“the mystic chords of memory” — Lincoln Presidency One-Cent Coin

Today, the Lincoln Presidency One-Cent Coin remembers the inauguration ceremony of March 4, 1861.

From Stories and Speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Including Stories of Lincoln’s Early Life, Stories of Lincoln as a Lawyer, Presidential Incidents, Stories of the War, Etc., Etc. Lincoln’s Letters and Great Speeches Chronologically Arranged; with Biographical Sketch by Paul Selby, published in 1900:


The Inauguration— March 4, 1861.

The procession set out from the Executive Mansion. President Buchanan there entered the carriage, which, drawn by four horses, and preceded by the Marshal of the District, with his aids, on horseback, moved out of the grounds to the avenue.

In front of Willard’s Hotel a halt was made. Mr. Lincoln walked out through the crowd, which civilly opened a lane to permit him to pass, and entered the carriage.

Upon arrival at the Capitol building the party proceeded at once to the platform, when Senator Baker, of Oregon, spoke with his silvery voice the simple words, “Fellow citizens, I introduce to you Abraham Lincoln, the President-elect of the United States of America.”

The Rail-splitter, as he was popularly known, held the vast multitude spellbound. The sentiments of the President-elect could not be mistaken:

“The Union must be, should be, preserved.”

“I hold that in the contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitution, the Union of the United States is perpetual!”

“I shall take care, as the Constitution expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the Union shall be faithfully executed in all the States!”

“The power confided to me will be used to hold, occupy, and possess the property and places belonging to the Government.”

“I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection.”

Lincoln controlled the audience at his will, and closing with these memorable words, he prepared to take the oath of office:

“The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field and patriotic grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be.”

The Chief Justice of the United States now came forward. His venerable appearance gave, to what might have been a mere matter of form, great dignity and impressed significance.

He extended an open Bible, upon which Mr. Lincoln laid his left hand, and uplifting his right arm, he slowly repeated after the Chief Justice the words of the Constitution: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. So help me God!”

The ceremony ended. Then those upon the platform rose and remained standing as the President and his party passed back into the building.

The procession reformed in the same order as before, and returned, leaving at the White House as President of the United States the private citizen it had escorted from the hotel.

Within an hour, another carriage, in which there was a single occupant, was driven down the avenue to the only railroad station then in Washington.

It contained Ex- President Buchanan, returning as a private citizen to his Pennsylvania home.


The Lincoln Presidency One-Cent Coin shows with an image of the inauguration on March 4, 1861.

Lincoln Presidency One-Cent Coin