The effect of Lincoln's proclamation.
There remains but one other fact to be stated in order that you may understand the effect produced upon the people of the border States by Mr. Lincoln
Those States cast at the presidential election of 1860, 867,675 votes, as against 478,685 cast by the cotton States, and of those 867,675 votes, an overwhelming majority was opposed to secession and in favor of the maintenance of the Union
But firmly as this great body of citizens adhered to the Union
, their attachment was one of affection and not of fear.
Earnestly as they desired its maintenance, they desired that it should be maintained by American and not by Russian
Their confidence in the principles of the American
system of government was unbounded.
To them it seemed that these principles were strong enough to deal successfully with all the troubles of the country, if time were allowed for passion to cool, for the voice of reason to make itself heard, and for a calm and earnest appeal to the genuine attachment of the people to the institutions of their country.
By those peaceful means they were confident that the people of the cotton States could be brought in time to the views
and opinions held by such a vast majority of their fellow citizens of the slave holding States, the Union
minorities in the former States be converted into majorities, the ordinance of secession repealed, and the troubles of the country composed by what I have called the American
method of dealing with political questions.
This mode of meeting the difficulties that beset the country did not require a recognition by the government of the right of secession.
It concerned itself more with the mode of dealing with it as a fact than with the disputed question of its legality.
It demanded only a recognition on the part of the government of the sound principle that power is not necessarily lost because its exercise is not pushed to an extremity.
It demanded patience with human infirmities, and, above all, an unqestionable faith in the sufficiency of American institutions, acting upon the reason and not upon the fears of men, to make the government permanent and strong enough for all the purposes of a good and wise government.
To carry out any plan of pacification based upon these principles, the border slave States were ready to give the Federal
government the support of more than two-thirds of the votes of the whole South
, and from the time Mr. Lincoln
was elected, in November, 1860, the people of these States did not cease to urge upon the Federal
authorities the policy of peace.
While affairs were in this critical state, the sound of the guns in Charleston harbor
broke upon the ears of the anxious friends of the Union
like the voice of doom.
It matters not, for my present purpose, upon whom rests the responsibility of that act. We are concerned only with its effect upon the government at Washington
, to which all eyes were now anxiously directed.
Before the smoke had rolled away from Sumter
, the answer to the guns of its assailants was delivered in the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln
of April 15, 1861.
Let me read that momentous document, because it was Mr. Lincoln
's answer to the people of the border States as well as to the assailants of Fort Sumter
The proclamation is as follows, omitting that part which summons Congress to meet in extraordinary session on the 4th of July following: