Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

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Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 9 of 46)
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arranged it so that I was given the honor of raising it to the head of its
staff. [Applause.] 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 light, 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.
[Loud applause.] LTow could I help feeling then as I often have felt?
In the \vhole of that proceeding I was a very humble 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 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 the nation, I think the flag of our country
may yet be kept flaunting gloriously. [Loud, enthusiastic, and con
tinued cheers.] 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 contem
plate the possibility that a necessity may arise in this country for the
use of the military arm. [Applause.] While I am exceedingly grati
fied to see the manifestation upon your streets of your military force


here, and exceedingly gratified at your promises here 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. [Applause.]
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 wis
dom to direct, if so painful a result shall hi anywise be brought about, it
shall be through no fault of mine. [Cheers.] 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 espe
cial 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 [applause],
adding only now that I am pleased to have an expression from you,
gentlemen of Pennsylvania, significant that they are satisfactory to you.
And now, gentlemen of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of
Pennsylvania, allow me to return you again my most sincere thanks.

After the delivery of this address, Mr. LINCOLN devoted
some hours to the reception of visitors, and at six o clock
retired to his room. The next morning the whole country
was surprised to learn that he had arrived in Washington
twelve hours sooner than he had originally intended. His
sudden departure proved to have been a measure of precau
tion for which events subsequently disclosed afforded a full
justification. For some time previous to his departure from
home, the rumor had been current that he would never reach
the Capital alive. An attempt was made on the Toledo and
Western Railroad, on the llth of February, to throw from the
track the train on which he was journeying, and just as he
was leaving Cincinnati a hand grenade was found to have
"been secreted on board the cars. These and other circum
stances led to an organized and thorough investigation, under
the direction of a police detective, carried on with great skill
and perseverance at Baltimore, and which resulted in dis-


closing the fact that a small 2;ang of assassins, under the
leadership of an Italian who assumed the name of Orsini, had
arranged to take his life during his passage through Baltimore.
Gen. Scott and Mr. Seward had both been apprised of the
same fact through another source, and they had sent Mr. F.
W. Seward as a special messenger to Philadelphia, to meet the
President- elect there, previous to his departure for Harrisburg,
and give him notice of these circumstances. Mr. LINCOLN did
not deviate from the programme he had marked out for himself,
in consequence of these communications; except that, under the
advice of friends, he deemed it prudent to anticipate by one
train the time he was expected to arrive in Washington. He
reached there on the morning of Saturday, the 23d.

On Wednesday, the 27th, the Mayor and Common Council
of the city waited upon Mr. LINCOLN, and tendered him a wel
come. He replied to them as follows :

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 any thing 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 sections 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 towards you as 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 pur
pose 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 be
come better acquainted, and I say it with great confidence, we shall like
each other the more. I thank you for the kindness of this reception.

On the next evening a serenade wa* given to Mr. LINCOLN


by the members of the Republican Association, and he then
addressed the crowd which the occasion had brought together,
as follows:

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 un
der which any other man has ever reached it. I am here for the pur
pose 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 misunderstand

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 maybe 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 treat
ment that we claim for ourselves ; that we are in nowise 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. [Applause.] I hope that, by thus deal
ing 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.

This closed Mr. LINCOLN S public speeches down to the date
of his inauguration.



JULY 4, 1861.

ON the 4th of March, 1861, Mr. LINCOLN took the oath
and assumed the duties of the Presidential office. He was
quite right in saying, on the eve of his departure from his
home in Springfield, that those duties were greater than had
devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington.
A conspiracy which had been on foot for thirty years had
reached its crisis. Yet in spite of all that had been done by
the leading spirits in this movement, the people of the slave-
holding States were by no means a unit in its support. Seven
of those States, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Missis
sippi, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana, had passed secession or
dinances and united in the establishment of a hostile Confed
eracy ; but in nearly all of them a considerable portion of the
people were opposed to the movement, while in all the re-
maininor slaveholdinor States a vcrv active canvass was carried


on between the friends and the opponents of secession. In
Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee especially, the
Government of the United States was vindicated and its
authority sustained by men of pre-eminent ability and of com
manding reputation, and there seemed abundant reason for
hoping that, by the adoption of prudent measures, the slave-
holding section might be divided and the Border Slave States
retained in the Union. The authorities of the rebel Confed
eracy saw the importance of pushing the issue to an instant de
cision. Under their directions nearly all the forts, arsenals,
dock-yards, custom-houses, etc., belonging to the United States,
within the limits of the seceded States, had been seized and


were held by representatives of the rebel government. The
only forts in the South which remained in possession of the
Union, were Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson on the
Florida coast, and Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor, and pre
parations were for advanced for the reduction and capture of
these. Officers of the army and navy from the South had
resigned their commissions and entered the rebel service.
Civil officers representing the United States within the limits
of the Southern States could no longer discharge their func
tions, and all the powers of that Government were practically

It was under these circumstances that Mr. LINCOLN entered
upon the duties of his office, and addressed himself to the
task, first, of withholding the Border States from joining the
Confederacy, as an indispensable preliminary to the great work
of quelling the rebellion and restoring the authority of the

The ceremony of inauguration took place as usual in front
of the Capitol and in presence of an immense multitude of
spectators. A large military force was in attendance under
the immediate command of General Scott, but nothing oc
curred to interrupt the harmony of the occasion. Before
taking the oath of office Mr. LINCOLN delivered the following


Fellow- Citizens of the United States :

In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I ap
pear 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 ex

Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern
States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their prop
erty 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 exist
ed 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 mo
did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar dec
larations, 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 read :

JResoh-ed, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States,
and especially the right of each State, to order and control its own do
mestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is es
sential to the 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 among 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 anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration. I
add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the Constitu
tion 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 another.

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 there
of, 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 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 en
forced 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 mere unsubstantial controversy as to how it shall be

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 en
forcement 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
for precedent, I now enter upon the same task for the brief constitu
tional term of four years, under great and peculiar difficulty. A dis
ruption of the Federal Union, heretofore only menaced, is now formid
ably 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 ex
pressed, 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 pro
visions 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 as
sociation 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 Con
stitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association in
1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independ
ence in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then
Thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be per
petual, by the Articles of Confederation in 1778. And, finally, in 1787,
one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitu
tion was " to form a more perfect union."

But if 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 maintain itself.

In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence ; and there shall
be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power
confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property
and places belonging to the Government, and to collect the duties and
imposts ; but beyond what may be but necessary for these objects, there


will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people any
where. 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 ob
noxious 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 im
practicable withal, 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 res
toration 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 pro
vision 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 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, guarantees and prohibi
tions in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning
them. But no organic law can ever be framed with a provision specifi
cally applicable to every question which may occur in practical adminis
tration. 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 ac
quiescence 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 senti
ments are now being educated to the exact temper of doing this.

Is there such perfect identity of interests among the States to com
pose 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

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 9 of 46)