In a fellowship, which really ought not to have existed, with these obstructionists, was the powerful and respectable body of war Democrats. These men maintained a stubborn loyalty to the old party, but prided themselves upon being as hearty and thorough-going war-men as any among the Republicans. A large proportion of the most distinguished generals, of the best regimental officers, of the most faithful soldiers in the field, were of this political faith. The only criticism that Republicans could reasonably pass upon them was, that they did not, in a political way, strengthen the hands of the government, that they would not uphold its authority by swelling its majorities, nor aid its prestige by giving it their good words.
Over against this Democracy, with its two very discordant wings, was arrayed the Republican party, which also was disturbed by the ill-will of those who should have been its allies; for while the moderate Abolitionists generally sustained the President, though only imperfectly satisfied with him, the extreme Abolitionists refused to be so reasonable. They were a very provoking body of pure moralists. They worried the President, condemned his policy, divided the counsels of the government, and introduced injurious personal enmities and partisanship with reckless disregard of probable consequences. To a considerable extent they had the same practical effect as if they had been avowed opponents of the Republican President. They wished immediately to place the war upon the footing of a crusade for the abolition of slavery. Among them were old-time Abolitionists, with whom this purpose was a religion, men who had hoped to see Seward the Republican President, and who said that Lincoln’s friends in the nominating convention had represented a “superficial and only half-hearted Republicanism.” Beside these men, though actuated by very different and much less honorable motives, stood many recruits, some even from the Democracy, who were so vindictive against the South that they desired to inflict abolition as a punishment.
All these critics and dissatisfied persons soon began to speak with severity, and sometimes with contempt, against the President. He had said that the war was for the Union; but they scornfully retorted that this was to reduce it to “a mere sectional strife for ascendency;” that “a Union, with slavery spared and reinstated, would not be worth the cost of saving it.” It was true that to save the Union, without also removing the cause of disunion, might not be worth a very great price; yet both Union and abolition were in serious danger of being thrown away forever by these impetuous men who desired to pluck the fruit before it was ripe, or rather declared it to be ripe because they so wanted to pluck it.