Mr. Lincoln’s “Lost Speech”

“May 29, 1856

“Abraham Lincoln, of Sangamon, came upon the platform amid deafening applause. He enumerated the pressing reasons of the present movement. He was here ready to fuse with anyone who would unite with him to oppose slave power; spoke of the bugbear disunion which was so vaguely threatened. It was to be remembered that the Union must be preserved in the purity of its principles as well as in the integrity of its territorial parts.  It must be “Liberty and Union, now and forever, one and inseparable.” The sentiment in favor of white slavery now prevailed in all the slave state papers, except those of Kentucky, Tennessee and Missouri and Maryland. Such was the progress of the National Democracy. Douglas once claimed against him that Democracy favored more than his principles, the individual rights of man. Was it not strange that he must stand there now to defend those rights against their former eulogist? The Black Democracy were endeavoring to cite Henry Clay to reconcile old Whigs to their doctrine, and repaid them with the very cheap compliment of National Whigs.” (Emphasis in original) “Alton Weekly Courier of June 5, 1856 quoted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Roy P. Basler, Editor, Marion Dolores Pratt and Lloyd Dunlap, Assistant Editors, Copyright 1953 by The Abraham Lincoln Association, History Book Club Edition, Vol. II, p. 341.

This mere paragraph is the only public mention of the speech. It is all the Collected Works editors could find. “This brief report is the only contemporary account of the so-called ‘Lost Speech’ delivered at the Bloomington convention. The lengthy reconstruction by Henry C. Whitney in 1896, which has appeared in other collections of Lincoln’s writings and speeches, is not, in the opinion of the editors, worthy of serious consideration.”  Ibid. fn. p. 341. The editors refer to a reconstruction published in McClure’s Magazine in 1896 from notes made 40 years prior in 1856. No other contemporaneous notes in any form have ever come forward.

The history of this electrifying speech is mostly oral. Lincoln wrote no prior thoughts and refused afterwards to write out the speech. None of the reporters from around the country took notes because they all became twined in the magic of the night. Only Henry C. Whitney, an attorney and friend of Lincoln, took notes. Whitney often rode the Circuit with Lincoln. They were good friends and in 1860 would help steer Lincoln’s drive to the nomination for President. Whitney kept the notes to himself till McClure’s Magazine learned of them in 1895 and asked him to reconstruct the speech.  In Vol. vii (1896) pp. 319 – 331, McClure’s published his reconstruction along with a short Intro titled “The Circumstances and Effect of Its Delivery” by Joseph Medill, Editor of the “Chicago Tribune”, a friend of Whitney and Lincoln, and also present at the Convention.

After McClure’s, the speech was re-printed in part, in whole or commented on with quotations in several lives of Lincoln, among them The Life of Abraham Lincoln, by Ida M. Tarbell, first printed in 2 volumes in 1900 and later in 4 volumes, Sangamon Edition, published by the Lincoln Historical Society, New York, 1924, Vol. IV, pp. 178 – 201;It is mentioned and commented on but not reconstructed in Life of Lincoln by William H. Herndon (1888), republished as Herndon’s Life of Lincoln with Intro. by Henry Steele Commager, DaCapo Press, Inc., New York, 1983, pp. 312 – 314

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May 29, 1856. Bloomington, Illinois. Abraham Lincoln enthralled the crowd to rise in adulation. They howled beyond the rafters. He said, whatever he said, better and more lively than anyone else. Every local or national reporter, spare the Alton Weekly Courier, lapsed taking notes. Even Herndon, Lincoln’s partner who took notes whenever Lincoln spoke in public, later wrote “(after) about fifteen minutes … I threw pen and paper away and lived only in the inspiration of the hour.” Herndon at 313. No one present provided a transcript of the speech or even a column with lengthy quotes. They were all too busy cheering, happy in their delirium at Lincoln’s delirium. For that night he said things that impelled his presence into the warfare saddled onto our national politics. He gave an energized, masterful stiletto talk, on occasion a frenzied, enrapturing sense of the country’s dangers. We were going to war to free Nebraska and to keep the territories open for white homesteads, white employment and white dreams of wealth. There would be no touching Southern slavery. Lincoln invoked the Constitution to leave it alone where it was. Just the territories. More than that, it was Union, more Union, always Union …. NEVER SECESSION!

Lincoln himself declined to write out the speech afterward claiming he had been too inspired to remember accurately the tale of the evening. Yet according to Medill, “While Mr. Lincoln did not write out even a memorandum of the Bloomington speech beforehand, neither was it extemporary. He intended days before to make it, and conned it over in his mind in outline, and gathered his facts, and arranged his arguments in regular order, and trusted to the inspiration of the occasion to furnish him the diction with which to clothe the skeleton of his great oration.” McClure’s at 322

Medill would be a staunch supporter of Lincoln through and after the President’s assassination. He was an abolitionist as Lincoln was not. But you didn’t have to be an abolitionist to support Lincoln’s fight against Black people moving into the territories: the term ‘slave power’ had a great deal to do with much more than slavery.

That night of May 29 four men, Medill, Whitney, Herndon and Lincoln, were a bit more than commonplace delegates walking into the first Republican convention in Illinois. Lincoln had been wobbling from the Whigs, once a national party, since passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. He would now come center stage with the new but sectional Republican party.

Though a delegate to the Convention, Medill intended to “… make a longhand report of the speeches … but I became so absorbed in (Lincoln’s) magnetic oratory that I forgot myself and ceased to take notes, and joined with the convention in cheering and stamping and clapping to the end of his speech. … after Lincoln had sat down and calm had succeeded the tempest, I waked out of a sort of hypnotic trance …” Clearly Lincoln had infused the Convention with so great a charismatic awe that afterward he appeared “rather pleased (no report of the speech was published) as it was too radical in expression on the slavery question for the digestion of central and southern Illinois.” McClure’s at 322

How believable is Whitney’s reconstruction? Some very incisive comments on the “Lost Speech” are in Lincoln, the Man by Edgar Lee Masters, The Foundation for American Education, Columbia, 1997, pp. 240 – 248, reprint of original publication by Dodd, Mead & Co., 1931. Masters wrote: “… Whitney recorded Lincoln’s words. Joseph Medill … afterward verified Whitney’s notes … But there are other means of verification. Much that Whitney reported parallels Lincoln’s other speeches, so that on the whole it may be said that the speech was measurably preserved … (and there is) internal evidence also that Whitney’s version is sufficiently accurate. Who but Lincoln could have said, ‘We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called upon to perform what we cannot’?” Masters at 240 He could have added that Medill vouched Lincoln had given significant forethought for this speech.

Other historians have taken serious notice and offer some explication. For example, David Herbert Donald wrote, “… Lincoln identified slavery as the cause of the nation’s problems. Mistaking the idiosyncratic George Fitzhugh as a representative thinker (of the South), claimed that Southerners were more and more arguing not merely that slavery was a positive good for blacks but that it should be extended to white laborers as well.” Lincoln by David Herbert Donald, Jonathan Cape, London, 1995, pp. 191 – 192.

Donald addressed other issues but his mention of Fitzhugh (who Lincoln did not name) to highlight Lincoln’s incredibly ignorant statement that if the Slave Power would have its way, white laborers would also become slaves, paints Lincoln in a light few of us today can conceive. Lincoln at will could and did dip into a demagogic arsenal to gain for himself leadership in this new northern based and biased party. How good were Lincoln’s ‘facts’? As good as he wished to make them for this partisan Republican audience.

The Speech

After making little of his and Herndon’s representing more than themselves from Sangamon, Lincoln reached for the emotive Kansas-Nebraska lever and exclaimed to the crowd, “unless popular opinion makes itself very strongly felt, and a change is made in our present (national) course, blood will flow on account of Nebraska, and brother’s hand will be raised against brother!” (emphasis in original) Whitney would write, “a cold chill came over me. Others gave a similar experience.” McClure’s at 323 The crowd was Lincoln’s.

“We are here to stand firmly for a principle – to stand firmly for a right. … We come… to protest … against a great wrong … to make that wrong right; to place the nation as far as it may be possible now, as it was before the repeal of the Missouri Compromise; and the plain way to do so is to restore the Compromise, and to demand and determine that Kansas shall be free!” The convention roared and Lincoln proclaimed their Party’s adherence to equality in the 1776 Declaration. “Slavery must be kept out of Kansas. The test … is right there. If we lose Kansas to freedom, an example will be set which will prove fatal to freedom in the end. We, therefore, in the language of the Bible, must ‘lay the axe to the root of the tree.’ Temporizing will not do longer; now is the time for decision – for firm, persistent, resolute action.” (McClure’s at 323, emphases in original) The scene grew warmer and Lincoln went off the rails.

