Friday, February 11, 2011

Lincoln heads to Washington, Davis to Montgomery

Reenactment of the 1861 Lincoln Train
  • President-elect Abraham Lincoln departs Springfield, Illinois, for Washington, D.C., as preparations are well under way in the nation’s capital for his inauguration as the sixteenth President of the United States. This whistle-stop train trip is designed to maximize the President-elect’s exposure to the populace and capitalize on his election victory by winning over those who may be still wary of the administration of a relatively new, left-wing Republican Party. 
But in a speech in Indianapolis, Lincoln doesn’t help himself. He gives his  controversial views on the preservation of the Union, angering many of the more conservative Democrats across the country, especially those in the Upper South. The remarks seem to betray Lincoln’s ideas about state sovereignty and military invasion of the South at a time when he was playing down the idea of any crisis at all.
From the balcony of the Bates House where he will overnight, he says: "The words 'coercion' and 'invasion' are in great use about these days. . . . Would the marching of an army into South Carolina, for instance, without the consent of her people, and in hostility against them, be coercion or invasion? . . . But if the Government, for instance, but simply insists upon holding its own forts, or retaking those forts which belong to it, or the enforcement of the laws of the United States . . . or even the withdrawal of the mails from those portions of the country where the mails themselves are habitually violated; would any or all of these things be coercion? . . . What is the particular sacredness of a State? . . . I am speaking of that assumed right of a State, as a primary principle, that the Constitution should rule all that is less than itself, and ruin all that is bigger than itself. But, I ask, wherein does consist that right? . . . I am deciding nothing, but simply giving something for you to reflect upon."
There is also some excitement during the day when the satchel containing Lincoln’s copies of his Inaugural Address are missed, but later found./1861
  • His Excellency Jefferson Davis leaves his Mississippi plantation Brierfield near Vicksburg by train to accept the call of the Southern people to the Presidency of the Southern Confederacy/1861
Vice-President Alexander Stephens
  • On his 49th birthday, the Honorable Alexander H. Stephens is inaugurated Provisional Vice President of the Confederate States of America, in Montgomery, Alabama, but perhaps in deference to Jefferson Davis he makes no official statement./1861 

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