previous next

The Press on the Inaugural.

The papers North and South bring us comments on the Inaugural of Mr. Lincoln. Below we give some extracts from them, to show the feeling it has created:

From the Northern Papers.

[From the N. Y. Herald.]

In a word, the Inaugural is not a crude performance, it abounds in traits of craft and cunning. It bears marks of indecision, and yet of strong coercion proclivities, with serious doubts whether the Government will be able to gratify them. It is so clearly intended to admit of a double, or even of any possible interpretation, that many will content themselves with waiting for the progress of events, in the meanwhile, seeking in it for no meaning at all. It is neither candid nor statesmanlike; nor does it possess any essential of dignity or patriotism. It would have caused a Washington to mourn, and would have inspired Jefferson, Madison, or Jackson, with contempt. With regard to the ultimate projects of Mr. Lincoln, the public is no wiser than before. It is sincerely to be trusted that he is yet ignorant of them himself.

[From the National Intelligencer.]

Reserving for ourselves, in consequence of the late hour at which we were able to give it even a cursory perusal, an opportunity to examine its points with more deliberation, we may simply say, for the present, that it leavee to conservative citizens good reason to expect a conciliatory course at the hands of the new President, and certainly demand, that he should be allowed to indicate by his practical policy the justice or injustice of the hopes inspired by the pledge he makes to the effect that his ‘"best discretion will be exercised, according to circumstances actually existing with a view to a peaceful solution of the national troubles and the restoration of fraternal sympathies and affection"’

[From the New York Tribune.]

The address cannot fail to exercise a happy influence upon the country. The tone of almost tenderness with which the South is called upon to return to her allegiance cannot fail to convince even those who differ from Mr. Lincoln that he earnestly and seriously desires to avoid all difficulty and disturbance, while the firmness with which he avows his determination to obey the simple letter of his duty must command the respect of the whole country, while it carries conviction of his earnestness of purpose, and of his courage to enforce it.

[From the World.]

Mr. Lincoln has been long enough in Washington to show that he has a firm, independent judgment of his own, and that he well knows how to blend determination with prudence. We look for a vigorous yet discreet management of our national difficulties — just the policy best calculated to avert bloodshed, and yet maintain the Federal authority in all its rightful strength. With time passion will subside, misapprehension disappear; and with time, too, the stupendous practical difficulties in the way of keeping up the government of the so-styled ‘"Confederate States"’ will develop themselves, and will cause a revulsion of popular feeling that will give traitors a lesson for all time to come. In spite of the treachery of the old pilot, the ship has weathered the worst of the storm and doubled the cape. Under the new guidance we hope soon to be in smoother waters.

[From the Times.]

The characteristic feature of the Address is its profound sincerity — the earnest determination which it evinces to render equal and exact justice to every State, to every section, to every interest of the Republic — and to administer the Government in a spirit of the most thorough and impartial equity. To this purpose every other consideration is made to bend. And no one who can understand and appreciate such a character as that of Mr. Lincoln will doubt that this spirit will mark every act of his Administration.

In our judgment the Inaugural cannot fail to exert a very happy influence upon public sentiment throughout country. All men, of all parties, must feel that its sentiments are just and true --that it sets forth the only basis on which the Government of this country can be maintained, while at the same time it breathes the very spirit of kindness and conciliation, and relies upon justice and reflection, rather than force, for the preservation of the Federal Union.

The Inaugural inspires the strongest and most confident hopes of the wisdom and success of the new Administration. It is marked throughout by consummate ability, a wise and prudent sagacity in the judgment of affairs, a profound appreciation of the difficulties and dangers of the crisis, a calm, self-possessed, unflinching courage adequate to any emergency, a kind and conciliatory temper, and the most earnest, sincere, and unswerving devotion to the Union and the Constitution. If the dangers of the hour can be averted and the Union can be saved, this is the basis on which alone it can be accomplished. If the Union cannot be saved on this basis, and consistently with these principles, then it is better that it should not be saved at all.

[From the Courier and Enquirer.]

The Address is a noble one, proving conclusively that he who delivered it is a plain, honest, frank man, possessed of a soul big with patriotism, of an ability equal to the high station to which he has been called, and of that firmness of purpose, mingled with that conciliatory spirit, demanded by the emergency which meets him on the very threshold of his office. Mr. Lincoln's Address is remarkable for its directness, for the convincing manner in which his duty is set forth, and for the exact and truthful manner in which the great question before the country is put. We cannot see how any true citizen of this Republic, any lover of its Union of States, its Constitution and laws, can rise from the perusal of this Address without being completely satisfied, without saying ‘"Abraham Lincoln is right; he has said just what he ought to say, and no more nor less; is a man who will do what he promises; a man in whom the perfect trust may be reposed that he will be an able and true President of the United States-- South and North, East and West."’

[From the Philadelphia Inquirer.]

The Address is in admirable tone and temper. It breathes throughout the kindest spirit to the ‘"dissatisfied"’ people of the Southern States. No man can read it without being convinced that the new President is a patriot in the sincere desire to dispel groundless apprehensions growing out of his election, and throughout the Address there is a pervading purpose to do what is right. In all these respects it is, as we have already said, most admirable.

Upon the whole, we are of opinion that the President's Inaugural Address looks to peace rather than war, and if it fail to give thorough satisfaction, it is because of the inherent difficulties which surround the subjects presented to him for action.

From the Southern Press.

[From the Fredericksburg (Va.) Herald.]

