Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, April 20, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On April 20, 1861

The 'Baltimore Riot' of 1865

On this day in 1861, President Lincoln replied to embattled Baltimore mayor Brown - who had complained about the "fearful condition of affairs in this city. The people are exasperated . . . by the passage of troops, and . . . are decided in the opinion that no more should be ordered to come. . . . It is my solemn duty to inform you that it is not possible for more soldiers to pass through Baltimore unless they fight their way at every step..."

Maryland did not secede from the Union along with her neighboring, southern states, but she did share a sympathy with them: may Marylanders were southern sympathizers and deeply resented the flow of Union troops through Baltimore (to the point of rioting.)

And thus an uneasy and brittle relationship existed between 'neutral' Maryland - just across the bridge from Washington - and the Union. The train hub in Baltimore was frequently ground zero for the escalation of anti-Union tensions, beginning with Lincoln's famous passage by night through the city on the way to his inauguration in 1861, and continuing throughout the war.

Lincoln wrote the following reply to Mayor Brown; Brown's message to the president and his reply were passed through three men named Hugh L. Bond, George W. Dobbin, and John C. Brune:

Gov. Hicks, & Mayor Brown Washington, April 20. 1861

Gentlemen: Your letter by Messrs. Bond, Dobbin & Brune, is received. I tender you both my sincere thanks for your efforts to keep the peace in the trying situation in which you are placed. For the future, troops must be brought here, but I make no point of bringing them through Baltimore. Without any military knowledge myself, of course I must leave details to Gen. Scott. He hastily said, this morning, in presence of these gentlemen, ``March them around Baltimore, and not through it.'' I sincerely hope the General, on fuller reflection, will consider this practical and proper, and that you will not object to it. By this, a collision of the people of Baltimore with the troops will be avoided, unless they go out of their way to seek it. I hope you will exert your influence to prevent this.

Now, and ever, I shall do all in my power for peace, consistently with the maintainance of government. Your Obt. Servt.


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