Abraham Lincoln, Volume II eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 309 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln, Volume II.

The chapter which has been written on “Emancipation and Politics” shows that while loyalty to the Union operated as a bond to hold together the people of the North, slavery entered as a wedge to force them asunder.  It was not long before the wedge proved a more powerful force than the bond, for the wedge was driven home by human nature; and it was inevitable that the men of conservative temperament and the men of progressive temperament should erelong be easily restored to their instinctive antagonism.  Of those who had been stigmatized as “Northern men with Southern principles,” many soon found their Southern proclivities reviving.  These men, christened “Copperheads,” became more odious to loyal Northerners than were the avowed Secessionists.  In return for their venomous nickname and the contempt and hatred with which they were treated, they themselves grew steadily more rancorous, more extreme in their feelings.  They denounced and opposed every measure of the government, harangued vehemently against the war and against all that was done to prosecute it, reviled with scurrilous and passionate abuse every prominent Republican, filled the air with disheartening forecasts of defeat, ruin, and woe, and triumphed whenever the miserable prophecies seemed in the way of fulfillment.  General Grant truly described them as auxiliaries to the Confederate army, and said that the North would have been much better off with a hundred thousand of these men in the Southern ranks, and the rest of their kind at home thoroughly subdued, as the Unionists were at the South, than was the case as the struggle was actually conducted.  In time the administration found itself forced, though reluctantly, to arrest and imprison many of the ringleaders in this Northern disaffection.  Yet all the while the Copperheads resolutely maintained their affiliations with the Democratic party, and though they brought upon it much discredit which it did not deserve, yet they could not easily be ejected from it.  Differences of opinion shaded into each other so gradually that to establish a line of division was difficult.

Impinging upon Copperheadism stood the much more numerous body of those who persistently asserted their patriotism, but with equal persistence criticised severely all the measures of the government.  These men belonged to that well-known class which is happily described as being “for the law, but ag’in the enforcement of it.”  They were for the Union, but against saving it.  They kept up a disapproving headshaking over pretty much everything that the President did.  With much grandiloquent argument, in the stately, old-school style, they bemoaned the breaches which they charged him with making in the Constitution.  They also hotly assumed the role of champions of General McClellan, and bewailed the imbecility of an administration which thwarted and deposed him.  Protesting the purest and highest patriotism, they were more evasive than the outspoken Copperheads, and as their disaffection was less conspicuous and offensive, so also it was more insidious and almost equally hurtful.  They constituted the true and proper body of Democracy.

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