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"And now I will not longer defer the pleasure of taking you, and oa^h of you, by the hand."
Mr. Lincoln subsequently accepted the nomination in this formal letter:
"Springfield, Illinois, May 23,1860. <( Hon. George Ashmun,
'President of the Republican National Co?ivention: 11 Sir: I accept the nomination tendered me by the Convention over which you presided, of which I am formally apprized in the letter of yourself and others acting as a Committee of the Convention for that purpose. The declaration of principles and sentiments which accompanies your letter meets my approval, and it shall be my care not to violate it, or disregard it in any part.
"Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due regard to the views and feelings of all who were represented in the Convention, to the rights of all the states and territories and people of the nation, to the inviolability of the Constitution, and the perpetual union, harmony, and prosperity of all, I am most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles declared by the Convention.
"Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,
Emerson in his eloquent remarks, given in full in this volume, expresses well the despondency felt in the East on the announcement of Mr. Lincoln's nomination. To them he was an almost unknown, an unprepossessing man, apparently ill-fitted for the gravest crisis of American history. There was little in him to excite enthusiasm, but the party took up the ticket with zeal, and Mr. Lincoln stood before the people as a candidate for the Presidency. His party selected as their nominee for the VicePresidency, Hannibal Hamlin, a Senator from Maine. The Democratic party was rent in twain. The violence of Southern leaders, the imperiousness of their demands, and the manifest determination on their part to drive matters to a point where Do solution but civil war was possible, had alarmed many lifeong Democrats. A strong party rallied round Judge Douglas, of Illinois, believing that a moderate policy might yet secure under a Democratic President that return to calmness and reason, which was necessary for a compromise between the extreme elements agitating the country. But the action of the extreme Southern men broke up the Democratic convention at Charleston, and the delegates forming two different bodies, severally adopted platforms and nominated candidates. Stephen A. Douglas was the nominee of the moderate, wxith Herschell V. Johnson as candidate for Vice-President, while John C. Breckenridge, actually Vice-President of the United States, was the extreme Southern candidate for the Presidency, with Mr. Lane, of Oregon. As though this were not sufficient diversity, a fourth ticket was presented in the vain hope of healing dissensions, and under the name of the Union ticket offered to the votes of the people the names of John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for Vice-President.
Never had the country seen an election which excited more general interest or deeper feeling. The result, however, was not doubtful. The Republicans were enthusiastic, organized, hopeful; the Democratic party rent in twain, was of course dispirited, and the Southern section seemed to court the defeat, whose certainty they had contrived, as a pretext for a movement already planned.
The Eepublicans, forming a body of nearly two millions of voters, carried for Mr. Lincoln the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and California, comprising all the free States, except New Jersey, which gave four votes to Mr. Lincoln and three to Mr. Douglas. Mr. Breckenridge received the electoral vote of all the slave States, except Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, which voted for Bell. Douglas, once so popular, received only the vote of Missouri, and, as we have seen, part of that of New Jersey, although his popular vote was nearly half a million more than that of Mr. Breckenridge.
Thus was Mr. Lincoln chosen on the 6th of November, 1860, President of the United States, receiving in the electoral college 180 votes, representing sixteen States and 1,857,610 votes. To his election there existed no constitutional objection. His antagonist, Mr. Breckenridge, since a rebel general and Secretary of War, declared officially, as Vice-President of the United States, that Abraham Lincoln was lawfully elected President of the United States.
Here, in a manner, the history of his Administration begins. The State of South Carolina, the very day after choosing electors, passed an act calling a Convention, and openly announced its determination not to submit to the election. How rapidly they followed up their determination by action, we need not detail here. While Mr. Lincoln awaited at Springfield the moment when he should proceed to Washington to enter on the duties of his office, the Southern States, unchecked, unimpeded, were seizing the arsenals, forts, custom-houses, navy yards, mints, and other property of the General Government, forming a Confederacy, adopting a Constitution, and proceeding to the choice of a President and Vice-President.
On the 1 lth of February, Mr. Lincoln left his home in Springfield. He could not conceal from himself the terrible task before him. To him the office of President was not to be one of quiet routine. In a few days, States that took part in the late election, would have chosen a President who would claim authority over nearly half the land, prepared to uphold that claim by force of arms. Impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, he bade farewell to his friends and neighbors in these words, which, read at the present time, have indeed a mournful interest:
"My Friends: No one not in my position can appreciate the sadness I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I have lived more than a quarter of a century; here my children were born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall see you again. A duty devolves upon me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain. Again I bid you all an affectionate farewell."
On the 13th, he reached Columbus, where he was formally welcomed in the Hall of the Assembly, at the State Capitol, by Lieutenant-Governor Kirk, on behalf of the Legislature. At this imposing reception he justified the silence which he had observed as to his policy, and again expressed his sense of the importance of the moment.
He was received enthusiastically at the different large cities on his route, and spoke freely on the various points of public policy likely to arise, impressing all with a sense of his uprightness, fairness, and desire to administer the Government with firmness. Of the South he spoke in terms of conciliation, believing, and wishing all to believe, that the Southern movement would soon die of itself.
At Philadelphia, the President elect visited Independence Hall, and in those walls, still echoing with the voices of the great patriot founders of the Republic, he was escorted to »a platform prepared for the purpose, and after a few words of patriotic devotion to the flag, affirming that to his deliberate convictions of principle he must adhere, even if assassination were his fate, he raised the Stars and Stripes, amid the plaudits of thousands and the thunder of artillery.
At Harrisburg, information was brought to him that his life was to be attempted, as he passed through Baltimore, and he took an earlier train to baffle the plot. Many at the time treated this as an idle fear; but the evidence is beyond all dispute. Threats had been current that he would never live to be inaugurated, and during his journey an attempt was made to throw the train off the track, on the Toledo and Western Railroad, and a hand-grenade was found concealed in the train in which he left Cincinnati.
In Washington, preparations, such as were possible, were made, to prevent any act of violence on the day of inauguration. A large military force was in attendance, under the immediate command of General Scott, but nothing occurred to interrupt the harmony of the occasion. Mr. Lincoln proceeded to the Capitol with Mr. Buchanan, whose term of office expired, and the ceremony of inauguration took place, March 4th, 1861, in front of the Capitol, in presence of an immense multitude.
His inaugural address, delivered before taking the oath of office administered by Chief-Justice Taney, who thus lived to swear into their high position ten successive Presidents, was in these words:—
"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 excitement. Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States, that, by the accession of a Eepublican 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.7 I believe 1 have no lawful right to do so; and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me, did so with the full knowledge that I had made this, and made 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:—
"'Besolved, 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 among the gravest of crimes.7
"I now reiterate these sentiments; and in doing so I only press upon the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be in anywise endangered by the now incoming Administration.
"I add, too, that all the protection which, consistently with the 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