Speaking to a group of Kentucky representatives at the White House in July 1861, President Lincoln said: “Gentlemen, my position in regard to your State is like that of the woman, who, returning to his home one night, found coiled around his beautiful children, who were quietly sleeping in their bed, several poisonous snakes. His first impulse was to save his little ones, but he feared that if he struck at the snakes he might strike the children, and yet he dared not let them die without an effort. So it is with me. I know Kentucky and Tennessee are infested with the enemies of the Union; but I know also that there are thousands of patriots in both who will be persecuted even unto death unless the strong hand of the Government is interposed for their protection and rescue. We must go in. The old flag must be carried into Tennessee at whatever hazard.”
John W. Forney, Anecdotes of Public Men, p. 265.