After being escorted to the steps of the capital building by a military guard in a carriage drawn by six horses, Jefferson Davis gave a short speech. He affirmed the right of the South to secede according to the principles of the Constitution of the United States. While Davis hoped that war would be avoided, he knew that it must be prepared for. He declared that if war came, it would be the North's responsibility:
Should reason guide the action of the Government from which we have separated, a policy so detrimental to the civilized world, the Northern States included, could not be dictated by even the strongest desire to inflict injury upon us; but, if the contrary should prove true, a terrible responsibility will rest upon it, and the suffering of millions will bear testimony to the folly and wickedness of our aggressors.He concluded his speech with:
It is joyous in the midst of perilous times to look around upon a people united in heart, where one purpose of high resolve animates and actuates the whole; where the sacrifices to be made are not weighed in the balance against honor and right and liberty and equality. Obstacles may retard, but they cannot long prevent, the progress of a movement sanctified by its justice and sustained by a virtuous people. Reverently let us invoke the God of our fathers to guide and protect us in our efforts to perpetuate the principles which by his blessing they were able to vindicate, establish, and transmit to their posterity. With the continuance of his favor ever gratefully acknowledged, we may hopefully look forward to success, to peace, and to prosperity.After taking the oath of office, Jefferson Davis became President of the Confederacy and undertook the duties of organizing the government and preparing for possible war with the United States.