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FELLOW CITIZENS OF THE STATE OF INDIANA: I am here to thank you for this magnificent welcome, and still more for the very generous support given by your State to that political cause, which, I think, is the true and just cause of the whole country, and the whole world. Solomon says, "there is a time to keep silence;" and when men wrangle by the mouth, with no certainty that they mean the same thing while using the same words, it perhaps were as well if they would keep silence. The words "coercion" and "invasion" are much used in these days, and often with some temper and hot blood.
Let us make sure, if we can, that we do not misunderstand the meaning of those who use them. Let us get the exact definitions of these words, not from dictionaries, but from the men themselves, who certainly deprecate the things they would represent by the use of the words.
What, then, is coercion? What is invasion? Would the marching of an army into South Carolina, without the consent of her people, and with hostile intent toward them, be invasion? I certainly think it would, and it would be coercion also, if the South Carolinians were forced to submit. But if the United States should merely hold and retake its own forts and other property, and collect the duties on foreign importations, or even withhold the mails from places where they were habitually violated, would any or all of these things be invasion or coercion? Do our professed lovers of the Union, who spitefully resolve that they will resist coercion and invasion, understand that such things as these, on the part of the United States, would be coercion or invasion of a State? If so, their idea of means to preserve the object of their great affection would seem to be exceedingly thin and airy. If sick, the little pills of the homeopathist would be much too large for it to swallow. In their view, the Union, as a family relation, would seem to be no regular marriage, but rather a sort of "free-love " arrangement, to be maintained on passional attraction.
By the way, in what consists the special sacredness of a State? I speak not of the position assigned to a State in the Union by the Constitution, for that is a bond we all recognize. That position, however, a State can not carry out of the Union with it. I speak of that assumed primary right of a State to rule all which is less than itself, and to ruin all which is larger than itself. If a State and a County, in a given case, should be equal in number of inhabitants, in what, as a matter of principle, is the State better than the County? Would an exchange of name be an exchange of rights? Upon what principle, upon what rightful principle, may a State, being no more than
one-fiftieth part of the nation in soil and population, break up the nation, and then coerce a proportionably large subdivision. of itself in the most arbitrary way? What mysterious right to play tyrant is conferred on a district of country with its people, by merely calling it a State? Fellow citizens, I am not asserting anything. I am merely asking questions for you to consider. And now allow me to bid you farewell.
Enthusiastic greetings awaited the President elect all along his route, the people hailing the approach of the day which was to witness, under his auspices, the beginning of a new regime for the nation,
Commencement of President Lincoln's Administration.--Retrospect and Summary of Public Events.-Fort Sumter.
On the 4th day of March, 1861, Mr. Lincoln took the oath of office, as President of the United States. The administration of James Buchanan, and eight years of intensely southern sway in all branches of the National Government, were now at an end. During the four months that had intervened since the people decreed this change not a moment had been lost by the leaders in the now clearly developed scheme of revolt, in making energetic preparation for its consummation. So well had they succeeded, by the aid of bold treason or of inert complicity at the national capital, that they imagined they had assured the full attainment of their object, almost without the hazard of a single campaign. While professing, however, to believe in a fancied right of peaceable secession, and proclaiming their desire to be left unmolested in the execution of their revolutionary purposes, the chief conspirators well knew that this immunity could only be gained by such use of the remaining days of the outgoing administration that the crisis should already be over, or resistance to their treason be rendered ineffectual, when the new administration should begin. They industriously collected the materials of war, yet spared no efforts to bring about a state of things which should insure either peaceful submission to their will or a sure vantage ground for an appeal to arms.
While yet the question of passing a secession ordinance was pending in South Carolina, President Buchanan, in his annual message, after having urged the unconstitutionality of the pro
posed action, distinctly notified the complotters that he was equally without constitutional power to oppose their carrying out that purpose. When appealed to by the veteran head of the army, at a still earlier day, to take firm military possession. of the United States forts on the southern coast, the same public functionary could find no means of adopting this prudent precaution. Consequently, the rebellious South Carolina leaders carried through their ordinance of secession on the 20th of December, 1860. Fort Moultrie, by an overt act of treason, was seized on the 28th, and the Palmetto flag was raised over Government property in Charleston. On the 3d of January, 1861, without even the pretext of a secession ordinance, or any form of authority from his own State, Gov. Brown, of Georgia, seized Forts Pulaski and Jackson, at Savannah; and this example was followed next day, in Alabama, by the occupation of Fort Morgan, at Mobile.
The patient submission with which all these acts were witnessed by the Executive, nay, the meekness with which he had himself invited them, and the ready assistance rendered to these efforts of treason by some of the highest officers immediately about him, were followed by the natural results. On the 9th of January, the steamer Star of the West, tardily dispatched with a small re-enforcement for Fort Sumter, now held by a totally inadequate garrison, was fired into from rebel batteries erected on Morris' Island, and from Fort Moultrie. On the same day, the conspirators in Mississippi, now, as in the times of repudiation, under the lead of Jefferson Davis, followed their co-laborers in South Carolina, in the pretense of secession. Alabama, Florida and Georgia were speedily subjected to a similar process of rebel manipulation. Louisiana, on the 28th of January, and Texas on the 1st of February, were proclaimed as having dissolved their connection with the Union. Meanwhile, the delegates of these States successively withdrew from Congress.
On the 10th of December, Howell Cobb, Secretary of the Treasury, had resigned the position he had so zealously perverted to the aid of the great conspiracy, and departed to the more immediate scene of action, that he might hasten the con
summation, for a time delayed, and so earnestly resisted in Georgia as seemingly to involve the result in doubt. The venerable Secretary of State, Lewis Cass, surrendered his place four days later, in disgust at the hopelessness of his efforts to rouse President Buchanan to some effective resistance to the destructive blows aimed at the national life. John B. Floyd soon after (Dec. 29) retired from the office of Secretary of War, which he had used to disarm the loyal portion of the country, and to fill the rebellious States with cannon and muskets, which they were not slow to appropriate to the uses of rebellion. Jacob Thompson, without resigning, absented himself on a tour in the South, throwing all the weight of his influence as a cabinet officer in favor of rebellion in his native State of North Carolina. Bold peculation was meanwhile left to do its work in his department, in aid of the treasonable labors of high officials in crippling the Government, and in rendering the new administration as powerless as possible to meet the approaching crisis. The Secretary of the Navy had notoriously dispersed our war vessels to distant seas, so that months must pass before the incoming administration could bring an effective naval force to bear on the rebellion.
Delegates from the seven States in which this spreading insurrection had become predominant assembled at Montgomery, in Alabama, on the 6th of February, organized their
Confederacy" under a temporary constitution, and, on the 9th, selected Jefferson Davis to be their President, with Alexander H. Stephens as Vice President. The latter had been chosen as a representative of the more conservative sentiment, having strenuously resisted secession, as an utterly needless rebellion against "the best government upon earth," and his acceptance was a token of the general acquiescence of all political leaders of the States concerned in the rebellion now organized. Around this nucleus of seven States, thus completely in revolt, it was expected by the conspirators that every State in which slavery existed would soon be gathered, by a common interest, in the bonds of a common crime. The leaven of rebellion was industriously diffused through every other slaveholding State, and in several, movements were