With the clear eyes of one who had observed Europe’s authoritarian regimes as an American diplomat for eight years, Richmond Examiner editor John Moncure Daniel compared the marching of troops in Washington to what he experienced in Europe. He could envision America’s future under an autocrat with an army at his disposal, and the end of republican government in both North and South.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
“In March 1861, many in the North and South shared John Daniel’s regret that the country was coming apart. [President James] Buchanan, Daniel added, at least possessed decorum and dignity. His successor was a “King of Shreds and Patches,” a combination of western country lawyer and Yankee barkeeper, and no one could read without shame Lincoln’s statements on his way to Washington, which Daniel described as condensed lumps of imbecility, buffoonery, and vulgar malignity. The worst of Lincoln, said [Daniel’s Richmond] Examiner, was that he was bringing in arbitrary power and that he was intent on destroying every federative feature of the Constitution…”
“…in March, 1861, Jefferson Davis had already been sworn in as president of the Confederacy. A number of American newspapers – including many in the South – were continuing to forecast a relatively peaceful division of the country…Daniel was more forthright: he predicted on March 4 that before another year had passed, Abraham Lincoln would have deluged in blood the shattered Union.
Daniel wrote that when he had come back to Washington after years abroad, one dawn he had heard in the capital a bugle call, a roll of drums, and a tramp of armed guards that almost made him think he was in Austrian-occupied Venice or Russian-occupied Warsaw. What, wrote Daniel, could come of all this but civil war and public ruin? Thirty companies of volunteers were hurriedly being organized to add to what had been a total force of no more than four hundred Marines in the capital. But Daniel’s vision of a coming bloodbath was more acute than that of other editors.”
(Pen of Fire, John Moncure Daniel, Peter Bridges, Kent State University Press, 2002, pp. 166-167)