Thursday, February 18, 2010

February 18

February 18, 1861: President Lincoln stops to make a brief speech from the car of his train while passing through Rochester during his inaugural trip to Washington, D.C. with his family. On the same day, Jefferson Davis was inaugurated in Montgomery, Alabama as President of the Confederate States of America. 

 Mr. Lincoln's remarks in Rochester that morning were short as he also later spoke in Syracuse and Utica before arriving to make several longer addresses in Albany that day;

"I confess myself, after having seen many large audiences since leaving home, overwhelmed with this vast number of faces at this hour of the morning.  I am not vain enough to believe that you are here from any wish to see me as an individual, but because I am for the time being the representative of the American people.  I could not, if I would, address you at any length.  I have not the strength, even if I had the time, for a speech at each of these many interviews that are afforded me on my way to Washington.  I appear merely to see you, and to let you see me, and to bid you farewell.  I hope it will be understood that it is from no disinclination to oblige anybody that I do not address you at greater length."

His remarks in Syracuse were similar, although in Utica he was little more humorous;

"Ladies and Gentlemen: I have no speech to make to you, and no time to speak in.  I appear before you that I may see you, and that you may see me ; am I willing to admit, that so far as the ladies are concerned, I have the best of the bargain, though I wish it to be understood that I do not make the same acknowledgment concerning the men."

Lincoln arrived in Washington five days later, avoiding a possible assassination attempt in Baltimore by slipping through in the middle of the night, reportedly in disguise.  He then delivered his Inaugural Address, attempting to assure the southern states, seven of which had already seceded, that he had no intention of abolishing slavery. "I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so."

Sources and Further Reading:
     See Also: List of U.S. Presidents to Visit Rochester, N.Y.
February 18, 1874: Demonstrating a significant improvement in fire safety, tests are made of the new Holly pumping system to fire hydrants built along Main Street. Water streams reaching a height of 300 feet vertically and 500 feet horizontally are achieved.

Sources and Further Reading:

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