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Serious Injury Impossible.
stand that 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 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 the terms for the separation of the States. The people themselves, also, can do this if they choose, but the Executive, as such, bas 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 successor. 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, 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 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.
Precipitate Action Unwarrantable.
A Government at Last.
"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 is still no single reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who bas never yet forsaken this favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our present difficulties.
"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 evemies, but friends We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.
"The mystic cords of memory, stretching from every battiefield and patriot grave to every living heart and bearthstone 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.”
One point was established, at least, by this inaugural, whatever uncertainties might cluster about it-we had, at last, a Government. No Buchanan ruled the hour. Loyal men of every shade breathed more freely. At the same time, the whole drift was toward securing, if possible, an honorable reconciliation. If, after this lucid, temperate statement of
The New Cabinet.
the plans and purposes of the new Administration, the blow must fall, which all wished to avoid, it was encouraging to. feel as every one who heard Mr. Lincoln on that eventful day must have felt—that a man was at the helm who had firm faith that the organic law, so far from providing for the dissolution of the Union, bad vitality and force within itself sufficient to defend the nation against dangers from within as well as from without.
The announcement of the President's cabinet, likewisecomposed, as it was, of the ablest men in his own party, the majority of whom had been deemed worthy of presentation as candidates for the high office which he held—imparted confid ce to all who wished well to the country. The able pen of the Secretary of State was at once called into requisition to communicate, through the newly appointed ministers abroad, the true state of affairs to the European powers.
As speedily as possible the Departments were purged of disloyal officials, although the deceptions and subterfuges which constituted a goodly portion of the stock in trade of the rebellion rendered this a work of more time than was satisfactory to many.
The Davis dynasty, at Montgomery, having, on the 9th of March, passed an act to organize a Confederate army, two persons—one from Alabama and the other from Georgiaannounced themselves, three days later, as “ Confederate Commissioners," accredited for the purpose of negotiating a treaty. The President declined to recognize these “ Commissioners,” who were referred to a copy of his inaugural endosed for a full statement of his views.
On the 21st of March, Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia, Vice-President of the Montgomery traitors, up to that time regarded as one of the most moderate—as he certainly was one of the ablest-of the conspirators, in a speech at Savannah, silenced all questionings as to the intent of himself and Co-workers.
He said on that occasion :
Early Statesmen Wrong.
The Confederate Constitution.
Slavery the Foundation.
"The new Constitution (that adopted at Montgomery) has put at rest forever all the agitating questions relating to our peculiar institutions-African slavery as it exists among us -the proper status of the negro in our form of civilization.' This was the immediate cause of the late rupture and present revolution. Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this as the rock upon which the old Union would split. He was right. What was conjecture with him, is now a realized fact. But whether be fully comprehended the great truth upon which that rock stood and stands, may be doubted. The prevailing ideas, entertained by him and most of the leading statesmen, at the time of the formation of the old Constitution, were, that the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically. It was an evil they knew not well how to deal with ; but the general opinion of the men of that day was, that, somehow or other, in the order of Providence, the institution would be evanescent and pass away.
Our new Government is founded upon exactly the opposite ideas. Its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth that the negro is not equal to the white man; that slavery, subordination to the superior race, is his natural and normal condition. This, our new Government, is the first in the history of the world based upon this great physical, philosophical, and moral truth.
It is upon this, as I have stated, our social fabric is firmly planted; and I can not permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.
This stone, which was rejected by the first builders, 'is become the chief stone of the corner' in our new edifice."
On the 13th of April, the President was waited upon by a committee from a Convention of the State of Virginia, which Convention was discussing the question whether to go with
Refers to Inaugural.
che States already in rebellion, or to remain in the Union, for the sake of furthering the ends of the rebels. The object of the visit, and its result, may be determined from Mr. Lincoln's response :
“ 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 towards 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 the pending. difficulties, and threatens a disturbance of the public peace; therefore,
"Resolved, That a committee of three delegates be appointed to wait on the President of the United States, present to him this preamble, and respectfully ask him to communicate to this Convention the policy which the Federal Executive intends to pursue in regard to the Confederate States.'
“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 mortification I now learn 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 to my purposes. As I then and therein said, I now repeat, ‘The power confided in me, will be used to hold, occupy, and possess 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