Presidential Elections

Inaugurations and the First One Hundred Days

What is noteworthy about Abraham Lincoln’s first Inauguration Day?

The celebratory happenings of most Inauguration Days contrast sharply with the day of President Abraham Lincoln’s first inauguration. He arrived in Washington, D.C., in March 1861 amidst the dampened national mood of the secession of seven southern states from the Union. Fearing violence, Lincoln arrived at his inauguration via a secret route, carefully guarded by General Winfield Scott’s soldiers. Lincoln and outgoing president James Buchanan arrived safely at the Capitol, where Lincoln took the oath of office on the East Portico. In his inaugural address, Lincoln appealed for the preservation of the Union, vowing not to use force to maintain the Union or interfere with slavery in the states in which it existed. Despite his appeal, a little more than a month later, the Confederates launched the first attack of the Civil War.


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