even if he had gone down in the fight,--at least so thought the people.
The very opposite of such a President was James Buchanan
, who seemed anxious only for his term of office to expire, making little effort to save the country, nor even willing, at first, that others should do so. With a traitor for his Secretary of War
, the South
had been well supplied with arms under the very nose of the old man. With a traitor for his Secretary of the Navy
, our vessels — not many in number, it is true — had been sent into foreign waters, where they could not be immediately recalled.
With a traitor as Secretary of the Treasury
, the public treasury had been emptied.
Then, too, there began the seizure of arsenals, mints, custom-houses, post-offices, and fortifications within the limits of the seceding States, and still the President
did nothing, or worse than nothing, claiming that the South
was wrong in its acts, but that he had no right to prevent treason and secession, or, in the phraseology of that day, “no right to coerce a sovereign State.”
And so at last he left the office a disgraced old man, for whom few had or have a kind word to offer.
Such, briefly, was the condition of affairs when Abraham Lincoln
, fearful of his life, which had been threatened, entered Washington
under cover of darkness, and quietly assumed the duties of his office.
Never before were the people of this country in such a state of excitement.
At the North
there were a large number who boldly denounced the “Long-heeled Abolitionists” and “Black Republicans” for having stirred up this trouble.
I was not a voter at the time of Lincoln
's election, but I had taken an active part in the torchlight parades of the “Wide-awakes” and “Railsplitters,” as the political clubs of the Republicans were called, and so came in for a share of the abuse showered upon the followers of the new President
As fresh deeds of violence or new aggressions against the government were reported from the daily papers in the shop where I was