Columbus, Ohio - Inaugural Journey

Ohio Statehouse
Lincoln spoke before a joint meeting of the legislature at the Ohio statehouse where he defended his "silence" on the looming crisis.

Columbus, Ohio

February 13-14, 1861

Lincoln arrived in Columbus at about 2:00 p.m. and proceeded to the Ohio statehouse where Lincoln spoke before a joint meeting of the legislature where he defended his "silence" on the looming crisis. That the nation has never faced anything like the present situation and that it would be better to wait until he was in Washington, and president, with all available information before saying anything with only partial information.

Allusion has been made to the interest felt in relation to the policy of the new administration. In this I have received from some a degree of credit for having kept silence, and from others some deprecation. I still think that I was right. In the varying and repeatedly shifting scenes of the present, and without a precedent which could enable me to judge by the past, it has seemed fitting that before speaking upon the difficulties of the country, I should have gained a view of the whole field, to be sure, after all, being at liberty to modify and change the course of policy, as future events may make a change necessary.

From the steps of the capitol Lincoln thanked those who came to see him but told them that the enthusiasm should not be about him but the future of the nation.

I am doubly thankful that you have appeared here to give me this greeting. It is not much to me, for I shall very soon pass away from you; but we have a large country and a large future before us, and the manifestations of good-will towards the government, and affection for the Union which you may exhibit are of immense value to you and your posterity forever. In this point of view it is that I thank you most heartily for the exhibition you have given me, and with this allow me to bid you an affectionate farewell.

Lincoln then attended an informal reception in the rotunda of the nearby courthouse, at High and Mound Streets. At 4:30 that afternoon, February 13, Lincoln received a telegram from Washington informing him of the results of the last step in the election process, the formal counting the votes of the Electoral College by a joint session of congress. Lincoln then attended a military ball in his honor at Deshler Hall at the southeast corner of Town and High Streets. The Lincoln family then spent the night at the home of Governor William Dennison, Jr., at Chestnut and High Streets. The Lincolns departed at about 8:00 the following morning.

Local Community Contact : Ohio State House, 1 Capitol Square, Columbus, Ohio
Phone: 614-752-9777
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Last updated: March 5, 2017

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