Burlington Daily Times, March 4, 1861
ABRAHAM LINCOLN is to become President of the United States to-day. He owes his election to this office, primarily to two causes: to the high reputation as a speaker and statesman which he achieved in the senatorial contest with Douglas in 1858; the second cause is the conviction that prevailed among Republicans last spring, however well grounded it may have been, that Mr. Seward would be in danger of defeat, if nominated. This conviction constrained the delegates to the Republican National Convention to choose another man as a candidate for President. This fell fortunately, as we have always believed, on Mr. LINCOLN.
The story of LINCOLN's life has been told too often to be repeated here. He assumes the office of President under extraordinary embarrassments, which are so peculiar, so heavy and unprecedented, as to oppress him by the weight of the fearful responsibility that rests on him, and to excite the deepest solicitude on the part of every patriot. No President, before, has been beset by so many and so grave and inevitable duties as he will be the moment that he crosses the threshold of his official career. The anxious inquiry with all men, is, "what will he do?" Will he prove adequate to the work before him? Will he fail, or will he succeed in bringing about a wise and permanent adjustment of the troubles that vex the whole country? The character of the man, and the sound judgment and sagacity which he has uniformly betrayed since he came prominently to public notice, inspire hope and confidence in his capacity to meet the exigencies of the case.
Mr. LINCOLN is frank, ingenuous, honest; and above all, a sincere man. His actions are marked by the simplicity and plainness that characterized Franklin. There is no striving to appear well; no effort to curry favor by a dexterous address; no cant, or affectation, about him. His speeches, his acts, and the assurances of his friends, who have known him long and well, leave no room to doubt that Mr. LINCOLN, in all that he says and does, acts from thoroughly conscientious motives, that he is swayed by his sense of what is fair and just and right. We have the best reason for believing that he will stick inflexibly to his convictions of right in pursuing a given line of policy. We have no idea that he can be coaxed, bullied or persuaded into any abandonment of them. He may err in judgment, he may make blunders; but we feel sure that he will always be unswerving in his devotion to what he believes to be right.
It is a false idea that LINCOLN is not to be President, but some man, or club of men, will dictate the policy of his administration. He has been in public life less than many of his counselors, but his speeches show, beyond dispute, that he has studiously, carefully and thoroughly read our political history; that he has read "inwardly digesting." He has his own convictions. He has opinions of his own. He has a deep sense of his own personal responsibility. With those moral qualities which Mr. LINCOLN has, it is preposterous to suppose that he is to be a dummy—moved as somebody moves him. The fact that he has been in public life little is no proof that he is not competent to dispose of the questions that confront him. The administration of Buchanan has exploded the idea that a long public career is a guarantee that a man will make a good President; that an "old public functionary" may not make a most impotent executive.—What do Mr. LINCOLN's character and antecedents give us reason to expect of him? In his career little ground can be found for supposing that he is liable to give way to the dictation of others. He has always been accustomed to rely on his own resources, to meet the duties and the work which fell to him, manfully, boldly, and with tact and ability. It is said that the high praise has been given him at home, that "he always did everything well"—Will he blench now? Will he falter in the face of the grave responsibility that lies before him? Will he refuse to use his own power so often employed successfully in the trials and vicissitudes that have occurred to him? We do not think he will.
His course since his nomination,—his prudent reticence, his persistent refusal to give any opinion till he has surveyed the whole field, taking a view from all possible points before he committed himself, are positive evidence of his sagacity and judgment. Indeed, they show rare discretion, a calm, sound judgment, too well poised to be easily shaken, grave moderation in the face of provocation, and a firm, self-reliant spirit, a decision of character—that win our admiration and inspire our confidence. We feel sure that ABRAHAM LINCOLN will be the next President. He will stand against the shock of the faction in his own party, if it comes to that, and the assaults of the partizan malignity from other parties.
The objection to him that he has been but little in public life is empty and frivolous.—Let men remember that in the most remarkable epoch of England's history—when constitutional freedom gained its best victory,—its mighty champion came not from the camp—not from the bar,—not from the senate. The saviour, then, was found on the moors of Huntingdon—a plain, plodding farmer, smacking of land, of cattle, and the every-day work of husbandry—unknown to public notoriety. He became the soul of the revolution. Its history has justly been called a Cromwelliad. Are not the prairies of Illinois equal to the English moors of Huntingdon? In the sterling qualities of genuine noble manhood the product of the one equals that of the other. However our revolution may result, the man to whose custody Liberty and its interests are now confided, brings to the task which he undertakes an acute and powerful intellect, purity of character[,] inflexible honesty, great firmness and decision, the sincerest patriotism, and a spirit which he admirably gives expression to in his own earnest appeal to Republicans: "LET US HAVE FAITH THAT RIGHT MAKES MIGHT, AND IN THAT FAITH, LET US, TO THE END, DARE TO DO OUR DUTY, AS WE UNDERSTAND IT."