The New York Times on Abraham Lincoln’s First Inauguration

The New York Times

March 5, 1861

WASHINGTON, Monday, March 4. The day to which all have looked with so much anxiety and interest has come and passed. ABRAHAM LINCOLN has been inaugurated, and “all’s well.” At daylight the clouds were dark and heavy with rain, threatening to dampen the enthusiasm of the occasion with unwelcome showers. A few drops fell occasionally before 8 o’clock, but not enough to lay the dust, which, under the impulse of a strong northwest wind, swept down upon the avenue from the cross streets quite unpleasantly. The weather was cool and bracing, and, on the whole, favorable to the ceremonies of the day. Mr. LINCOLN rose at 5 o’clock. After an early breakfast, the Inaugural was read aloud to him by his son ROBERT, and the completing touches were added, including the beautiful and impassioned closing paragraph. Mr. LINCOLN then retired from his family circle to his closet, where he prepared himself for the solemn and weighty responsibilities which he was about to assume. Here he remained until it was time for an audience to Mr. SEWARD. Together these statesmen conversed concerning that paragraph of the Inaugural relating to the policy of forcing obnoxious non-resident officers upon disaffected citizens When Mr. SEWARD departed, Mr. LINCOLN closed his door upon all visitors, until Mr. BUCHANAN called for him to escort him to the Capitol.

The Inaugural Procession at Washington passing the gate at the Capitol grounds, (March 4, 1861).1