“The (Kansas) Nebraska bill … is an act of legislative usurpation, whose result, if not indeed its intention, is to make slavery national; … we are in a fair way to see this land of boasted freedom converted into a land of slavery in fact.” McClure’s at 323 Sensations ramped through the crowd. Lincoln had just exclaimed an impossibility and the crowd had become putty. He knew it and continued bloating the “slave power” as super human: he unfurled the flag of demagoguery.

“Here is where the greatest danger lies – that, while we profess to be a government of law and reason, law will give way to violence on demand of this awful and crushing power. Like the great Juggernaut …. it crushes everything that comes its way, and makes … as I read once, in a black-letter law book, ‘a slave is a human being who is legally not a person but a thing.’ … when they have made things of all the free negroes, how long, think you, before they will begin to make things of poor white men?” McClure’s at 324 (emphases in original)

Either Lincoln was ignorant of the South (which is largely true) or truth didn’t matter in this setting. He was now instigating that poor whites would soon be slaves and that slaves were ‘things’. Only a fevered mind would suggest white workers were on their way to legal slavery. Nor were the enslaved merely ‘things’ to Southerners. They were a people who daily brushed shoulders with all other Southern people. In the agrarian South, as in all agrarian societies, they each depended on one another to survive. The ratio of the races were far closer than they are today. In 1860 Black slaves were the majority of the population in two Southern States, South Carolina (57%) and Mississippi (55%), and a near majority in Georgia (44%), Florida (44%), Alabama (45%), and Louisiana (47%). There were more Free Blacks in the Slave States (250,587) than Free Blacks (225,961) in the North though the North had a far greater White population: 21 million to 8 million. Virginia with 58,042 Free Blacks and Maryland with 83,942 had more Free Blacks than any State in the Union.

Within every legalized immorality there are inexplicable customs and practices, even manners, that go beyond a future age’s understanding: how and what must a person do to survive. To understand American slavery today is not to ameliorate or dismiss its immorality. Further, Lincoln did not know or, that night, did not care to remember the commonplace care of slaves required by law; or that most slaveowners were families with less than 10 slaves, many less than 5. Many ate together, went to Church together, celebrated weddings and holidays together, not uncommonly lived in the same house together. Before 1856 black and white Southerners had been mixing cultures for two centuries and were so entwined they were by custom, habit and intermingling, one people. Neither white nor black knew how to be apart. Slave laws of the South did not entomb Black people as things. The laws differentiated between a slave’s labor and a slave’s person. Here was the recognition of every slave’s soul. America heard not a whisper tormenting South or North to turn any person, white or black, into a ‘thing’.

But Lincoln wasn’t done. His prime cause was the Union. Slavery in the territories was a far second; slavery in the Southern States a non-issue because protected by the Constitution.

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Eight years before, in 1848, as a Congressman standing before the US Congress, he defended secession for “Any people, anywhere …”, Collected Works, Vol. I, at 438 But in 1856 his mind changed. The stakes had become the physical integrity and financial foundations of the northern commercial States. He had an old, royalist’s understanding of “Union”, one which in 1776, 1781 and 1787 had been rejected. Lincoln simply never accepted or understood American sovereignty – a Republic of Individuated, Sovereign States whose own sovereignty came from the sovereignty of its citizens.

“One morning in 1859, Lincoln and I, impressed with the probability of war between the two sections of the country, were discussing the subject in the office. ‘The position taken by the advocates of the State Sovereignty,’ remarked Lincoln, ‘always reminds me of the fellow who contended that the proper place for the big kettle was the inside of the little one’.” Herndon at 494

It was a precise inversion of our Founding. Lincoln wasn’t educated beyond the prairie to realize he was changing ‘Union’ into Nationalism. ‘Union’ to him was not a compact among sovereign States as in the 1781 Articles of Confederation, or noted in the 1783 Treaty of Paris, and confirmed anew in the 1787 Constitution. His ‘Union’ was a centralized bedrock Sovereign of self-perpetuating financial and political power governing a network of non-sovereign States. In other words, an Octopus of Government .

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Oral tradition calls this his “greatest speech”. A reader must wonder. This so often taciturn and beguiling man of dark visage, this man without Springtime except among his children, around a political crowd, or within a group of men rousing the tables of a rural tavern with lewd stories and laughter … was this Lincoln that reckless? War? At first it was startling. Yet it only presaged the highlight of the evening, the Olympus of the night’s delirium.

