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home in disgust. A few days later the cabinet was still further strengthened by the appointment as Secretary of the Interior of John A. Dix, who on January 29 sent the telegram ending in these words, “ If any one attempts to haul down the American flag, shoot him on the spot.”
On January 5, the senators from Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, and Florida, held a meeting and sent out statements to the leading politicians and officials in their states that all must secede in time for a convention at Montgomery, if possible not later than February 15, certainly before the Federal inauguration, the object being to confront Lincoln on his accession with a confederacy in actual existence. In some states the resolution of secession was submitted to the people, and in some it was not; in part it was carried easily and in part by a close vote; but all except Arkansas of these seven states seceded, making with South Carolina the original group. They proceeded with such vigor and boldness that in the time preceding Lincoln's inauguration they took possession of every fort, arsenal, dockyard, mint, custom-house, and court-house in their territory, except three, the United States army holding Fort Sumter, Fort Pickens, and Key West. The Southerners thus took from the government in time of peace all the arms, ammunition, and supplies needed for
the first months of war. In the danger threatening the forts which still flew the American flag, Lincoln wrote to Washburne, who had seen General Scott: "Please present my respects to the general, and tell him, confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he can to either hold or retake the forts, as the case may require, at and after the inauguration.” He also, with some hesitation, consented to publish a letter declaring the right of each state to control its own domestic institutions necessary to the balance of powers on which the endurance of the political fabric depended, on condition that six of the twelve United States Senators from the seceding states should sign a request to the people of their states to suspend all action for dismemberment of the Union, at least until some act in violation of their rights was done by the incoming administration. Out of this reluctant proposal of compromise nothing ever came.
On February 4, the delegates from the six seceding states met at Montgomery, and on the 9th, Jefferson Davis was elected president. Steps to organize an army and navy were taken immediately, and the leaders were liberal in statements that any Federal interference would mean
There was some talk about preventing the official count of the electoral vote, but a prompt stand, by General Scott, removed whatever probability of resistance there may have been, and Lincoln and Hamlin were officially declared elected.
On February 11, Lincoln left Springfield for Washington, after borrowing money to pay the expenses of his early months at the White House, which he repaid out of his salary for the first quarter. Before leaving, he visited his stepmother and the grave of his father, for which he ordered a stone. He took leave of his law partner with the request that the old sign be allowed to remain, as in four years they would go on practising as if nothing had happened. To the neighbors who gathered in the station at Springfield to see him off, he said :
“ My friends: no one, not in my situation, can appreciate my feeling of sadness at this parting. To this place, and the kindness of these people, I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young to an old man. children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail. Trusting in
. Him, who can go with me, and remain with you, and be everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well. To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid
you an affectionate farewell."
The next two weeks he spent in visiting part of the towns on his route to which he had been invited. In the first address which he made, at Indianapolis, he characteristically reminded the people that the preservation of the Union was their business more than his. The same day, addressing the legislature, he said that, in the view of the secessionists, the Union was not a marriage, but a sort of free love arrangement; and he asked some brisk questions about state rights, especially about “that assumed primary right of a state to rule all which is less than itself and ruin all which is larger than itself.” At Cincinnati the next day he said that he deemed it his duty to wait for the last moment for a development of the national difficulties before saying what his course would be. The little addresses are all solemn, some of them kept from being commonplace by a pervading tone of the responsibility of the situation, brief, usually without a touch of lightness. On the 14th he assured his hearers that during his administration the majority should control. He spoke of the crisis as artificial and needless, but such efforts at inspiring confidences seemed darkened by an overhanging gloom. To the Assembly of New Jersey he said: “The man does not live who is more devoted to peace than I am, none who would do more to pre
serve it, but it may be necessary to put the foot down firmly." In Independence Hall, Philadelphia, he said that the great principle or idea which had kept the Union together so long was "that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. If this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it." Frequently he assured his hearers that his heart was right, and that the future must decide whether his head was equal to the task. The speeches seem to have been rather disappointing at the time, as the people longed for less cautious declarations.
Lincoln's trip was cut short by evidence of a plot to assassinate him in Baltimore. The evidence does not amount to proof, and was not taken by him at the time as conclusive; but he accepted the position of those friends who believed it was strong enough to warrant a secret and sudden trip to Washington and the abandonment of the rest of the intended stops. Lincoln and his advisers weighed the probability of public ridicule and made up their minds to brave that rather than run what still seems to have been a real risk. After a special train back to Philadelphia from Harrisburg and the detention of the