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[228] 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holding States, the Union minorities in the former States be converted into majorities, the ordinance of secession repealed, and the troubles of the country composed by what I have called the American method of dealing with political questions.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:

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