He attacked the South for its use of violence – but not the more violent North. He mentioned nothing of the armament shipments to Kansas from New England, some boxes labeled Beecher’s Bibles to camouflage their purpose. Nor did he mention the sponsored ‘settlers’ from the New England Emigrant Society. Society speakers toured New England to gather folks to emigrate to Kansas. Beginning in August, 1854, the Society built the town of Lawrence, thereafter called the “Yankee settlement” and furnished settlers to found other towns, e.g., Topeka, Manhattan, and Osawatomie. The most frequent singular purpose of the Society, camouflaged as “anti-slavery”, was to make Kansas free from anyone, Black or White, who favored or wanted to bring Black people into Kansas. Framed as pro-slavery vs. pro-free by itsown idiosyncratic logic, Kansas captivated the country. But it was hardly that. “If the Kansas struggle was rooted in slavery, why did so many free-state Kansans seem to care not a whit about the slaves and why did so many proslavery Kansans not own any?” Bleeding Kansas, Contested Liberty in the Civil War Era, by Nicole Etcheson, University Press of Kansas, 2004, Preface, p. xi.

The answer is a truism of northern American history: “Because of long held prejudices against African Americans, it is believed that a majority of those settling in Kansas wanted it to be free from, not only the institution of slavery, but from Negroes entirely” (emphasis added). In Bleeding Kansas, article at the Kansas Historical Society website. Here again was the soft underbelly of the Northern hysteria about slavery: they wanted no slavery because foremost they wanted no Black people among them.

Lincoln knew his audience. He couched everything in the superiority of the White race. “Nor is it any argument that we are superior and the negro inferior – that he has one talent while we have ten. Let the negro possess the little he has in independence; if he has but one talent, he should be permitted to keep the little he has. But slavery will endure no test of reason or logic … The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was by violence.” McClure’s at 325

Really? Hadn’t Congress in 1854 voted freely on the Kansas Nebraska bill? Not to Lincoln. For him it was a “violation of both law and the sacred obligations of honor”. He was drunk with his emotional tirade. The slave power’s violence, Lincoln claimed, was both in Lawrence (May 21), “destroyed for the crime of Freedom”, and in Washington where “… the fearless Sumner is beaten to insensibility” (May 22). He left out Pottawatomie (May 24-25) where John Brown murdered 5 innocent men before their families. This threesome had ignited the country.

Yet while Lawrence and Pottawatomie were parcel to a struggle for power, the caning of Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner was not. Sumner was an illusion of moral character in the North, especially New England. On May 22, Sumner got his comeuppance for the vile language and deliberate dishonor he brought against a respected South Carolina Senator. Sumner exemplifies the perennial, intellectually-mired politician broadcasting the meringue of loose-mouthed, bitter hatred we still hear daily on our streets today. “The six-foot, two-inch, 185-pound, broad-chested, bombastic, 45-year-old freshman senator cut quite a figure. At a time when most senators dressed in black frock coats, Sumner wore light-colored English tweed coats and lavender trousers.” https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/minute/The_Crime_Against_Kansas.htm

In other words, he was a vainglorious fop. “Adopting the manner of a classical scholar lecturing slow-witted children, (he) spoke for five hours over two days (May 19-20). He singled out two Democratic senators as principal culprits in this crime that supporters of slavery had perpetrated against Kansas and the nation’s democratic institutions.” Id.

He defamed not only Senator Stephen Douglas of Illinois, present in the Senate chamber, as a “noise-some, squat, and nameless animal … not a proper model for an American Senator”, but also the elderly, sickly Senator Andrew Preston Butler of South Carolina. Sumner mocked Butler’s supposed Southern chivalry. He likened slavery to prostitution, “a mistress … who though ugly to others, is always lovely to him; though polluted in the sight of the world, is chaste in his sight”. When Sumner ended, Douglas rose to defend both himself and Senator Butler … because Butler was not present. This was Lincoln’s “fearless Sumner”

Now, Senator Butler had a cousin in the House of Representatives, Preston Brooks, also of South Carolina. After learning about and reading the speech, Brooks wanted to challenge Sumner to a duel. Close friends argued that Sumner was not a gentleman and any duel would lack honor. So Brooks chose “a light cane of the type used to discipline unruly dogs” and went to the Senate Chamber.

