make. There is plenty
of matter to speak about in these times, but it is well known that the
more a man speaks the less he is understood--the more he says one thing,
the more his adversaries contend he meant something else. I shall soon
have occasion to speak officially, and then I will endeavor to put my
thoughts just as plain as I can express myself--true to the Constitution
and Union of all the States, and to the perpetual liberty of all the
people. Until I so speak, there is no need to enter upon details. In
conclusion, I greet you most heartily, and bid you an affectionate
ADDRESS TO THE LEGISLATURE OF PENNSYLVANIA, AT HARRISBURG,
FEBRUARY 22, 1861
MR. SPEAKER OF THE SENATE, AND ALSO MR. SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES, AND GENTLEMEN OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF
PENNSYLVANIA:--I appear before you only for a very few brief remarks in
response to what has been said to me. I thank you most sincerely for this
reception, and the generous words in which support has been promised me
upon this occasion. I thank your great commonwealth for the overwhelming
support it recently gave, not me personally, but the cause which I think a
just one, in the late election.
Allusion has been made to the fact--the interesting fact perhaps we
should say--that I for the first time appear at the capital of the great
commonwealth of Pennsylvania upon the birthday of the Father of his
Country. In connection with that beloved anniversary connected with the
history of this country, I have already gone through one exceedingly
interesting scene this morning in the ceremonies at Philadelphia. Under
the kind conduct of gentlemen there, I was for the first time allowed
the privilege of standing in old Independence Hall to have a few words
addressed to me there, and opening up to me an opportunity of manifesting
my deep regret that I had not more time to express something of my own
feelings excited by the occasion, that had been really the feelings of my
Besides this, our friends there had provided a magnificent flag of the
country. They had arranged it so that I was given the honor of raising it
to the head of its staff, and when it went up I was pleased that it went
to its place by the strength of my own feeble arm. When, according to the
arrangement, the cord was pulled, and it floated gloriously to the wind,
without an accident, in the bright, glowing sunshine of the morning,
I could not help hoping that there was in the entire success of that
beautiful ceremony at least something of an omen of what is to come. Nor
could I help feeling then, as I have often felt, that in the whole of that
proceeding I was a very humbled instrument. I had not provided the flag; I
had not made the arrangements for elevating it to its place; I had applied
but a very small portion of even my feeble strength in raising it. In the
whole transaction I was in the hands of the people who had arranged it,
and if I can have the same generous co-operation of the people of
this nation, I think the flag of our country may yet be kept flaunting
I recur for a moment but to repeat some words uttered at the hotel in
regard to what has been said about the military support which the General
Government may expect from the commonwealth of Pennsylvania in a proper
emergency. To guard against any possible mistake do I recur to this. It is
not with any pleasure that I contemplate the possibility that a necessity
may arise in this country for the use of the military arm. While I am
exceedingly gratified to see the manifestation upon your streets of your
military force here, and exceedingly gratified at your promise to use that
force upon a proper emergency--while I make these acknowledgments I desire
to repeat, in order to preclude any possible misconstruction, that I do
most sincerely hope that we shall have no use for them; that it will
never become their duty to shed blood, and most especially never to shed
fraternal blood. I promise that so far as I may have wisdom to direct,
if so painful a result shall in any wise be brought about, it shall be
through no fault of mine.
Allusion has also been made by one of your honored speakers to some
remarks recently made by myself at Pittsburg in regard to what is supposed
to be the especial interest of this great commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I
now wish only to say in regard to that matter, that the few remarks which
I uttered on that occasion were rather carefully worded. I took pains
that they should be so. I have seen no occasion since to add to them or
subtract from them. I leave them precisely as they stand, adding only
now that I am pleased to have an expression from you, gentlemen of
Pennsylvania, signifying that they are satisfactory to you.
And now, gentlemen of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, allow me again to return to you my most sincere thanks.
REPLY TO THE MAYOR OF WASHINGTON, D.C.,
FEBRUARY 27, 1861
Mr. MAYOR:--I thank you, and through you the municipal authorities of this
city who accompany you, for this welcome. And as it is the first time in
my life, since the present phase of politics has presented itself in this
country, that I have said anything publicly within a region of country
where the institution of slavery exists, I will take this occasion to
say that I think very much of the ill feeling that has existed and still
exists between the people in the section from which I came and the people
here, is dependent upon a misunderstanding of one another. I therefore
avail myself of this opportunity to assure you, Mr. Mayor, and all the
gentlemen present, that I have not now, and never have had, any other than
as kindly feelings toward you as to the people of my own section. I have
not now, and never have had, any disposition to treat you in any respect
otherwise than as my own neighbors. I have not now any purpose to withhold
from you any of the benefits of the Constitution, under any circumstances,
that I would not feel myself constrained to withhold from my own
neighbors; and I hope, in a word, that when we shall become better
acquainted--and I say it with great confidence--we shall like each other
better. I thank you for the kindness of this reception.
