Page:Abraham Lincoln address (1909).djvu/40

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

38

will believe that what we have said to you we believe to be the truth, and nothing but the truth. And we further believe that if the cause espoused by Mr. Lincoln had not been deemed successful, and if the "assassin's bullet" had not contributed so greatly to immortalize him, his name would be now bandied about as only that of an ordinary, coarse, secretive, cunning man and wily politician, and one of the greatest tyrants of any age.

But it will doubtless be replied to all these things, that, admitting their truth, "He saved the Union, and the end was worth and justified the means."

If this was an argument at all, we might feel the force of it, viewing the matter from a Northern standpoint. But, in our opinion, any such attempted answer is an evasion, and "begging the question" now under discussion. The real question is, not what was accomplished, but what was the character and conduct of the man, and what were the methods and instruments employed by him to do his work? Was the character of Abraham Lincoln such as to make him an ideal and exemplar for our children, and were the methods employed by him such as to excite and command the reverence, admiration and emulation of those who come after us? We answer, No; a thousand times, No.

REASONS FOR THIS PAPER.

But some will doubtless ask, and with apparent justification, Is it not wrong in this Camp to bring forward these things, especially at this time, when so much is, ostensibly, being done to allay sectional feeling between the North and the South?

The answer to all such inquiries is, to our mind, perfectly simple and satisfactory. In the first place, these efforts to allay sectional bitterness are far more apparent than real, as any one who has read the histories and current literature which has teemed from Northern presses ever since the war, and is still issuing from those presses, will be forced to admit. These histories and this literature, written almost wholly by our conquerors, naturally give their side of the conflict, and they not only exalt their leaders, and seek especially to deify Mr. Lincoln, but they misrepresent the cause and the motives of the Southern people, and vilify us and our leader, Mr. Davis, in the most flagrant and outrageous way. Mr. Lincoln is portrayed, as we have seen, as a man of ineffable