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Contents > Author > Abraham Lincoln > Inaugural Journey Speech, Feb. 22, 1861 1809- 1865
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Abraham Lincoln
Inaugural Journey Speech, Feb. 22, 1861
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Mr. Cuyler:

I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here,
in this place, where were collected together the wisdom, the
patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the
institutions under which we live. You have kindly suggested
to me that in my hands is the task of restoring peace to the
present distracted condition of the country. I can say in return,
Sir, that all the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn,
so far as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments
which originated and were given to the world from this hall.
I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from
the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred
by the men who assembled here, and framed and adopted that
Declaration of Independence. I have pondered over the toils
that were endured by the officers and soldiers of the army
who achieved that Independence. I have often inquired of
myself what great principle of idea it was that kept this
Confederacy so long together. It was not the mere matter
of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland; but
that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which
gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but,
I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which
gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted
from the shoulders of all men. This is a sentiment embodied
in the Declaration of Independence. Now, my friends, can
this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider
myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to
save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be
truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved without giving
up that principle, I was about to say I would rather be
assassinated on this spot than surrender it. Now, in my view
of the present aspect of affairs, there need be no bloodshed
or war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a
course, and I may say, in advance, that there will be no
bloodshed unless it be forced upon the Government, and then
it will be compelled to act in self-defence.

My friends, this is wholly an unexpected speech, and I did not
expect to be called upon to say a word when I came here. I
supposed it was merely to do something toward raising the
flag. I may, therefore, have said something indiscreet. I have
said nothing but what I am willing to live by and, if it be the
pleasure of Almighty God, die by.

(Address in Independence Hall, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)

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