On March 4, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President. In his inaugural address, he argued that the Constitution was a more perfect union than the earlier Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, that it was a binding contract, and called any secession 'legally void'. He stated he had no intent to invade Southern states, nor did he intend to end slavery where it existed, nor would he use force to maintain possession of federal property. His speech closed with a plea for restoration of the bonds of union. The South sent delegations to Washington and offered to pay for the federal properties and enter into a peace treaty with the United States. Lincoln entered negotiations with Confederate agents although he insisted (somewhat weakly) that the Confederacy was not a legitimate government, and that making any treaty with it would be tantamount to recognition of it as a sovereign government. However, Secretary of State William Seward engaged in authorized and direct negotiations that succeeded and the widely predicted 'War of the States' was narrowly avoided.
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