• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

Lincoln on Democracy and the Civil War

July 4, 1861: Address to Congress

Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled - the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains - its successful maintenance against a formidable internal attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world that those who can fairly carry an election can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can no be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election neither can they take by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.

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Lincoln Home

Robert Lincoln donated the family home in Springfield to the State of Illinois in 1887 under the condition that it would always be open free to the public and well maintained. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois