Two Against Lincoln

​A review of Two Against Lincoln: Reverdy Johnson and Horatio Seymour, Champions of the Loyal Opposition (University Press of Kansas, 2017) by William C. Harris

In a speech before the Senate in 1863, James A. Bayard of Delaware stated that “The truth will out, ultimately…though they may be voted down by the majority of the hour, though they may not be known at first—the great truths will not triumph, with a little energy and a little perseverance.” Bayard had for two years relentlessly attacked the Lincoln administration for its legal gymnastics regarding the Constitution, and he believed that in the future, Americans would come to view the Lincoln administration as a watershed in a downhill slide to despotic government. Bayard later resigned from the Senate after taking Charles Sumner’s “Iron Clad Oath,” a vocal though defeated and marginalized critic of the Republican war effort.

Defeated and marginalized summarizes the entire collection of Lincoln opponents described as “Copperheads” by the Republican press. The reason is possibly tied both to Lincoln’s assassination in 1865 and the process of reconciliation after the War. Lincoln was martyred, his constitutional abuses chalked up to wartime necessities, and the burgeoning Lincolnian America solidified by the “Gilded

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(The opinions in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Southern Nation News or SN.O.)

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