From early daylight the streets were thronged with people, some still carrying carpet-bags in hand, having found no quarters in which to stop. The busy have of preparation for the parade was soon heard on every side. The New-York delegation; over two hundred strong, formed in procession on Pennsylvania-avenue at 9 o’clock, and proceeded in a body to Mr. SEWARD’s residence to pay their respects. J.H. HOBART WARD met them at the door, and JAMES KELLEY introduced the party to Mr. SEWARD in a pertinent speech. Mr. SEWARD, from the doorstep, responded as follows: FRIENDS, FELLOW-CITIZENS AND NEIGHBORS: I am very deeply affected by this unexpected demonstration of affection on the part of the people of the State of New-York. So many familiar faces, seen at this distance from my home, and under the circumstances which surround me, awaken memories and sympathies that I should find it difficult to describe. It is just twelve years since I came, a stranger and alone, to this Capitol, to represent the great State from which you have come in the councils of the Union. This day closes that service of twelve years — a period which now in retrospect seems so short, and yet it has filled up the one-sixth part of the Constitutional duration of this great empire. At this hour I appear before you a voluntary citizen, but, God be thanked! a citizen now as always, of the State of New-York — one of yourselves — your equal — no longer bearing the responsibilities of a representative. [Here one of the Deputy-Marshals stepped forward, and pinned a badge of the New-York delegation to Mr. SEWARD’s coat, amid great cheering.] My public acts throughout that long, and to me trying period, are all upon record in the journals and debates of Congress. It is almost fearful to think that they are imperishable. Looking backward upon them, I will say and maintain here, and now, that I claim for them all the merit of good motives and honest intentions. Here in this presence, before you, a fair delegation of the constituency I have served, and in the presence of the God who is to be our Common Judge, I declare that there is not one word of that record which I desire should be obliterated. Although a representative of one State only, I have been all the wave conscious that I was also a legislator for all the States — for the whole Republic — and I am not ashamed to appeal to every citizen of New-York and ask him to say what I have neglected. I am not afraid to appeal to every section — to the East, to the West, to the North, and to the South, equally — and to every State in every section, and to every man, to every woman, to every human being, freeman or bondsman, to say whether, in any word or deed of mine, I have done him wrong. And in labors which demanded abilities I could not claim, and trials which exacted some equanimity of temper, I have here in this capital neither received nor given personal offence. I have not one enemy in this section to forgive. I knew of no one who will utter a personal complaint against me. I have done little good, indeed, — far less than I have wished, — but I have been sustained and supported-by the people of New-York with a generosity that is unparalleled. I know why this is so. The people of New-York are habitually constant, and faithful to conscience, to truth to liberty, to their country, and to their God. They have thought that I endeavored to be likewise faithful. I know their character well, and I know that in the new emergency which our country is now entering upon, they will be equally faithful I rely on their intelligence and their patriotism, as I do on the intelligence and patriotism of the whole people of the United States. They will preserve the inestimable legacy of civil and religious liberty which they have received from their heroic fathers. The administration which you have come here to inaugurate comes into power under circumstances of embarrassment and peril, never before known in the history of the Republic; but I believe I know the character and purposes of the Chief Magistrate: I believe that, while he will be firm, he will be also just to every State, and every section, and every citizen; that be will defend and protect the rights and interests, the peace and the prosperity, of all the States equally and alike, while he will practice the moderation that springs from virtue, and the affection that arises from patriotism in Confederated States. Under his guidance, and with the blessing of God, I believe and trust, and confidently expect, that an Administration that is inaugurated amid some distrust and painful apprehension, will close upon a reunited, restored, prosperous, free and happy Republic. The State of New-York, the greatest and most powerful of the States, will lead all other States in the way of conciliation; and as the path of wisdom is always the path of peace, so I am sure that now we shall find that the way of conciliation is the way of wisdom.” Mr. SEWARD was greatly affected during the delivery of his speech, which was frequently applauded, and followed by three hearty cheers. A gentleman standing near, who was evidently captured by the Senator, exclaimed: “I am a Virginian, and a Southern man all over, but I’ll trust that man anywhere. I’ve watched his course for a long time, and I know he’s honest.” Mr. SEWARD shook hands with the delegation and then retired. It was nearly noon when Mr. BUCHANAN started from the White House with the Inaugural procession, which halted before Willard’s Hotel to receive the President elect. The order of march you will get from other sources, and I will only observe that the carriage containing Mr. BUCHANAN and Mr. LINCOLN, was a simple open brett, surrounded by the President’s mounted guard, in close older, as a guard of honor. The procession, as usual, was behind-hand a little, but its order was excellent. Nothing noteworthy occurred on the route. As it ascended the Capitol hill, towards the north gate, the company