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"Let me tell you that if the people remain right, your public men can never betray you. If, in my brief term of office, I shall be wicked or foolish, if you remain right and true and honest you cannot be betrayed. My power is temporary and fleeting-yours as eternal as the principles of liberty. Cultivate and protect that sentiment, and your ambitious leaders will be reduced to the position of servants."
At Philadelphia Mr. Lincoln was informed that there was a plot to assassinate him as he passed through Baltimore, and that he must reach there by an earlier train than the one expected. He said that he had two public engagements in Philadelphia, and that he should meet these if it cost him his life. The first was raising a new flag over Independence Hall. It was a sacred act to him to speak a few words in the very room in which the Declaration of Independence had been signed, and then to draw up with his own hands the stars and stripes until they floated over the hall of liberty. Then he went on that night through Baltimore, instead of the following morning as had been publicly announced; and arrived safely in Washington. History has shown that there was no doubt as to the plot against him; it was so well known that the son of Mr. Seward, the new secretary,
came in person to Philadelphia to tell Mr. Lincoln.
The whole country, North and South, waited eagerly for the inaugural address. On the morning of the Fourth of March, President Buchanan, the out-going President, as the custom was and still is, called in his carriage to escort to the Capitol Abraham Lincoln, who was then to be made President in his place. And although it had been said over and over again that he should never be allowed to live to be President, there he stood reading his inaugural and beside him stood Mr. Douglas, his defeated rival for the Presidency, holding the new President's hat with the greatest courtesy. And it should be remembered that Mr. Douglas during the remainder of his life was most true to the Union and did all in his power to aid Mr. Lincoln in defending it. So that the two became good friends.
The inaugural stated the whole case so clearly, declared so plainly the intention of the Republican party not to interfere with slavery where it then existed, and was so kind and respectful in tone towards the South that the Southern papers were afraid it would make their people take a "sober second thought," and they said untrue things against it. After showing the disadvantages of disunion and saying
many wise things, he finished by warning the secessionists that the burden of this act would be upon them. He said: "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 have the most solemn one to 'preserve, protect and defend' it."
This meant that if there was to be a war, the South would have to begin it. There stood the President; and the North was with him.
FIRING ON THE FLAG.
When Mr. Lincoln was reading his inaugural address to the people, a man standing in a doorway of the Capitol was watching him with a scornful expression as he listened. This was Senator Wigfall from Texas. He knew how the plans of the Southerners had been made; how even then troops were ready to take possession of the Territory of New Mexico; how a conspiracy in California hoped to bring in that State for the South; how in New York City there were men who felt that before long they could win this to the South as an "independent city"; how Maryland had thousands of her population longing to join the other Southern States; how, soon, they would capture the North, which was much too busy buying and selling ever to dream of fighting them, even if they had not so many friends among the Northerners; how after this, the South would take possession of Cuba and the rest of the West Indies,
and Mexico-all these they would have and would form a mighty slave empire on this continent; there was nothing to resist them. And over this vast empire Mr. Wigfall and his friends were to rule as absolutely as they ruled over their slaves and the poor whites at the South, and some-not all-of the Democratic party at the North. To Mr. Wigfall listening scornfully in the doorway of the national Capitol, the matter was entirely settled, and the Southern Confederacy a resistless success.
He lived to see something far different. For by the mercy of God, the United States, founded in toil and prayer and battle, were not destined to be slave, but to be free; and Abraham Lincoln had been made President.
All through that March the North was undefended, entirely so at first, but more guarded as the days went by. The soldiers, the officers, the arms, the cannon, were principally at the South, seized from government arsenals and stations, or sent there from the North by some of the officers of President Buchanan's cabinet.
Still, Abraham Lincoln waited and waited as the days went by. He was keeping to the letter his promise to the South made in his inaugural: "The government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors." And while he waited he was sav