Abraham Lincoln - July 4, 1861

"It might seem, at first thought, to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called 'secession' or' rebellion.' The movers, however, well understand the dif-ference.

At the beginning, they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude, by any name which implies violation of law.

They knew their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in, and reverence for, the history and government of their common country, as any other civilized and patriotic people.

They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind.

They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of the Union.

The sophism itself is, that any state of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully, and peacefully withdraw from the Union, without the consent of the Union, or of any other state.

The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.

With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years; and, until at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretence of taking their state out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.

This sophism derives much—perhaps the whole—of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a state—to each state of our Federal Union.

Our states have neither more nor less power, than that reserved to them, in the Union, by the Constitution no one of them ever having been a state out of the Union.

The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a state."


Dr. Paul reflects back on July 4th celebrations of his past, as well as its meaning today.