of United States Cavalry and the President’s mounted guard took their positions each side of the carriage-way, and thus guarded the inclosed passage-way by which the President’s party entered the north wing of the Capitol to go to the Senate Chamber. The procession halted until the President and suite entered, and then filed through the troops aforesaid into the grounds. On the east front, the military took their positions in the grounds in front of the platform, but the United States troops maintained their places outside until the line took up the President and party again after the ceremonies were over, to escort them back to the White House. The arrangements at the Capitol were admirably designed, and executed so that everybody who was entitled to admission got in, and everybody who could not go in could see from without. The Senate Chamber was the great point of attraction, but only the favored few were admitted upon the floor, while the galleries were reserved for and occupied by a select number of ladies. The scene which transpired there was most memorable, producing a great and solemn impression upon all present. Mr. BRIGHT spent all the morning in talking against time on some Gas Company’s bill, greatly to the amusement of Senators, and the ill-concealed annoyance of spectators, who expected to hear some good speaking. A few moments before 12 o’clock, Mr. BRECKINRIDGE came in with Mr. HAMLIN upon his arm, and, together, they sat by the side of the President’s desk until noon, when, assuming the Chair, Mr. BRECKINRIDGE said: SENATORS: In taking final leave of this position, I shall ask a few moments in which to tender to you my grateful acknowledgments for the resolution declaring your approval of the manner in which I have discharged my duties, and to express my deep sense of the uniform courtesy which, as the presiding officer, I have received from the members of this body. If I have committed errors your generous forbearance refused to rebuke them, and during the whole period of my service I have never appealed in vain to your justice or charity. The memory of these acts will ever be cherished among the most grateful recollections of my life, and for my successor I can express no better wish than that he may enjoy the [???] of mutual confidence which so happily have marked our intercourse. Now, gentlemen of the Senate and officers of the Senate, from whom I have received so many kind offices, accept my gratitude and cordial wishes for your prosperity and welfare. The oath was then administered to Vice-President HAMLIN, who announced his readiness to take it in a full, firm tone. Mr. BRECKINRIDGE took him by the hand, and led him to the chair, after which, crossing over to Mr. SEWARD, he shook hands and extended greetings with him, and took his seat as the newly elected Senator. The Vice-President rapped to order, and addressed the Senate as follows: SANATORS: The experience of several years in this body has taught me something of the duties of the presiding officer, and with a stern, inflexible purpose to discharge these duties faithfully, relying upon the courtesy and cooperation of Senators, and invoking the aid of Divine Providence, I am now ready to take the oath required by the Constitution, and to enter upon the discharge of the official duties assigned me by the confidence of a generous people. The Senate now waited in silence for the President elect. Gradually those entitled to the floor entered. The Diplomatic Corps, in full court dress, came quite early. The Supreme Court followed, headed by the venerable Chief Justice TANEY, who looked as if he had come down from several generations, and finally the House of Representatives filed in. For at least an hour Mr. HAMLIN was acting President of the United States, but at length, a little after 1 o’clock, the doors opened, and the expected dignitaries were announced. Mr. BUCHANAN and Mr. LINCOLN entered, arm in arm, the former pale, sad, nervous; the latter’s face slightly flushed, with compressed lips. For a few minutes, while the oath was administered to Senator PEARCE, they sat in front of the President’s desk. Mr. BUCHANAN sighed audibly, and frequently, but whether from reflection upon the failure of his Administration, I can’t say. Mr. LINCOLN was grave and impassive as an Indian martyr. When all was ready, the party formed, and proceeded to the platform erected in front of the eastern portico. The appearance of the President elect was greeted, as he entered from the door of the rotunda, with immense cheering by the many thousand citizens assembled in the grounds, filling the square and open space, and perching on every tree, fence or stone affording a convenient point from which to see or hear. In a few minutes the portico was also densely crowded with both sexes. On the front of the steps was erected a small wooden canopy, under which were seated Mr. BUCHANAN, Chief-Justice TANEY, Senators CHASE and BAKER, and the President elect, white at the left of the small table on which was placed the Inaugural, stood Col. SELDEN, Marshal of the District, an exponent of the security which existed there for the man and the ceremonies of the hour. At the left of the canopy, sat the entire Diplomatic Corps, dressed in gorgeous attire, evidently deeply impressed with the solemnity of the occasion, and the importance of the simple ceremony about to be performed. Beyond them was the Marine band, which played several patriotic airs before and alter the reading of the address. To the right of the diplomats sat in solemn dignity, in silk gowns and hats, the members of the Supreme Court. Then came Senators, members of the House, distinguished guests and fair ladies by the score, while the immediate right of the canopy was occupied by the son and Private Secretaries of Mr. LINCOLN. Perched up on one side, hanging on by the railing, surrounding the statue of COLUMBUS and an Indian girl, was Senator WIGFALL, witnessing the pageant.

