On the train ride to Washington DC for his inauguration, Lincoln made several stops for speeches, including one at Independence Hall in Philadelphia on Washington's birthday. Here he emphasized the value of freedom from the founding fathers, and gave a foreshadowing of a willingness for an ultimate personal cost to procure it. That evening he gave up attending further public events so he could be secretly transported to DC, because of the threat of assassination attempts in Baltimore.
2/22/1861 ...I have often pondered over the dangers which were incurred by the men who assembled here and adopted that Declaration of Independence-I have pondered over the toils that were endured by officers and soldiers of the army, who achieved that independence. I have often inquired of myself, what great principle or idea it was that kept this confederacy [the states] so long together. It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the motherland; but something in that Declaration giving liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but hope to the world for all future time.
It was that which gave promise that in due time the weights should be lifted from the shoulders of all men, and that all should have an equal chance. This is the sentiment embodied in that Declaration of Independence.
Now, my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will consider myself one of the happiest men in the world if I can help to save it. If it can't be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful. But, if this country cannot be saved without giving up that principle-I was about to say I would rather be assassinated on this spot than to surrender it... LL 379-380