Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
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Reply to Oliver P. Morton at Indianapolis, Indiana [1]

February 11, 1861

Gov. Morton and Fellow Citizens of the State of Indiana:

Most heartily do I thank you for this magnificent reception, and while I cannot take to myself any share of the compliment thus paid, more than that which pertains to a mere instrument, an accidental instrument, perhaps I should say, of a great cause, I yet must look upon it as a most magnificent reception, and as such, most heartily do I thank you for it.

You have been pleased to address yourselves to me chiefly [2] in behalf of this glorious Union in which we live, in all of which you have my hearty sympathy, and, as far as may be within my power, will have, one [3] and inseparably, my hearty consideration. While I do not expect, upon this occasion, or on any occasion, till after [4] I get to Washington, to attempt any lengthy speech, I will only say that to the salvation of this Union there needs but one single thing---the hearts of a people like yours. [Applause.] When the people [5]Page  194 rise in masses in behalf of the Union and the liberties of their country, truly may it be said, ``The gates of hell shall not prevail against them.'' [Renewed applause.]

In all the trying positions in which I shall be placed, and doubtless I shall be placed in many trying ones, [6] my reliance will be placed upon you and the people of the United States---and I wish you to remember now and forever, that it is your business, and not mine; that if the union of these States, and the liberties of this people, shall be lost, it is but little to any one man of fifty-two years of age, but a great deal to the thirty millions of people who inhabit these United States, and to their posterity in all coming time. It is your business to rise up and preserve the Union and liberty, for yourselves, and not for me. I desire they shall be constitutionally preserved.

I, as already intimated, am but an accidental instrument, temporary, and to serve but for a limited time, but I appeal to you again to constantly [7] bear in mind that with you, and not with politicians, not with Presidents, not with office-seekers, but with you, is the question, ``Shall the Union and shall the liberties of this country be preserved to the latest generation?'' [Loud and prolonged applause.]

Annotation

[1]   Indianapolis Journal and Cincinnati Daily Gazette, February 12; and Cincinnati Daily Commercial, February 13, 1861. These papers report the speech better than the Indianapolis Daily Sentinel, but no one of the three reports is wholly reliable. Our text is a collation of all three. Although we have chosen the most probable reading, in instances where the variant word or phrase may have some claim, it is given in a footnote. Lincoln spoke from the rear platform in reply to Governor Morton, who welcomed him from an open barouche drawn up beside the train.

[2]   Gazette has ``cheerily.''

[3]   Commercial has ``now.''

[4]   Journal and Commercial have ``or until'' and omit the preceding ``or on any occasion.''

[5]   Journal and Commercial have ``The people, when they rise. . . . ''

[6]   Journal and Commercial have ``such'' instead of ``trying ones.''

[7]   Gazette has ``continue to'' instead of ``constantly.''

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