The Progress of the Presidents

Nashville Daily Patriot, February 16, 1861

Mr. LINCOLN left Springfield on Monday last for Washington, where he is to assume the Executive control of the United States on the 4th March next. He is taking in his route the capitals of States and important cities, is receiving enthusiastic welcomes, and malting speeches, in all which there is evidently, an under-current of war. It appears certain that the inclinations of Mr. LINCOLN's mind all tend in that direction. The revenues must be collected, and what was once the undisputed property of the Union, but is now claimed by a new power, must be retaken and held. The right of secession is properly denounced, but the President elect seems never to have dreamed of a right of revolution, or the possibility of a de facto government. He hopes at no time to be false to anything that the people have been taught to expect of him. He is anxious for the condition of the country, but cannot see that anybody is hurt, that anybody is suffering. He cannot comprehend how four billions of property can be forever excluded by the strong arm of power from equal rights in common territories, under an equal Constitution and equal laws, and be injured. His political reflections have never been turned to that grave problem. He seems never to have perceived how a majority in a representative republican government could, on becoming permanent, become tyrannical, and how a minority may be thereby degraded and oppressed. These ideas were not set down in his manual of statesmanship.

On the other hand, Mr. DAVIS left his home two or three days later, for Montgomery, where he is to assume the Executive control of the "Confederate States of America"—which means that he is to engineer an experiment to build up a new government. He makes no stops except the usual few minutes at railway stations. At most of these the people gather around the cars, shout, throw up their hats, sometimes fire a salute, and if it is night the few houses around have some extra lights stuck about the windows. Mr. DAVIS appears on the platform, bows politely, and in a very few sentences tells the people what he means to do. He dismisses all questions but the main one in hand, and that is to go on with the experiment, complete the machine and maintain the new government against all disputants in every form and at every hazard. He seems not to expect peace, and with a boldness and directness becoming the occasion, tells the people that he will carry the war where it is easy to advance—to the densely populated cities, where there is food for the sword and the torch. If they come down to spoil his fields and his crops, he will grow them over again; but their cities cannot rise again so easily—the grass will grow where the pavements are worn off by the tread of commerce. England will recognize the Confederate States, and a glorious future awaits them. He is for peace, he even hopes for peace, but is none the less prepared for war. And with this the locomotive whistles, he bows, replaces his hat, and speeds on his way to Montgomery—leaving nobody in doubt as to what he means.

Thus the two men progress to the respective seats of their care and responsibility. Mr. LINCOLN goes by short stages, a circuitous route, with frequent rests. He eats his meals leisurely, sleeps comfortably, and goes as to a festival of ease and pleasure. DAVIS goes the shortest route, with all the speed of steam, sprinkles his steak with pepper and with it gulps a cup of coffee, doesn't sleep at all, and goes directly forward to his post, as to a scene of labor and of danger. LINCOLN has no business in Washington before about the 4th March, and is careless about getting there—DAVIS has immediate and urgent business in Montgomery, and he goes like an earnest man to attend to it. LINCOLN IS tedious—DAVIS as swift as steam.

If there is anybody in the country who thinks the "Confederate States of America" are not in earnest, he had as well review that opinion, and accept things as they are.