Abraham Lincoln's 2nd Inauguration


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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.




BEHOLD her now, with restless, flashing eyes,

Crouching, a thing forlorn, beside the way !

Behold her ruined altars heaped today With ashes of her costly sacrifice !

How changed the once proud State that led the strife, And flung the war cry first throughout the land! See helpless now the parricidal hand

Which aimed the first blow at the nation's life !

The grass is growing in the city's street,

Where stand the shattered spires, the broken walls; And through the solemn noonday silence falls The sentry's footstep as he treads his beat.

Behold once more the old flag proudly wave

Above the ruined fortress by the sea !

No longer shall that glorious banner be
The ensign of a land where dwells the slave.

Hark! on the air what swelling anthems rise--A ransomed people, by the sword set free, Are chanting now a song of liberty;

Hear how their voices echo to the skies!

0 righteous retribution, great and just!

Behold the palm tree fallen to the earth,

Where Freedom, rising from a second birth, No more shall trail her garments in the dust!




THE inaugural address of the President is characteristically simple and solemn. He neither speculates, nor prophesies, nor sentimentalizes. Four years have revealed to every mind the ghastly truth that the Government of the United States is struggling in a death grapple with slavery ; and as a new epoch of the Government opens in civil war, its Chief Magistrate states the vital point of the contest, and invokes God's blessing upon the effort of the country to finish its work in triumph. With a certain grand and quaint vigor, unprecedented in modern politics, the President says: "Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may soon pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid with another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so, still it must be said : ' The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."'

We are especially glad that the inaugural does not, as the New York Tribune wishes it did, " appeal to the rebels for a cessation of hostilities as pleadingly as its prototype [the first inaugural] urged forbearance from beginning them." Such a tone would have been neither politic nor humane. When the President speaks of " the progress of our arms upon which all else chiefly depends," every man is reminded of the peace history of the last year, and of the terms which have been constantly repeated, and which are perfectly well known to the rebels and to the world. Those terms are unconditional submission to the laws of the United States.

We are equally glad that the President indulges in no observations upon Mexico, England, France, and things in general. He was taking the oath to continue the work in which his conduct has so satisfied the country that he is continued in his office by general assent. With a fine sense of propriety he says, in the gravest and most impressive way, that he accepts the trust and prays for strength to do his duty. And all true American hearts say, Amen !


THERE have been more than fifty serious railway accidents in the country since the year opened. In the last week of February there were ten, and since the first of January more than sixty people have been killed, and nearly five hundred wounded. The Ohio Senate has appointed a Committee to report upon some plan by which human life can be better protected upon railroads. Scarcely a day passes that some disaster is not recorded, and if the people of the country, in their Legislatures, do not help themselves they are likely to go unaided.

That Government should not meddle with private affairs is very true. But wholesale slaughter upon railroads which derive all their privileges from the people is not a private affair. There is a contract between the companies and the people. Personal safety is one of the inevitable although unexpressed conditions of the contract. If it is broken by the privileged party, the party that grants the privilege may properly take the steps necessary to secure the fulfillment of the conditions. Legislative control of a railroad company may be undesirable, but universal accident and slaughter upon railroads are much less desirable ; and whenever a company established for the public convenience becomes a public danger, the public will very properly insist upon taking care of itself, by imposing new conditions upon the company.

So unfortunate a season for railroad travel

was never known in this country. The reasons are many. All the roads are well worn. The price of iron has been so high that, at a time when the roads were most worked, repairs have been delayed. The long continued frosts have weakened the rails and the iron work of the locomotives. The throng of passengers and the press of freight have been unprecedented, and the Government has constantly wanted locomotives and engineers. Consequently rails have snapped in every direction ; locomotives have been disabled; trains have been whirled from the track ; the cars have been crowded and uncomfortable ; time tables have been utterly useless ; connections have been seldom made, and trains have been quite uniformly delayed.

If any man thinks that the Legislature has no right to meddle with private affairs we should like to seat him in a car from New York to New Haven, and when the train is thundering along at thirty miles an hour, jerking and jumping from the track and every passenger waiting for the crash, ask his opinion of the right of any company to play with human life as it is played with upon that road. Or if he is confident that every company should be left to mind its own affairs, we should like to stand him up in a car upon the New York Central from Albany to Utica, with no chance of a seat, and, reminding him that there was no chance of helping himself by the competition of another road, ask him whether he paid his fare for the privilege of discomfort, and whether the charter was granted for the public accommodation or not.

Of course the companies are not responsible for not overcoming the elements ; but they are responsible for not accommodating themselves to circumstances. For instance, a traveler lately left Albany for the West upon the Central Road. The train was very heavy ; there were twelve cars. It was crowded, and in every car some passengers were standing all the way. The weather was cold, and when the traveler who sat near the stove asked the boy who tended the fires to put in some dry wood he replied, good humoredly : " Dried wood ! Golly, there are twenty four stoves on this train and only two on 'em has any fire, and yourn's one. Ef yer wait for dry wood yer'll freeze pretty sudden. This wood was all cut down this mornin'." From eight o'clock in the morning until nine at night there was no stoppage for eating. The train was laboring along behind time ; and whether, as one critic said, the President of the road was interested in coal, and so had had the locomotives changed from wood burners to coal burners : or whether an untimely parsimony had compelled the Company to use green wood to make steam, the result was the same, the most baffling and disastrous delay.

