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HON. GEO. ASHMUN,
SPRINGFIELD, ILL., May 23, 1860.
President of the Republican National Convention :
SIR-I accept the nomination tendered me by the convention over which you presided, and of which I am formally apprised 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 nor disregard it, in any part.
Imploring the assistance of Divine Providence, and with due regard to the views and feeling of all who were represented in the convention; to the rights of all the States, and Territories, and the people of the nation; to the inviolability of the Constitution, and to the perpetual union, harmony and prosperity of all, 1 am most happy to co-operate for the practical success of the principles declared by the convention. Your obliged friend and fellow-citizen,
The popular favor with which the nomination of Mr. Lincoln was first received was strengthened by the spirited canvass which followed. The electoral votes of the States of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota, California, and Oregon, seventeen States, were cast for Lincoln and Hamlin. The votes of Maryland, Delaware, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Texas, eleven States, were cast for Breckinridge and Lane. The votes of Virginia, Kentucky and Tennessee were cast for Bell and Everett. The electoral vote of Missouri was given for Douglas and Johnson. The vote of New Jersey was divided, four being given for Lincoln and three for Douglas.
The aggregate electoral vote for each Presidential candidate, as found by the official canvass in joint session of the two Houses of Congress, on the 13th day of February, 1861, was as follows: For Abraham Lincoln, 180; for John C. Breckinridge, 72, for John Bell, 39; and for Stephen A. Douglas,
The Vice-President, Mr. Breckinridge, then officially declared Mr. Lincoln elected President of the United States for four years, commencing on the 4th of March, 1861.
The aggregate popular vote for each of the Presidential candidates, at this election, was as follows: For Mr. Lincoln, 1,866,452; for Mr. Douglas, 1,375,157; for Mr. Breckinridge, 847,953; and for Mr. Bell, 590,631. The last speech of Mr. Douglas, in the ensuing spring, urged upon his friends an earnest support of the Administration in putting down the rebellion, as in his speach at Norfolk, Va., during the preceding canvass, he had declared in favor of coercion, as the remedy for secession. Mr. Bell went over to the secession cause, co-operating with Mr. Breckinridge, afterward a General in the Rebel army. The total vote for the two loyal candidates was 3,241,609.
On the morning of February 11th, Mr. Lincoln, with his family, left Springfield for Washington. A large concourse of citizens had assembled at the depot, on the occasion of his departure, whom, with deep emotion, he addressed as follows:
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 could have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I can not succeed without the same Divine aid which sustained him; and in 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 can not succeed, but with which success is certain. Again, I bid you all an affectionate farewell.
The first speech of Mr. Lincoln on his journey was that delivered at Indianapolis, on the evening of the same day, addressed to a multitude of people assembled to welcome him. As containing the earliest direct intimation of his views on the all-engrossing topic of the time, it is appropriately given here:
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF INDIANA: I am here to thank you for this magnificent welcome, and still more for the very generous support given by your State to that political cause, which, I think, is the true and just cause of the whole country, and the whole world. Solomon says, "there is a time to keep silence;" and when men wrangle by the mouth, with no certainty that they mean the same thing while using the same words, it perhaps were as well if they would keep silence. The words "coercion" and "invasion are much used in these days, and often with some temper and hot blood. Let us make sure, if we can, that we do not misunderstand the meaning of those who use them. Let us get the exact definitions of these words-not from dictionaries, but from the men themselves, who certainly deprecate the things they would represent by the use of the words.
What, then, is coercion? What is invasion? Would the marching of an army into South Carolina, without the consent of her people, and with hostile intent toward them, be invasion? I certainly think it would, and it would be coercion also, if the South Carolinians were forced to submit. But if the United States should merely hold and retake its own forts and other property, and collect the duties on foreign importations, or even withhold the mails from places where they were habitually violated, would any or all of these things be invasion or coercion? Do our professed lovers of the Union, who spitefully resolve that they will resist coercion and invasion, understand that such things as these, on the part of the United States, would be coercion or invasion of a State? If so, their idea of means to preserve the object of their great affection would seem to be exceedingly thin and airy. If sick, the little pills of the homeopathist would be much too large for it to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a family relation, would seem to be no regular marriage, but rather a sort of "free-love" arrangement, to be maintained on passional attraction.
By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a State? I speak not of the position assigned to a State in the Union by the Constitution, for that is a bond we all recognize. That position, however, a State can not carry out of the Union with it. I speak of that assumed primary right of a State to rule all which is less than itself, and to ruin all which is larger than itself. If a State and a County, in a given case, should be equal in number of inhabitants, in what, as a matter of principle, is the State better than the County? Would an exchange of name be an exchange of rights? Upon what principle, upon what rightful principle, may a State, being no more than
one-fiftieth part of the nation in soil and population, break up the nation, and then coerce a proportionably large subdivision of itself in the most arbitrary way? What mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country with its people, by merely calling it a State? Fellow-citizens, I am not asserting anything. I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And now allow me to bid you farewell.
Enthusiastic greetings awaited the President elect all along his route, the people hailing the approach of the day which was to witness, under his auspices, the beginning of a new regime for the nation.
At Philadelphia, on the 22d of February, he visited Independence Hall, where throngs of people gathered to see him, and where he raised a national flag to its place on the staff above, as requested, amid the cheers of the thousands present. In a brief speech, he referred with much emotion to the men who had assembled in this Hall in 1776, and to the principles there proclaimed on the 4th of July-principles which he declared it to be his purpose never to yield, even if he must seal his devotion to them by a violent death. On the next day he reached Harrisburg.
Positive information had now been received at Washington, of a plot to assassinate Mr. Lincoln at Baltimore. When this was communicated to him, he was averse to any change of the time fixed upon for his transit through that city. On the earnest representations of Mr. Seward, however, who sent a special messenger to the President elect at Harrisburg, to urge this course, he left the latter place on the night train, a few hours in advance of that which he was expected to take, and passing through Baltimore without recognition, arrived, on the following morning in Washington.
Commencement of President Lincoln's Administration.-Retrospect and Summary of Public Events.-Fort Sumter.
On the 4th day of March, 1861, Mr. Lincoln took the oath of office, as President of the United States. The administration of James Buchanan, and eight years of intensely southern sway in all branches of the National Government, were now at an end. During the four months that had intervened since the people decreed this change not a moment had been lost by the leaders in the now clearly developed scheme of revolt, in making energetic preparation for its consummation. So well had they succeeded, by the aid of bold treason or of inert complicity at the national capital, that they imagined they had assured the full attainment of their object, almost without the hazard of a single campaign. While professing, however, to believe in a fancied right of peaceable secession, and proclaiming their desire to be left unmolested in the execution of their revolutionary purposes, the chief conspirators well knew that this immunity could only be gained by such use of the remaining days of the outgoing administration that the crisis should already be over, or resistance to their treason be rendered ineffectual, when the new administration should begin. They industriously collected the materials of war, yet spared no efforts to bring about a state of things which should insure either peaceful submission to their will or a sure vantage ground for an appeal to arms.
While yet the question of passing a secession ordinance was pending in South Carolina, President Buchanan, in his annual message, after having urged the unconstitutionality of the pro