Lincoln's Knowledge of the Crisis
Cincinnati Daily Enquirer, December 27, 1860
The dispatches from Springfield, Illinois, generally agree in representing Mr. LINCOLN as opposed to any compromise or concession whatever of the extreme party policy which has caused the withdrawal of one State, to be immediately followed by six or seven others from the Union, and rendering fearfully imminent the final disruption of our entire Government.
If these reports are founded in truth—and we fear they are—it gives an insight into his character that may well cause the American people to look with fearful apprehension to his forthcoming official career. There he is, in an retired country village in the interior of Illinois, having no actual knowledge of the alarming state of affairs his election has produced, surrounded constantly by venal flatterers, and breathing but one atmosphere—and that created by the extreme and fanatical portion of his party—delivering his views with autocratic precision upon such a slender basis of information. He manifests an ignorance unpardonable in giving out such opinions to the country, and a criminal self-presumption in not waiting until he reaches Washington City and has an opportunity of interchanging opinions with leading men from all parts of the country, and thus acquiring some information as to the difficulties he will be called upon to encounter.
Secluded for years in this quiet village, intoxicated with vanity and success, utterly ignorant of the feelings of the Southern people, he and his party never having had any political association with them, except as antagonists, and scarcely acquainted with the sentiments of his own section, it is absolutely indecent and an outrage upon the nation for him to express and have circulated expressions of the policy that is to govern his Administration. But we suppose the ventilation of those sentiments is owing to the fact of his rapid growth since the election, as we have been credibly informed by an old and familiar acquaintance who lately paid him a visit, that the important, consequential and Presidential airs which he puts on are truly amusing to those who knew him in former days. This "wise" and "experienced" statesman talks glibly about administering the Government upon the principles of the Chicago Platform, not deviating in the least from that extraordinary political chart! He appears to regard it as more sacred than the Constitution of the United States, which he will have to swear to support.
Let us remind Mr. LINCOLN that although he was elected under the forms of the Constitution, the Chicago Platform was most overwhelmingly repudiated and emphatically condemned. The vote upon that question stood as follows, in round numbers:
Lincoln and Chicago Platform: 1,800,000
Opposed to Lincoln and Chicago Platform: 2,800,000
Majority against both: 1,000,000
Do we understand Mr. LINCOLN to say that, in administering the Government, he intends to obey the voice of the 1,800,000 voters, and disregard the wishes of the 2,800,000, embracing a majority of the people of nineteen States of this Union? If the election was to be tried over, neither LINCOLN nor his platform would scarcely obtain a State in the Union, the people being perfectly satisfied with both, even before their reign has commenced.
We do not hesitate to declare emphatically that he will not be allowed to pursue any such suicidal policy. In the face of revolution and secession at the South, and an unexampled financial crisis at the North, infinitely stronger men than nature ever intended him to be would have to quail before the storm.
All accounts from Springfield agree that he has been well crammed with the idea by the toadies and flatterers sur[r]ounding him, that he is a General JACKSON No. 2, they having false and perverted ideas of that old hero's character. A few more moves toward responsibility will teach Mr. LINCOLN that he is not General JACKSON, nor is this the age of 1833. An attempt to carry out his partisan policy will assuredly cover him and his Administration with shame and disgrace, shiver the Union to atoms, and render a civil war inevitable. If he possesses any of the qualifications requisite for the great office of President, he will soar above party, remembering that his obligations and responsibilities are to the whole people and not to a particular organization, and that it is of far more importance to preserve the Union than to adhere to a platform that a million majority of his countrymen condemn. Has he the stupidity to suppose that he can hold this Confederacy together by armed force? Let him beware of the Scriptural admonition in relation to those who take up the sword, remembering that it is a two-edged instrument, that requires handling with far more ability than his greatest admirers give him credit of possessing. CHARLES I and GEORGE III both lost empires by relying upon the sword, and the former lost his head.