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Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural Address.




Mr. Lincoln's Inaug. ural Address.

and of the Constitution, the | National authority. The power Union of these States is per- confided to me will be used to petual. Perpetuity is implied, hold, occupy, and possess the if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all property and places belonging to the GovernNational Governments. It is safe to assert that no ment, and collect the duties and imports; but, beGovernment proper ever had a provision, in its yond what may be necessary for these objects, there organic law, for its own termination. Continue to will be no invasion, no using of force against or execute all the express provisions of our National among the people anywhere. Where hostility to Constitution, and the Union will endure forever-it the United States shall be so great and so universal being impossible to destroy it except by some ac- as to prevent competent resident citizens from holdtion not provided for in the instrument itself. ing the Federal offices, there will be no attempt to force obnoxious strangers among the people that object. While the strict legal right may exist of 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.

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'Again, if the United States be not a Government proper, but an association of States in the nature of a 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 in 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 de-ing, and with a view and hope of a peaceful solution clared 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 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. This I deem to be only a simple duty on my part, and I shall perfectly perform it, so far as is' practicable, unless my rightful masters, the American people, shall withhold the requisition, 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 is forced upon the

"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 exer cised according to the circumstances actually exist

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 well to ascertain why we do it? Will you hazard so desperate a step while 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 right were a vital

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Mr. Lincoln's Inaug

ural Address.

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, by guarantees and prohibitions, in the Constitution, that controversies never arise concerning them.

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Mr. Lincoln's Inaugural Address.

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 prece dent for other cases, can better be borne than could, the evils of a different practice. At the same time, “No organic law can ever be framed with a pro- the candid citizen must confess that, if the policy of vision specifically applicable to every question the Government upon the vital questions affecting which may occur in practical administration. No the whole people is to be irrevocably fixed by the foresight can anticipate, nor any document of readecisions of the Supreme Court, the instant they are sonable length contain, express provisions for all made from ordinary litigation between parties in perpossible questions. Shall fugitives from labor be sonal actions, the people will have ceased to be their surrendered by National or by State authority? own masters, having, to that extent, practically reThe Constitution does not expressly say. Must Con- signed their Government into the hands of that emigress protect Slavery in the Territories? The Con- nent tribunal. Nor is there, in this view, any assault stitution does not expressly say. From questions upon the Court or the Judges. It is a duty from of this class spring all our Constitutional controver- which they may not shrink, to decide cases properly sies, and we divide upon them into majorities and brought before them; and it is no fault of theirs if minorities. If the minority will not acquiesce, the others seek to turn their decisions to political purmajority must, or the Government must cease. poses. There is no alternative for continuing the Government but acquiescence on the one side or the other. If a minority, in such a case, will 'secede' rather than acquiesce, they make a precedent which in turn will ruin and divide them, for a minority of their own will secede from them whenever a majority refuses to be controlled by such a 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 compose a new Union as to produce harmony only and prevent renewed


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.

"One section of our country believes Slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it wrong and ought not to be extended. This is the only substantial dispute; and 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 ever can 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 can 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 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 identi cal questions as to terms of intercourse are again

"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 decision must be binding, in any case upon the parties to a suit, as to the object of that suit, while the decisions 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 | upon you !

Mr. Lincoln's Inaug

ural Address.


"This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their Constitutional right of amending, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the National Constitution amended. While I make no recommendation of amendment, I fully recognize the full 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 either to accept or refuse. I understand that 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 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 the terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves, also, can do this 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 successor.

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, the American people. 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 Administra

tion, by any extreme wickedness or folly, can very seriously injure the Government in the short space of four years.


Mr Lincoln's Inaug. ural Address.

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 is still no single 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 difficulties.

"In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect, and defend' it. I am loth to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break, our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory stretching from every battle-field and patriot grave to every living heart and hearth-stone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

The President was visited during the evening and the succeeding day, by various delegations, and congratulations were freely extended. But one voice prevailed among his party friends, relative to the Inaugural. It gave the most hearty Reception of the Insatisfaction to them, as, indeed, it did to the large majority of people in the still loyal States. The complainants were among those of the opposition whose praise it was scarcely possible to obtain. With such, fault-finding was a chronic disorder.

augural by the People.

The reception of the Message throughout the Northern States was enthusiastic in the extreme. Its calmness, kindness, firmness, and devotion to the Constitution, diffused a

Southern Excitement over the Inaugural,

even to the dismemberment of the Government, with

confidence, at once inspiring and encour"Mr Lincoln's Inaugural Adaging. In the Border States it also created dress is before our readers— a favorable impression, and did so much to couched in the cool, unimpasstrengthen the Union men in North Carolina, sioned, deliberate language of the fanatic, with the Tennessee, and Virginia, that the Secession-purpose of pursuing the promptings of fanaticism ists found themselves, for a few days, quite disarmed by its unexpectedly considerate and dignified position. But, from the Confederate Government, came the key-note for the chorus of revolution. The Inaugural was declared to be a message of war, and the order went forth to prepare for the impending crisis of conflict.

the horrors of civil war. Virginia has the long-lookedfor and promised peace-offering before her; and she has more--she has the denial of all hope of peace. Civil war must now come. Sectional war, declared by Mr. Lincoln, awaits only the signal-gun from the insulted Southern Confederacy, to light its horrid fires all along the borders of Virginia. No action of our Convention can now maintain the peace. She

A dispatch from New Orleans, dated March must fight! The liberty of choice is yet hers. She 5th, read:

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over the Inaugural.