" I advise every body to keep cool and take it philosophical," said a traveler, who was calmly smoking a cigar, at ten o'clock in the evening. " I have been on the go since the 28th of December, and I hain't made but two connections in all that time. Might as well be cool about it. Here's this Central Road. Out of sixty locomotives, forty of 'em is in the shop. Two smashed up this morning at Utiky. Better take it philosophical," All this time no water was to be found for the children. Every one of these inconveniences could have been easily remedied by an efficient superintendence ; and if the increased weight of the trains or diminished power of the locomotives prevented making time the time could be altered.

It was agreeable for the travelers in that train to reflect that the Company, which was responsible for all this discomfort, was at that very moment beseeching the Legislature for additional privilege. But if the Central Road treats its passengers like dogs, when it can only charge them two cents a mile, it will treat them like pigs when it can charge them three. There is a profound public sentiment hostile to the increased grant. But it is undoubtedly true that if the Company had been careful to be courteous and considerate, and had, by very obvious and simple means, secured the good feeling instead of the ill feeling of the public, the new grant would have been regarded very differently.

It remains to be seen whether any fresh securities of greater public safety and comfort are to be made the conditions of the new privileges of this dangerous corporation.


THE London Times, in politely saying to its late pets the rebels, "emancipation will not save you," adds that such an act upon the part of the confederates" would merely make it absolutely clear that "the federals were fighting, not for the freedom of the negro or the soil, but for imperial dominion, and nothing else."

When the Scottish Jacobites were defeated at Culloden, when SMITH O'BRIEN was seized in Ireland and transported, when the Sepoys were blown from cannon in India, what was the British Government doing ? Was it fighting for imperial dominion and nothing else, or was it fighting to maintain the authority of the Government? Is not every sovereign power fighting for imperial dominion when it refuses to yield to rebellion upon its own domain? And has the Government of the United States less rightful sovereign authority over the United States than England has over Scotland, Ireland, or India?

It is necessary constantly to expose this absurdity, because incessant repetition at last works conviction.

Or is it pretended that this Government is debarred from maintaining its sovereignty by force because it exists by the consent of the governed ? Does the Times or any Englishman gravely assert that therefore any citizen may refuse to pay his tax, or to resist a law which he does not like ? If he does, he should mend his knowledge by a little study.

When the Parliament took arms against CHARLES FIRST, what was the justification? That he had violated the Constitution of England. What was that Constitution? It was a theory and a series of laws and precedents. The theory was that the Government should consist of King, Lords, and Commons. Each part had its privilege. The King asserted a certain extent to his. The Parliament denied it. The most vehement Parliamentary historians agree that the limits of the prerogative had never been exactly defined. Why, then, had not the King a right to determine the limits as well as the Parliament ? Because, rightfully answered Parliament, that would put the liberties of every Englishman at his mercy. The King must do nothing against the law, and the law is made by the representatives of the people. The law, therefore, represents the will or consent of the people. Does the Times deny that the Government of England exists by the practical consent of Englishmen ? What else did Lord RUSSELL mean when he said at Blairgowrie, two years ago, that the British Government would remain neutral in the American war, because undoubtedly a numerical majority of Englishmen sympathized with the American Government? What is the danger that threatens England today? That the consent of the people will be disregarded ; in which case, the London Times would be terribly taught what is the source of government.

"Yes," says the Times, " but the English never admitted the right of revolution." But whether they have or not, they have practiced it. What is the foundation of the present system in England but " the glorious revolution" of 1688 which drove JAMES SECOND from the throne ? What was its justification ? The wrongs of the English people, which had no present or prospective legal redress. What was the justification of the American revolution of 1776 ? The wrongs of the Colonists, which had no present or prospective legal redress. That is the only right of revolution ever asserted in America, and that came in direct descent from England.

But the right of revolution can neither be pleaded for the rebels, nor do they plead it for themselves. It is the right of secession by which they justify their rebellion. Not only had they no unredressed wrongs to declare, but General LEE, their captain, confessed that the rebellion was a mistake, although he did not refuse to yield to the secession of his State. The American people have no more asserted the right of any body of citizens to revolt from their government at pleasure than the English have asserted it ; and any causeless insurrection in Kent or Yorkshire could as properly plead the revolution of '88 as a justification as the rebellion in the South can plead the principles of '76.

There is many a man who is perplexed by such sophistry as this of the Times and of Lord RUSSELL'S dogma, that " the North is fighting for empire and the South for independence." But a little reflection will show him the fallacy.


