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was of no effect; that no State could leave the Union without the assent of the other States of that Union. This is the way he put the case: “It follows from these views that no State, upon its own mere motion, can lawfully get out of the Union; that resolves and ordinances to that effect are legally void; and that acts of violence within any State, or States, against the authority of the United States are insurrectionary, or revolutionary, according to circumstances.” Then Lincoln, having shown by a clear and luminous argument that no State could “lawfully get out of the Union,” proceeded to say that the oath to support the Constitution expressly enjoined on him the duty of seeing that the laws of the United States were faithfully executed in all the States; and that he should do this until the sovereign people, the rightful masters, should refuse to supply him with the means of enforcing that authority or in some authoritative manner direct to the contrary. But he immediately added, as if solicitous that his peaceful and amicable intentions should be fully appreciated: “I trust this will not be regarded as a menace, but only as the declared purpose of the Union that it will constitutionally defend and maintain itself. In doing this there need be no bloodshed or violence, and there shall be none unless it is forced upon the national authority.”
It was this express, solemn, and emphatic declaration of the incoming President that disconcerted the Rebel leaders. They had expected that Lincoln would threaten; but, with his usual sagacity, he laid upon his enemies, the enemies of the Union,
the responsibility of beginning the war, if war was to be. Lincoln was always, as we have seen, fair and generous in his treatment of his opponents. This generosity breathed in every line of his inaugural address. Nevertheless, nothing would move him to surrender a principle once accepted as truth. Passing from this pleading for full faith and confidence in his peaceable intentions, he immediately added: “The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government.” The men who, even then, were planning to seize forts, arsenals, and other governmental property, as their “share” of the property of the old Union, were doubtless glad to hear this utterance. They wanted war. Lincoln said that there would be no invasion; but this property of the Republic would be held and defended. The Rebel leaders knew that they were ready to seize this property, and that bloodshed and violence must needs
Lincoln's plea for peace, while it was purposely designed to appease the South, had the effect of turning upon the Rebel leaders the responsibility of beginning and inviting hostilities.
Lincoln also argued against the possibility of a complete separation of the Northern States and the Southern States, even should both consent, or agree, to such an attempt at a division of the Republic. “Physically speaking,” he said, "we cannot separate; we cannot remove our respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence and beyond the reach of each
other, but the different parts of our country cannot do this.' And he showed that they must remain face to face, either as friends or enemies, and that there must be intercourse between the two; and that it would not be possible to make that intercourse more advantageous as aliens than it then was as friends. Lincoln showed his undying faith in the people by saying, after he had argued pleadingly for his proposition that the whole matter in dispute should be left to the people: “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."
As Lincoln's voice, trained to open-air speaking, rang out, clear and resonant, above the vast throngs of people before him, the feelings of those who heard him were deeply stirred. The intense, passionate love for the Union that had been developed since its existence had been threatened, manifested itself in spontaneous cheering whenever any allusion to that sacred compact fell on their ears. Everybody hoped for the best-hoped that the Union might be saved and war averted. But it was also true that the people cheered lustily at every expression of the new President's determination to maintain the dignity of the Government and defend the public property. It was evident that those who heard the inaugural address were, like Lincoln, glad to avail themselves of every honorable device to keep the peace and avoid war, but likewise determined to surrender no vital principle for the sake of present peace. Lincoln's
voice was naturally plaintive, and it sounded sadly and with pathetic pleading as he ended his address with the eloquent words:
"I am loth to close. We are not enemies, 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 battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone 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."
The oration was done. Its affectionate and tender appeal fell on unheeding ears, so far as it was addressed to the South and to the Southern leaders. They were resolved on war-war for which they had long been secretly preparing. Their response to these loving words was only in terms of coarse jest and derision. But a responsive shout of approval went up from the loyal North. Lincoln's speech was especially indorsed by the calm judgment of patriotic people. And among those who pressed about President Lincoln, when he had solemnly taken his oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the Republic, was Stephen A. Doulgas, Lincoln's ancient opponent in the field of politics. When Lincoln rose to begin his address, he held his hat in his hand. Looking about in the press for a place to bestow his head-covering, his eye caught that of Douglas, who immediately reached forward and took it; and he held Lincoln's hat while he delivered his inaugural oration. When it was finished, Douglas
restored the hat to its owner, and, at the same time, grasped the new President's hand and warmly assured him that he, his sometime political rival, not only congratulated him on his accession to high office, but pledged him that he would stand by him and give him hearty support in upholding the Constitution and enforcing the laws of the country. The two men clasped hands, and the "Sangamon Chief" and the “Little Giant of Illinois” were friends ever after.
It had been feared that some attempt would be made on Lincoln's life while on his way to or from the Capitol, where the inauguration ceremony took place. Gen. Scott, who was in charge of the military arrangements, used every possible precaution to thwart any such plot as might have been on foot. But, even then, many timid people were afraid that sharp-shooters might be concealed on the roofs or in the upper floors of the houses along the route of the procession, and fire at Lincoln as he was slowly driven to and fro. Therefore, everybody felt relieved when the ceremony was over and President Lincoln was safely in the White House, his family about him, and his term of office formally begun. Mr. Buchanan the outgoing President, accompanied Mr. Lincoln to the Capitol and returned with him to the White House, where, after shaking hands with his successor, ex-President Buchanan left him. He was undoubtedly glad to lay down the cares of the Government; and, having so administered affairs as to make things very difficult for him who came after him in office, he went away leaving few people to