The Lincoln Juggernaut
Perhaps the White House is today occupied by another who desires to reform the world into an imitation of themselves.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
Wilmington, North Carolina
The Lincoln Juggernaut:
“It would be unreasonable for me to attempt to develop in this essay all that I wish to say in objection to the politics of Abraham Lincoln. For it is a great deal and will involve many years.
What Alexander Stephens called Lincoln’s “religious mysticism” of Union, when combined in “cold, calculating reason” to the goal of “equal rights” and an authoritarian (that is, irrational) biblical rhetoric, constitutes a juggernaut powerful enough to arm and enthrone any self-made Caesar we might imagine: even an unprepossessing country lawyer from Illinois.
For by means of that mixture and solution a transfer of authority and energy is effected, from the Puritan dream of a New Jerusalem governed by an elect to the manifest destiny of American democracy led by keepers of the popular faith. Both are authorized from on High to reform the world into an imitation of themselves—and to lecture and dragoon all who might object. Both receive regular intimations of the Divine Will through prophets who arise from time to time to recall them to their holy mission.
This is, of course, not to minimize the role played by Lincoln’s rise to power by the tireless “engine” of his ambition. As is announced obliquely in the “Address Before the Springfield Young Men’s Lyceum, 1838,” Lincoln was, very early, touched by a Bonapartist sense of destiny. His papers (all nine volumes, plus a recent supplement) reflects a steady purpose, an inexorable will to rise, to put his stamp upon the world. He had his ends in mind, his religion of Union in Equality, but he left it to the “providential” flow of history to carry them to realization.
Suffice it to say that Lincoln was indeed a man whose “policy was to have no policy.” And from the total pattern of his conduct we can extract the following formula: Wait, set up or encourage pressure, then jump, and call it God. The original behind this procedure could be any one of a dozen historic tyrants, all of whom announced a noble purpose for their acts.”
(A Better Guide Than Reason, Studies in the American Revolution, M.E. Bradford, Sherwood Sugden & Company, 1979, pp. 42-44)