Lo! The Conquering Hero Comes
New Orleans Daily Delta, February 26, 1861
It is not pleasant to see even an enemy reduced to the state of degradation and humiliation into which our Black Republican foe has fallen. It is a rude shock to even such recollections as we may still retain of the glories of the Confederacy of which we were formerly a part, to behold that once proud Republic, so shamed and debased before the world by the ridiculous, vulgar and pusillanimous antics of the coarse and cowardly demagogue whom a corrupt and crazy faction has elevated to the chair, once filled by Washington, Jefferson and Jackson. If Scipio, Cato or Augustus could have revisited the arena of their great deeds and illustrious virtues, at that melancholy era of Roman decline, when the Imperial scepter was put up to auction, or gravely proposed to be conferred on a horse, they would not have been subjected to a greater mortification and disgust than the fathers of the Republic of the United States would experience in beholding the disgusting demeanor of the elected chief of the Confederacy whose highest places they once graced and honored. His silly speeches, his ill-timed jocularity, his pusillanimous evasion of responsibility, and vulgar pettyfoggery, have no parallel in history, save in the crazy capers of Caligula, or in the effeminate buffoonery of Henry of Valois. We have repeatedly averred that the secession of the South was instigated by higher motives than a mere hostility to Lincoln; that the simple fact of his election was not the moving cause of that great movement. But his recent conduct will compel us to confess that the debasement of being ruled over by such a President—the disgust of having to look up to such a Chief Magistrate as the head of the Republic—is quite as powerful a justification for secession as could be presented. It is evident that the South has been quite as much deceived in its estimate of Lincoln as the North and his own party have been. His bearing in the debate with Douglas produced a general impression that he was a man of some ability, as a politician and polemic. This estimate, though somewhat shaken by the character of his brief letter of acceptance of the nomination of the Chicago Convention, was confirmed by his silence during the campaign. But he is no sooner compelled to break that silence, and to exhibit himself in public, than this delusion vanishes, and the Hoosier lawyer dwindles into far smaller proportions than his bitterest enemies had ever assigned to him. In the expressive language of Mrs. Toodles to her blundering husband, he never opens his mouth but he puts his foot into it. In supreme silliness—in profound ignorance of the institutions of the Republic of which he has been chosen chief—in dishonest and cowardly efforts to dodge responsibility and play a double part—in disgusting levity on the most serious subjects, the speeches of Lincoln, on his way to the capital, have no equals in the history of any people, civilized or semi-civilized. The elevation of such a man enables us to form a fair estimate of the bitterness and venom of the hostility of the party, of which he is the chosen representative, against the South. They were not content to elevate one who was the proclaimed enemy to the Constitution, but they must needs add insult to injury, by choosing one whose personal unfitness and coarse demeanor would inflict the deepest chagrin and disgust upon the people of that section of the Union which has always regarded with the most sensitive pride the character of the high officials of the Government. In this they imitated the mad malice of Caligula, when he chose his imperial successor from his stable.
Passing over his ludicrous exposition of the wrong of secession in his Indianapolis speech, wherein a sovereign State is compared to a county in a State, and his hypocritical presentation of his views on coercion in the form of interrogatories—his declaration in Ohio, that "nobody was hurt" by his election, and that the present distress was all imaginary—his announcement of his tariff views at Pittsburg, that the iron of that city and the corn of Illinois ought to be equally protected by tariffs, as if anybody ever asked for any protection of corn, his speech of thanks to the young lady, who requested him to turn out whiskers, and his puerile appeals to everybody to keep cool and not get into a passion—we come to the closing scene of his dignified and triumphal procession to the capital, when he suffers himself to be smuggled through the city of Baltimore incognito, and sneaking by night into the capital, is delivered into the hands of his keeper, his Robert Le Dain, Wm. H. Seward, by whom he is to be put into rehearsal for the strange part for which he has been cast. Meantime that melancholy wreck of the once great military chief of the Republic is required to do police duty as commander of a few mercenaries composed of poor foreigners, picked up in the streets of the large cities, detached from the army of the United States, to guard the sacred person of the "People's choice for the Presidency of the freest nation in the world." There is not a General in Europe who would not deem it an offense to his military pride to be called on to perform such a duty as Scott delights in—the duty of an orderly sergeant, a subaltern or chief of police. There is not now a reigning monarch in Europe whose accession to the throne would require such precautions against violence and interruption, as have been deemed necessary in the inauguration of Lincoln. While such an exhibition of the decline of the Republic which our fathers founded can not but produce sad and regretful feelings in every American breast, it should be a consolation, a source of relief and pride to us of the South that we are no longer involved in the disgrace and chagrin which Black Republicans have brought upon the once proud and honored confederacy.