REPLY TO A SERENADE AT WASHINGTON, D.C.,
FEBRUARY 28, 1861
MY FRIENDS:--I suppose that I may take this as a compliment paid to me,
and as such please accept my thanks for it. I have reached this city of
Washington under circumstances considerably differing from those under
which any other man has ever reached it. I am here for the purpose of
taking an official position amongst the people, almost all of whom were
politically opposed to me, and are yet opposed to me, as I suppose.
I propose no lengthy address to you. I only propose to say, as I did on
yesterday, when your worthy mayor and board of aldermen called upon me,
that I thought much of the ill feeling that has existed between you and
the people of your surroundings and that people from among whom I came,
has depended, and now depends, upon a misunderstanding.
I hope that, if things shall go along as prosperously as I believe we all
desire they may, I may have it in my power to remove something of this
misunderstanding; that I may be enabled to convince you, and the people
of your section of the country, that we regard you as in all things
our equals, and in all things entitled to the same respect and the same
treatment that we claim for ourselves; that we are in no wise disposed, if
it were in our power, to oppress you, to deprive you of any of your rights
under the Constitution of the United States, or even narrowly to split
hairs with you in regard to these rights, but are determined to give you,
as far as lies in our hands, all your rights under the Constitution--not
grudgingly, but fully and fairly. I hope that, by thus dealing with you,
we will become better acquainted, and be better friends.
And now, my friends, with these few remarks, and again returning my thanks
for this compliment, and expressing my desire to hear a little more of
your good music, I bid you good-night.
WASHINGTON, SUNDAY, MARCH 3, 1861
[During the struggle over the appointments of LINCOLN's Cabinet, the
President-elect spoke as follows:]
Gentlemen, it is evident that some one must take the responsibility
of these appointments, and I will do it. My Cabinet is completed. The
positions are not definitely assigned, and will not be until I announce
them privately to the gentlemen whom I have selected as my Constitutional
FIRST INAUGURAL ADDRESS, MARCH 4, 1861
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 property 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
"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 that 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 amongst 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 any wise 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
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
intention of the lawgiver is the law. All members of Congress swear their
support to the whole Constitution--to this provision as much as to 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 not a
very material one. If the slave is to be surrendered, it can be of but
little consequence to him or to others by which authority it is done. And
should any one in any case be content that his oath shall go unkept on a
merely unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be kept?
Again, in any law upon this subject, ought not all the safeguards of
liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence to be introduced, so
that a free man be not, in any case, surrendered as a slave? And might it
not be well at the same time to provide by law for the enforcement of that
clause in the Constitution which guarantees that "the citizens of each
State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in
the several States"?
I take the official oath to-day with no mental reservations, and with no
purpose to construe the Constitution or laws by any hypercritical rules.
And, while I do not choose now to specify particular acts of Congress as
proper to be enforced, I do suggest that it will be much safer for all,
both in official and private stations, to conform to and abide by all
those acts which stand unrepealed, than to violate any of them, trusting
to find impunity in having them held to be unconstitutional.
It is seventy-two years since the first inauguration of a President
under our national Constitution. During that period fifteen different
and greatly distinguished citizens have, in succession, administered the
executive branch of the Government. They have conducted it through many
perils, and generally with great success. Yet, with all this scope of
precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitutional
term of four years under great and peculiar difficulty. A disruption of
the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formidably attempted.
I hold that, in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution,
the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not
expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe
to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic
law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express
provisions of our national Constitution, and the Union will endure
forever--it being impossible to destroy it except by some action not
provided for in the instrument itself.
Again, if the United States be not a government proper, but an association
of States in the nature of contract merely, can it as a contract be
peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to
a contract may violate it--break it, so to speak; but does it not require
all to lawfully rescind it?
Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that in
legal contemplation the Union is perpetual confirmed by the history of
the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was
formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in 1774. It was matured
and continued by the Declaration of Independence in 1776. It was further
matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted
and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation
in 1778. And, finally, in 1787 one of the declared objects for ordaining
and establishing the Constitution was "to form a more perfect Union."
But if the destruction of the Union by one or by a part only of the
States be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before the
Constitution, having lost the vital element of perpetuity.
It follows from these views that no State upon its own mere motion can
lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect
are legally void; and that acts of violence, within any State or States,
against the authority of the United States, are insurrectionary or
revolutionary, according to circumstances.
