Abraham Lincoln: First Inaugural Address

(1861)

In his First Inaugural Address, delivered on March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln reiterated his promise not to interfere with the institution of slavery in the United States and affirmed the rights of states to order and determine their own institutions. To do otherwise, he noted, would violate the U.S. Constitution. Furthermore, he vowed to enforce the federal Fugitive Slave Act of 1850, which stipulated that slaves escaping from southern masters be returned to their owners.

Lincoln's main purpose in his First Inaugural Address was to allay the anxieties of the southern states that...

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The final printed version of Lincoln's first inaugural address is shown here with an earlier draft by him (Library of Congress)

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