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

Lincoln’s Journey, Davis’ Speech

Where did Lincoln’s train stop?

One can almost ask the opposite: where did the train not stop. Lincoln had sequestered himself all through the winter; he now exposed himself to the public in all sorts of cities and towns. The train took a meandering route through Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, then headed for New York State. Lincoln spent some time in Albany—the center of William H. Seward’s political base—and then went down the Hudson to Manhattan.

Lincoln delivered numerous speeches along the way: some well planned and some right off the cuff. He generally combined folksy sayings with learned ones, and at no point during the rail journey could he be said to have reached a high point of eloquence. Most of his listeners liked what they heard, however. In Pittsburgh, for example, he won cheers by playing down the situation rather than magnifying it:

Notwithstanding the troubles across the river [Lincoln gestured to the Monongahela River and the land southward], there is no crisis but an artificial one. What is there now to warrant the condition of affairs presented by our friends over the river? Take even their own views of the questions involved, and there is nothing to justify the course they are pursuing. I repeat, there is no crisis excepting such a one as may be gotten up at any time by turbulent men, aided by designing politicians. My advice to them under such circumstances is “Keep cool.” If the great American people only keep their temper both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end.


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