Start of a New Era: Lincoln’s Inauguration

The Capitol: Lincoln's Inauguration

History: What began as a public rallying event for the incoming President to travel by train from Springfield, Illinois to Washington D.C. over 12 days, turned into a covert operation to protect the life of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln did not fulfill his obligation of stopping in Baltimore that morning of February 23, 1861, but he arrived unscathed in Washington D.C. and would give his inaugural address on March 4, 1861.

Lincoln extended an olive branch to the South during his inaugural address, but made it clear he intended to enforce federal laws against secessionists. Lincoln promised not to interfere with the institution of slavery where it existed. "You have no oath in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies"

More to Explore: Construction of the Capitol building began during George Washington’s presidency and was completed during Lincoln’s term. Tour the Capitol Visitor Center then head to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History, the Lincoln Memorial and Ford's Theatre for a full immersion in the Lincoln legacy. Stop by the African American Civil War Memorial en route to pay homage to those who lost their lives in the fight for the Union.

Photo Credits:

  1. "Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln’s Inauguration Ceremony in Washington DC in front of the Nation's Capital."
  2. "Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln’s Inauguration on the Nation's Capital balcony." Photos courtesy of Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.