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Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln

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Abraham Lincoln was first inaugurated on March 4, 1861 after walking from the Willard Hotel to the Capital. After taking his glasses from his pocket and placing them gently on his nose, he began his inaugural speech, using his cane as a paperweight. Inaugural Address of Abraham Lincoln

Those who were in attendance reported that the speech had been held in secrecy, and suspense had been building up until the day it would be said.  At least three drafts were produced with input from several confidants:

  • Longtime friend Orville Browning
  • Senator William Seward

Secrecy was almost breached when the bag carrying the speech was mislaid as the company traveled to Washington. Luckily, it was found, and remained in the hands of its owner from then on.

Lincoln was in danger throughout that time and guards were wary of threats that were placed on him. In the Inaugural audience were both proponents and opponents who expected differing policies from Lincoln. He did not disappoint either group. His speech was conciliatory yet strong and, while “That lasting frame of the closing lines has obscured certain other passages”, it was logical, rational and emotional at times, and set the tone for his administration.

That day, Lincoln took the reigns of leadership from James Buchanan who was reported to have said, “Sir, if you are as happy in entering the White House as I shall feel on returning to Wheatland, you are a happy man indeed”.

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