This is clear, palpable and direct coercion, even though it be tempered with the assurance that ‘"beyond this there will be no invasion."’ It is manifest, then, that the veil has dropped. Notwithstanding all the fond hopes of our sanguine friends that Lincoln would negotiate as to the forts, and would not favor coercion, we have civil war clearly enunciated as his policy for conducting the Government, unless the States that have revolutionized shall be scared back! To reckon on this would be sublime stupidity.

We may, we do, hold opinions different from many of our friends as regards the doctrine of secession; but we can scarcely believe there is a difference of opinion among the men of the South as to the right or the expediency of coercion. That being so, we may expect Virginia to present an almost undivided front when the issue is to be practically tested.--And when the test comes, we will not, with our consent, occupy the degrading and false position of professing allegiance to one Government whilst our sympathies and feelings are with another.

[From the Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer.]

More than this, he was proposing a policy which he is blind indeed if he doesn't perceive would lead to civil war. The message was evidently intended to be conciliatory, and it was foolish to introduce into it a clause which could only be construed offensively. The question with which Mr. Lincoln had to deal was not whether secession is constitutional or not. It was simply whether it was wise and patriotic to attempt to maintain this Government by force. We believe that a majority of the people of the Southern States are deliberately in favor of secession. It is best, in every possible aspect of the case, to let them try the experiment without any sort of hindrance. But enough of uncle Abe for the present. We don't care much for him or his opinions, and we think entirely too much importance is attached to his views.

[From the Lynchburg Virginian.]

The purpose enunciated by Mr. Lincoln, to enforce the Federal laws in the seceded States, if sustained by his ‘"rightful master, the American people,"’ we regard as ill-judged and unfortunate, and calculated to lead to hostile results, in which the greater portion of both sections of the country may become involved. The spirit of the address otherwise seems to be conciliatory and peaceful, and calculated to inspire some degree of hope.

[From the Columbia (S. C.) Times.]

This tirade of threats of coercion, this horrific picture of ‘"ills,"’ which he says we are flying to, is suddenly concluded by the assertion that he will not attempt invasion; that he will commit no ‘"irrational"’ act, and attempt nothing ‘" impracticable. "’ We catch a

gleam of sunshine from these expressions, and do not despair that before a month passes the irrationality and impracticability of capturing the forts and enforcing unjust tribute from the Confederate States will be energetically impressed upon him by the Confederate Administration.

[From the Charleston Courier.]

If it means anything deviating from the lamentably anomalous and pitiable condition which marked the expiring weeks of the preceding Administration, it means war to the extent of President Lincoln's powers or influence. It is our wisest and best policy to accept it as a declaration of war, and to await only for our own opportunities of meeting that issue which, before Heaven and earth, we can proclaim — was not of our seeking. The sons of the South will read, judge, and act for themselves, their sires and their posterity, and they must act soon.

The men who went to war against a preamble, and those who went to war for the rights of seamen without owning a ship, and the men who marked Buena Vista, and Contreras, and Chapultepec, in the list of great battles, are prepared to do and suffer much in defence or search of honor, but they are not prepared for that most vulgar, irresponsible and odious of all Governments, the absolutism of an accidental majority — and that is the result of Mr. Lincoln's inaugural, if acted out in the shaping of political destiny. We believe that a large portion of the North will not suffer such a result — we know that the Soush will not.

Let the argument proceed to the next logical and necessary steps — an appeal to arms. We are as well ready as any free people can ever be expected to be found in advance of the actual onset, and that argument once applied will bring us new forces and resources. -- We are ready.

[From the Charleston Mercury.]

But still we would say to our people, for the present keep cool, and bide your time.-- The honor of this State is no further involved in this matter. It has been transferred to the shoulders of the Government of the Confederate States of America. Whether wisely or not, it is now too late to discuss. Our course now is one entirely of policy and war strategy. We do not profess to be accurately cognizant of the plans of President Davis. If there is to be a war, there must be a plan and a policy for the campaign. These must originate from the heads of the Government. We have now nothing to lose by time — everything to gain. -- War six weeks ago might have placed Virginia now by our side. War would have been in the name of the State of South Carolina.--The glory, prestige, and historic fame, would have been hers. It is no longer so. The blood will be hers; but little of the profit. That blood, however, her people are still, as they have ever been, willing generously to shed-- Nor will any foreign foe unmolested cross her border by sea or land. Beyond this, policy and strategy must rule the action of the General Government at Montgomery. Their decision with regard to this harbor will be carried out by the troops of Carolina.

That President Lincoln will attempt to collect revenue off the Bar, is now beyond a question. What then? Here lies the question in which alone this State is directly concerned. What course is then to be pursued by the Southern Government? There are but two open. The one, immediate attack upon Fort Sumter; the other, to besiege and starve out the fortress. To attack the Fort will not remove the men-of-war from off our Bar.-- What, then, will be gained? It is a question.

To declare martial law over the whole harbor, including both shores and the wharves of the city, prohibiting all approach to Fort Sumter by night or by day, excluding from it all supplies of any description, and all information or communication to its inmates, may be the policy decided upon. Salt meat and warm weather may most effectually do our work for us. To reinforce Fort Sumter is now only to hasten the period of our starvation.-- For no ship-of-war can enter our harbor and land supplies.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)
hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Abraham Lincoln (13)
Madison (1)
Jefferson (1)
Jeremiah Jackson (1)
Jefferson Davis (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: