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time in my life, since the present phase of politics has presented itself in this country, that I have said any thing publicly within a region of country where the institution of slavery exists, I will take this occasion to say, that I think very much of the ill-feeling that has existed and still exists between the people in the sections from which I cane and the people here, is dependent upon a misunderstanding of one another. I therefore avail myself of this opportunity to assure you, Mr. Mayor, and all the gentlemen present, that I have not now, and never have had, any other than as kindly feelings towards you as the people of my own section. I have not now, and never have had, any disposition to treat you in any respect otherwise than as my own neighbors. I have not now any purpose to withhold from you any of the benefits of the Constitution, under any circumstances, that I would not feel myself constrained to withhold from my own neighbors; and I hope, in a word, that when we shall become better acquainted—and I say it with great confidence— we shall like each other the more. I thank you for the kindness of this reception.
On the next evening a serenade was given to Mr. Lincoln by the members of the Republican Association, and he then addressed the crowd which the occasion had brought together as follows:–
MY FRIENDs:—I suppose that I may take this as a compliment paid to me, and as such please accept my thanks for it. I have reached this City of Washington under circumstances considerably differing from those under which any other man has ever reached it. I am here for the purpose of taking an official position amongst the people, almost all of whom were politically opposed to me, and are yet opposed to me, as I suppose.
I propose no lengthy address to you. I only propose to say, as I did on yesterday, when your worthy Mayor and Board of Aldermen called upon me, that I thought much of the ill feeling that has existed between you and the people of your surroundings and that people from among whom I came, has depended, and now depends, upon a misunderstanding.
I hope that, if things shall go along as prosperously as I believe we all desire they may, I may have it in my power to remove something of this misunderstanding; that I may be enabled to convince you, and the people of your section of the country, that we regard you as in all things our equals, and in all things entitled to the same respect and the same treatment that we claim for ourselves; that we are in no wise disposed, if it were in our power, to oppress you, to deprive you of any of your rights inder the Constitution of the United States, or even narrowly to split hairs with you in regard to these rights, but are determined to give you, as far as lics in our hands, all your rights under the Constitution—not
grudgingly, but fully and fairly. [Applause.] I hope that, by thus dealing
This closed Mr. Lincoln's public speeches down to the date of his inauguration.
FROM THE INAUGURATION TO THE MEETING OF CCNGRESS, JULY 4, 1861.
The INAUGURAL ADDREss.-ORGANIZATION of THE GoverNMENT.--THE BoMBARDMENT of Fort SUMTER.—PAss AGE of Troops THROUGE BALTIMORE.-INTERVIEw witH THE MAYor of BALTIMoRE.—THE BLockADE of REBEL Ports.--THE PRESIDENT AND THE VIRGINIA CoMMIsSIONERS.–INSTRUCTION To our MINISTERs ABROAD.—RE.cognition of THE REBELs. As BELLIGERENTs.-RIGHTs of NEUTRALs.
ON the 4th of March, 1861, Mr. Lincoln took the oath and assumed the duties of the Presidential office. He was quite right in saying, on the eve of his departure from his home in Springfield, that those duties were greater than had devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. A conspiracy which had been on foot for thirty years had reached its crisis. Yet in spite of all that had been done by the leading spirits in this novement, the people of the slaveholding States were by no means a unitin its support. Seven of those States—South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Florida, and Louisiana—had passed secession ordinances, and united in the establishment of a hostile Confederacy; but in nearly all of them a considerable portion of the people were opposed to the movement, while in all the remaining slaveholding States a very active canvass was carried on between the friends and the opponents of secession. In Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Tennessee especially, the Government of the United States was vindicated and its authority sustained by men of pre-eminent ability and of commanding reputation, and there seemed abundant reason for hoping that, by the adoption of prudent meas ures, the slaveholding section might be divided, and the Border Slave States retained in the Union. The authori
ties of the rebel Confederacy saw the importance of pushing the issue to an instant decision. Under their directions nearly all the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, custom-houses, &c., belonging to the United States, within the limits of the seceded States, had been seized, and were held by representatives of the rebel government. The only forts in the South which remained in possession of the Union were Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson on the Florida coast, and Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, and preparations were far advanced for the reduction and capture of these. Officers of the army and navy from the South had resigned their commissions and entered the rebel service. Civil officers representing the United States Within the limits of the Southern States could no longer discharge their functions, and all the powers of that Government were practically paralyzed. It was under these circumstances that Mr. Lincoln entered upon the duties of his office, and addressed himself to the task, first, of withholding the Border States from joining the Confederacy, as an indispensable preliminary to the great work of quelling the rebellion and restoring the authority of the Constitution. The ceremony of inauguration took place as usual in front of the Capitol, and in presence of an immense multitude of spectators. A large military force was in attendance, under the immediate command of General Scott, but nothing occurred to interrupt the harmony of the occasion. Before taking the oath of office, Mr. Lincoln delivered the following
Fellow-Citizens of the United States:—
In compliance with a custom as old as the Government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly, and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Constitution of the United States to be taken by the President “before he enters on the execution of his office.”
I do not consider it necessary at present for me to discuss those matters of administration about which there is no special anxiety or excitement.
Apprehension seems to exist, among the people of the Southern States, that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and