may march to the contest with her sister States of the South, or she must march to the conflict against them. There is left no middle course; there is left no more peace; war must settle the conflict, and the God of Battle give victory to the right! We must be invaded by Davis or by Lincoln. The former can rally 50,000 of the best and bravest sons of Virginia, who will rush with willing hearts and ready hands to the standard that protects the rights and defends the honor of the South-for every traitor heart that offers aid to Lincoln there will be many, many who will glory in the opportunity to avenge the treason by a sharp and certain death. Let not Virginians be arrayed against each other; and since we cannot avoid war, let us determine that together, as people of the same State, we will defend each other, and preserve the soil of the State from the polluting foot of the Black Republican invader. The question, 'Where shall Virginia go?' is answered by Mr. Lincoln. She must go to war-and she must decide with whom she wars-whether with those who have suffered her wrongs, or with those who have inflicted


the present emergency. To war! to arms! is now
the cry; and when peace is declared, if ever, in our
day, Virginia may decide where she will finally rest.
But for the present she has no choice left; war with
Lincoln or with Davis is the choice left us.
the Inaugural carefully, and then let every reader
demand of his delegate in the Convention the
prompt measures of defence which it is now appar-
ent we must make.”—Richmond Inquirer.

Dispatches from Richmond, of the same date, expressed defiance of the Government her injuries. Our ultimate destruction pales before should it attempt to reassert its authority over the "seized" forts, arsenals, &c. The telegraph in the South beSouthern Excitement ing one of the especial instruments of the Secession leaders, was made to do duty in "firing the Southern heart," and, for a few days, the several Seceded States were, apparently, list- | ening to the martial music of the wires as their chief pastime. The dispatches which came North, from the revolutionary localities, fairly flamed with "indignation," 99.66 defiance,” ""resistance to the bitter end," &c., &c. As matters of interest, showing the temper of "Southern" feeling in the States of Maryland and Virginia, we quote from two journals in the Secession interest:

"The Inaugural, as a whole, breathes the spirit of mischief. It has only a conditional conservatism— that is, the lack of ability or some inexpediency to do what it would. It assumes despotic authority, and intimates the design to exercise that authority to any extent of war and bloodshed, qualified only by the withholding of the requisite means to the end by the American people. The argumentation of the address is puerile. Indeed, it has no quality entitled to the dignity of an argument. It is a shaky speci



men of special pleading, by way of justifying the | Northern States, the feeling was that of spite unrighteous character and deeds of that fanaticism which, lifted into power, may be guilty, as it is capable, of any atrocities. There is no Union spirit in the address; it is sectional and mischievous, and studiously withholds any sign of recognition of that

equality of the States upon which Union can alone be maintained. If it means what it says, it is the knell and requiem of the Union, and the death of hope."-Baltimore Sun.

The Democratic Press

of the North.

The "Democratic" Press of the North, with few ex ceptions, were disposed to regard it favorably. These exceptions were in journals in the Breckenridge interest, which, we may here state, up to the very last possible hour, supported the cause of the Seceding States. The following notices will show their feeling:

Mr. Lincoln stands to-day where he stood on the 6th of November last, on the Chicago Platform. He has not receded a single hair's-breadth. He has appointed a Cabinet in which there is no slaveholderthing that has never before happened since the formation of the Government; and in which there are but two nominally Southern men, and both bitter Black Republicans of the radical dye. Let the Border States ignominiously submit to the Abolition rule of this

Lincoln Administration if they like, but don't let the miserable submissionists pretend to be deceived. Make any base or cowardly excuse but this."-Philadelphia Pennsylvanian.

"The tone of the Message is courteous, considerate, and even conciliatory. The casual reader would at once be taken by the honeyed phrases in which it is couched, the many obvious truths it contains, and certain admissions of Constitutional rights which, after the frantic denunciations of an Anti-Slavery political campaign, seem almost like concessions. We could reconcile a peaceful policy with the Inaugural, but still there is a sting left. The Inaugural is not satisfactory; it is ambiguous; and we fear the Republicans, even while professing the most peaceful intentions. Coercion could not have been put in a more agreeable form; it reads like a challenge under the code, in which an invitation to the field is veiled under the most satisfactory syllables."-New York News.

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Clingman's Assault of the Inaugural.

merely; while, with the Republican journals, and a large majority of the Douglas Democratic organs, the sentiments expressed were those of hearty, earnest congratulation at the promise of a just and firm administration of affairs, let the issue be what it might. The Inaugural was fiercely assailed in the Senate, Wednesday, (March 6th,) by Mr. Clingman, of North Carolina, and defended, very pointedly, by Mr. Douglas. Mr. Clingman said the President expressly declares that he intends to treat the States as if they all were still in the Union-thus regarding the acts of secession as a nullity! As certain States had declared their independence, if the President acted upon his decision, war must follow. It is plain and unmistakable that he intends to hold, occupy, and possess the forts, the arsenals, &c., in those Seceded States, when we know this can be done only by dispossessing the State authorities. The collection of the revenue therein must also lead to a collision of arms. After we declared our independence of Great Britain, nobody supposed the colonies would pay taxes.

In fact, they refused to pay before their declaration of independence. He repeated, if the President's policy be carried out, there must inevitably be war.

Douglas' Defence of the Inaugural,

Mr. Douglas could not allow the North Carolina Senator's remarks to pass unanswered. He thought the Inaugural was characterized by great ability and directness on certain points. He had read it no doubt as to its intent—that it was a peace could be critically, and thought there rather than a war declaration. If the laws are to be executed, Congress must supply the means. Mr. Douglas assumed that Mr. Lincoln's purpose was to make Congress responsible for the course that he should pursue, as it alone could give him the means to "use, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the United States, and to collect the duties and imports."

The President does not say he will take possession of the forts, but that he will hold, occupy, and possess them. This was equivocal language, but he did not condemn the

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