Lincoln's First Inaugural Address
March 4, 1861
Fellow citizens of the United States: in compliance with a custom as old
as the government itself, I appear before you to address you briefly
and to take, in your presence, the oath prescribed by the Constitution
of the United States, to be taken by the President "before he enters
on the execution of his office."
I do not consider it necessary, at present, for me to discuss those matters
of administration about which there is no special anxiety, or excitement.
Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States
that by the accession of a Republican administration their property
and their peace and personal security are to be endangered.
There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehension.
Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while
existed and been open to their inspection. It is found in
nearly all the published speeches of him who now addresses you.
I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that
"I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with
the institution of slavery where it exists. I believe I have
no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."
Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge
that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had