• Inside the Lincoln Sitting Room

    Lincoln Home

    National Historic Site Illinois

Secession Equals Anarchy

First Inaugural Address March 4, 1861

Plainly, the central idea of secession is the essence of anarchy. A majority, held in restraint by constitutional checks and limitations and always changing easily with deliberate changes of popular opinins and sentiments, is the only true sovereign of a free people. Whoever rejects it does of necessity fly to anarchy or despotism. Unanimity is impossible; the rule of a minority, as a permanent arrangement, is wholly inadmissible; so that, rejecting the majority principle, anarchy or despotism in some form is all that is left.

Message to Congress in Special Session July 4, 1861

The principle [secession] itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no government can possibly endure.

_________________

Back to Lincoln on Secession

Back to History and Culture

 

Did You Know?

Photo of President Lincoln with beard

In 1860, eleven-year-old Grace Bedell wrote to Lincoln suggesting he grow a beard to “look a great deal better.” Lincoln met Bedell on his way to Washington, giving her a hearty kiss to thank her for her idea. Lincoln Home National Historic Site, Illinois