at Independence Hall
South facade of Independence Hall
An inaugural journey speech which refers to the Declaration
Independence Hall is where both the United States Declaration
of Independence and the United States Constitution were
debated and adopted. It is now the centerpiece of Independence
National Historical Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
For Abe Lincoln the inaugural journey began in Springfield
on February 11 and ended in Washington D. C. on February
23, 1861. In between the train made numerous stops and President-elect
Lincoln spoke at many of the stops. one of the more memorable
stops occurred at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on George
Washington's birthday, February 22.
Abraham Lincoln's inaugural journey to Washington as president-elect,
he stopped in Philadelphia at the site where the Declaration
of Independence had been signed. One of the most famous
statements in the speech was, "I have never had a feeling
politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied
in the Declaration of Independence." This hall also
was the place where Lincoln's body lay in state after his
assassination in 1865, one of many stops his funeral train
made before he was laid to rest in Springfield, Illinois.
the anniversary of George Washington’s birth, February
22, 1861—after he had been elected President but
before he was inaugurated (March 4), and before the Confederate
firing on Fort Sumter that began the Civil War (April
12)—Abraham Lincoln (1809–65) delivered this
impromptu address at Independence Hall in Philadelphia,
site of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
In the speech, Lincoln credits the principles enunciated
in the Declaration as the source of “all the political
sentiments I entertain,” and for which he was determined
to live and govern and, if necessary, to die.
in particular, was so important to him? What would it
mean, in fact, to live by the principles in the Declaration
of Independence? Why would Lincoln not accept saving the
country by giving up on those principles? Why does Lincoln
regard the American principle of equal liberty and opportunity
as a gift of “hope to the world for all future time”?
at Independence Hall Speech
February 22, 1861
am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing
here, in this place, where were collected together the
wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from
which sprang the institutions under which we live. You
have kindly suggested to me that in my hands is the task
of restoring peace to the present distracted condition
of the country. I can say in return, Sir, that all the
political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far
as I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments
which originated and were given to the world from this
hall. I have never had a feeling politically that did
not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration
of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers
which were incurred by the men who assembled here, and
framed and adopted that Declaration of Independence. I
have pondered over the toils that were endured by the
officers and soldiers of the army who achieved that Independence.
I have often inquired of myself, what great principle
or idea it was that kept this Confederacy so long together.
It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies
from the motherland; but that sentiment in the Declaration
of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people
of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future
time. It was that which gave promise that in due time
the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men.
This is a sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence.
Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis?
If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest
men in the world, if I can help to save it. If it cannot
be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful.
But if this country cannot be saved without giving up
that principle, I was about to say I would rather be assassinated
on this spot than surrender it.
in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there need
be no bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it.
I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say, in
advance, that there will be no bloodshed unless it be
forced upon the Government, and then it will be compelled
to act in self-defence.
friends, this is wholly an unexpected speech, and I did
not expect to be called upon to say a word when I came
here. I supposed it was merely to do something toward
raising the flag. I may, therefore, have said something
indiscreet. (Cries of "No, no") I have said
nothing but what I am willing to live by and, if it be
the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.
Works of Abraham Lincoln, edited by Roy P. Basler