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

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

What was Lincoln’s inauguration like?

On March 4, 1861, President James C. Buchanan’s carriage pulled up to the the Willard Hotel at 1 P.M. Washington had almost 100,000 people, but the number had perhaps doubled thanks to a great number of visitors for the occasion.

What Lincoln and Buchanan said to each other in the carriage is difficult to imagine. Their policies could not have been more different; their personal styles, too, were diametrically opposed. The Old Public Functionary was giving way to the Rail-Splitter. When the carriage arrived at the Capitol, Lincoln found the place jammed with onlookers. General Winfield Scott had posted men throughout the city, but if anyone were to attempt an assassination, this would be the moment. Lincoln displayed no fear as he walked through the Capitol, greeting persons from all walks of life (this was part of his personal style). At 2 P.M., he went outside to stand among a great crowd of dignitaries and to have the oath of office administered by Chief Justice Roger Taney. Again, the irony was evident to all that looked on. Taney had affirmed the rights of slaveholders in the infamous Dred Scott decision.


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