Part 18 out of 36
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
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 voyage.
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
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 you adieu.
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 farewell.
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
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 whole life.
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 gloriously.
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 he 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
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
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
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
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 read:
"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
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 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
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
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 maintain itself.
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
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
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
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
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
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 political purposes.
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 upon you.
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 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 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 to me.
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 he 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
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
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
Allow me to express the hope that these friendly relations may remain
undisturbed, arid also my fervent wishes for the health and happiness
of yourselves personally.
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
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
Your humble servant,
[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 States?"
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
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 friends?
Shall we put the card through, and arrange the rest afterward? What
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
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
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 much.
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 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
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.
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, etc.,
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 South.
I would therefore terminate it as a safe means for changing the
issue. I deem it fortunate that the last administration created the
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
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
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
And, if satisfactory explanations are not received from Spain and
Would convene Congress and declare war against them.
But whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution
For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct
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
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 foreign."
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 policy.
Upon your Closing propositions--that,
"Whatever policy we adopt, there must be an energetic prosecution of
"For this purpose it must be somebody's business to pursue and direct
"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"--
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
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, Esq.
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
"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
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 hands.
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
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 supposed secession.
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
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 a modification.
PROCLAMATION CALLING FOR 75,000 MILITIA, AND CONVENING CONGRESS IN
EXTRA SESSION, APRIL 15, 1861.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF
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, ABRAHAM 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 executed.
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
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 thereon:
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
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 place.
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 habeas corpus.
Your obedient servant, ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
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 established:
And whereas, since that date, public property of the United States
has been seized, the collection of the revenue obstructed, and duly
commissioned officers of the United States, while engaged in
executing the orders of their superiors, have been arrested and held
in custody as prisoners, or have been impeded in the discharge of
their official duties, without due legal process, by persons claiming
to act under authorities of the States of Virginia and North
An efficient blockade of the ports of those States will also be
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 twenty seventh 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.
REMARKS TO A MILITARY COMPANY, WASHINGTON,
APRIL 27, 1861
I have desired as sincerely as any man, and I sometimes think more
than any other man, that our present difficulties might be settled
without the shedding of blood. I will not say that all hope has yet
gone; but if the alternative is presented whether the Union is to be
broken in fragments and the liberties of the people lost, or blood be
shed, you will probably make the choice with which I shall not be
LOCALIZED REPEAL OF WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS
TO GENERAL SCOTT.
TO THE COMMANDING GENERAL,
ARMY OF THE UNITED STATES.
You are engaged in suppressing an insurrection against the laws of
the United States. If at any point on or in the vicinity of any
military line which is now or which shall be used between the City of
Philadelphia and the city of Washington you find resistance which
renders it necessary to suspend the writ of habeas corpus for the
public safety, you personally, or through the officer in command at
the point at which resistance occurs, are authorized to suspend that
WASHINGTON, April 17, 1861
MILITARY ENROLLMENT OF ST. LOUIS CITIZENS
FROM THE SECRETARY OF WAR
WAR DEPARTMENT, April 30, 1861
TO CAPTAIN NATHANIEL LYON.
CAPT. NATHANIEL LYON,
Commanding Department of the West.
SIR:--The President of the United States directs that you enroll in
the military service of the United States the loyal citizens of Saint
Louis and vicinity, not exceeding, with those heretofore enlisted,
ten thousand in number, for the purpose of maintaining the authority
of the United States; for the protection of the peaceful inhabitants
of Missouri; and you will, if deemed necessary for that purpose by
yourself, by Messrs. Oliver F. Ferny, John How, James O. Broadhead,
Samuel T. Glover, J. Wilzie, Francis P. Blair, Jr., proclaim martial
law in the city of Saint Louis.
The additional force hereby authorized shall be discharged in part or
in whole, if enlisted. As soon as it appears to you and the
gentlemen above mentioned that there is no danger of an attempt on
the part of the enemies of the Government to take military possession
of the city of Saint Louis, or put the city in control of the
combination against the Government of the United States; and whilst
such additional force remains in the service the same shall be
governed by the Rules and Articles of War, and such special
regulations as you may prescribe. I shall like the force hereafter
directed to be enrolled to be under your command.
The arms and other military stores in the Saint Louis Arsenal not
needed for the forces of the United States in Missouri must be
removed to Springfield, or some other safe place of deposit in the
State of Illinois, as speedily as practicable, by the ordnance
officers in charge at Saint Louis.
It is revolutionary times, and therefore I do not object to the
irregularity of this. W. S.
Approved, April 30, 1861. A. LINCOLN.
Colonel Thomas will make this order.
SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War.
CONDOLENCE OVER FAILURE OF FT. SUMTER RELIEF
TO GUSTAVUS V. FOX.
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 1, 1861
CAPTAIN G. V. Fox.
MY DEAR SIR:--I sincerely regret that the failure of the late attempt
to provision Fort Sumter should be the source of any annoyance to
The practicability of your plan was not, in fact, brought to a test.
By reason of a gale, well known in advance to be possible and not
improbable, the tugs, an essential part of the plan, never reached
the ground; while, by an accident for which you were in no wise
responsible, and possibly I to some extent was, you were deprived of
a war vessel, with her men, which you deemed of great importance to
I most cheerfully and truly declare that the failure of the
undertaking has not lowered you a particle, while the qualities you
developed in the effort have greatly heightened you in my estimation.
For a daring and dangerous enterprise of a similar character you
would to-day be the man of all my acquaintances whom I would select.
You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be
advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort Sumter, even if it
should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our
anticipation is justified by the result.
Very truly your friend,
PROCLAMATION CALLING FOR 42,034 VOLUNTEERS,
MAY 3, 1861
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.