THE Senate of the United States has appropriated twenty-five thousand dollars for the purchase of a picture, by Mr. W. H. POWELL, to be placed in the Capitol at Washington. Senator SUMNER in vain endeavored to provide that no contract should be made until competition had been invited among the painters of the country. The resolution was pressed to a vote, and carried by twenty-three yeas against seventeen nays.

Against this action of the Senate we enter a protest. Mr. POWELL is doubtless a deserving gentleman. We certainly know nothing to the contrary. But he does not rank among the most eminent painters in the country ; while the sum appropriated is, we believe, the largest ever paid by Congress for a picture. Mr. POWELL'S picture of DE SOTO discovering the Mississippi hangs in the rotunda of the Capitol at Washington, and it is, in no sense, a work of the highest excellence. But the question involved is not personal. Our objection to the proceeding would be the same whoever had been named by the resolution.

We know nothing of the methods which have been employed to secure this preference of Mr. POWELL ; but we do know something of the manner in which such a result is usually achieved. It is what is commonly called lobbying. It has little reference to the capacity of the artist or to the value of the work. The interest of some Senator or Senators is enlisted by personal appeals not pecuniary, but personal. The pressure of private recommendations is brought to bear recommendations well merited doubtless as to the worth of the individual, but not valu

able as to the ability of the artist until finally the matter becomes a point of pride, and the project is consummated. The consequences of such a method may be contemplated in the Capitol. They are both ludicrous and humiliating.

Plainly the proper course is an open competition. There is not a painter in the country who would not gladly compete for such a work and such a price, and the collection of cartoons which would thus be produced would be both valuable and interesting, while many of those which were unsuccessful would be privately commissioned. This course would enhance the dignity of American art and the popular interest in it; and however opinions might differ as to the propriety of the final decision of the Congressional Committee, there would be no question that all possible means had been taken to reach a fair verdict. This can never be the case so long as the present method is pursued. It is seldom known that a picture is to be ordered until the preparations are completed to secure the success of a certain individual. The inevitable result is dissatisfaction and suspicion, by which the artist himself does not fail to suffer.

The Capitol of the United States is in many respects a noble building ; and Mr. POWELL is, we have no doubt whatever, a very worthy gentleman. If there is any good reason why the Government should make him a valuable present, we do not complain. But why should the Senate employ a worthy gentleman at a high price to deface the Capitol ?


AMONG the reluctant rebels was Mr. GILMER, of North Carolina. He was formerly conspicuous in Congress, and so moderate " a Southerner" that his name was mentioned among those of his section who might be properly invited to a place in Mr. LINCOLN'S cabinet four years ago. Mr. GILMER is a large slaveholder, and has been a quiet and conservative member of the rebel Congress at Richmond.

After the failure of the late peace negotiations Mr. GILMER introduced some resolutions into the rebel House which, if despair has not deranged his mind, are in intelligible only as a cunning satire upon the absurdity of the claims of the rebellion. They are in the form of a supplement to the resolutions which declare that the rebels will prosecute the war until they have gained their independence, and resolve that, " notwithstanding all this, we believe the Confederate States would consent toŚ" what does the reader suppose ? They would consent, resolves the sly Mr. GILMER, " that there be a separation between the United States and the Confederate States of America, each perfectly free and independent of each other."

That is the first thing they would " consent to." They would farther consent that there should be a " Diet," to which each might send as many delegates and in such manner as it chose. In the Diet there should be but two votes, one by the Northern, the other by the Southern delegates, and its acts should be binding upon neither party until ratified by each. Finally, the rebels would consent to allow Kentucky and Missouri to decide, by a vote of the people resident in those States at the beginning of the war, whether they would go with the North or the South.

This is grim jesting. It is not difficult to imagine Mr. GILMER, after hearing BENJAMIN'S speech, which declared the last hope of the rebellion to be the help of the slaves, rising and suggesting with Mephistophelian gravity that, whereas the " Confederate States" took up arms to secure their independence, and whereas, after a war of four years, they are now manifestly overcome by the superior power of the Government, and whereas they can not secure their independence by arms, therefore the same " Confederate States," as a compromise and final adjustment of the quarrel, will " consent to" the recognition of their independence by the United States Government!


WHY should the rebel leaders wonder that the people around them no longer trust them? The Southern people are rapidly discovering that they have been fooled by men whose aim was their own aggrandizement, not the welfare of the whole. These men cry frantically to their followers to stand fast. But why should they? Don't despond, says General LEE. But why should they not ? Have the results of the war or its conduct been such as to teach them confidence ?

The Richmond Examiner despairingly exclaims : " If Richmond be held but another six months the fate of the Confederacy will have been favorably decided."

This was on the 27th of February, 1865 ; but in February, 1861, just four years before, JEFFERSON DAVIS said in Stevenson, Alabama : "Your border States will gladly come into the Southern Confederacy within sixty days, as we will be your only friends. England will recognize us, and a glorious future is before us. The grass will grow in the Northern cities where the pavements have been worn by the tread of coin- (Next Page)




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