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CHAPTER VIII.

LINCOLN IN THE WHITE HOUSE.

LINCOLN'S INAUGURATION AND INAUGURAL - DOUGLAS AND HIS

PROPHECY — LINCOLN'S CABINET-CONDITION OF AFFAIRS ON THE 4TH OF MARCH, 1861 - BENJAMIN F. BUTLER'S POSITION THE “PRODIGAL Son."

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MR.

R. Lincoln availed himself of the earliest opportunity,

after his arrival at the Capital, to express his kindly feelings to the people of Washington and the Southern States. On the 27th of February, when waited upon by the Mayor and Common Council of Washington, he assured them, and through them the South, that he had no disposition to treat them in any other way than as neighbors, and that he had no disposition to withhold from them any constitutional right. He assured the people that they should have all their rights under the Constitution. “Not grudgingly, but fully and fairly."

On the 4th of March, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated President of the United States. An inauguration, so impressive and solemn as this, had not occurred since that of Washington. The ceremonies took place, as usual, at and on the eastern colonnade of the Capitol. General Scott had gathered a few soldiers of the regular army, and had caused to be organized some militia, to preserve peace, order and security.

Thousands of Northern voters thronged the streets of Washington, only a very few of them conscious of the volcano of treason and murder, thinly concealed, around them. The public offices and the departments were full of plotting traitors. Many of the rebel generals, including Lee, the Johnstons, Ewell, Hill, Stewart, Magruder, Pemberton, and others,

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held commissions under the government they were about to abandon and betray. Spies were everywhere.

Spies were everywhere. The people of Washington were, a large portion of them, in sympathy with the conspirators.

None who witnessed it will ever forget the scene of that inauguration. On the magnificent eastern front of the Capitol, surrounded by the Senate and House of Representatives, the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Diplomatic Corps, the high officers of the Army and the Navy, a vast crowd outside of the guards ; a crowd of mingled patriots and traitors; men looking searchingly into the eyes of every stranger, to discover whether he gazed on a traitor or a friend. Standing in the most conspicuous position, amidst scowling traitors, with murder and treason in their hearts, Lincoln was perfectly cool and determined. Near him was President Buchanan, with his white neck-tie, seemingly bowed down with the consciousness of duties unperformed; there were Chief Justice Taney and his associates, who had disgraced American jurisprudence by the Dred Scott decision; there was Chase with his fine and imposing presence; and the venerable Scott, his towering form still unbroken by years; the ever hopeful and philosophical statesman Seward; the scholarly, uncompromising Sumner; blunt Ben. Wade. There were distinguished governors of states, and throngs of eminent men from every section of the Union. But there was no man more observed than the great rival of Mr. Lincoln, Douglas. He had been most marked and thoughtful in his attentions to the President elect, and now his small but sturdy figure in striking contrast to the towering form of Lincoln, was conspicuous ; gracefully extending every courtesy to his successful competitor.* His bold eye, from which flashed energy and determination, was eagerly scanning the crowd, not unconscious it is believed, of the personal danger which encircled the President, and perfectly ready to share it with him. Lincoln's calmness arose from an entire absence of self-consciousness; he was too fully absorbed with the grav

* The author is here reminded of the following incident: As Mr. Lincoln removed his hat, before commencing the reading of his “ Inaugural"- from the proximity of the crowd, he saw nowhere to place it; and Mr. Douglas, by his side, seeing this, instantly extended his hand and held the President's hat while he was occupied in reading the address.

ity of the occasion, and the importance of the events around and before him, to think of himself.

With a voice so clear and distinct that he could be heard by thrice ten thousand men, he read his inaugural address.

This address is so important, and shows so clearly the causelessness of the rebellion, that no apology is offered for the following quotations from it:

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“ 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 the Constitution of the United States, to be taken by the President “ before he enters upon the execution of his office.”

" 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 real 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 specches 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 now 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 a full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations, and have never recanted them.

“I now reiterate those sentiments, and, in doing so, I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section, are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming administration. * * *

“I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of the States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed in the fundamental law of all National Governments. * *

“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.

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As Mr. Lincoln pronounced the foregoing sentence, with clear, firm and impressive emphasis, a visible sensation ran through the vast audience, and earnest, sober, but hearty cheers from men, who hear boldly expressed a clear duty-but one involving grave and perhaps perilous consequences were given. He went on:

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“In doing this there need be no bloodshed nor violence; and there shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The power confided to me will be used to hold, and occupy, and

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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, I deem it better to forego-for the time—the use of such offices.

“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.

“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise the 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.

“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 not 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. 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 difficulties.

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“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, are the momentous issues 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 hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely it will be by the better angels of our nature.”

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In his own peculiarly clear and simple manner, he vindicates himself and his party from all cause of apprehension on the part of the slaveholding States. He assures the people “that the property, peace, and security of no section, are to be in anywise endangered by the incoming administration.” In clear, but most moderate and inoffensive language, he. firmly announced his intention to fulfil the sworn duties of his office, by taking care that the laws of the Union shall be executed in all the states. There will be no bloodshed or violence unless it be forced upon the National authority.

His closing appeal against civil war, was most pathetic; and, as he uttered the solemn words, for the first time during the delivery, his voice faltered with emotion. He said:

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, are the momentous issues of civil var. 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,' said he pathetically. 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 mystio cords 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.”

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