Whereas existing exigencies demand immediate and adequate measures
for the protection of the National Constitution and the preservation
of the National Union by the suppression of the insurrectionary
combinations now existing in several States for opposing the laws of
the Union and obstructing the execution thereof, to which end a
military force in addition to that called forth by my proclamation of
the 15th day of April in the present year appears to be indispensably
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States
and Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy thereof and of the
militia of the several States when called into actual service, do
hereby call into the service of the United States 42,034 volunteers
to serve for the period of three years, unless sooner discharged, and
to be mustered into service as infantry and cavalry. The proportions
of each arm and the details of enrollment and organization will be
made known through the Department of War.
And I also direct that the Regular Army of the United States be
increased by the addition of eight regiments of infantry, one
regiment of cavalry, and one regiment of artillery, making altogether
a maximum aggregate increase of 22,714 officers and enlisted men, the
details of which increase will also be made known through the
Department of War.
And I further direct the enlistment for not less than one or more
than three years of 18,000 seamen, in addition to the present force,
for the naval service of the United States. The details of the
enlistment and organization will be made known through the Department
of the Navy.
The call for volunteers hereby made and the direction for the
increase of the Regular Army and for the enlistment of seamen hereby
given, together with the plan of organization adopted for the
volunteer and for the regular forces hereby authorized, will be
submitted to Congress as soon as assembled.
In the meantime I earnestly invoke the co-operation of all good
citizens in the measures hereby adopted for the effectual suppression
of unlawful violence, for the impartial enforcement of constitutional
laws, and for the speediest possible restoration of peace and order,
and with these of happiness and prosperity, throughout our country.
In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my band and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed................
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
COMMUNICATION WITH VICE-PRESIDENT
TO VICE-PRESIDENT HAMLIN.
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 6, 1861
HON. H. HAMLIN, New York.
MY DEAR SIR:-Please advise me at the close of each day what troops
left during the day, where going, and by what route; what remaining
at New York, and what expected in the next day. Give the numbers, as
near as convenient, and what corps they are. This information,
reaching us daily, will be very useful as well as satisfactory.
Yours very truly,
ORDER TO COLONEL ANDERSON,
MAY 7, 1861
TO ALL WHO SHALL SEE THESE PRESENTS, GREETING:
Know ye that, reposing special trust and confidence in the
patriotism, valor, fidelity, and ability of Colonel Robert Anderson,
U. S. Army, I have empowered him, and do hereby empower him, to
receive into the army of the United States as many regiments of
volunteer troops from the State of Kentucky and from the western part
of the State of Virginia as shall be willing to engage in the Service
of the United States for the term of three years, upon the terms and
according to the plan proposed by the proclamation of May 3, 1861,
and General Orders No. 15, from the War Department, of May 4, 1861.
The troops whom he receives shall be on the same footing in every
respect as those of the like kind called for in the proclamation
above cited, except that the officers shall be commissioned by the
United States. He is therefore carefully and diligently to discharge
the duty hereby devolved upon him by doing and performing all manner
of things thereunto belonging.
Given under my hand, at the city of Washington, this 7th day of May,
A. D. 1861, and in the eighty-fifth year of the independence of the
By the President:
SIMON CAMERON, Secretary of War,
PROCLAMATION SUSPENDING THE WRIT OF HABEAS
CORPUS IN FLORIDA, MAY 10, 1861.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OP AMERICA:
Whereas an insurrection exists in the State of Florida, by which the
lives, liberty, and property of loyal citizens of the United States
And whereas it is deemed proper that all needful measures should be
taken for the protection of such citizens and all officers of the
United States in the discharge of their public duties in the State
Now, therefore, be it known that I, Abraham LINCOLN, President of the
United States, do hereby direct the commander of the forces of the
United States on the Florida coast to permit no person to exercise
any office or authority upon the islands of Key West, the Tortugas,
and Santa Rosa, which may be inconsistent with the laws and
Constitution of the United States, authorizing him at the same time,
if he shall find it necessary, to suspend there the writ of habeas
corpus, and to remove from the vicinity of the United States
fortresses all dangerous or suspected persons.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed.....................
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
TO SECRETARY WELLES.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 11, 1861
TO THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY.
SIR:-Lieut. D. D. Porter was placed in command of the steamer
Powhatan, and Captain Samuel Mercer was detached therefrom, by my
special order, and neither of them is responsible for any apparent or
real irregularity on their part or in connection with that vessel.
Hereafter Captain Porter is relieved from that special service and
placed under the direction of the Navy Department, from which he will
receive instructions and to which he will report.
PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S CORRECTIONS OF A DIPLOMATIC DESPATCH WRITTEN BY
THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO MINISTER ADAMS
DEPARTMENT OF STATE.
WASHINGTON, May 21, 1861
SIR:---Mr. Dallas, in a brief despatch of May 2d (No. 333), tells us
that Lord John Russell recently requested an interview with him on
account of the solicitude which his lordship felt concerning the
effect of certain measures represented as likely to be adopted by the
President. In that conversation the British secretary told Mr.
Dallas that the three representatives of the Southern Confederacy
were then in London, that Lord John Russell had not yet seen them,
but that he was not unwilling to see them unofficially. He further
informed Mr. Dallas that an understanding exists between the British
and French governments which would lead both to take one and the same
course as to recognition. His lordship then referred to the rumor of
a meditated blockade by us of Southern ports, and a discontinuance of
them as ports of entry. Mr. Dallas answered that he knew nothing on
those topics, and therefore
(The President's corrections, both in notes and text, are in
caps. All matter between brackets was to be marked out.)
could say nothing. He added that you were expected to arrive in two
weeks. Upon this statement Lord John Russell acquiesced in the
expediency of waiting for the full knowledge you were expected to
Mr. Dallas transmitted to us some newspaper reports of ministerial
explanations made in Parliament.