Friday, November 9, 2007

"You Were Last Night Hung in Effigy in This City"

The president-elect received an anonymous telegram from Pensacola, Florida:

Nov 8th

Pensacola Fla

You were last night hung in effigy in this city--

A Citizen

A reporter watched Lincoln read the telegram and asked him what he thought about it. Lincoln dismissed it, explaining that such feeling was “limited to a very small number, though very intense."

A free and fair election did not quiet the voices of secession; in fact, it had the opposite effect. An editorial in this morning’s Richmond Semi-Weekly Examiner did not waste time hanging the president-elect in effigy. Instead, the writer analyzed the results of the election and made an ominous prediction: “The Government of the Union is in the hands of the avowed enemies of one entire section. It is to be directed in hostility to the property of that section.” Would the South stand by and wait for the new government to assail them? “What is to be done, is the question that presses on every man," the editor concluded.

I have added the editorial to the Primary Documents section. Here it is in full:

Richmond Semi-weekly Examiner

[Richmond, Virginia]

November 9, 1860

It would seem that the sectional game has been fairly played out in the North. New York has gone for Lincoln by a majority larger than she cast for Fremont in 1856. Of the free States we see no reason to hope that the Black Republicans have lost more than two, and they amongst the smallest and weakest in political power -- those on the Pacific. The solid, compact mass of free States has solemnly given its sanction and its political power to the anti-slavery policy of the Black Republicans.--The idle canvass prattle about Northern conservation may now be dismissed. A party founded on the single sentiment, the exclusive feeling of hatred to African slavery, is now the controlling power in this Confederacy. Constitutional limitations on its powers are only such, in its creed, as its agents or itself shall recognize. It claims power for the Government which it will control, to construe the measure of its own authority, and to use the entire governmental power of this Confederacy to enforce its construction upon the people and States of this Union. No man can fail to see and know this who reads and understands what he reads. The fact is a great and a perilous truth. No clap trap about the Union, no details of private conversations of Northern men can alter it or weaken its force. It is here a present, living, mischievous fact. The Government of the Union is in the hands of the avowed enemies of one entire section. It is to be directed in hostility to the property of that section.

What is to be done, is the question that presses on every man.