Thursday, January 13, 2005


...he cited the Declaration more than the Constitution, unlike the modern judge who is often one step away from calling it "unconstitutional." There is an absurd idea.


(The New York Herald
February 23, 1861
The President Elect on Washington's
Birthday, in Independence Hall)

"The President elect at Philadelphia, in several speeches there delivered, has made a declaration or two calculated to produce a profound impression upon the public mind. In a speech on the 21st he said that he might be required to down his foot firmly 'in his administration of the federal government,' and in a speech on the 22d, the anniversary of Washington's birthday, and in Independence Hall, Mr. Lincoln, speaking of the immortal 'Declaration' of 1776, said that the issue involved not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the mother land, 'but it was that sentiment gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but I hope to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights would be lifted from the shoulders of all men;' and he furthermore said that '....this county cannot be saved without giving up that principle....I would rather be assassinated on this spot than surrender it.'

Now, in these emphatic declarations of Mr. Lincoln, we have not the evidence for a positive interpretation. If by his foot down firmly he means that it is his purpose firmly to take his position in behalf of a peaceful policy for the restoration of the Union he is entirely right; but if he means the policy of a warlike subjugation against all parties repudiating his executive authority, he is all wrong. In his Independence Hall speech, however, he assures us that in 'my view of the present aspect of affairs, there need be no bloodshed or war. There is no necessity for it. I am not infavor of such a course, and I may say in advance that there will be no bloodshed unless it be forced upon the government, and then it will be compelled to act in self defence.'

We are thus encouraged to hope for a conciliatory policy on the part of the incoming administration....."