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, May 11, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On May 11, 1862

On this day in 1862, Lincoln received word that the Confederates had blown up the Merrimac (which had been defeated soundly at Hampton Roads by the new and diminutive ironclad Monitor,) and that the Monitor and other Union ships were proceeding unimpeded up the James river towards Richmond.

In addition to her battles with Union warships Cumberland, Congress and the famous meeting with her counterpart ironclad, the Monitor, the Merrimac (named the CSS Virginia by the Confederacy) had taken part in several other naval battles -- including two other attempts to 'beat' the Monitor and thereby free the lower Chesapeake Bay of Union control (the Union saw the James River as the naval road to Richmond, so the area around Hampton Roads was highly contested.)

Before the two ships were able to have their much anticipated rematch, southern commanders decided to evacuate Norfolk, Virginia where the Merrimac was stationed. Unfortunately for the local Confederate Navy leader Captain Josiah Tattnall, the news didn't arrive in time to evacuate the Merrimac from Norfolk. She would have to be lightened considerably so that she could readily steam out of Norfolk, but there simply wasn't time. Thus, before they left, the Confederacy was forced to destroy her so that she wouldn't fall into Union hands.

On 11 May, CSS Virginia was run aground near the entrance to the Elizabeth River, abandoned and set afire. When the flames licked up and into the gunpowder supplies, the ship exploded.

Lincoln, who was on board the U.S.S. "Baltimore" at the time, passed right by the location where the ship had been destroyed off of Craney Island before going on to Norfolk where he stopped to visit for an hour (at some point after receiving word of the Merrimac's demise, he sent the following telegram to Major General Halleck:).

Fort. Monroe, Va.
May. 11. 1862

Major Gen. Halleck
Pittsburg Landing, Tenn.

Norfolk in our possession, Merrimac blown up, & Monitor & other boats going up James River to Richmond. Be very sure to sustain no reverse in your Department. A. LINCOLN

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