Abraham Lincoln Second Inaugural


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 18, 1865

This site features an online version of the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers contain a wealth of eye-witness illustrations and news reports. This collection represents one of the most comprehensive resources available for study and research. You can browse the collection, or use the search box on the bottom of the page to search by topic.

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Lincoln Taking Oath of Office

Lincoln Taking Oath of Office

Lincoln 2nd Inaugural

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Abraham Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

Lincoln Inauguration

Abraham Lincoln Inauguration

Battle of Bull's Bay

Battle of Bull's Bay

Human Nature

Human Nature



Colored Regiment

Colored Regiment in Charleston


President Lincoln's Inauguration

Aiken's Landing

Aiken's Landing






[MARCH 18, 1865.



THE eastern origin of this tale seems evident; had it been originally composed in a northern land, it is probable that the king would have been represented as dethroned by means of bribes obtained from his own treasury.

There was once a wise emperor who made a law, that to every stranger who came to his court a fried fish should be served. The servants were directed to take notice, if, when the stranger had eaten the fish to the bone on one side, he turned it over and began on the other side. If he did, he was to be immediately seized, and on the third day thereafter he was to he put to death. But, by a great stretch of imperial clemency, the culprit was permitted to utter one wish each day, which the emperor pledged himself to grant, provided it was not to spare his life. Many had already perished in consequence of this edict, when one day, a count and his young

the Emperor of Morocco in these days ; and on the second day of his imprisonment the young man demanded the king's treasures. If his first demand was a bold one, the second was not less so ; still, an emperor's word is sacred, and having made the promise, he was forced to keep it ; and the treasures of gold and silver and jewels were placed at the prisoner's disposal. On getting possession of them, he distributed them profusely among the courtiers, and soon he had made a host of friends by his liberality.

The emperor began now to feel exceedingly uncomfortable. Unable to sleep, he rose early on the third morning and went, with fear in his heart, to the prison to hear what the third wish was to be.

"Now," said he to his prisoner, " tell me what your third demand is, that it may be granted at once, and you may be hung out of hand, for I am tired of your demands."

" Sire," answered his prisoner, "I have but one more favor to request of your majesty, which, when

mon. If nobody saw the offense committed, the count can not be guilty, and my husband is innocent."

The emperor frowned, and forthwith the courtiers began to murmur ; then he smiled, and immediately their visages became radiant.

"Let it be so," said his majesty ; " let him live, though I have put many a man to death for a lighter offense than his. But if he is not hung, he is married. Justice has been done."


THE first inauguration of President LINCOLN was under circumstances of most intense interest. The people were wrought up to a high pitch of expectation. They were eager with apprehension, which was partially relieved by the eagerness of the hope that balanced with their fear. The apprehension

Republic was invading certain States because it would no longer suffer their invasion on its own most sacred immunities.

For two reasons the popular expectation centred upon Mr. LINCOLN. His election was in some sort the pretext of the revolutionists, and his attitude toward the revolution must now represent the decision of the people. Up to the time of his inauguration Mr. LINCOLN was very reticent. But in his inaugural address his voice was clear and decided. The peculiar feature of the address was its nationality. Up to that moment the national consciousness of our people had found little expression of itself. Now we were one people, with a common boundary which we determined should be as inviolable by , traitors as by a foreign enemy.

Mr. LINCOLN'S second inaugural address was delivered under for different circumstances from the first. In the one case the address was the principal thing. March 4, 1861, the people waited upon Mr.


son presented themselves at court. The fish was served as usual, and when the count had removed all the fish from one side, he turned it over, and was about to commence on the other, when he was suddenly seized and thrown into prison, and was told of his approaching doom. Sorrow stricken, the count's young son besought the emperor to allow him to die in the room of his father ; a favor which the monarch was pleased to accord him. The count was accordingly released from prison, and his son was thrown into his cell in his stead. As soon as this had been done, the young man said to his jailers : " You know I have the right to make three demands before I die ; go and tell the emperor to send me his daughter, and a priest to marry us." This first demand was not much to the emperor's taste, nevertheless he felt bound to keep his word, and he therefore complied with the request, to which the princess had no kind of objection. This occurred in the times when kings kept their treasures in a cave, or in a tower set apart for the purpose, like

you have granted, I shall die content. It is merely that you will cause the eyes of those who saw my father turn the fish over to be put out."

Very good," replied the emperor, " your demand is but natural, and springs from a good heart. Let the chamberlain be seized," he continued, turning to his guards.

" I, Sire !" cried the chamberlain ; " I did not see any thing it was the steward."

"Let the steward be seized then," said the king. But the steward protested with tears in his eyes, that he had not witnessed any thing of what had been reported, and said it was the butler. The butler declared that he had seen nothing of the matter, and that it must have been the valets. But they protested that they were utterly ignorant of what had been charged against the count in short, it turned out that nobody could be found who had seen the count commit the offense, upon which the princess said :

" I appeal to you, my father, as to another Solo-

related to the revolutionary excitement which was already culminating in the gulf States the hope wavered toward some deep resource of statesmanship, as yet unknown, which might master the storm and save the Republic. In the election of Mr. LINCOLN, the people, though they issued no writ of ejectment against slavery in States, yet forbade its extension over the national territory. By his election the Government became national without doing the least violence to the reserved immunities of the States ; it became national instead of sectional. But the necessity had already long existed for a sectional government in order to the perpetuation of slavery. A national creed was, therefore, unacceptable to the South. She required that every issue in which all the people were interested should be decided in the interest of a part, and that part a minority. Because in a single instance the people had decided otherwise a revolution of terrible import was growing rapidly toward its crisis. And the watch word of the revolutionists was this paradox : That the

LINCOLN'S words; March 4, 1865, the solemn ceremonies of inauguration were inseparable from an expression of triumph it was the occasion itself and the spectacle which impressed the people. The most that was required of the second inaugural address was that it should befit the occasion. It was needless to reiterate statements already given as to the policy to be pursued in the conduct of the war, or as to the conditions necessary to peace. The President's views on these matters are well known to the people, and they are the views of the people. In fact, President LINCOLN, in this second address, simply alludes briefly to the change of situation since his first inauguration, only dwelling for a moment upon the relation of slavery to the war, and then proceeds to take upon himself anew the vow of fidelity to the Constitution of the United States. The ceremony was an impressive one. The most hopeful thought connected with this event is that its next repetition will find us a united and happy people.

Fort Sumter




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