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SECOND INAUGURAL ADDRESS 1
FELLOW-COUNTRYMEN, At this second appearance to take the oath of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.
On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it — all sought to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war — seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it perish. And the war came.
One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in the Southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar
1 Delivered at the Capitol, March 4, 1865.
and powerful interest. All knew that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest was the object for which the insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the Government claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement of it.
Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered that of neither has been answered fully.
The Almighty has his own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offenses! for it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in the Providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn
with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, “The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."
With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.
HOW TO PRESERVE THE LOCAL SELF
GOVERNMENT OF THE STATES 1
This gathering peculiarly represents two ancient Commonwealths, each looking back to a century and a half of colonial history before the formation of the American Union, each possessed of strong individuality, derived from the long practice of self-government, and both conspicuous among all the States for leadership in population and wealth, for commerce and manufacture, for art and science, and for the priceless traditions of great citizens in former generations. It seems appropriate to make here some observations upon a subject which is much in the minds of thoughtful Americans in these days.
What is to be the future of the States of the Union under our dual system of constitutional government?
The conditions under which the clauses of the Constitution distributing powers to the National and State Governments are now and henceforth to be applied, are widely different from the conditions which were or could have been within the contemplation of the framers of the Constitution, and widely different from those which obtained during the early years of the Republic. When the authors of The Federalist argued and expounded the reasons for union and the utility of the provisions contained in the Constitution, each separate colony transformed into a State was complete in
1 A speech at the dinner of the Pennsylvania Society in New York, December 12, 1906. Reprinted, through the generous permission of the Harvard University Press, from Addresses on Government and Citizenship. (1916.)
itself and sufficient to itself, except as to a few exceedingly simple external relations of State to State and to foreign nations; from the origin of production to the final consumption of the product, from the birth of a citizen to his death, the business, the social and the political life of each separate community began and ended, for the most part, within the limits of the State itself; the long time required for travel and communications between the different centers of population, the difficulties and hardships of long and laborious journeys, the slowness of the mails, and the enormous cost of transporting goods, kept the people of each State tributary to their own separate colonial center of trade and influence, and kept their activities within the ample and sufficient jurisdiction of the local laws of their State. The fear of the fathers of the Republic was that these separate and selfsufficient communities would fall apart, that the Union would resolve into its constituent elements, or that, as it grew in population and area, it would split up into a number of separate confederacies. Few of the men of 1787 would have deemed it possible that the Union they were forming could be maintained among eighty-five millions of people, spread over the vast expanse from the Atlantic to the Pacific and from the Lakes to the Gulf.
Three principal causes have made this possible.
One cause has been the growth of a National sentiment, which was at first almost imperceptible. The very difficulties and hardships to which our Nation was subjected in its early years, the injuries to our commerce, and the insults and indignities to our flag on the part of both of the contestants in the great Napoleonic wars, served to keep the Nation and National interests and National dignity constantly before the minds and in the feelings of the people. As the tide of emigration swept westward, new States were formed of citizens who looked back to the older States as the