Saturday, December 1, 2007

ON THIS DAY: Tuesday, Dec. 3, 1861

“The Union Must Be Preserved”

President Lincoln sends his Annual Message (known today as the State of the Union Address and given in person) to the Congress. Despite “unprecedented political troubles,” he expresses gratitude for “unusual good health, and most abundant harvests.”

But Lincoln quickly turns to the “attempt…[by a] disloyal portion of the American people… to divide and destroy the Union.” After warning Congress not to rush into “radical and extreme measures” that could injure loyal citizens as well the disloyal, he declares that it is increasingly clear that “the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war on the first principle of popular government—the rights of the people.”

As he will on other occasions, Lincoln asserts the war is being fought “not altogether for today—it is for a vast future also."

Although 1861 has been a discouraging year in the Eastern Theater—a subject which Lincoln skirts—he reports on positive developments in the war, mostly in the Western Theater.. The border state of Kentucky, ”for some time in doubt, is now decidedly, and I think, unchangeably ranged on the side of the Union.” [Cump Sherman might not agree.] “Missouri is comparatively quiet, and I believe cannot be overrun by the insurrectionists,” the President continues. And, after “a somewhat bloody struggle of months, winter closes on the Union people of western Virginia, leaving them masters of their own country.”

>>> The usual skirmishes occur in Missouri and Virginia, and the Federal navy begins preparations for moving against New Orleans.

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