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Title:  President Lincoln's views. An important letter on the principles involved in the Vallandigham case. Correspondence in relation to the Democratic meeting, at Albany, N.Y.
Author: Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Collection:  Making of America Books
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9 apply to it the parts of the Constitution plainly made for such cases. Prior to my installation here, it had been inculcated that any State had a lawful right to secede from the national Union, and that it would be expedient to exercise the right whenever the devotees of -the doctrine should fail to elect a President to their own liking. I was elected contrary to their liking; and, aicordingly, so far as it was legally possible, they had taken seven States out of the Union, had seized many of the United States forts, and had fired upon the United States flag, all before I was inaugurated, and, of course, before I had done any officical act whatever. The rebellion thus began soon ran into the present civil war; and, in certain respects, it began on very unequal terms between the parties. The insurgents had been preparing for it more than thirty years, while the Government had taken no steps to resist them. The former had carefully considered all the means which could be turned to their account. It undoubtedly was a well-pondered reliance with them that, in their own unrestricted efforts to destroy Union, Constitution, and Law, all together, the Government would, in great degree, be restrained by the same Constitution and law from arresting their progress. Their sympathizers pervaded all departments of the Government and nearly all communities of the people. From -this material, under cover of "liberty of speech," "liberty of the press," and "habeas corpus," they hoped to keep on' foot among us a most efficient corps of spies, informers, suppliers, and aiders and abettors of their cause in a thousand ways. They knew that in times such as they were inaugurating, by the Constitution itself, the "habeas corpus" might be suspended; but they also knew they had friends who would make a question as to who was to suspend it; meanwhile, their spies and. others might remain at large to help on their cause. Or, if, as has happened, the Executive should suspend the writ, without ruinous waste of time, instances of arresting innocent persons might occur, as- are always likely to occur in such cases; and then a clamor could be raised ir regard to this, which