Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/39

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.

37

foreign writers have written but little about Mr. Lincoln, which would seem to indicate that they are yet waiting to learn the truth about him.

We cheerfully admit that Mr. Lincoln was an honest man in the sense that he was absolutely free from what is now termed "graft" and that he never manifested any disposition to "put money in his purse" which did not properly belong there. He may have been a patriot, too, in the usual acceptation of that term; but as we diagnose his patriotism, it was so intermingled with, and controlled by, an inordinate personal ambition it is impossible to say how far that predominated. Certainly his readiness to sacrifice the lives and property both of his friends and his foes would seem to show a recklessness and heartlessness more consistent with ambition than with any characteristic which was noble and good. If he was a patriot or a statesman at all, he ought certainly to have known that a union "pinned together with bayonets," enforced by the power of coercion, "against the consent of the governed" in a large part of that union, could never be the "Union" as formed by "our fathers"

"Popular beliefs in time come to be superstitions, and create both gods and devils," says Don Piatt, in speaking of how little is now known of the "Real Lincoln." (Men Who Saved the Union, p. 28.) And the same writer further says:

"There is no tyranny so despotic as that of public opinion among a free people. The rule of the majority is to the last extent exacting and brutal, and when brought to bear on our eminent men, it is also senseless." (Idem, p. 27.)

The North has had and has exercised the "rule of the majority" over the South for nearly half a century, and in many respects that rule has truly been "exacting and brutal," and especially is this true in their attempts to make us fall down and worship their false gods. Let us never consent to do so. No,

"Better the spear, the blade, the bowl,
Than crucifixion of the soul."

We are not vain enough to think that what we have said to-night will have any other effect than to inform the members of this Camp of the true character and conduct of this contradictory, strange and secretive man, but we are vain enough to think that you, at least,