Inauguration of President Lincoln, March 4, 1861.2

Everything being in readiness, Senator BAKER came forward and said: “FELLOW-CITIZENS: I introduce to you ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the President elect of the United States of America.” Whereupon, Mr. LINCOLN arose, walked deliberately and composedly to the table, and bent low in honor of the repeated and enthusiastic cheering of the countless host before him. Having put on his spectacles, he arranged his manuscript on the small table, keeping the paper thereon by the aid of his cane, and commenced in a clear, ringing voice, that was easily heard by those on the outer limits of the crowd, to read his first address to the people, as President of the United States. The opening sentence, “Fellow-citizens of the United States,” was the signal for prolonged applause, the good Union sentiment thereof striking a tender chord in the popular breast. Again, when, after defining certain actions to be his duty, he said, “And I shall peform it,” there was a spontaneous, and uproarious manifestation of approval, which continued for some moments. Every sentence which indicated firmness in the Presidential chair, and every statement of a conciliatory nature, was cheered to the echo; while his appeal to his “dissatisfied fellow-countrymen,” desiring them to reflect calmly, and not hurry into false steps, was welcomed by one and all, most heartily and cordially. The closing sentence “upset the watering pot” of many of his hearers, and at this point alone did the melodious voice of the President elect falter. Judge TANEY did not remove his eyes from Mr. LINCOLN during the entire delivery, while Mr. BUCHANAN, who was probably sleepy and tired, sat looking as straight as he could at the toe of his right boot. Mr. DOUGLAS, who stood by the right of the railing, was apparently satisfied, as he exclaimed, sotto voce, “Good,” “That’s so,” “No coercion,” and “Good again.” 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 should 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 huts, wiped their eyes, cheered at the top of their voices, hurrahed themselves hoarse, and had the crowd not been so very dense, they would have demonstrated in more lively ways, their joy, satisfaction and delight. Judge TANEY was the first person who shook hands with Mr. LINCOLN, and was followed by Mr. BUCHANAN, CHASE, DOUGLAS, and a host of minor great men. A Southern gentleman, whose name I did not catch, seized him by the hand, and said, “God bless you, my dear Sir; you will save us.”To which Mr. LINCOLN replied, “I am very glad that what I have said causes pleasure to Southerners, because I then know they are pleased with what is right.” On the steps were Gov. KING, and many influential New-Yorkers; Govs. HOPPIN and SPRAGUE, of Rhode Island; BUCKINGHAM, of Connecticut, and the entire Cabinet of the outgoing Administration. In reply to questions, Mr. BUCHANAN said, with a wretched and suspicious leer, “I cannot say what he means until I read his Inaugural; I cannot understand the secret meaning of the document, which has been simply read in my hearing.” Mr. DOUGLAS said, “He does not mean coercion; he says nothing about retaking the forts, or Federal property — he’s all right.” Subsequently, to another querist, DOUGLAS said: “Well, I hardly know what he means. Every point in the address is susceptible of a double construction; but I think he does not mean coercion.” After delaying a little upon the platform, Mr. LINCOLN, and Mr. BUCHANAN, arm in arm, and followed by a few privileged persons, proceeded at a measured pace to the Senate. Chamber, and thence to the President’s Room, while the Band played “Hail Columbia” “Yankee Doodle” and the “Star Spangled Banner.” In a short time the procession was reformed, and in state, the President and Ex-President were conducted to the White House. After a few moments’ rest, Mr. LINCOLN granted an audience to the Diplomatic Corps, who with great pomp and ceremony, were the first to pay their respects to, and congratulate the President at his new home. Then the doors were opened, and the people, like a flooding tide, rushed in upon him. The Marshals, forming a double line of guards, kept all rudeness at a distanc, and everything went off with great success, and to the eminent satisfaction of all concerned. The thirty-four little girls who personated the several States of the Union, and rode in a gaily decorated car in the procession, halted at the door while they sang “Hail Columbia;” after which they were received by the President, who gave to each and all of them a hearty and good-natured salute. After Mr. LINCOLN had been well shaken, the doors were closed, and the Marshals of the day were personally introduced to him. He thanked them for the admirable arrangements of the day, and congratulated them upon the successful termination of their duties. They then retired, and the President repaired to his private apartment, somewhat overcome by the fatigue and excitement of the day, but thankful that all things had been so very pleasant, and that literally nothing had occurred to mar the perfect harmony of the occasion. While conservative people are in raptures over the Inaugural, it cannot be denied that many Southerners look upon it as a precursor of war. They probably will take a calmer view to-morrow. Mr. WEED is delighted with