Saunders gives another overview of the Civil War and the nation’s reaction to it by quoting historical texts and correspondences. “The Presdt is an idiot,” writes one commentator. “Vain, weak, puerile, hypocritical, without manners, without social grace, and as he talks to you, punches his fists under your ribs,” notes another. Others suggest that Lincoln will go down in history as “the man who could not read the signs of the times.” “If my wife wishes to leave me,” says still another frustrated citizen, “may I compel her at arms to stay in our ‘union’? Especially when she is a fiercer fighter than I, better organized, quite determined to be free of me?” Continuing this line of thought, one writer asserts that he and his fellow Americans “did not & will not Agree to fite for the Neygar.”
Using Lincoln’s introspection and personal misgivings as a jumping off point, Saunders illustrates the extent to which Americans criticize the president and his involvement in the Civil War. These critics, it seems, are people who want first and foremost to look after themselves. Indeed, they have little to no empathy when it comes to fighting on behalf of either the country or the millions of slaves denied their fundamental rights as humans. Instead, they only want to verbally abuse the president for striving for equality—a concept they don’t value in the least.