I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, the
Union is unbroken; and to the extent of my ability I shall take care, as
the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the
Union be faithfully executed in all the States. Doing this I deem 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
In doing this there needs to 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 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. While the strict legal right may exist
in the government to enforce the exercise of these offices, the attempt to
do so would be so irritating, and so nearly impracticable withal, that I
deem it better to forego for the time the uses of such offices.
The mails, unless repelled, will continue to be furnished in all parts of
the Union. So far as possible, the people everywhere shall have that
sense of perfect security which is most favorable 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.
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 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 wise 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 you fly
from have no real existence? Will you, while the certain ills you fly
to are greater than all the real ones 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 to 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. If by the mere force of numbers a
majority should deprive a minority of any clearly written constitutional
right, it might, in a moral point of view, justify revolution--certainly
would if such a right were a vital one. But such is not our case. All the
vital rights of minorities and of individuals are so plainly assured to
them by affirmations and negations, guaranties and prohibitions, in the
Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them. But no
organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifically applicable to
every question which may occur in practical administration. No foresight
can anticipate, nor any document of reasonable length contain, express
provisions for all possible questions. Shall fugitives from labor 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.
From questions of this class spring all our constitutional controversies,
and we divide upon them into majorities and minorities. If the minority
will not acquiesce, the majority must, or the Government must cease. There
is no other alternative; for continuing the Government is acquiescence on
one side or the other.
If a minority in such case will secede rather than acquiesce, they make a
precedent which in turn 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? All who cherish disunion
sentiments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.
Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to compose a
new Union as to produce harmony only, and prevent renewed secession?
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; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or
despotism in some form is all that is left.
I do not forget the position assumed by some, that constitutional
questions are to be decided by the Supreme Court; nor do I deny that such
decisions must be binding, in any case, upon the parties to a suit, as to
the object of that suit, while they are also entitled to very high respect
and consideration in all parallel cases by all other departments of the
government. And, while it is obviously possible that such decision may
be erroneous in any given case, still the evil effect following it, being
limited to that particular case, with the chance that it may be overruled
and never become a precedent for other cases, can better be borne than
could the evils of a different practice. At the same time, the candid
citizen must confess that if the policy of the government, upon vital
questions affecting the whole people, is to be irrevocably fixed by
decisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are made, in ordinary
litigation between parties in personal actions, the people will have
ceased to be their own rulers, having to that extent practically resigned
the government into the hands of that eminent tribunal. Nor is there in
this view any assault upon the court or the judges. It is a duty from
which they may not shrink to decide cases properly brought before them,
and it is no fault of theirs if others seek to turn their decisions to
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 slave
trade 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 parts of our country cannot
do this. They cannot but remain face to face, and intercourse, either
amicable or hostile, 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 can 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 old questions as to terms of intercourse are again
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 it, 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 amendments,
I fully recognize the rightful 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 afforded 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 or reject propositions
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,
however, 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 now be 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 also 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 successors.
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 in the 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 of the American
By the frame of the government under which we live, this 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 their virtue
and vigilance, no administration, by 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 will 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
still is no single good reason 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 difficulty.
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 loath 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 hearthstone 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.
REFUSAL OF SEWARD RESIGNATION
TO WM. H. SEWARD.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 4, 1861.
MY DEAR SIR:--Your note of the 2d instant, asking to withdraw your
acceptance of my invitation to take charge of the State Department, was
duly received. It is the subject of the most painful solicitude with me,
and I feel constrained to beg that you will countermand the withdrawal.
The public interest, I think, demands that you should; and my personal
feelings are deeply enlisted in the same direction. Please consider and
answer by 9 A.M. to-morrow.
Your obedient servant,
REPLY TO THE PENNSYLVANIA DELEGATION,
WASHINGTON, MARCH 5, 1861
Mr. CHAIRMAN AND GENTLEMEN OF THE PENNSYLVANIAN DELEGATION:--As I have so
frequently said heretofore, when I have had occasion to address the people
of the Keystone, in my visits to that State, I can now but repeat the
assurance of my gratification at the support you gave me at the election,
and at the promise of a continuation of that support which is now tendered
Allusion has been made to the hope that you entertain that you have a
President and a government. In respect to that I wish to say to you that
in the position I have assumed I wish to do more than I have ever given
reason to believe I would do. I do not wish you to believe that I assume
to be any better than others who have gone before me. I prefer rather to
have it understood that if we ever have a government on the principles we
profess, we should remember, while we exercise our opinion, that others
have also rights to the exercise of their opinions, and that we should
endeavor to allow these rights, and act in such a manner as to create no
bad feeling. I hope we have a government and a President. I hope, and
wish it to be understood, that there may be no allusion to unpleasant
We must remember that the people of all the States are entitled to all the
privileges and immunities of the citizens of the several States. We should
bear this in mind, and act in such a way as to say nothing insulting
or irritating. I would inculcate this idea, so that we may not, like
Pharisees, set ourselves up to be better than other people.
