“There is nothing that can ever bring me willingly to consent to the destruction of this Union, under which not only the commercial city of New York, but the whole country has acquired its greatness, unless it were to be that thing for which the Union itself was made. I understand a ship to be made for the carrying and preservation of the cargo, and so long as the ship can be saved, with the cargo, it should never be abandoned. This Union should likewise never be abandoned unless it fails and the probability of its preservation shall cease to exist without throwing the passengers and cargo overboard. So long, then, as it is possible that the prosperity and the liberties of the people can be preserved in the Union, it shall be my purpose at all times to preserve it.”
Thus Lincoln came the closest he had yet come on this Inaugural Journey to revealing what his policies concerning secession would be as President. He would be unflinching in his fight to preserve the Union, to save what he would later call the “last, best hope on Earth” for government of the people and for the people. Through this response to the Mayor and City Council, Lincoln also showed that he was not the backwoods dolt that so many in the city felt him to be. It was not the only entanglement with New York that Lincoln would have.
The visit to New York City was not all business and politics for Lincoln and his wife. That evening, they attended the Verdi opera “Un ballo in Maschera” or “A Masqued Ball.” The crowd was a bit aghast, according to reports, that Lincoln wore black gloves to the opera, when the fashion was to wear white gloves. Even then, New Yorkers were fashion conscious.
That night was spent again at the Astor House. Departure on the next leg of the journey would take place the next morning at around 8:00 a.m. While the visit to New York had gone smoothly without the chaos of the other cities on the route, it was, in the words of Carl Sandburg, “the coldest” of all along the “journey to inauguration.”