American History Stories—Volume IV - Mara L. Pratt

Lincoln is Made President

While this quarrel was boiling and bubbling, the day was drawing near when Lincoln was to take his place at the head of the nation.

He started from his simple home full of hope for his country, even in so threatening a time as this; full of honest intention to serve her faithfully, and with no wish to wage war upon any State or States. Innocent in his own heart, free from all malice, he could not believe it when he was told that a plot had been laid to murder him as he passed through the city of Baltimore. It was too true, however; and the friends of the new President found it necessary to have him pass through this city at night, under the cover of darkness.

On reaching the capital, he made his inaugural address, as all the Presidents have done since the time when Washington made his from the balcony to the people on the green below.

This address was honest and manly, as everything that Lincoln said was sure to be. He told the South that he had no wish to make any trouble for those States, no wish to interfere with their rights; he only desired that they should abide by the laws of the country. He said, however, that they had no right to withdraw from the Union, no right to take into their own hands the forts or any other property belonging to the Union; if they did these things, it was his duty, as the chief officer of the Government, to demand that they return to the Union, and give up any property they had taken.

Now, as both these things had already been done in the South, that party at once said, "Lincoln has no right to say we shall stay in the Union; we will not give up the forts that are on our own coasts; we will fight for them; we will not be ruled by any Union Government." And now the war was close at hand.

[Illustration] from American History Stories - IV by Mara L. Pratt