Now, my friends, my public duties are pressing to-day, and will prevent
my giving more time to you. Indeed, I should not have left them now, but I
could not well deny myself to so large and respectable a body.
REPLY TO THE MASSACHUSETTS DELEGATION,
WASHINGTON, MARCH 5, 1861
I am thankful for this renewed assurance of kind feeling and confidence,
and the support of the old Bay State, in so far as you, Mr. Chairman, have
expressed, in behalf of those whom you represent, your sanction of what
I have enunciated in my inaugural address. This is very grateful to my
feelings. The object was one of great delicacy, in presenting views at the
opening of an administration under the peculiar circumstances attending my
entrance upon the official duties connected with the Government. I studied
all the points with great anxiety, and presented them with whatever
of ability and sense of justice I could bring to bear. If it met the
approbation of our good friends in Massachusetts, I shall be exceedingly
gratified, while I hope it will meet the approbation of friends
everywhere. I am thankful for the expressions of those who have voted
with us; and like every other man of you, I like them as certainly as I do
others. As the President in the administration of the Government, I
hope to be man enough not to know one citizen of the United States from
another, nor one section from another. I shall be gratified to have good
friends of Massachusetts and others who have thus far supported me in
these national views still to support me in carrying them out.
TO SECRETARY SEWARD
EXECUTIVE CHAMBER, MARCH 7, 1861
MY DEAR SIR:--Herewith is the diplomatic address and my reply. To whom the
reply should be addressed--that is, by what title or style--I do not quite
understand, and therefore I have left it blank.
Will you please bring with you to-day the message from the War Department,
with General Scott's note upon it, which we had here yesterday? I wish to
examine the General's opinion, which I have not yet done.
Yours very truly
REPLY TO THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS
WASHINGTON, THURSDAY, MARCH 7, 1861
Mr. FIGANIERE AND GENTLEMEN OF THE DIPLOMATIC BODY:--Please accept my
sincere thanks for your kind congratulations. It affords me pleasure
to confirm the confidence you so generously express in the friendly
disposition of the United States, through me, towards the sovereigns and
governments you respectively represent. With equal satisfaction I accept
the assurance you are pleased to give, that the same disposition is
reciprocated by your sovereigns, your governments, and yourselves.
Allow me to express the hope that these friendly relations may remain
undisturbed, and also my fervent wishes for the health and happiness of
TO SECRETARY SEWARD
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 11,1861
HON. SECRETARY OF STATE. DEAR SIR:--What think you of sending ministers
at once as follows: Dayton to England; Fremont to France; Clay to Spain;
Corwin to Mexico?
We need to have these points guarded as strongly and quickly as possible.
This is suggestion merely, and not dictation.
Your obedient servant,
TO J. COLLAMER
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 12, 1861
HON. JACOB COLLAMER. MY DEAR SIR:--God help me. It is said I have offended
you. I hope you will tell me how.
Yours very truly,
March 14, 1861. DEAR SIR:--I am entirely unconscious that you have any way
offended me. I cherish no sentiment towards you but that of kindness and
confidence. Your humble servant, J. COLLAMER.
[Returned with indorsement:]
Very glad to know that I have n't.
TO THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 13, 1861
HON. P. M. G.
DEAR SIR:--The bearer of this, Mr. C. T. Hempstow, is a Virginian who
wishes to get, for his son, a small place in your Dept. I think Virginia
should be heard, in such cases.
NOTE ASKING CABINET OPINIONS ON FORT SUMTER.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 15, 1861
THE HONORABLE SECRETARY OF WAR.
MY DEAR SIR:--Assuming it to be possible to now provision Fort Sumter,
under all the circumstances is it wise to attempt it? Please give me your
opinion in writing on this question.
Your obedient servant,
[Same to other members of the Cabinet.]
ON ROYAL ARBITRATION OF AMERICAN BOUNDARY LINE
TO THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES
The Senate has transmitted to me a copy of the message sent by my
predecessor to that body on the 21st of February last, proposing to take
its advice on the subject of a proposition made by the British Government
through its minister here to refer the matter in controversy between that
government and the Government of the United States to the arbitrament
of the King of Sweden and Norway, the King of the Netherlands, or the
Republic of the Swiss Confederation.
In that message my predecessor stated that he wished to present to the
Senate the precise questions following, namely:
"Will the Senate approve a treaty referring to either of the sovereign
powers above named the dispute now existing between the governments of
the United States and Great Britain concerning the boundary line between
Vancouver's Island and the American continent? In case the referee shall
find himself unable to decide where the line is by the description of it
in the treaty of June 15, 1846, shall he be authorized to establish a line
according to the treaty as nearly as possible? Which of the three powers
named by Great Britain as an arbiter shall be chosen by the United
I find no reason to disapprove of the course of my predecessor in this
important matter; but, on the contrary, I not only shall receive the
advice of the Senate thereon cheerfully, but I respectfully ask the Senate
for their advice on the three questions before recited.
WASHINGTON, March 16, 1861
TO SECRETARY SEWARD.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 18, 1861
HON. SECRETARY OF STATE.
MY DEAR SIR:--I believe it is a necessity with us to make the appointments
I mentioned last night--that is, Charles F. Adams to England, William L.
Dayton to France, George P. Marsh to Sardinia, and Anson Burlingame to
Austria. These gentlemen all have my highest esteem, but no one of them is
originally suggested by me except Mr. Dayton. Mr. Adams I take because you
suggested him, coupled with his eminent fitness for the place. Mr.
Marsh and Mr. Burlingame I take because of the intense pressure of their
respective States, and their fitness also.
The objection to this card is that locally they are so huddled up--three
being in New England and two from a single State. I have considered this,
and will not shrink from the responsibility. This, being done, leaves but
five full missions undisposed of--Rome, China, Brazil, Peru, and Chili.
And then what about Carl Schurz; or, in other words, what about our German
Shall we put the card through, and arrange the rest afterward? What say
Your obedient servant,
TO G. E. PATTEN.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, March 19, 1861.
TO MASTER GEO. EVANS PATTEN.
WHOM IT MAY CONCERN:--I did see and talk with Master Geo. Evans Patten
last May at Springfield, Ill.
[Written because of a denial that any interview with young Patten, then a
schoolboy, had ever taken place.]
RESPONSE TO SENATE INQUIRY RE. FORT SUMTER
MESSAGE TO THE SENATE.
TO THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES:--I have received a copy of the
resolution of the Senate, passed on the 25th instant, requesting me, if
in my opinion not incompatible with the public interest, to communicate to
the Senate the despatches of Major Robert Anderson to the War Department
during the time he has been in command of Fort Sumter. On examination of
the correspondence thus called for, I have, with the highest respect
for the Senate, come to the conclusion that at the present moment the
publication of it would be inexpedient.
WASHINGTON, MARCH 16, 1861
PREPARATION OF FIRST NAVAL ACTION
TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR
EXECUTIVE MANSION, MARCH 29, 1861
HONORABLE SECRETARY OF WAR.
SIR:--I desire that an expedition to move by sea be got ready to sail
as early as the 6th of April next, the whole according to memorandum
attached, and that you cooperate with the Secretary of the Navy for that
Your obedient servant,
Steamers Pocahontas at Norfolk, Paunee at Washington, Harriet Lane at
New York, to be under sailing orders for sea, with stores, etc., for one
month. Three hundred men to be kept ready for departure from on board
the receiving-ships at New York. Two hundred men to be ready to leave
Governor's Island in New York. Supplies for twelve months for one hundred
men to be put in portable shape, ready for instant shipping. A large
steamer and three tugs conditionally engaged.
TO ------ STUART.
WASHINGTON, March 30, 1861
Cousin Lizzie shows me your letter of the 27th. The question of giving her
the Springfield post-office troubles me. You see I have already appointed
William Jayne a Territorial governor and Judge Trumbull's brother to a
land-office. Will it do for me to go on and justify the declaration that
Trumbull and I have divided out all the offices among our relatives? Dr.
Wallace, you know, is needy, and looks to me; and I personally owe him
I see by the papers, a vote is to be taken as to the post-office. Could
you not set up Lizzie and beat them all? She, being here, need know
nothing of it, so therefore there would be no indelicacy on her part.
Yours as ever,
TO THE COMMANDANT OF THE NEW YORK NAVY-YARD.
NAVY DEPT., WASHINGTON, April 1, 1861
TO THE COMMANDANT OF THE NAVY-YARD, Brooklyn, N. Y.
Fit out the Powhatan to go to sea at the earnest possible moment under
sealed orders. Orders by a confidential messenger go forward to-morrow.
TO LIEUTENANT D. D. PORTER
EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 1, 1861
LIEUTENANT D. D. PORTER, United States Navy.
SIR:--You will proceed to New York, and with the least possible delay,
assuming command of any naval steamer available, proceed to Pensacola
Harbor, and at any cost or risk prevent any expedition from the mainland
reaching Fort Pickens or Santa Rosa Island.
You will exhibit this order to any naval officer at Pensacola, if you deem
it necessary, after you have established yourself within the harbor, and
will request co-operation by the entrance of at least one other steamer.
This order, its object, and your destination will be communicated to no
person whatever until you reach the harbor of Pensacola.
Recommended, WILLIAM H. SEWARD.
RELIEF EXPEDITION FOR FORT SUMTER
ORDER TO OFFICERS OF THE ARMY AND NAVY.
WASHINGTON, EXECUTIVE MANSION, April 1, 1861.
All officers of the army and navy to whom this order may be exhibited
will aid by every means in their power the expedition under the command
of Colonel Harvey Brown, supplying him with men and material, and
co-operating with him as he may desire.
ORDER TO CAPTAIN SAMUEL MERCER.
WASHINGTON CITY, April 1, 1861
SIR:--Circumstances render it necessary to place in command of your
ship (and for a special purpose) an officer who is fully informed and
instructed in relation to the wishes of the Government, and you will
therefore consider yourself detached. But in taking this step the
Government does not in the least reflect upon your efficiency or
patriotism; on the contrary, have the fullest confidence in your ability
to perform any duty required of you. Hoping soon to be able to give you a
better command than the one you now enjoy, and trusting that you will have
full confidence in the disposition of the Government toward you, I remain,
SECRETARY SEWARD'S BID FOR POWER
MEMORANDUM FROM SECRETARY SEWARD, APRIL 1, 1861
Some thoughts for the President's Consideration,
First. We are at the end of a month's administration, and yet without a
policy either domestic or foreign.
Second. This, however, is not culpable, and it has even been unavoidable.
The presence of the Senate, with the need to meet applications for
patronage, have prevented attention to other and more grave matters.
Third. But further delay to adopt and prosecute our policies for
both domestic and foreign affairs would not only bring scandal on the
administration, but danger upon the country.
Fourth. To do this we must dismiss the applicants for office. But how? I
suggest that we make the local appointments forthwith, leaving foreign or
general ones for ulterior and occasional action.
Fifth. The policy at home. I am aware that my views are singular, and
perhaps not sufficiently explained. My system is built upon this idea as
a ruling one, namely, that we must CHANGE THE QUESTION BEFORE THE PUBLIC
FROM ONE UPON SLAVERY, OR ABOUT SLAVERY, for a question upon UNION OR
DISUNION: In other words, from what would be regarded as a party question,
to one of patriotism or union.
The occupation or evacuation of Fort Sumter, although not in fact a
slavery or a party question, is so regarded. Witness the temper manifested
by the Republicans in the free States, and even by the Union men in the
I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for changing the issue. I
deem it fortunate that the last administration created the necessity.
For the rest, I would simultaneously defend and reinforce all the ports in
the gulf, and have the navy recalled from foreign stations to be prepared
for a blockade. Put the island of Key West under martial law.
This will raise distinctly the question of union or disunion. I would
maintain every fort and possession in the South.
FOR FOREIGN NATIONS,
I would demand explanations from Spain and France, categorically, at once.
I would seek explanations from Great Britain and Russia, and send agents
into Canada, Mexico, and Central America to rouse a vigorous continental
spirit of independence on this continent against European intervention.
And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from Spain and France,
Would convene Congress and declare war against them.
But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of
For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct it
Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active in
it, or Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted, debates on
it must end, and all agree and abide.
It is not in my especial province; But I neither seek to evade nor assume
REPLY TO SECRETARY SEWARD'S MEMORANDUM
EXECUTIVE MANSION, APRIL 1, 1861
HON. W. H. SEWARD.
MY DEAR SIR:--Since parting with you I have been considering your
paper dated this day, and entitled "Some Thoughts for the President's
Consideration." The first proposition in it is, "First, We are at the end
of a month's administration, and yet without a policy either domestic or
At the beginning of that month, in the inaugural, I said: "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." This had your distinct approval at the time; and, taken in
connection with the order I immediately gave General Scott, directing
him to employ every means in his power to strengthen and hold the
forts, comprises the exact domestic policy you now urge, with the single
exception that it does not propose to abandon Fort Sumter.
Again, I do not perceive how the reinforcement of Fort Sumter would be
done on a slavery or a party issue, while that of Fort Pickens would be on
a more national and patriotic one.
The news received yesterday in regard to St. Domingo certainly brings a
new item within the range of our foreign policy; but up to that time we
have been preparing circulars and instructions to ministers and the like,
all in perfect harmony, without even a suggestion that we had no foreign
Upon your Closing propositions--that,
"Whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of it.
