Abraham Lincoln was hated to a much greater extent than people realize today. It’s fair to say, he was the least popular President in American History. In return, he was far more ruthless than most imagine.

Below are excerpts from Lincoln’s editorial in the New York Tribune,on June 15, 1863. He discusses the civil rights issue, free press, and constitutionality of his actions against the Peace Movement. Lincoln favored civil rights before and after civil war, but not during. He once stated that suspending civil rights is a bitter medicine that won’t be prolonged once the illness goes away.

“It undoubtedly was a well pondered reliance with them that in their own unrestricted effort to destroy the Union, constitution, and law, all together, the government would, in great degree, be restrained by the same constitution and law, from arresting their progress. Their sympathizers pervaded all departments of the government, and nearly all communities of the people. From this material, under cover of “Liberty of speech” “Liberty of the press” and “Habeas corpus” they hoped to keep on foot amongst us a most efficient corps of spies, informers, supplyers, and aiders and abettors of their cause in a thousand ways.”

“In such cases the purposes of men are much more easily understood, than in cases of ordinary crime. The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy. Much more, if he talks ambiguously—talks for his country with “buts” and “ifs” and “ands.” Of how little value the constitutional provision I have quoted will be rendered, if arrests shall never be made until defined crimes shall have been committed.”

“They assert in substance that Mr. Vallandigham was by a military commander, seized and tried “for no other reason than words addressed to a public meeting, in criticism of the course of the administration and in condemnation of the military orders of that general” Now, if there be no mistake about this—if this assertion is the truth and the whole truth—if there was no other reason for the arrest, then I concede that the arrest was wrong. But the arrest, as I understand, was made for a very different reason. Mr. Vallandigham avows his hostility to the war on the part of the Union; and his arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to encourage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it. He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or the personal interests of the commanding general; but because he was damaging the army, upon the existence, and the vigor of which, the nation depends.”

“Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert? … I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy.”

This line struck me the most: “The man who stands by and says nothing, when the peril of his government is discussed can not be misunderstood. If not hindered, he is sure to help the enemy. Much more, if he talks ambiguously—talks for his country with “buts” and “ifs” and “ands.” ”

Yes indeed, terrorist attacks are wrong BUT…

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