The Inaugural

Indianapolis Daily Journal, March 5, 1861

No address since the confusion of tongues has probably been expected with more anxiety or read with more interest than that of Mr. Lincoln on assuming the Presidential chair yesterday. It was to announce not merely the ordinary changes of policy that rival parties have made the issues in their contests, but it was to announce the policy of an Administration whose success had been made the pretext for rebellion, and the exercise of whose legitimate authority had been declared a cause of war. The character of the man made it certain that his declarations would be clouded by no equivocal or obscure utterances.—Whether for weal or woe, peace or war, he would say something clear, definite, and to the purpose, and say it manfully. The address has unquestionably fulfilled all reasonable expectations. Right or wrong, it is strong, straightforward and manly, and to all apprehension not perverted by unreasonable fear, or partisan prejudice, it must appear just, moderate, and strikingly adapted to the occasion. In plain, terse, wire-woven sentences, so free from useless verbiage or pretentious rhetoric as to remind one of his own gaunt, sinewy form, all bone, and iron muscle, he shows the necessity of the enforcement of the laws required by the constitution, and the fundamental character of the principle that the Union, not merely its principles of government, but its association of States, must be perpetual. He then exhibits with a nervous strength of language rarely equaled, the utter folly of dividing the Union to remedy any possible evils, and declares not so much his policy, as the necessity of the government, to assert and maintain its supremacy, hold its property, and enforce its laws. But he solemnly declares more than once that no blood shall be shed in this duty, if it be not by the act of those who resist the laws. He proposes no compromises, and indicates no opinion in regard to any of those already proposed, but says he would prefer a national convention, by which the people, who made the government, could lawfully change it. They can do it, he says, but he cannot. As he very forcibly says, no one is under a solemn oath to break up the government, while he is under an oath to maintain it. The closing sentence, the only attempt at rhetorical display in the whole address, is singularly and almost poetically beautiful. Altogether, we think the Inaugural sustains and even elevates the character of its author for clear and strong intellect, manly character, and forcible oratory. It has been many years since a speech so full of thought has been given to the world from a Presidential chair.