In early 1861, on his long, meandering journey from Springfield, Illinois, to Washington, DC, president-elect Abraham Lincoln stopped in Philadelphia on February 21 and gave a couple of brief but revealing speeches. By then six slave states had seceded from the Union - a Union Lincoln was determined to hold together. At Independence Hall, inspired by the place where his country had been founded, Lincoln could "listen to those breathings rising within the consecrated walls where the Constitution of the United States, and, I will add, the Declaration of American Independence was originally framed." Lincoln believed that, taken together, these two documents - the Declaration and the Constitution - stated plainly the bedrock principles of the American nation. In one of those biblical allusions at which he was so adept, Lincoln swore an oath: "May my right hand forget its cunning and my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if ever I prove false to those teachings."
- From The Crooked Path to Abolition: Abraham Lincoln and the Antislavery Constitution by James Oakes