Lincoln's First Inaugural Address
, delivered March 4
, was deeply conciliatory to Southern slave-holding interests. Abraham Lincoln
touched the following points:
- Strongest possible federal support for the Fugitive Slave Law (and the Service/Labour clause of the U.S. Constitution Article IV, Sec 2)
- He had just taken an oath "to preserve, protect, and defend the United States Constitution" which enjoined him to see that the laws of the Union be faithfully executed in all states.
- There would be no invasion of the South unless such were necessary for him as President to fulfill his obligation to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the federal government.
- The Constitution was established "to form a more perfect union" than the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union had been, which was explicitly perpetual in name and text, and thus the Constitution too was perpetual. He added that even were the Constitution construed as a simple contract, it could not be legally rescinded without an agreement between all parties.
- He had no objection to the proposed Corwin amendment to the Constitution (that had already been approved by both houses of the United States Congress to protect slavery in those states in which it already existed — though he thought that such was already protected by the original Constitution and that the Corwin amendment merely reiterated that which was already contained in the nation's highest legal document). (According to Henry Adams, Lincoln actually lobbied to help the Corwin Amendment through both houses.)
- Nothing in the Constitution expressly says what either can or cannot be done regarding slavery in the territories.
- Mails would continue.
One part of his address was featured in the film American History X