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Posted at 10:52 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Frank Williams: How influential was Abraham Lincoln's inaugural speech in keeping the border states in the Union?

By Frank Williams

Chairman of The Lincoln Forum

Williams

President Lincoln’s First Inaugural only confirmed what he and the Republican Party had been saying all along – they would not interfere with slavery where it all ready existed – and this included the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland and Delaware. But many in those and other slave-holding states either did not believe or did not want to believe the President’s commitment.

If the Peace Convention at the Willard Hotel accomplished any thing it was the successful work of Senator William H. Seward in prevailing upon these border states to stay in the Union during the convention as well as allow the inauguration to take place. This gave Lincoln the opportunity to again state his position to these and all slave-holding states. In any event, this buying of time was helpful when secession crisis came in Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. But, in addition, direct and forceful political and military actions were required to keep these states in the Union. These included suspension of the writ of habeas corpus on the rail line from Washington through Maryland to Philadelphia, preventing the Maryland legislature from meeting to vote for secession as well as the arrests of citizens who agitated for dismemberment of the Union.



By Frank Williams  | March 7, 2011; 10:52 AM ET
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