Outbreak of Civil War

1860 results

Lincoln in Washington (Spring 1861)

March 4, 1861 (public)


Lincoln’s First Inaugural (New York Times)

“I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.”

–First Inaugural Address, March 4, 1861, quoting from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates and paraphrasing from the 1855 Quincy (IL) platform




May 7, 1861 (private)

May 7, 1861

John Nicolay (age 29), Abraham Lincoln, John Hay (age 22)

“We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose.  If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.  There may be one consideration used in stay of such final judgement, but that is not for us to use in advance.  That is, that there exists in our case, an instance of a vast and far reaching disturbing element, which the history of no other free nation will probably ever present.  That however is not for us to say at present.  Taking the government as we found it we will see if the majority can preserve it.”

–Lincoln quoted in John Hay diary, May 7, 1861

Mobilization (April – June 1861)

Union Command

Union command

L to R: Winfield Scott, Abraham Lincoln, George McClellan