When Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated on March 4, 1861, he assumed leadership of a nation torn asunder. Seven Southern states had seceded from the Union, and the new president was anxious to avoid war. This photograph of the inauguration shows a very familiar building in an unfamiliar state. The famous dome of the U.S. Capitol was under construction and would not be completed until 1868. A brief recap of events of March 4 is on the Today in History Web site. If you visit the Archive, you can read what happened that day or any other day of the year.
Lincoln's stirring inaugural address included the words: "I am loth [sic] 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. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle-field, and patriot 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, by the better angels of our nature."