"For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct it
"Either the President must do it himself, and be all the while active in
"Devolve it on some member of his Cabinet. Once adopted, debates on it
must end, and all agree and abide"--
I remark that if this must be done, I must do it. When a general line of
policy is adopted, I apprehend there is no danger of its being changed
without good reason, or continuing to be a subject of unnecessary debate;
still, upon points arising in its progress I wish, and suppose I am
entitled to have, the advice of all the Cabinet.
Your obedient servant,
REPLY TO A COMMITTEE FROM THE VIRGINIA CONVENTION, APRIL 13, 1861
HON. WILLIAM BALLARD PRESTON, ALEXANDER H. H. STUART, GEORGE W. RANDOLPH,
GENTLEMEN:--As a committee of the Virginia Convention now in Session, you
present me a preamble and resolution in these words:
"Whereas, in the opinion of this Convention, the uncertainty which
prevails in the public mind as to the policy which the Federal Executive
intends to pursue toward the seceded States is extremely injurious to the
industrial and commercial interests of the country, tends to keep up an
excitement which is unfavorable to the adjustment of pending difficulties,
and threatens a disturbance of the public peace: therefore
"Resolved, that a committee of three delegates be appointed by this
Convention to wait upon the President of the United States, present to him
this preamble and resolution, and respectfully ask him to communicate to
this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue
in regard to the Confederate States.
"Adopted by the Convention of the State of Virginia, Richmond, April 8,
In answer I have to say that, having at the beginning of my official term
expressed my intended policy as plainly as I was able, it is with
deep regret and some mortification I now learn that there is great and
injurious uncertainty in the public mind as to what that policy is, and
what course I intend to pursue. Not having as yet seen occasion to change,
it is now my purpose to pursue the course marked out in the inaugural
address. I commend a careful consideration of the whole document as the
best expression I can give of my purposes.
As I then and therein said, I now repeat: "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 is
necessary for these objects, there will be no invasion, no using of force
against or among the people anywhere." By the words "property and places
belonging to the Government," I chiefly allude to the military posts and
property which were in the possession of the Government when it came to my
But if, as now appears to be true, in pursuit of a purpose to drive the
United States authority from these places, an unprovoked assault has been
made upon Fort Sumter, I shall hold myself at liberty to repossess, if I
can, like places which had been seized before the Government was devolved
upon me. And in every event I shall, to the extent of my ability,
repel force by force. In case it proves true that Fort Sumter has been
assaulted, as is reported, I shall perhaps cause the United States mails
to be withdrawn from all the States which claim to have seceded, believing
that the commencement of actual war against the Government justifies and
possibly demands this.
I scarcely need to say that I consider the military posts and property
situated within the States which claim to have seceded as yet belonging
to the Government of the United States as much as they did before the
Whatever else I may do for the purpose, I shall not attempt to collect the
duties and imposts by any armed invasion of any part of the country; not
meaning by this, however, that I may not land a force deemed necessary to
relieve a fort upon a border of the country.
From the fact that I have quoted a part of the inaugural address, it must
not be inferred that I repudiate any other part, the whole of which I
reaffirm, except so far as what I now say of the mails may be regarded as
PROCLAMATION CALLING FOR 75,000 MILITIA,
AND CONVENING CONGRESS IN EXTRA SESSION, APRIL 15, 1861.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Whereas the laws of the United States have been for some time past and now
are opposed, and the execution thereof obstructed, in the States of South
Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas,
by combinations too powerful to be suppressed by the ordinary course of
judicial proceedings, or by the powers vested in the marshals bylaw:
Now, therefore, I, A. LINCOLN, President of the United States, in virtue
of the power in me vested by the Constitution and the laws, have thought
fit to call forth, and hereby do call forth, the militia of the several
States of the Union, to the aggregate number of seventy-five thousand,
in order to suppress said combinations, and to cause the laws to be duly
The details for this object will be immediately communicated to the State
authorities through the War Department.
I appeal to all loyal citizens to favor, facilitate, and aid this effort
to maintain the honor, the integrity, and the existence of our National
Union, and the perpetuity of popular government; and to redress wrongs
already long enough endured.
I deem it proper to say that the first service assigned to the forces
hereby called forth will probably be to repossess the forts, places, and
property which have been seized from the Union; and in every event the
utmost care will be observed, consistently with the objects aforesaid, to
avoid any devastation, any destruction of or interference with property,
or any disturbance of peaceful citizens in any part of the country.
And I hereby command the persons composing the combinations aforesaid to
disperse and retire peacefully to their respective abodes within twenty
days from date.
