On this day: Lincoln Inaugurated

On this day, 150 years ago, Abraham Lincoln became President of the United States.

Before taking the oath of office, he delivered an Inaugural Address to "Fellow-Citizens of the United States". He spoke frankly about the impending crisis and ended with these words:

"I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

Following the Address, Chief Justice Roger Brooke Taney administered the oath of office.

Click here to see a picture of the Bible on which Abraham Lincoln took the oath. It would be used again by Barack Obama.

Click here to see a photograph of the inauguration on the East Portico of the unfinished Capitol.

Fifty years later, the New York Times ran again the original stories filed by Joseph Howard, Jr., and the other reporters who covered the inauguration of President Lincoln. Click here to read their detailed accounts.

"After the delivery of the address Judge Taney stood up and all removed their hats while he administered the oath to Mr. Lincoln. Speaking in a low tone the form of the oath he signified to Mr. Lincoln that he repeat the words, and in a firm, but modest voice the President took the oath as prescribed by the law, while the people, who waited until they saw the final bow, tossed their hats, wiped their eyes, cheered at the top of their voices, hurrahed themselves hoarse, and had the crowd not been so very dense, would have demonstrated in more lively ways their joy, satisfaction, and delight."


Nancy Hanks

If Nancy Hanks
Came back as a ghost,
Seeking news
Of what she loved most,
She'd ask first
"Where's my son?
What's happened to Abe?
What's he done?"

"Poor little Abe,
Left all alone
Except for Tom,
Who's a rolling stone;
He was only nine
The year I died.
I remember still
How hard he cried."

"Scraping along
In a little shack,
With hardly a shirt
To cover his back,
And a prairie wind
To blow him down,
Or pinching times
If he went to town."

"You wouldn't know
About my son?
Did he grow tall?
Did he have fun?
Did he learn to read?
Did he get to town?
Do you know his name?
Did he get on?"

--Rosemary Benét and Stephen Vincent Benét

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