previous next

Chapter 18: the inauguration.

The Provisional Government had expired. The beginning of the new term of the Executive and the opening of the newly elected Congress drew nigh.

A contemporary account of the inaugural ceremonies is quoted, as it is, perhaps, a better description than could now be given. The sky lowered until 10 o'clock, and then a hard rain poured steadily down for four hours, and Mr. Davis came in from an early visit to his office and went into his room, where I found him, an hour afterward on his knees in earnest prayer “for the divine support I need so sorely.”

Richmond, February 22, 1862.
The inauguration took place at 12 o'clock to-day, in accordance with the published programme. The two houses of Congress met in their respective halls at I 1.30 o'clock, and soon thereafter repaired to the hall of the House of Representatives of Virginia. The President and Vice-President-elect were conducted to the hall by the Joint Committee of [181] Arrangements, the President arriving a few minutes after 12 o'clock, and were received by the assembly standing. The Honorable R. M. T. Hunter, of Virginia, the President of the Senate, occupied the seat on the right of the President-elect; the Vice-Presidentelect that of the left on the President, and the Speaker of the House that on the left of the Vice-President.

Invitations to the hall, and to join in the procession from thence to the bronze equestrian statue of Washington, at the foot of which the inaugural ceremony would take place, had been extended to members of the cabinet; the Governor of Virginia and his staff; the Governors of any other of the Confederate States who might be in Richmond, and ex-Governor Lowe, of Maryland; the Senate and the House of Delegates of Virginia, and their respective officers; the Judges of the Supreme Court, and of any of the Confederate District Court at Richmond; the members of the late Provincial Congress; the officers of the army and navy who might be in the city; the members of the Press; the mayor and the corporate authorities of the city; the reverend clergy and masonic and other benevolent societies.

These assembled, at the hour indicated, and the procession, accompanied by an immense [182] crowd, moved from the hall by the eastern door of the Capitol to the statue of Washington on the public square.

A temporary platform and awning had been erected at the monument, which is a bronze equestrian statue of great size, surrounded by statues of Jefferson, Henry, and Mason. It was fortunate that an awning had been provided, since it commenced to rain early in the day, and has not yet stopped. An immense crowd had assembled around the monument, and bravely stood it out to the last, notwithstanding the rain.1

The President and Vice-President were received with hearty and prolonged cheers. Upon the restoration of order an eloquent prayer was offered up by the Right Reverend Bishop Johns.

The President-elect then delivered his inaugural address. It was characterized by great dignity, united with much feeling and grace, especially the closing sentence. Throwing up his eyes and hands to heaven he said, “ With humble gratitude and adoration, acknowledging the Providence which has so visibly protected the Confederacy during its brief, but eventful career, to Thee, [183] 0 God, I trustingly commit myself, and prayerfully invoke Thy blessing on my country and its cause.” Thus Mr. Davis entered on his martyrdom. As he stood pale and emaciated, dedicating himself to the service of the Confederacy, evidently forgetful of everything but his sacred oath, he seemed to me a willing victim going to his funeral pyre, and the idea so affected me that making some excuse I regained my carriage and went home.

The oath to support the Constitution of the Confederate States was then administered by Judge Haliburton, of the Confederate District Court for this District, a nephew of Mrs. Washington. Mr. Hunter, President of the Senate, proclaimed Jefferson Davis to be President of the Confederate States of America for the term of six years from this day. The announcement was received with immense cheering.

Mr. Hunter next administered the oath to the Vice-President, and then made proclamation that Alexander H. Stephens was the Vice-President of the Confederate States for a similar term of six years. This announcement was made amid great applause. There was an effort to induce Mr. Stephens to say something; but as such a thing was not expected, or perhaps proper, he simply made a profound bow to the audience and returned to his seat.

1 It was a panorama of umbrellas, and a wag who took the census of them found there were twelve blacks to one brown, eight blacks to one green, and the blues hid their diminished heads.

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)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
United States (United States) (4)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)
Fort Henry (Tennessee, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
J. B. Washington (3)
R. M. T. Hunter (3)
Jefferson Davis (3)
Alexander H. Stephens (2)
Emily V. Mason (1)
Hudson Lowe (1)
Bishop Johns (1)
Jefferson (1)
Haliburton (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
February 22nd, 1862 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: