The Late Presidential Struggle

... The reelection of Mr. Lincoln, therefore, derives its significance and importance not only from its vast numerical power, but still more from the character and position of the mighty mass who gave him their suffrages. It is a decision from which there can be no appeal, except from the highest civilization to the lowest barbarism. It indicates incomparably greater attributes than can be found in mere physical supremacy—all of education, science, art, morality, religion in its best development, philanthropy in its highest aspirations, reform in its widest bearings. Hence, the government is stable beyond all precedent, notwithstanding the rebellious convulsions of the hour; and the administration of Mr. Lincoln has accorded to it a sanction and a strength which no previous one—not excepting Washington’s—has ever been able to secure.

The election has determined many things. First—it shows how great is the confidence of the people in the honesty, sagacity, administrative ability, and patriotic integrity of Abraham Lincoln. And yet, what efforts were left undone by some whose loyalty was unquestionable, and by all whose disloyalty was palpable as a mountain, to utterly destroy that confidence, and cause his ignominious rejection? He was ridiculed and caricatured in every possible manner—represented (incoherently enough) as playing the part of tyrant and usurper, and yet being little better than an imbecile, having no mind of his own, but moulded by the abolition party, or by one or two members of his cabinet, as clay in the hands of the potter—as animated by a selfish desire to secure his re-election, no matter what the cost to the country—as disregarding all constitutional checks and limitations—as turning the war from its legitimate purpose to an unconstitutional end—as equally destitute of capacity and principle—as incurably afflicted with nigger on the brain—as oppressively bent on subjugating the rebellious South, and making conditions whereby union and peace were rendered impossible—as being too slow, and at the same time too fast—&c., &c. Moreover, it was said that he had lost the confidence of nearly all the prominent supporters of his administration, in Congress and out of it, who would in due time show their preference for another;—so that between such representations and the boastful predictions of his enemies, there seemed to be no chance for his success. As for his most formidable loyal antagonist, General Fremont was early hurried into the field, with a flourish of trumpets and an assurance of easy victory which the result makes too ridiculous to need any comment. Either to preserve a show of consistency, or to indulge a moritified pride, there are some who stoutly insist that Mr. Lincoln’s re-election by such immense odds is no evidence whatever of his popularity with the people, but only of their determination to see the rebellion put down, and the authority of the government vindicated! A nice distinction, and very easily made, but none the less unjust and foolish. In regard to all that has been said in disparagement of the President, the people have rendered their verdict in a manner that only sophistry can distort or effrontery deny.

Second—another thing settled by this election is, that no quarters are to be given to the rebellion, or to that accursed system of slavery from which it sprang, but both must expire together, and find the same ignominious grave, lower than plummet ever sounded. Every loyal vote was an anti-slavery vote. It was the adoption of the Baltimore Platform, in the fullness of its spirit and the strictness of its letter—sanctioning whatever has been done, whether by the President or Congress, to break the chains of the oppressed, and pledging the Union party to labor to secure an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, whereby slavery in every part of the republic shall be expressly and forever prohibited. The day of compromise is ended. The covenant with death is to be annulled, and the agreement with hell no longer permitted to stand. The spell is broken, the enchantment dissolved, and reason assumes its supremacy. A house divided against itself cannot stand, as this rebellion shows. Years ago, Abraham Lincoln prophetically said—This nation must be all slave or all free—and the nation has just decided which it shall be. Woe to the man or to the party hereafter attempting to secure a truce for a traitorous slave oligarchy in arms, or a compromise for the longer continuance of slavery! They shall be smitten to the dust by an outraged public sentiment. The first business at the next session of Congress must be the renewal of the proposed anti-slavery amendment of awakened people, who only wait for the legal opportunity to adopt it with a unanmity even greater than that which they have evinced in the reelection of Mr. Lincoln.

Third—another thing settled by this election is, the inherent vitality and strength of a republican form of government to meet and surmount the worst conceivable perils, with a firmness not to be shaken, an energy unparalleled, and an intelligent reference to the rights of human nature. Slavery is not the product of free institutions, but necessarily hostile to them; it constitutes no part of true democracy, any more than heathenism does of Christianity. It belongs to the despotisms of all ages—the crowning crime and curse of them all. That it is now in flaming rebellion is the ckearest evidence of the growth of the spirit of liberty in our land. That it has not been more effectually grappled with is the consequence of the vast political influence wielded factiously by those whose birth was in a foreign land, whose training was under aristocratic rule, and who, captivated by the name of democracy, have been the dupes of cunning demagogues, and shamefully misled on all occasions—they alone making the experiment of a government like ours a matter of doubt and anxiety, through their general want of education and moral training. But the termination of slavery will be the enjoyment of personal freedom from sea to sea; and hand in hand with that freedom will go all those facilities for mental development which have made the North so intelligent, enterprising, prosperous and powerful. After that, European emigration will cease to be a source of uneasiness as to its bearings upon the welfare of the republic.

—But, however bright the omens, let it never be forgotten—the price of Liberty is eternal vigilance.