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It is your
States, and to their posterity in all coming time. business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty for yourselves, and not for me. appeal to you again to constantly bear in mind that not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question : Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generations?
ADDRESS IN INDEPENDENCE HALL, PHILADELPHIA, FEB
RUARY 22, 1861
I Am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, 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 our distracted 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 in
and were given to the world from this hall. I have never had a feeling, politically, that did not spring from the sentia ments embodied in the Dec laration of Independence.
I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and framed and adopted that Declaration. 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 this Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter of separation of the colonies from the motherland, but that sentiment in the Dec laration of Independence which gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but hope to all the world, for all fuci
ture time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
Now, my friends, can this country be saved on 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 is no need of bloodshed and war.
There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course; and I
vance that there will be no bloodshed unless it is forced upon the government. The government will not use force unless force is used against it.
My friends, this is wholly an unprepared speech. I did not expect to be called on to say a word when I came here. I supposed I was merely to do something toward raising a flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. But I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, to die by.