On May 22, Brooks reclaimed his cousin’s and his State’s honor. In the Senate Report of the incident, dated May 28, 1856, 6 days after the assault, Brooks gave the Senate investigators this account of the incident: “‘… I desire my friends to understand what I have done, and why I did it. Regarding the speech as an atrocious libel on South Carolina, and a gross insult to my absent relative, I determined, when it was delivered, to punish him (Sumner) for it. Today I approached him after the Senate adjourned, and said to him, ‘Mr. Sumner, I have read your speech carefully, and with as much calmness as I could be expected to read such a speech. You have libeled my State and slandered my relation, who is aged and absent, and I feel it to be my duty to punish you for it’; and with that I struck him a blow across the head with my cane, and repeated it until I was satisfied. No one interposed, and I desisted simply because I had punished him to my satisfaction.”

The investigation yielded that Brooks confronted Sumner before striking. He had not snuck up on him which is the manner most often left to our imagination.

Yet for Lincoln it was all a piece of the whole: “… to establish the rule of violence – force, instead of the rule of law and reason; to perpetuate and spread slavery, and, in time to make it general. … Sumner is beaten to insensibility…; while senators who claim to be gentlemen and Christian stood by … even applauding it afterward … even Douglas, our man, saw it all and was within helping distance, yet let the murderous blows fall unopposed.” (emphasis added) McClure’s at 325 But the Senate investigation yielded only 4 or 5 Senators were present that day and Douglas was not one of them. Lincoln’s claim that Douglas stood idle while Sumner was thrashed was a demagogue’s drink of dishonesty – just as he claimed the South wanted slavery throughout the country. Neither was true. Neither could be true.

Brooks wasn’t fighting over slavery but to uphold a code of honor critical and sensient in Southern culture. It was a culture Douglas understood, Lincoln did not, and Sumner could care less about. Sadly, Lincoln would never understand it. It would have been more than inconvenient for him to understand.

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From there Lincoln trod onto a path of history of his own invention, abbreviated for effect: some true, some surmised, some just false.

For example: he began with a partial truth: “In 1774 the Continental Congress pledged itself, without a dissenting vote, to wholly discontinue the slave trade …” McClure’s at 325 In those few words are a half-truth and one lie. The half-truth is “wholly discontinue the slave trade”, the lie is “without a dissenting vote”.

He’s talking about the Articles of Association (AoA), a document he would one day claim gave effect to the legal creation of the “united States” – a sample of winnowing history for political purpose since that understanding of AoA is legal balderdash.

The AoA avowed the colonies allegiance to the King while placing him and Parliament on notice that deep divisions and antagonisms existed due to “a ruinous system of colony administration” that began in1763 and continuing through October 20, 1774, the AoA publish date. To relieve this oppression, the AoA announced the colonies’ intent to cut off all commerce beginning “the first day of December next” between themselves and Great Britain. It was a communal assertion of “a non-importation, non-consumption and non-exportation agreement … of any goods, wares, or merchandise whatsoever”. Purchasing slaves from British slavers was among the commerce the colonies would cease unless and until the oppressive laws were repealed. The AoA was not legislation of a legal entity but a forewarning of consequences from a group of loosely conjoined colonial entities still under the authority of King and Parliament.

Yet not every American colony. Georgia refused to participate. It had other matters to attend. Without Georgia, the assertion “without a dissenting vote” is just not true but an oratorical contrivance to dissemble the past and propel the present onto an avenue Lincoln wanted the audience to take.

Speaking of 1787, he then pointedly recognized the Slave Trade’s continuance with Northern approval. He did not sugarcoat history. He intensified it. For example, he gave credit to Virginia, Maryland and Delaware for their fight to stop the Slave Trade in 1787.  And when South Carolina and Georgia demanded it continue or they would leave the Convention, Lincoln truthfully related the North’s approval so it could continue the Trade till 1808. In return South Carolina and Georgia supported a simple majority vote on the Navigation laws – something New England and New York desperately wanted. Tellingly, Lincoln fails to attack New England and New York’s Atlantic Slave Trade after the 1808 embargo through to 1856, the time of this speech. (It would continue into the 1861 War.)

