In February 1860, like today, an angry self-righteous group within Congress sought to shut down the government – and worse. Their ire was focused, as today, on a single individual, and in that instance a man who although running for the presidency had yet to be elected. Ironically, while today it is a faction on the fringe of the Republican Party who threaten to gut the government over a Democratic president and his key policy, 153 years ago it was just the opposite: Southern Democrats who could not “abide” the election of a Republican: Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln, far from assured of election, stood his ground. Speaking at Cooper Union hall in New York on February 27, 1860 he addressed what he called the “single-mindedness” of the Southerners who threatened to secede if he gained the presidency:
"In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us! That is cool. A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear and mutters through his teeth, 'Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!' "
In Lincoln’s day “cool” meant something far different than today’s slang. It was an ironic term that meant cold, calculating and unemotional or, as the Oxford English Dictionary of the time explained: “deliberately audacious or impudent in making a proposal, demand, or assumption."
History, unfortunately, is repeating itself in parts of a house that is once again divided itself, as Abraham Lincoln so sadly put it over 150 years ago. He then, as President Obama today, was derided, taunted and called insulting names by his foes. Just as Lincoln spoke of a highwayman holding a gun to his head, so has Obama likened the current situation to a gunman holding hostages. Lincoln stood firm against such cold-hearted men, and in fighting to hold the country together, that president himself gave the last full measure of devotion.
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Mark G. McLaughlin is a Connecticut-based free lance journalist and game designer with over 30 years of experience as a ghost-writer and columnist. An author whose first published book was Battles of the American Civil War, and whose games include the Mr. Lincoln’s War set, Mark continues to be enthralled by stories from the age of Lincoln. To view Mark's 16th published design, the American Civil War Naval strategy game Rebel Raiders on the High Seas, visit his publisher at http://www.gmtgames.com/p-238-rebel-raiders-on-the-high-seas.aspx
…or his blog at http://markgmclaughlin.blogspot.com/
Mark’s latest work, the science fiction adventure novel Princess Ryan's Star Marines, is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle e-book formats at http://www.amazon.com/Princess-Ryans-Star-Marines-Save/dp/1466218487/ref...
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