Weekly Feature

2017-08-17 / Editorial

Lincoln never said the US was ‘locked and loaded’

Managing Editor

When faced with the genuine prospect of war, the new president spoke eloquently and with a tone that was intended to unite the country. That man was Abraham Lincoln, speaking in his first inaugural address.

Several southern states had warned him that his election would result in cessation, and that war would be the inevitable outcome.

What did Lincoln say? Did he say that the North was on the verge of initiating a violent attack on these states?

Did Lincoln say, “Military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should [the Confederate states] act unwisely. Hopefully [Jefferson Davis] will find another path!”

No, he did not.

Did Lincoln say, “[The Confederates] will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

No he did not.

Here is the message the 16th president of these United States delivered to those ready to go to war against him:

“You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it.’”

The comparison between the words of President Donald Trump and his revered predecessor is admittedly thin. But imagine if Lincoln had threatened to reduce Richmond to rubble immediately after the South’s attack on Fort Sumter.

A television commercial endorsed by Hillary Clinton during last year’s presidential election featured video clips of candidate Trump saying “I like war,” and “I would bomb the s — - out of them.”

Lincoln, on the other hand, said, “My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well, upon this whole subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you, in hot haste, to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it.” A former missile launch officer featured in the Clinton commercial had a response to the president’s most recent outbursts aimed at North Korea.

“Trump is fulfilling expectations of someone who lashes out dangerously at real and perceived challengers,” said Bruce Blair, who is now a research scholar at Princeton University. “He is raising the risk of a conflict that escalates to nuclear war.”

According to a news story in The Washington Post, there are some who have embraced the president’s hard line.

“Fred Doucette, a longtime Trump supporter who is assistant majority leader in New Hampshire’s House of Representatives, was pleased to hear the president deliver a strong message to North Korea,” The Post reported.

“The president spoke in a language that Kim Jong Un understands — and, personally, I think they should follow up on that and show them that we mean business,” Doucette said.

One thing Lincoln did not have to contend with was social media. There has been some talk that Trump’s Twitter account should be suspended.

Critics of the president’s “locked and loaded” tweet say the rhetoric reflects a threat of violence against North Korea that violates Twitter’s rules and terms of service, according to The Post.

Twitter states it does not tolerate posts that include violent threats, wishes for the physical harm of individual groups or references to mass murder.

“Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away,” Lincoln said at his second inauguration.


(David F. Sherman is managing editor of Bee Group Newspapers. Opinions expressed here are those of the author. He can be reached at dsherman@beenews.com.)

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