Tlic Confederate firing on Fort Sumter may hae been thernspark that ignited the eonflagration, but the real cause of thernwar was tlie iron will of Abraham Lincoln, as resolute a Unionistrnas was Andrew Jackson, who also would have accepted warrnrather than let South Carolina secede. Thus, as the Mexicanrn\;rr had been “Jimmv Polk’s War,” this was “Mr. Lincoln’srnWar.”rnTo win it, the President would assume dictatorial power, suspendrnthe constitutional right of habeas corpus, overthrow electedrnstate legislatures, arrest and hold without trial thousands ofrnpolitical prisoners, shut down opposition newspapers, and orderrnarm after armv into the South to give his nation a new “birthrnof freedom.” and a new baptism of blood and fire.rnWhen mobs rioted against the draft in Juh 1863, lootingrnand pillaging New ^brk City, lynching blacks the saw as threatsrnto their jobs and the cause of the war, Lincoln ordered units detachedrnfrom Meade’s armv. When the veterans of LittlernRound Top and Cemeterv Ridge entered the city, a witness describedrnthe action:rnstreets were swept again and again b’ grape [shot], housesrnwere stormed at the point of a bayonet, rioters werernpicked off bv sharpshooters as thev fired on the troopsrnfrom housetops; men were hurled, dying or dead, intornfile streets b’ the thoroughly enraged soldier’; until atrnlast, sullen and cowed and thoroughly whipped and beaten,rnthe miserable wretches gave wa’ at ever point andrnconfessed the power of the law.rnEstimates of the dead ranged from 300 to 1,000.rnLincoln meant to enforce the draft law. There are no reportsrnof commissions established to investigate the “root causes” ofrn”urban disorder.” Though he has come down to us as a kindrnand courth homespun, backwoods humorist, there is truth inrnthe depiction of Lincoln in Gore Vidal’s noel, where the Presidentrnis seen through the eves of a mar’eling Secretary of State:rnFor flic first time, Seward understood the nature of Lincoln’srnpolitical genius. He had been able to make himselfrnabsolute dictator without ever letting an one suspectrnthat lie was anvthing more than a joking, timid backwoodsrnlawv er. ..rnNo tougher, more resolute man ever occupied the WhiternHouse. As the historians Samuel Eliot Morison and HenryrnSteele Commager ha’e written, Abraham Lincoln wasrna dictator from the standpoint of American constitutionalrnh\ and practice; and even the safetv of the Republicrncannot justify certain acts committed under his authority.rn. . . A loal mayor of Baltimore, suspected of Southernrnsmpathics. was arrested and confined in a fortress forrnoer a ear; a Marland judge who had charged a grandrnjury to inquire into illegal acts of goernment officialsrnwas set upon bv soldiers… beaten and dragged bleedingrnfrom his bench, and imprisoned . . .rnTo this Lincoln pled military necessity, the imperative of prescrrning the Union: “Are all the laws but one to go unexecuted,rnand the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated?”rnTo those who denounced him as a tyrant for ignoring duernprocess in cru.shing sedition, Lincoln made no apology: “MustrnI shoot a simple-minded boy who deserts, while 1 must notrntouch a hair of the wil agitator who induces him to desert?”rnThe First Emancipation ProclamationrnT’hat preser-ing the Union, not ending slaery, was Lincoln’srnagenda is cident from the first ‘ear of the war. hi the summerrnof 1861 General John C. Fremont, Republican candidate forrnPresident in 1856, was in command in Missouri, hi a daringrnmove, Fremont drew a line across the state, separating the pro-rnConfederacy region from the Union side, and issued an order:rnany civilian caught carrying a weapon north of the line wouldrnbe shot. Any man aiding the secessionist cause was to have allrnhis slaves instanth emancipated.rnAn instant national hero to Abolitionists and Freesoilers inrnthe I’nitcd States and Great Britain, the general sent his orderrnto the President for approval. But Lincoln, desperate to keeprnpro-slaer’ Kentuekv in the Union, told Fremont to withdrawrnit. Fremont refused, insisting he would not comply unless Lincolnrnissued a direct order. Lincoln issued the order.rnThe general’s wife, impulsive and high-strung Jessie BentonrnFremont, daughter of the great Missourian Thomas Hart Benton,rnwho had married the dashing Lieutenant Fremont whenrnshe was 16, undertook a journey to Washington, carrying a writtenrnplea from her husband. When she arrived in the capital,rnexhausted after davs of day-and-night travel in a dirt- coachrnover rough roads, she sent a brief note to the White House—rn\’here she had pla)ed as a girl in tlie das of Andrew Jackson—rnto set up an appointment to deliver the letter. A response camernback that very night: “Now, at once, A. Lincoln.”rnWhen Lincoln received her in the Red Room, Jessie Fremontrnlectured the President on the difficulty of conquering thernSouth with arms alone. She urged Lincoln to appeal to thernBritish nation and the world by declaring emancipation to bernthe Union’s cause.rn”You arc quite a female politician,” an irritated Lincoln responded.rnMrs. Fremont walked out of the White House and wrote inrnher diar’:rnI explained that the general wished so much to have hisrnattention to the letter sent, that I had brought it to makernsure it would reach him. He [Lincoln] answered, not tornthat, but to the subject his own mind was upon, that “Itrnwas a war for a great national idea, the Union, and thatrnGeneral Fremont should not have dragged the negrorninto i t . . . “rnJessie Fremont had eleariy upset Lincoln. When a confidanternof the President saw the general’s wife the next da, he wasrnirate. “Look what ou have done for Fremont; vou liae madernthe President his eiiciii!”rnThe Chicago Tribune denounced Lincoln for re-ersing GeneralrnFremont’s emancipation proclamation. Lincoln’s actionrntakes away the penalty for rebellion, charged the Tribune onrnSeptember 16. “I low many times,” asked James Russell Lowell,rn”are we to sae Kentucky and lose our self-respect?” In Connecticut,rnindignation had risen to fur’. Senator Ben Wide ofrnOhio wrote “in bitter execration”: “The President don’t objectrnto Genl Fremont’s taking the life of the owners of slaves, whenrnfound in rebellion, but to confiscate their property and emancipaterntheir slaves he thinks monstrous.”rnOCTOBER 1997/19rnrnrn