The Sixteenth President
The inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on March 4,1861, was filled with irony. The federal government was on guard against insurrection and possible assassination attempt on Lincoln. Cannons, primed and loaded, lined Pennsylvania Avenue, and rooftop sharpshooters scoured the crowd of well-wishers below as the presidential party made its way eastward to the United States Capitol. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, author of the infamous Dred Scott decision—a decision condemned by Lincoln as an attack upon the Constitution—stood before the president-elect, Bible in hand, to administer the oath of office. Lincoln appeared calm throughout the proceedings. His inaugural address, a prolonged call for appeasement, seemed to surrender every point of difference on slavery except for the expansion of slavery. He had many pressing matters before him, not the least of which was establishing his cabinet and administration.
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