The Incoming Administration
Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal, February 13, 1861
We are not ignorant of the fact that we occupy a responsible position. Living in the town where Mr. LINCOLN has resided for a quarter of a century—having been in almost daily contact with him for years past—sympathising with him and supporting him politically, it is but natural that the country should conclude that we know something of, and reflect his sentiments in our columns. We have no disposition to deny that we are familiar with the views of the President elect, but we solemnly affirm that he has not dictated a line that has appeared in this paper since his election, touching political affairs. He is not responsible for what we say, but when we assert anything positively respecting him or his intentions we know whereof we affirm. We should be false to duty did we not urge Republicans to stand unflinchingly by the principles on which they elected Mr. Lincoln to the Presidency. We know that HE will stand by them to the last. We can afford to be just and generous, but we cannot afford to surrender the highest and holiest principle that ever animated man in political or martial contest. Mr. LINCOLN is now speeding on his way to Washington—in a few days, if he lives, his sentiments, his policy and his objects will be known to the world. They will command the admiration and support of all good men, in this and in other lands. His heart takes in his whole country—for that country he will speak, act, and, if necessary, lay down his life. Let no friend of humanity, Freedom, the Union, the Constitution and all the high interests of our country even doubt, for one moment, the firmness of ABRAHAM LINCOLN in support of them all. He regards the Republican cause as a just one, and he will never desert it. Before the blast of treason a few party leaders may bend and be swept away, but such will not be the act or the fate of the brave, true, liberty-loving President of our choice. Broken by the power of slavery and the treachery of friends, he may be, but he will never bow to either. From our knowledge of the man, we boldly assert that Mr. Lincoln will plainly declare, in his inaugural address, his unfaultering devotion to Republican principles. He will take pains, we doubt not, in an address likely to have general publication, to explain just what Republican principles are. When he does this, the South will at once see how outrageously he and the Republican party have been belied. They will see that no aggression upon their rights is contemplated, but that every constitutional right of every section will be protected to the full extent of the power of the Administration. Mr. Lincoln believes that the People of the United States can alter or abolish their present system of Government if they desire to do so. He will not stand in their way. If the people desire to amend the Constitution, he will interpose no obstacle in the way of a consummation of their wishes. But while the Constitution stands as it is, the supreme law of the land, he will regard it as such, and will enforce the laws made in pursuance of it, in obedience of his oath of office. He cannot do less, nor is it his disposition to do less. He will have an oath registered in Heaven to perform the duties assigned him by the Constitution of his country. HE WILL PERFORM THOSE DUTIES AT EVERY HAZARD. He will insist upon the restoration to the Government [of] all forts, arsenals, custom houses, post-offices, mints, revenue cutters and other national property wrongfully withheld, AND HE WILL HAVE THEM, unless, in some constitutional way, the title of the United States Government in such property shall be vested in another party or parties. He will use all the power vested in him by the Constitution to enforce the laws of Congress. This is his plain constitutional duty, and every man who loves our Government, will stand by him in the discharge of it, regardless of section or party.
We have asked Republicans to stand firmly by their principles. Loving our country—the only free land on earth—we could not do less. We have asked that those principles should not be deserted—not to subserve partisan ends, not to humble political foes, but because we believe that upon the triumph of those principles depends everything that is dear to freemen in this land and throughout the world.
“Nothing great is lightly won, Nothing won is lost.”
We have no idea that Freedom is to assert her sway in our country without a struggle, but we are prepared and willing to make that struggle. We never have, nor do we now, despair of the Republic. Influenced by the madness that rules the hour, men may desert the holiest cause of earth—States may resolve themselves out of a Union that their people, with rare exceptions, love—but reason will return, and, returning, will lead misguided States and men back to the fold of duty. Through the thick gloom that enshrouds the present hour our faith beholds the glorious sunlight of the future.—We believe that ABRAHAM LINCOLN, whatever may be the troubles that beset his pathway now, will perform his whole duty to his country and the cause of which he is the representative, and, in 1864, deliver up to his successor the reins of Government over a people reunited, prosperous and happy.