Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4 [Mar. 5, 1860-Oct. 24, 1861].

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Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4 [Mar. 5, 1860-Oct. 24, 1861].
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press

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"Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 4 [Mar. 5, 1860-Oct. 24, 1861]." In the digital collection Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed May 21, 2024.


Speech at Cincinnati, Ohio1Jump to section

February 12, 1861

Mr. Mayor, ladies and gentlemen: Twenty-four hours ago, at the Capital of Indiana, I said to myself I have never seen so many people assembled together in winter weather. I am no longer able to say that. But it is what might reasonably have been expected---that this great city of Cincinnati would thus acquit herself on such an occasion. My friends, I am entirely overwhelmed by the magnificence of the reception which has been given, I will not say to

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me, but to the President elect of the United States of America. [Loud cheering.] Most heartily do I thank you, one and all for it. [Applause.]

I am reminded by the address of your worthy Mayor, that this reception is given not by any one political party, and even if I had not been so reminded by His Honor I could not have failed to know the fact by the extent of the multitude I see before me now. I could not look upon this vast assemblage without being made aware that all parties were united in this reception. [Applause.] This is as it should be. It is as it should have been if Senator Douglas had been elected. It is as it should have been if Mr. Bell had been elected---as it should have been if Mr. Breckinridge had been elected---as it should ever be when any citizen of the United States is constitutionally elected President of the United States. (Great applause.) Allow me to say that I think what has occurred here to-day could not have occurred in any other country on the face of the globe, without the influence of the free institutions which we have unceasingly enjoyed for three-quarters of a century. (Applause.) There is no country where the people can turn out and enjoy this day precisely as they please, save under the benign influence of the free institutions of our land. [Applause.]

I hope that, although we have some threatening National difficulties now---I hope that while these free institutions shall continue to be in the enjoyment of millions of free people of the United States, we will see repeated every four years what we now witness. [Applause.]

In a few short years, I and every other individual man who is now living will pass away. I hope that our national difficulties will also pass away, and I hope we shall see in the streets of Cincinnati---good old Cincinnati---for centuries to come, once every four years her people give such a reception as this to the constitutionally elected President of the whole United States. [Applause.] I hope you shall all join in that reception, and that you shall also welcome your brethren far across the river to participate in it. We will welcome them in every State of the Union, no matter where they are from. From away South we shall extend them a cordial good will when our present differences shall have been forgotten and blown to the winds forever. [Applause.]

I2Jump to section have spoken but once, before this, in Cincinnati. That was a year previous to the late Presidential election. On that occasion, in a playful manner, but with sincere words, I addressed much of what I said, to the Kentuckians. I gave my opinion that we, as Republicans, would ultimately beat them as democrats; but

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that they could postpone that result longer by nominating Senator Douglas for the Presidency than they could in any other way. They did not, in any true sense of the word, nominate Douglas, and the result has come certainly as soon as even I expected. I also told them how I expected they would be treated, after they should have been beaten; and I now wish to re-call their attention to what I then said upon that subject. I then said: ``When we do, as we say, beat you, you perhaps want to know what we will do with you. I will tell you, so far as I am authorized to speak for the opposition, what we mean to do with you. We mean to treat you, as near as we possibly can, as Washington, Jefferson, and Madison treated you. We mean to leave you alone, and in no way to interfere with your institution; to abide by all and every compromise of the constitution, and, in a word, coming back to the original proposition, to treat you, so far as degenerated men (if we have degenerated) may, according to the examples of those noble fathers---Washington, Jefferson and Madison. We mean to remember that you are as good as we; that there is no difference between us, other than the difference of circumstances. We mean to recognize, and bear in mind always, that you have as good hearts in your bosoms as other people, or as we claim to have, and treat you accordingly.''

Fellow citizens of Kentucky---friends---bretheren, may I call you---in my new position, I see no occasion, and feel no inclination, to retract a word of this. [Applause.] If it shall not be made good, be assured, the fault shall not be mine. [Applause.]

And now, fellow citizens of Ohio, have you, who agree with him who now addresses you, in political sentiment---have you ever entertained other sentiments towards our brethren of Kentucky than those I have expressed to you. [Loud and continued cries of ``No.''] If not, then why shall we not, as heretofore, be recognized and acknowledged as brethren again, living in peace and harmony one with another? [Cries of ``We will.''] I take your response as the most reliable evidence that it may be so, along with other evidence, trusting that the good sense of the American people, on all sides of all rivers in America, under the Providence of God, who has never deserted us, that we shall again be brethren, forgetting all parties---ignoring all parties. My friends I now bid you farewell. [Long continued applause.]


[1]   Cincinnati Daily Gazette, February 13, 1861; AD, DLC-RTL. The Cincinnati Daily Commercial, February 13, reports the speech with considerable verbal variation from the Gazette, but without substantial difference. Collation being impossible because of the wide differences and there being little to justify printing both texts, the editors have chosen the Gazette as the better because it adheres closely to the three extant manuscript pages of the speech. Lincoln

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spoke from the balcony of the Burnet House in reply to an introduction by Mayor Richard M. Bishop.

[2]   This and the next paragraph follow the autograph manuscript.

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