Abraham Lincoln - Draft of 1st Inaugural Address

This document, one of America's top treasures, is Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address.  The edits are in the President's own handwriting.

The Library of Congress, where the document is maintained, provides background information regarding the creation of this famous speech:

In composing his first inaugural address, delivered March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln focused on shoring up his support in the North without further alienating the South, where he was almost universally hated or feared. For guidance and inspiration, he turned to four historic documents, all concerned directly or indirectly with states' rights: Daniel Webster's 1830 reply to Robert Y. Hayne; President Andrew Jackson's Nullification Proclamation of 1832; Henry Clay's compromise speech of 1850; and the U.S. Constitution.

Lincoln's initial effort was typeset and printed at the office of the Illinois State Journal, edited and then reprinted. Lincoln sent four copies of the second strike to his closest political advisors for commentary, resulting in further changes.

The finished address avoided any mention of the Republican Party platform, which condemned all efforts to reopen the African slave trade and denied the authority of Congress or a territorial legislature to legalize slavery in the territories. The address also denied any plan on the part of the Lincoln administration to interfere with the institution of slavery in states where it existed. But to Lincoln, the Union, which he saw as older even than the Constitution, was perpetual and unbroken, and secession legally impossible.

Click on the image for a much better view.

Media Credits

Image, and quoted information, from the Library of Congress - American Treasures of the Library of Congress.




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