Our poor president. His opponents have called the war "...a most bloody and costly failure." As one foe put it, "Defeat, debt, taxation, sepulchers--these are your trophies." However, the poor president I speak of isn't President Bush. These comments are not about the war in Iraq. They are descriptions of the Civil War and then President Abraham Lincoln, made by Lincoln's contemporaries.
Some said that Lincoln had converted the government into despotism, all for that most ignoble cause--abolition. There were those who even called for President Lincoln's imprisonment. Tired of the growing body count, they wanted to end the war, even if it meant continued slavery. They believed that Lincoln had consistently acted unconstitutionally in conducting the war.
Sound familiar? And if you think President Bush has overstepped his bounds, think of this: Lincoln put into motion the arrest of hundreds of Southern sympathizers across the North, including newspaper editors. Let the White House press corps chew on that one for a whiles.
Whatever the similarities and differences between these two presidents, it seems evident that both of them have been motivated by a firm belief that their actions were not only justified, but imperative. When I hear about Lincoln's firm resolve regarding the preservation of the Union, it amazes me to think about how easy it would have been in the years since for other countries to overthrow a loosely-formed confederation of states that were not joined in such a solid union.
What then of our current conflict? Could the outcome of the present struggle possibly be as critical to the course of history?
Only time will tell.
Source of quotes: Wyatt Kingseed. "The Fire in the Rear." American History August 2007: 47-51