it, and even Mr. WIGFALL publicly declares it a most able paper, certainly. Its conciliatory tone, and frank, outspoken declaration of loyalty to the whole country, captured the hearts of many heretofore opposed to Mr. LINCOLN, and its firm enunciation of purpose to fulfil his oath to maintain the Constitution and laws, challenge universal respect. The arrangements for the preservation of the peace were admirable. A large special police, with conspicuous badges, were distributed all along the line of procession, and about the Capitol, but their mere presence was generally sufficient to insure order. In a few cases, where individual fights occured, they interposed so promptly as to prevent a collision becoming general. So, too, they immediately dispersed every gathering of people who manifested the least improper excitement, or attempted to vociferate sentiments intended to be offensive or incendiary. The several companies of United States Artillery, all under arms, were on the street near their quarters, with horses hitched up, and riders standing by their side, ready to vault into the saddle at an instant’s notice. Files of mounted troops were stationed at different points of the City to convey to Head-quarters prompt intelligence of any disturbance. The turn-out of the District militia was quite imposing. The Washington Light Infantry looked remarkably well. They are a fine-looking set of young men. The National Rifles, the corps whose secession sympathies are well understood here, failed to participate in the parade, but I understand they were on duty at the Armory, ready to turn out if needed to aid in the preserving of the peace. Early in the forenoon, when the flag was unfurled upon the Capitol, one of the halliards gave way, and, splitting in two, the flag flung out like a pennant. For a long while it could not be taken down, though finally an adventurous man climbed to the top of the staff, and, tearing away the ill-omened standard, replaced it with an entire flag of the Union. After the Inaugural procession dispersed, large numbers of strangers in town pulled out of their pockets, and mounted the peculiar cap-cover designating Wide-Awakes, thus demonstrating the fact that they are here in large force. There is a good deal of excitement in town to-night, but nothing angry or threatening. The substitution of JOHN SHERMAN for CHASE in the Cabinet is still agitated, and it is stated, apparently on good authority, that the Ohio delegation have presented SHERMAN to the President as satisfactory to them. SHERMAN, however, emphatically denies any knowledge of the probability of his selection. From another very high source, I know the opinion was expressed very positively to-night that the substitution of SHERMAN for CHASE will be made, in which event it is intimated, that CHASE may be sent to the London Court. The fact that the Cabinet nominations were not sent to the Senate to day confirms the rumors that changes in the programme are under discussion. Another rumor has it that WELLES will take the Navy Department, and BLAIR the Post office. PEACE CONFERENCE PROPOSITIONS. The Southern men express much regret at the failure to act upon the Peace Conference propositions, but think the passage of joint resolutions by Congress, and the positions taken by Mr. LINCOLN, will prevent all further trouble. Messrs. Crittenden, Johnson, Douglas, Clingman, Powell, and Breckinridge, all concur in this opinion, and also several Southern members of the House. The wisest among them say to-night that the action of the past few days, with the Inauguration to-day, means peace and a settlement of all the National difficulties. WIGFALL, however, says war is inevitable, and has telegraphed home to that effect. He has been very boisterous all the afternoon and evening. WHAT VIRGINIA WILL DO. Senator MASON says be is very agreeably disappointed, but thinks Virginia will not be satisfied, and will secede at once. He thought so four weeks ago. The disunion Congressmen from Virginia have sent home to advise secession immediately. THE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. The passage of the joint resolutions, amending the Constitution, in the Senate, gives very great satisfaction to the outspoken Union men of the South. Mr. CRITTENDEN and ANDY JOHNSON say that in it they see great hope for the future of the country. The Republicans who voted against it all took the ground, as expressed by Mr. WILSON, that they intended nothing wrong, and preferred to show it by their actions rather than by declarations, and were opposed to useless amendments of the Constitution. There were no serious accidents, to-day, of any kind. There was some surprise expressed that no salute was fired, but I learn that it was dreamed inexpedient, as creating unnecessary confusion, noise and interruption. MR. LINCOLN AND MR. BUCHANAN. Mr. LINCOLN has invited Mr. BUCHANAN to remain at the White House some days. He probably declined, as be is stopping at the house of ROBERT OULDS, the District-Attorney. The unexpected and free intercourse between Mr. LINCOLN and Mr. BUCHANAN adds to the general tone of good feeling which prevails to-day. Hon. GEORGE ASHMUN was sent for to consult with the President, but is at Quebec upon legal business for BARING BROS., of London, in the great case of settlement with the Grand Trunk Railroad. He replied by telegraph