Deeming that the present condition of public affairs presents an
extraordinary occasion, I do hereby, in virtue of the power in me vested
by the Constitution, convene both Houses of Congress. Senators and
Representatives are therefore summoned to assemble at their respective
chambers, at twelve o'clock noon, on Thursday, the fourth day of July
next, then and there to consider and determine such measures as, in their
wisdom, the public safety and interest may seem to demand.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this fifteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
PROCLAMATION OF BLOCKADE, APRIL 19, 1861
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Whereas an insurrection against the Government of the United States has
broken out in the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida,
Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and the laws of the United States
for the collection of the revenue cannot be effectually executed therein
conformably to that provision of the Constitution which requires duties to
be uniform throughout the United States:
And Whereas a combination of persons engaged in such insurrection have
threatened to grant pretended letters of marque to authorize the bearers
thereof to commit assaults on the lives, vessels, and property of good
citizens of the country lawfully engaged in commerce on the high seas, and
in waters of the United States:
And Whereas an executive proclamation has been already issued requiring
the persons engaged in these disorderly proceedings to desist therefrom,
calling out a militia force for the purpose of repressing the same, and
convening Congress in extraordinary session to deliberate and determine
Now, therefore, I, Abraham LINCOLN, President of the United States, with
a view to the same purposes before mentioned, and to the protection of
the public peace, and the lives and property of quiet and orderly citizens
pursuing their lawful occupations, until Congress shall have assembled and
deliberated on the said unlawful proceedings, or until the same shall have
ceased, have further deemed it advisable to set on foot a blockade of the
ports within the States aforesaid, in pursuance of the laws of the United
States, and of the law of nations in such case provided. For this purpose
a competent force will be posted so as to prevent entrance and exit of
vessels from the ports aforesaid. If, therefore, with a view to violate
such blockade, a vessel shall approach or shall attempt to leave either
of the said ports, she will be duly warned by the commander of one of the
blockading vessels, who will indorse on her register the fact and date of
such warning, and if the same vessel shall again attempt to enter or
leave the blockaded port, she will be captured and sent to the nearest
convenient port, for such proceedings against her and her cargo, as prize,
as may be deemed advisable.
And I hereby proclaim and declare that if any person, under the pretended
authority of the said States, or under any other pretense, shall molest a
vessel of the United States, or the persons or cargo on board of her,
such person will be held amenable to the laws of the United States for the
prevention and punishment of piracy.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the
United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this nineteenth day of April, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, and of the
independence of the United States the eighty-fifth.
By the President: WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
TO GOVERNOR HICKS AND MAYOR BROWN.
WASHINGTON, April 20, 1861
GOVERNOR HICKS AND MAYOR BROWN.
GENTLEMEN:--Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin, and Brune is received.
I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep the peace in
the trying situation in which you are placed.
For the future troops must be brought here, but I make no point of
bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge myself, of
course I must leave details to General Scott. He hastily said this morning
in the presence of these gentlemen, "March them around Baltimore, and
not through it." I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflection, will
consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object to it.
By this a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will be
avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will exert
your influence to prevent this.
Now and ever I shall do all in my power for peace consistently with the
maintenance of the Government.
Your obedient servant,
TO GOVERNOR HICKS.
WASHINGTON, April 20, 1861
I desire to consult with you and the Mayor of Baltimore relative to
preserving the peace of Maryland. Please come immediately by special
train, which you can take at Baltimore; or, if necessary, one can be sent
from here. Answer forthwith.
ORDER TO DEFEND FROM A MARYLAND INSURRECTION
ORDER TO GENERAL SCOTT. WASHINGTON, April 25, 1861
MY DEAR SIR--The Maryland Legislature assembles to-morrow at Annapolis,
and not improbably will take action to arm the people of that State
against the United States. The question has been submitted to and
considered by me whether it would not be justifiable, upon the ground of
necessary defense, for you, as General in Chief of the United States Army,
to arrest or disperse the members of that body. I think it would not be
justifiable nor efficient for the desired object.
First. They have a clearly legal right to assemble, and we cannot know in
advance that their action will not be lawful and peaceful, and if we wait
until they shall have acted their arrest or dispersion will not lessen the
effect of their action.
Secondly. We cannot permanently prevent their action. If we arrest them,
we cannot long hold them as prisoners, and when liberated they will
immediately reassemble and take their action; and precisely the same if
we simply disperse them--they will immediately reassemble in some other
I therefore conclude that it is only left to the Commanding General to
watch and await their action, which, if it shall be to arm their people
against the United States, he is to adopt the most prompt and efficient
means to counteract, even, if necessary, to the bombardment of their
cities and, in the extremist necessity, the suspension of the writ of
Your obedient servant,
PROCLAMATION OF BLOCKADE, APRIL 27, 1861
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Whereas, for the reasons assigned in my proclamation of the nineteenth
instant, a blockade of the ports of the States of South Carolina, Georgia,
Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas was ordered to be
And whereas, since that date, public property of the United States