Lincoln’s Election, Southern Secession: 1860 to April 1861

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

What did Lincoln say that morning?

He had been criticized in the newspapers for his hasty, ill-delivered remarks in Cleveland and Buffalo, and by the time he reached Philadelphia, the president-elect was more cautious. There was something quite wonderful about raising the flag that day, however, and Lincoln consented to say a few words.

“I have never had a feeling politically,” Lincoln said, “that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here, and framed and adopted that Declaration of Independence.… Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon this basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle it will be truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it.” This was the first time Lincoln had ever employed the word “assassination” in public; very likely, it sprang from the warnings he had received over the possibility of an assassination attempt in Baltimore.


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