that he could not be present for some time. NEW-YORKERS VISIT THE PRESIDENT. The New-Yorkers, numbering at least five hundred, proceeded this afternoon to the White House to call upon the President. Thurlow Weed, Gen. Scroggs, Amor J. Williamson, Justice John Quackenbush, Guy R. Pelton, D.D. Conover, and other prominent gentlemen, were in the procession. Mr. LINCOLN was at dinner, but on being informed of their visit, came out. STEWART L. WADFORD introduced the party, and the President replied as follows: FELLOW-CITIZENS: I thank you for this visit. I thank you that you call upon me, not in any sectional spirit, but that you come, without distinction of party, to pay your respects to the President of the United States. I am informed that you are mostly citizens of New-York. [Cries of “All, “all.”] You all appear to be very happy. May I hope that the public expression which I have this day given to my sentiments, may have contributed in come degree to your happiness. [Emphatic exclamations of assent.] As far as I am concerned, the loyal citizens of every State, and of every section, shall have no cause to feel any other sentiment [Cries of “Good,” “Good.”] As towards the disaffected portion of our fellow-citizens, I will say, as every good man throughout the country must feel, that there will be more rejoicing over one sheep that is lost, and is found, than over the ninety-and-nine which have gone not astray. [Great cheering.] And now, my friends, as I have risen from the dinner-table to see you, you will excuse me for the brevity of my remarks, and permit me again to thank you heartily, and cordially, for this pleasant visit, as I rejoin those who await my return. At the conclusion, he was greeted with a hearty round of cheering, after which several gentlemen shook hands with him, but he found it necessary to break away from the company. THEY THEN VISIT MR. CAMERON, ANDY JOHNSON AND GEN. SCOTT. The delegation then reformed, and marched to the residence of Hon. SIMON CAMERON, who appeared in answer to their calls, and addressed them briefly. Upon motion of Judge QUACKENBUSH, the company then proceeded to pay their respects to Hon. ANDY JOHNSON, of Tennessee, at the St. Charles Hotel. He came out and made an eloquent, earnest Union speech, indorsing the President’s Inaugural without qualification. They also called on Gen. SCOTT. PAUCITY OF INCIDENTS. The day was barren of incidents, other than those noted above. During the Inaugural ceremonies, strangers were still moving about on the out-skirts of the crowd, carpet-bags in hand, and a long train left soon after, diminishing somewhat the crowd, which rendered so many unable to find a place to lay their heads. THE INAUGURATION BALL. The ball is a decided success. The room is very tastefully decorated with shields and flags, and is brilliantly lighted with gas. Dancing commenced precisely at 10 o’clock, at which hour the President had not arrived. ROBERT LINCOLN came in with Miss CAMPBELL, of Galena, Ill, accompanied by Col. LAMON, Col. ELLSWORTH, LOT TODD, and Private Secretary HAYS. The room is pleasantly filled, and toilettes of ladies are noticeable, with but few exceptions, for elegance and good taste. Capt. COMSTOCK, Capt. WOODHULL, of the United States Navy; J. WATSON WEBB, ABRAHAM WAKEMAN, JAMES HUMPHREY, wife and daughter; Gen. SCROGGS and wife; and Mrs. Chancellor WALWORTH, are among the prominent New-Yorkers present. Mrs. DRAKE MILLS is gorgeously attired in two thousand dollars’ worth of laces and twenty thousand dollars’ worth of diamonds. The army is well represented. Lord LYONS and other diplomats, in plain dress, are present. Senator HARRIS and lady, MARSHALL O. ROBERTS, EDWARD FISKE and CHARLES SEDGWICK, of New-York, are also here. Mrs. CASSON, of Iowa, presented Mr. SEWARD with an elegant, but chaste bouquet, which was the envy of the Senator’s confreres. Mr. SEWARD entered the room with his daughter-in-law. A queerly-dressed man, with a long shepherd’s crook, is on the floor endeavoring to find Mr. SEWARD. At 10 3/4 o’clock the Presidential party came in. Senator ANTHONY and Vice-President HAMLIN supported the President. Senator DOUGLAS escorted Mrs. LINCOLN; Senator BAKER Mrs. HAMLIN; Gov. YATES Mrs. BAKER, and Dr. BALOCHE Miss EDWARDS. The Band struck up “Hail Columbia,” and the party marched from one end of the hall to the other, amid inspiring strains of the national air, causing an era of tremendous good feeling. After a brief promenade, the President, with Mrs. HAMLIN, took stations at the upper end of the room, and a large number of persons availed themselves of the opportunity of being presented to Mr. LINCOLN, who shook hands with everybody. At 11 1/2 o’clock, the President and suite went into the supper-room, in the same order as they entered the hail. At 12 1/4 o’clock the quadrille of the evening was danced — DOUGLAS and Mrs. LINCOLN, HAMLIN and Miss EDWARDS, Mayor BERRET and Mrs. BERGMAN, Mr. HARRARD and Mrs. BAKER composing the set Miss EDWARDS, piece of Mrs. LINCOLN, is acknowledged to be the belle of the evening. The ladies of the Presidential party are dressed exquisitely, and in perfect taste. Half-past Twelve — The ball is progressing. Everybody is in fine spirits. The President has gone home, but the ladies and younger portion of the family remain, and are dancing merrily. The ball is in every way a great success.


