The New York Herald blames the Republicans.
January 12, 1861

The party is founded upon principles which abolish the constitution of the United States. The sum and substance of the Chicago platform is that every man, black as well as white, ought to be and must be free in every part of the Union; that negro servitude is incompatible with the free labor of white men, and both kinds of civilization cannot exist under the same government; that every negro in the United States is entitled to freedom by a law higher than the constitution. Here, then is a revolutionary party by its own confession. Out of its own mouth is it judged. It impudently and audaciously avows that its object is to overthrow the constitution; and the President elect the man of its choice has declared he will disregard the constitution, as expounded by the Supreme Court. This is what has alarmed the South and produced a counter revolution, menacing the whole country from Maine to Texas with civil war. The Chicago platform, and the party standing upon the rotten structure, must, therefore, be demolished together. Better that a thousand platforms and a thousand parties should perish in succession than the temple of liberty erected by Washington, Madison, and Jefferson and Hamilton, and the other architects of the confederacy, should be laid in ruins, and American citizens wage a bloody, fratricidal war against each other -- the end of which no man can foresee.


The New York Tribune blames slavery.
January 12, 1861

If War comes, then, what is it for, and what will end it? The question is answered in a word, Slavery! Secession is demanded to spread and secure Slavery. The secessionist claim that within the Union they are not allowed to extend it, and that the Free States otherwise aggrieve them by denouncing the practice, and by refusing it the protection outside the limits of the slaveholding states. They secede, therefore, to conserve, and defend, and extend Slavery. For this they are ready to contest the possession of the mouth of the Mississippi, and the control of the Gulf of Mexico, by force of arms. They are thus ready to prosecute hostilities upon important and vital interests of the Free States in behalf of Slavery and for the interests of Slavery. In a word, to make war for Slavery, because, if it were not for Slavery we would have no secession, and we would have no war. What is the inevitable inference? Destroy Slavery and you destroy secession, and you end war.


The Charleston Mercury is ready to fight.
January 11, 1861

All revolutions are blunders. They are never intended. The huge blunder now marring the counsels of the Government of the United States seems to be that the Union can be maintained by violence and war, and that South Carolina can be cowed by demonstrations of military coercion. That the Black Republicans should commit such blunders is not surprising, for they have their existence as a party to support, and a rancorous sectional hatred to gratify; but that the present Administration should further their policy, and begin the grand drama of war and blood, is not a little astonishing. Every step taken in this direction only widens the gulf between the Northern and the Southern States, and drives the Southern States more speedily together into a Southern Confederacy. That military fools, like General Scott, who think the highest wisdom consists in the bloodiest fighting, should counsel the military possession of the bay of Charleston by the Government of the United States, is what might be expected. Thousands, and tens of thousands, longing for a Southern Confederacy, with an eternal separation from the people of the North, will hail him as their detested but most efficient deliverer. By all means, let Charleston be blockaded. Let the war complicate the nations of Europe, as well as the United States. Of one thing, there need be no further blunders. The people of South Carolina will fight, and will establish the Southern Confederacy.

Learn more about partisanship and the press at the time of the Lincolns, or read commentaries on the Civil War press by scholars James M. McPherson and R. J. M. Blackett.

My American Experience

My American Experience photos

Share Your Story

Of America's first 25 presidents, who is your favorite? From George Washington to William McKinley, which of the new country's leaders most helped shape America in its first century of existence?