February 21-22, 1861
Lincoln continued his references to the founding fathers at his next stop, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Lincoln arrived at the Kensington Depot at about 4:00 p.m. and then went on to the Continental Hotel at the southeast corner of Ninth and Chestnut Streets. Lincoln spoke from the balcony of the hotel and then had dinner with Mary followed by a public reception at 8:30 p.m. Near the end of the reception, Lincoln had a meeting with his old Illinois colleague Norman B. Judd, and Frederick W. Seward, son of Lincoln's future Secretary of State William Seward. Judd called the meeting so that Frederick Seward could pass along a letter from his father regarding the discovery of an assassination plot against Lincoln planned for Baltimore. The plot was also uncovered by railroad detective Allan Pinkerton. Lincoln thanked Seward for bringing the information and promised to consider the advice given to change his travel plans, but only after meeting his promised obligations in Philadelphia and Harrisburg.
The following morning, February 22, Lincoln had an early appointment at Independence Hall, arriving there by carriage at about 6:30 a.m. Inside, inspired by the place and no doubt with the news of the previous night in his mind, Lincoln again spoke about the importance of the nation's founders.
I am filled with deep emotion at finding myself standing here in the place where were collected together the wisdom, the patriotism, the devotion to principle, from which sprang the institutions under which we live. I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence . . . . It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle---I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it.
Now, in my view of the present aspect of affairs, there is no need of bloodshed and war. There is no necessity for it. I am not in favor of such a course, and I may say in advance, there will be no blood shed unless it be forced upon the Government. The Government will not use force unless force is used against it.
Lincoln then stepped outside to raise a new 34 star flag, including a new star for the new state of Kansas which had been admitted to the union on January 29, 1861. In his remarks, he again used the past to foreshadow the future of the nation.
I am invited and called before you to participate in raising above Independence Hall the flag of our country, with an additional star upon it. I propose to say that when that flag was originally raised here it had but thirteen stars. . . . under the blessing of God, each additional star added to that flag has given additional prosperity and happiness to this country until it has advanced to its present condition; and its welfare in the future, as well as in the past, is in your hands. . . . I think we may promise ourselves that not only the new star placed upon that flag shall be permitted to remain there to our permanent prosperity for years to come, but additional ones shall from time to time be placed there . . .
Last updated: March 5, 2017