  1. The Inaugural Procession at Washington passing the gate at the Capitol grounds, (March 4, 1861). Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID: cph 3a04278
  2. Inauguration of President Lincoln, March 4, 1861.  Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division, Digital ID: cph 3a48231


4 responses to “The New York Times on Abraham Lincoln’s First Inauguration”

  1. Will Hickox Avatar
    Will Hickox

    It’s interesting to me that the Times, thanks to its numerous books of reprinted articles, blogs, and accessible archives, has become *the* Civil War-era newspaper for modern people, when in fact it was far from being the most important of the New York papers during the 1860s and wouldn’t be until well into the 20th century.

    1. Brett Schulte Avatar


      GREAT point. Horace Greeley and his New York Tribune were much more influential in the 1860’s than the Times.


  2. Fred Ray Avatar
    Fred Ray

    How ironic, too that Lincoln and Breckinridge would literally be facing each other across the battle lines at Fort Stevens four years hence.

  3. Janet Stevens Avatar

    My grandmother, the late Mabel Perry Smith, an antique dealer for 50 years in Johnson City, NY (whose uncle was an honorary pall bearer at Lincoln’s funeral), was given a simple”head dress” (a thin gold-plated band adorned with a few crystals) worn by Miss Ruth Graham (Young Ladies’ Finishing School, Binghamton, NY) when she attended President Lincoln’s Inaugural Ball, March 4, 1861. She was the guest of the Hon. Daniel Dickinson, member of Congress from Binghamton. It was given to my grandmother by Miss Graham’s neice, Josephine Robinson Woodhull (1919). I notice that there was a Capt. Woodhull of the U.S. Navy who was among the “prominent New Yorkers present” at the Inaugural Ball according to the NY Times March 5, 1861…am wondering of he is related in any way to Josephine Woodhull. Oh, how I’d love to be in touch with her family to see if there are any pictures of Miss Graham (and the “head dress”).

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