« AnteriorContinuar »
PREPARATIONS FOR THE INAUGURATION.
THE INAUGURATION OF PRESIDENT LINCOLN, AND THE IDEAS AND POLICY OF
ONDAY, the 4th of March, 1861, will ever be a memorable day in the annals of the Republic. On that day a Chief Magistrate was installed who represented the loyal and free spirit of the nation, which had found potential expression in a popular election. That election proclaimed, in the soft whispers of the ballot, an unchangeable decree, that slave labor should cultivate no more of the free land of the Republic. Professedly on account of that decree, the advocates of such labor commenced a revolt; and it was in the midst of the turmoil caused by the mad cry of insurgents, that Abraham Lincoln went up to the National Capital, and was inaugurated the Sixteenth President of the United States of America. .
The inaugural ceremonies were performed quietly and orderly, at the usual place, over the broad staircase at the eastern front of the Capitol, whose magnificent dome was only half finished. In order to insure quiet and safety, and the performance of the ceremony in the usual peaceful form, General Scott had collected about. six hundred regular troops in the city, but they were so scattered that their presence was scarcely perceptible. . They had been making their way to the capital in small numbers from different points for several weeks, and the conspirators were so impressed with the belief that the total force was enormous in strength-that a vast number of troops were hidden all about the city-that they abandoned the scheme of seizing Washington, preventing the inauguration of Mr. Lincoln, and placing one of their number in the Executive Chair.' They were undeceived, four days before the inauguration, by a Message of the March 1, President, in response to an inquiry by Congress concerning the number of troops in the city. It was then too late for them to organize
1 See page 143.
Mr. Burnett, of Kentucky, offered a resolution in the House of Representatives on the 11th of February, which was adopted, asking the President for his reasons for assembling a large number of troops in Washington; why they were kept there; and whether he had any information of a conspiracy to seize the Capital, and prevent the inauguration of the President elect. On the 5th of the same month, Wigfall had offered a resolution in the Senate, asking the President why, since the commencement of the session of Congress, troops had been gathering in Washington; munitions of war collected there; from what points they had been called, &c., and under the authority of what law they were held for service in the National Capital. The President did not answer these inquiries until the 1st of March, when he declared that there were only six hundred and fiftythree private soldiers in the city, besides the usual number of marines at the Navy Yard, and that they were ordered to Washington to act as a posse comitatus, in strict subordination to the civil authority, for the purpose of preserving peace and order." should that be necessary, before or at the period of the inauguration of the President elect. In the mean time a Committee of the House had investigated the subject of a conspiracy; and the members of that body were so well convinced of its existence, that a resolution, expressing the opinion that "the regular troops now in this city ought to be forthwith removed therefrom," was laid on
THE INAUGURAL PROCESSION.
the "Minute-men" of Maryland and Virginia. This condition, and the natural belief that many of the thousands of the loyal people who were
pouring into the Capital to participate in the ceremonies were well armed, kept the enemies of the Republic in perfect restraint.
The dawn of the 4th of March was pleasant, and the day was a bright one. Washington City was crowded by more than twenty-five thousand strangers, a large portion of them the political friends of the President elect. The streets around Willard's Hotel were densely packed, at an early hour, with eager watchers for the appearance of Mr. Lincoln. The forenoon wore away, and he was yet invisible to the public eye. He was waiting for Mr. Buchanan, who was engaged almost up to twelve o'clock, the appointed hour for the inaugural ceremonies, in signing bills at his room in the Capitol. Then he was conveyed rapidly to the White House, where he entered a barouche, waited upon by servants in livery, and hastened to Willard's. The President elect, with the late Senators Pearce and Baker, there entered the carriage, and at a little before one o'clock the procession, under the direction of Chief Marshal Major French, moved along Pennsylvania Avenue toward the Capitol.' Mounted troops, under the direction of General Scott, moved on the flanks on parallel streets,
the table by a very large majority. The alarm for the safety of the Government archives, which prevailed throughout the country, had instantly subsided when it was known that troops were called to Washington.
1 Marshal French was assisted by thirteen aids and twenty-nine assistant marshals, representing loyal States and Territories. Besides these were eighty-three assistants. The marshal's aids wore blue scarfs and white rosettes. Their saddle-cloths were blue, trimmed with gilt. The assistant marshals wore blue scarfs and white rosettes. Their saddle-cloths were white, trimmed with blue. Each carried a baton two feet in length, of blue color, with ends gilt two inches deep. The procession was composed as follows:
A National Flag, with appropriate emblems.
The President of the United States, with the President Elect and Suite, with Marshals on their left, and the Marshal of the United States for the District of Columbia (Colonel William Selden)
Governors and ex-Governors of States and Territories, and Members of the Legislatures of the same. Officers of the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Militia, in full uniform.
Officers and Soldiers of the Revolution, of the War of 1812, and subsequent periods.
The Corporate Anthorities of Washington and Georgetown.
Other Political and Military Associations from the District, and other parts of the United States.
All organized Civil Societies.
Professors, Schoolmasters, and Students within the District of Columbia,
There was a military escort under Colonels Harris and Thomas, and Captain Taylor. The carriage in
THE INAUGURAL CEREMONIES.
ready for action at a concerted signal.' They were not needed. The procession passed on without interruption, excepting by the enormous crowd. At half-past one the two Presidents left the carriage, went into the Capitol, and, preceded by Major French, entered the Senate Chamber arm Mr. Buchanan was pale and nervous; Mr. Lincoln's face was slightly flushed with emotion, but he was a model of self-possession. They sat waiting a few minutes before the desk of the President of the Senate. "Mr. Buchanan," an eye-witness said, "sighed audibly and frequently. Mr. Lincoln was grave and impassive as an Indian martyr." The party
soon proceeded to the platform over the ascent to the eastern portico, where the Supreme Court, the Senate and House of Representatives, Foreign Ministers, and other privileged persons were assembled, while an immense congregation of citizens filled the space below.
Mr. Lincoln was introduced to the people by Senator Baker, of Oregon; and as he stepped forward, his head towering above most of those around him (for his hight was six feet and four inches),' he was greeted with vehement applause. Then, with a clear, strong voice, he read his Inaugural Address, during which service Senator Douglas, lately his competitor for the honors and duties he was now assuming, held the hat of the new President. At the close of the reading, the late Chief-Justice Taney
which the two Presidents rode was surrounded by military, so as to prevent any violence, if it should be attempted.
"I caused to be organized," says General Scott, "the elite of the Washington Volunteers, and called from a distance two batteries of horse artillery, with small detachments of cavalry and infantry, all regulars."Autobiography of General Scott. ii. 611. The General says, that during the two months preceding the inauguration, he received more than fifty letters from various points, some earnestly dissuading him from being present at the ceremony, and others threatening him with assassination if he dared to protect the ceremony by a military force.
* The best description of the personal appearance of Mr. Lincoln, according to the author's own vivid recollection of him in January, 1865, is the following:
Conceive a tall and gaunt figure, more than six feet in hight, not only unencumbered with superfluous flesh, but reduced to the minimum working standard of cord, and sinew, and muscle, strong and indurated by exposure and toil, with legs and arms long and attenuated, but not disproportionately so to the long and attenuated trunk. In posture and carriage not ungraceful, but with the grace of unstudied and careless ease, rather than of cultivated airs and high-bred pretensions. His dress is universally of black throughout, and would attract but little attention in a well-dressed circle, if it hung less loosely upon him, and the ample white shirt collar was not turned over his cravat in the Western style. The face that surmounts this figure is half Roman and half Indian, bronzed by climate, furrowed by life-struggles, seamed with humor; the head is massive, and covered with dark, thick, and unmanageable hair; the brow is wide and well developed; the nose large and fleshy; the lips full; cheeks thin, and drawn down in strong corded lines, which, but for the wiry whiskers, would disclose the machinery which moves the broad jaw. The eyes are dark gray, sunk in deep sockets, but bright, soft, and beautiful in expression, and sometimes lost and half abstracted, as if their glance was reversed and turned inward, or as if the soul which lighted them was far away. The teeth are white and regular, and it is only when a smile, radiant, captivating, and winning, as was ever given to mortal, transfigures the plain countenance, that you begin to realize that it is not impossible for artists to admire and woman to love it."-Eulogy on Abraham Lincoln: by Henry Champe Deming, before the General Assembly of Connecticut, at Hartford, June 8, 1865.
On that day the veteran journalist, Thurlow Weed, wrote as follows for the editorial column of his paper, the Albany Evening Journal:
"The throng in front of the Capitol was immense, and yet the President's voice was so strong and clear that he was heard distinctly. The cheers went up loud and long.
After he commenced delivering his Inaugural I withdrew, and passing north on Capitol Hill, saw Generals Scott and Wool, in full uniform, standing by their battery-the battery memorable for its prowess in Mexico. I could not resist the impulse to present myself to those distinguished veterans, the heroes of so many battles and so many victories. They received me cordially, General Scott inquiring how the inauguration was going on. I replied, 'It is a success. Upon which the old hero raised his arms and exclaimed, God be praised! God in His goodness be praised!'
