Thursday, April 21, 2011

The United and Patriotic North

I continue to present items from the Covington Journal describing its editors feelings and observations as events quickly unfolded in early spring of 1861.

Here are two other articles from April 20, 1861, in which Samuel Davis (the paper's editor) again seems surprised by the the North's unity, desire and motivation to keep the nation whole. Civil War studies often mention that Lincoln underrated how strong secession sentiment in the South was (or overestimated support for the Union in that region), but Southerners, like in this article, seem to have underestimated their opponent as well.  (Of course, this is just after the bombardment of Fort Sumter, when patriotic fervor was at its highest levels in both sections.)

The start of the second paragraph of this first story did prove true, but also note that this article again refers to "weakness" in the government at Washington, which was not the first time this paper used that description about the new administration.It clearly misread the federal government's determination (and ability) to oppose secession.

The United North
Unaccountable as it is, and deplorable as we may regard it, the fact is nevertheless undeniable that the North is at this moment united in support of Lincoln's war policy. - The solemn resolutions of Democratic conventions and the high-sounding declarations of Democratic editors against coercion have alike been scattered as chaff before the wind. - Party lines have been broken down; old questions have been ignored, and the universal sentiment is that Lincoln must be sustained. In the midst of this excitement the reign of terror has been inaugurated and no man dare put in a plea for the South.

The excitement is so intense that it cannot last. There must be re-action; but alas! we see no ground to hope that it will be in time, or strong enough, to arrest the bloody purposes of that combination of subtlety, weakness and fanaticism which controls the government at Washington. 

Northern Patriotism
The inauguration of Civil War by the Lincoln Administration has fired the Northern heart to a degree never before known since the foundation of the Government. The invitation to make ready to shoot down their brethren of the South is joyously and heartily responded to everywhere in the North. - 

Neither the war of '12 against Great Britain, nor the war against Mexico aroused anything like the amount of enthusiasm that now prevails, or called out any such  prompt and liberal offers of men and money as are now made in the free States

Of course, the editors mentions "inauguration of Civil War by the Lincoln Administration" with no mention of any Southern responsibility for it, but I found it interesting that his last remark described the Union members as "free" states instead of "Northern" states. Maybe that means nothing, but it stood out to me when I read it.

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