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 27, 2024.


Reply to Mayor Alexander Henry at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania1Jump to section

February 21, 1861

Mr. Mayor and Fellow Citizens of Philadelphia---I appear before you to make no lengthy speech. I appear before you to thank you for the reception. The reception you have given me to-night is not to me, the man, the individual, but to the man who temporarily represents, or should represent, the majesty of the nation. (Applause.) It is true, as your worthy Mayor has said, that there is great anxiety amongst the citizens of the United States at this time. I say I deem it a happy circumstance that the dissatisfied portion of our fellow citizens do not point us to anything in which they are being injured, or about to be injured, from which I have felt all the while justified in concluding that the crisis, the panic, the anxiety of the country at this time is artificial. If there be those who differ with me upon this subject, they have not pointed out the substantial difficulty that exists. (Tremendous cheering.)

I do not mean to say that this artificial panic has not done harm. That it has done much harm I do not deny. The hope that has been expressed by your worthy Mayor, that I may be able to restore peace and harmony and prosperity to the country, is most worthy in him; and most happy indeed shall I be if I shall be able to fulfill and verify that hope. (Cheers.)

I promise you in all sincerity, that I bring to the work a sincere heart. Whether I will bring a head equal to that heart, will be for future time to determine. It were useless for me to speak of the details of the plans now. I shall speak officially on next Monday week, if ever. If I should not speak, then it were useless for me to do so now. [If I do speak, then it is useless for me to do so now.]2Jump to section When I do speak, as your worthy Mayor has expressed the hope, I will take such grounds as I shall deem best calculated to restore peace, harmony and prosperity to the country, and tend to the perpetuity of the nation, and the liberty of these States and all these people. (Applause.)

Page 239

Your worthy Mayor has expressed the wish, in which I join with him, that if it were convenient for me to remain with you in your city long enough to consult, [your merchants and manufacturers;]3Jump to section or, as it were, to listen to those breathings rising within the consecrated walls where the Constitution of the United States, and, I will add, the Declaration of American Independence was originally framed, I would do so.

I assure you and your Mayor that I had hoped on this occasion, and upon all occasions during my life, that I shall do nothing inconsistent with the teachings of those holy and most sacred walls.

I have never asked anything that does not breathe from those walls. All my political warfare has been in favor of the teachings coming forth from that sacred hall. May my right hand forget its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if ever I prove false to those teachings.

Fellow citizens, I have addressed you longer than I expected to do, and allow me now to bid you good night.


[1]   Philadelphia Inquirer, February 22, 1861. The New York Tribune and other papers give similar texts. Lincoln spoke from the balcony of the Continental Hotel upon arrival.

[2]   Bracketed words are in the New York Tribune but not in the Inquirer.

[3]   Bracketed words are in the New York Tribune and World but not in the Inquirer.

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