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THE SECOND INAUGURAL
MARCH 4, 1865
hellow Countrymen :
T THIS second appearing to take the oath of the
Presidential office, there is less occasion for an ex. tended address than there was at first.
Then & statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been con. stantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented.
The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil
All dreaded it, all sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insur. gent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it with war -seeking to dissolve the Union and divide the effects by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but local. ized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union by war, while the government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the Territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease when, or even before the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible and pray to the same God, and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assist. ance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces, but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of neither has
. been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences, for it must needs be that offences come, but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!" If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern there any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.
With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among our. selves and with all nations.
entered the Federal House of Representatives as a Whig in 1845, and retained a seat therein until 1853, when he became a United States Senator from Georgia. He resigned his seat in the Senate in January, 1861, after delivering the speech here reproduced against the Crittenden Compromise. He was for a time a member of the Confederate Congress, and subsequently the Confederate Secretary of State, but he resigned the latter office to accept a commission as Brigadier-General in the Confederate army. He took part in the battle at Antietam, in 1862, and commanded the Georgia militia in 1864. On the downfall of the Confederacy he went to Europe, but returned in 1867, and died at Washington, Georgia, in 1885. He never took the oath of allegiance to the United States.
ON SECESSION; SECESSIONIST OPINION
UNITED STATES SENATE, JANUARY 7, 1861
Mr. President and Senators :
HE success of the Abolitionists and their allies, under
the name of the Republican party, has produced its
logical results already. They have for long years been sowing dragons' teeth and have finally got a crop of armed men. The Union, sir, is dissolved. That is an accomplished fact in the path of this discussion that men may as well heed. One of your confederates has already, wisely, bravely, boldly confronted public danger, and she is only ahead of many of her sisters because of her greater facility for speedy action. The greater majority of those sister States, under like circumstances, consider her cause as their
cause; and I charge you in their name to-day, "Touch not Saguntum." It is not only their cause, but it is a cause which receives the sympathy and will receive the support of tens and hundreds of thousands of honest patriotic men in the non-slaveholding States, who have hitherto maintained constitutional rights, and who respect their oaths, abide by compacts, and love justice. And while this Con. gress, this Senate, and this House of Representatives, are debating the constitutionality and the expediency of soced. ing from the Union, and while the perfidious authors of this mischief are showering down denunciations upon a large portion of the patriotic men of this country, those bravo men are coolly and calmly voting what you call revolution -aye, sir, doing better than that: arming to defend it. They appealed to the Constitution, they appealed to justice, they appealed to fraternity, until the Constitution, justice, and fraternity were no longer listened to in the legislative halls of their country, and then, sir, they prepared for the arbitrament of the sword; and now you see the glittering bayonet, and you hear the tramp of armed men from your capitol to the Rio Grande. It is a sight that gladdens the eyes and cheers the hearts of other millions ready to second them. Inasmuch, sir, as I have labored earnestly, honestly, sincerely, with these men to avert this necessity so long as I deemed it possible, and inasmuch as I heartily approve their present conduct of resistance, I deem it my duty to state their case to the Senate, to the country, and to the civilized world.
Senators, my countrymen have demanded no new gov. ernment; they have demanded no new Constitution. Look to their records at home and here from the beginning of this national strife until its consummation in the disruption of