Abraham Lincoln, Volume I eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 286 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume I.
find perhaps half of the people opposed to disunion; in the North he would hear everywhere words of compromise and concession, while coercion would be mentioned only to be denounced.  If these four months were useful in bringing the men of the North to the fighting point, on the other hand they gave an indispensable opportunity for proselyting, by whirl and excitement, great numbers at the South.  Even in the autumn of 1860 and in the Gulf States secession was still so much the scheme of leaders that there was no popular preponderance in favor of disunion doctrines.  In evidence of this are the responses of governors to a circular letter of Governor Gist of South Carolina, addressed to them October 5, 1860, and seeking information as to the feeling among the people.  From North Carolina, Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama came replies that secession was not likely to be favorably received.  Mississippi was non-committal.  Louisiana, Georgia, and Alabama desired a convention of the discontented States, and might be influenced by its action.  North Carolina, Louisiana, and Alabama would oppose forcible coercion of a seceding State.  Florida alone was rhetorically belligerent.  These reports were discouraging in the ears of the extremist governor; but against them he could set the fact that the disunionists had the advantage of being the aggressive, propagandist body, homogeneous, and pursuing an accurate policy in entire concert.  They were willing to take any amount of pains to manipulate and control the election of delegates and the formal action of conventions, and in all cases except that of Texas the question was conclusively passed upon by conventions.  By every means they “fired the Southern heart,” which was notoriously combustible; they stirred up a great tumult of sentiment; they made thunderous speeches; they kept distinguished emissaries moving to and fro; they celebrated each success with an uproar of cannonading, with bonfires, illuminations, and processions; they appealed to those chivalrous virtues supposed to be peculiar to Southerners; they preached devotion to the State, love of the state flag, generous loyalty to sister slave-communities; sometimes they used insult, abuse, and intimidation; occasionally they argued seductively.  Thus Mr. Cobb’s assertion, that “we can make better terms out of the Union than in it,” was, in the opinion of Alexander H. Stephens, the chief influence which carried Georgia out of the Union.  In the main, however, it was the principle of state sovereignty and state patriotism which proved the one entirely trustworthy influence to bring over the reluctant.  “I abhor disunion, but I go with my State,” was the common saying; and the States were under skillful and resolute leadership.  So, though the popular discontent was far short of the revolutionary point, yet individuals, one after another, yielded to that sympathetic, emotional instinct which tempts each man to fall in with the big procession.  In this way it was that during the Buchanan interregnum the people of the Gulf States became genuinely fused in rebellion.

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Abraham Lincoln, Volume I from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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