"In leaving these scarred and seamed veterans, my mind went back to the long interval and striking events which have occurred since 1812, when I first saw them-General Scott a major of artillery, and General Wool a captain in the Thirteenth Infantry, both alert, active, buoyant voung men-General Scott tall and erect, but remarkably slender in form, with flowing flaxen hair. Nearly half a century has passed. They have fought
DECLARATIONS CONCERNING SLAVERY.
administered the oath of office to him, when the President and ex-President re-entered the Capitol, and the former proceeded immediately to the White House. Mr. Buchanan drove to the house of District-Attorney Ould,' and on the following day left for his beautiful seat of "Wheatland," near Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, which he reached on the 6th. There he was received by a large concourse of his fellow-citizens, with a fine display of military, and civic societies. He was welcomed home by an address; and, in response, he congratulated himself on his retirement from public life, and announced his intention to pass the remainder of his existence as a "good citizen, a faithful friend, an adviser of those who needed advice, and a benefactor of the widows and the fatherless." He alluded to public affairs only to express a hope that the Constitution and the Union might be preserved.
President Lincoln's Inaugural Address was waited for with intense interest and anxiety throughout the Republic. At no period in its wonderful career had the nation been in so great peril as at that time. Already a rebellion had been allowed to acquire formidable moral and physical proportions, and republican institutions and a republican form of government, against which its deadly blows were to be aimed, were now put upon their trial before the bar of the great powers of the earth. Mr. Lincoln was their chosen counsel and defender; and he now entered upon the momentous task of vindicating their might and invincible vitality, with no precedents to guide him, and no statutes for support other than the opinions and theories of the fathers, sometimes only dimly shadowed, and the plain letter of the National Constitution. With these helps, the exercise of sound judgment, abounding common sense, an honest purpose, patriotism without alloy, and with the illumination that comes down to the earnest seeker for Divine light and assistance, Mr. Lincoln stood up bravely before that bar with his brief, and entered upon the cause.
"Apprehensions," said Mr. Lincoln in his Inaugural," seem 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 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 these 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. 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 full knowledge that I had made this and 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 :—
"Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic
through all the wars of their country, terminating them all gloriously. They are spared for a severer trial of courage and patriotism, unless Heaven, in its wisdom and mercy, averts the threatened dangers.”
1 Robert Ould. See page 145.
* Mr. Buchanan was escorted to the railway station at Washington by a committee of gentlemen from Lancaster, and two companies of mounted infantry. He was well received at Baltimore by the citizens; and from that city he was escorted to his home by the Baltimore City Guards.
PERPETUITY OF THE UNION.
institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to the 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."
"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 any wise 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."
The President referred to the Fugitive Slave Act as constitutional, but suggested that it should have provisions that would throw around it "all the safeguards of liberty known in civilized and humane jurisprudence," so that "a free man be not in any case surrendered as a slave." He also suggested that it might be well to provide by law "for the enforcement of that clause. in the Constitution which guaranties that 'the citizens of each State shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities of citizens in the several States." These "privileges and immunities" had not been fully enjoyed by citizens of the Free-labor States while in the Slave-labor States, for many years.
The President then spoke of the political construction and character of the Republic. "I hold," he said, "that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution, the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. It is safe to assert that no government proper ever had a provision in its organic law for its own termination. Continue to execute all the express provisions of our National Constitution, and the Union will endure forever-it being impossible to destroy it, except by some action not provided for in the instrument itself. If the United States be not a government proper, but an association of States in the nature of a contract merely, can it, as a contract, be peaceably unmade by less than all the parties who made it? One party to a contract may violate it-break it, so to speak; but does it not require all to lawfully rescind it?
"Descending from these general principles, we find the proposition that, in legal contemplation, the Union is perpetual, confirmed by the history of the Union itself. The Union is much older than the Constitution. It was formed, in fact, by the Articles of Association, in 1774. It was matured and continued by the Declaration of Independence, in 1776. It was further matured, and the faith of all the then thirteen States expressly plighted and engaged that it should be perpetual, by the Articles of Confederation, in 1778. And finally, in 1787, one of the declared objects for ordaining and establishing the Constitution was, 'to form a more perfect Union.' But if the destruction of the Union, by one or by a part only of the States, be lawfully possible, the Union is less perfect than before, the Constitution having lost the vital element of perpetuity.""
1 See page 32.
* For a quarter of a century, conspirators against the nationality of the Republic had been teaching the opposite doctrine, until, at the beginning of the war, it was proclaimed as a fundamental dogma of the political