National Constitution CenterCenturies of Citizenship: A Constitutional Timeline Exhibit
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1850-1865: We are a house divided, a nation torn by bloody civil war

March 4, 1861
Lincoln takes office...and an oath to preserve the Union

Abraham Lincoln's first inaugural address

The stakes couldn’t be higher, and Abraham Lincoln has worked on his inaugural speech for two months.

“We are not enemies, but friends,” he assures the seceding states, promising that he will respect their rights.

But those rights, he says, do not include leaving the Union. The Union is “perpetual.” “I shall take care,” he says, “as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins me, that the law of the Union be faithfully executed in all the States.”

Any act of violence against the United States, he warns, will be an act of rebellion.

Read about it in the New York times

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