“From whence shall we expect the approach of danger? Shall some trans-Atlantic military giant step the earth and crush us at a blow? Never. All the armies of Europe and Asia…could not by force take a drink from the Ohio River or make a track on the Blue Ridge in the trial of a thousand years. No, if destruction be our lot we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of free men we will live forever or die by suicide.”
This excerpt from Lincoln’s 1838 Lyceum address in Springfield tells us that he foresaw imminent threats to the Union more than twenty years before Fort Sumter was shelled. And its as if Lincoln was looking almost two hundred years into the future, and describing our country today, where open talk about civil war and secession is once again heard.
Back in Lincoln’s day, the fire-breathing states-rightsers mouthing secession were men like John C. Calhoun and Alexander Stephens. History now regards those traitors harshly.
In today’s Wyoming, we hear that same destructive rhetoric from the lips of Frank Eathorne, Chairman of the Wyoming Republican Party, who expressed support for secession on a Steve Bannon podcast last year. I wrote a column about Eathorne’s treasonous utterance about a year ago.
Eathorne’s credentials as a secessionist were recently bolstered when leaked documents revealed that he is a member of the Oath Keepers, the paramilitary organization whose leaders were just indicted for their role in inciting that attack on our capitol on January 6. Their indictments are for “seditious conspiracy”, the harshest accusations handed down to date.
Eathorne has not denied nor even responded to questions about his involvement with the Oath Keepers, so we are left to assume that he indeed has their code ring in his pocket and knows the secret handshake.
Oath Keepin’ Eathorne would do well to refresh his memory about how secession turned out for his political forebears in Dixie. The Cause failed to the point that, after Gettysburg, the Governor of Georgia pushed for his state to secede from the Confederacy, and Jefferson Davis tried to escape the federal troops surrounding him at Danville by dressing as a woman.
(I just had a delightful mental image of Frank Eathorne, sprinting for the Utah border, dressed in yoga pants or a cute summer frock)
Oath Keepin’ Frank should also pause to consider the nature of the union he is trying to dissolve. And he should realize that this Union is something greater than the sum of its parts. The Union was strong enough to conduct a federal election while in the midst of civil war….the first time history that happened. THAT is powerful stuff!!
Lincoln understood that power, and grasped the truth that our system of government is fundamentally strong enough to withstand attacks from within. It is greater than the sum of its parts. History teaches that, to try to tear it down is folly.
Lincoln certainly realized that our pluralistic form of government would, from time to time and of necessity, produce internal dissent and he warned us of that in his Lyceum Address. But, when the mouth of dissent bites the hand that feeds it, that mouth needs to be crushed.
History has borne out Lincoln’s line of thinking, and honors him as the author of the preservation of the Union. The leaders of the Confederacy have made of themselves footnotes to history, poster boys of losing.
And Oath Keepin’ Frank Eathorne won’t even be a pimple on history’s ass.