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“He made (that night) the first public utterance of the possibility of war, but urged that the use of ballots at the November election might prevent the later use of bullets.” How Lincoln Became President by Sherman Day Wakefield, Wilson-Erickson Inc., New York, 1936, pp. 64

It was more than a ‘first public utterance of war’. It was an avowal of war. Lincoln worked his way and coaxed the crowd into accepting the ‘Slave Power’ was the South in all its ramifications and there existed little else for the North to commune with. Not only was this untrue, it was demagoguery at its worst. But it suited his needs and propelled him to his main point: ‘Union’ – ‘Union’ once and forever, ‘Union’ beyond all pain and suffering.

Pushing his voice to crescendo, he shouted to the roof and the stars beyond, “… even though Kansas shall come in as a slave State; and no matter what theirs (the Kansas Constitution) – even if we shall restore the (Missouri) Compromise – WE WILL SAY TO THE SOUTHERN DISUNIONISTS, WE WON’T GO OUT OF THE UNION, AND YOU SHAN’T!” (emphases in original) McClure’s at 331. Whitney adds with parens: “This was the climax; the audience rose to its feet en masse, applauded, stamped, waved handkerchiefs, threw hats in the air, and ran riot for several minutes. The arch-enchanter who wrought this transformation looked, meanwhile, like the personification of political justice.” Id.

But Lincoln wasn’t done. His political genius knew when to ignite passion beyond the present. He appealed to “the sense and patriotism of the people, and not to their prejudices; let us spread the floods of enthusiasm here aroused all over these vast prairies, so suggestive of freedom.” And then his royal flush: “There is both a power and a magic in popular opinion. To that let us now appeal; and while, in all probability, no resort to force will be needed, our moderation and forbearance will stand us in good stead when, if ever, WE MUST MAKE AN APPEAL TO BATTLE AND TO THE GOD OF HOSTS!!” Id. (emphases in original) Then it ended, Whitney says, with “Immense applause and a rush for the orator”.

Illinois Republicans were primed for war.

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Lincoln knew his speech was better left unknown. It was a speech for ideologues of anti-slavery sentiment. It’s why he did not write it down prior … and refused to afterwards. The evening of May 28, 1856, the night before the Convention, “a meeting was held in front of Pike House, and several speeches were made. …Lincoln led off; said he didn’t expect to make a speech then; that he had prepared himself for one, but ’twas not suitable at this time; but that after awhile he would make them a most excellent one.” Illinois State Register, May 31, 1856 in Collected Works, Vol. II, p. 340 In the Convention the very next evening, his “most excellent one” was the cornerstone of Republican enthusiasm. Medill’s note that Lincoln had indeed preplanned his ‘lost’ speech was true.

In the audience at the “Lost Speech” Convention was Elihu B. Washburne, a speaker the night before at Pike House and a member of Congress since 1853. Formerly a Whig, he became a founder of the Republican Party in Illinois. He was staunchly anti-slavery with a radical disposition that eventually made him a leader of the Radical Republicans after the 1860 election.

On Dec 21, 1860, Lincoln wrote Washburne in confidence, “… I received your letter giving an account of your interview with Gen. Scott, and for which I thank you. Please present my respects to the General, and tell him, confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he can be to either hold, or retake, the forts as the case may require, at, and, after the inauguration.” Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 159 (emphases in text)

The next day, December 22, 1860, Lincoln wrote in confidence to Major David Hunter. Hunter had cautioned about violence at the inauguration the coming March and suggested “that 100,000 Wide-Awakes be assembled in Washington to prevent” any violent attempt by Virginia’s Governor to disrupt the inauguration. Ibid. fn. 1, p. 159. The Wide-Awakes were the paramilitary organization of the Republican Party. Lincoln answered, “The most we can do now is to watch events, and be as well prepared as possible for any turn things may take. If the forts fall, my judgment is that they are to be retaken“. (emphasis added)

It was 4 years since the ‘Lost Speech’ at Bloomington and Lincoln’s mind had not changed. He was bracing for an inevitable conflict of his own fancy, against his own countrymen whom he did not understand, … and in violation of a Constitution he did not understand.

The next Spring, May 1, 1861, Lincoln wrote Gustavus V. Fox, co-creator with Lincoln of the plan to reinforce and re-supply Sumter: “… You and I both anticipated that the cause of the country would be advanced by making the attempt to provision Fort-Sumpter (sic) even if it should fail; and it is no small consolation now to feel that our anticipation is justified by the results. Very truly your friend   A. Lincoln”.  Collected Works, Vol. IV, p. 350-351.

Lincoln would through war return the States to once again, though now forever, colonies of a centralized government.

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