the hour of peril

Pinkerton, whose work frequently took him below the Mason-Dixon line, was appalled by what he read in the pages of Southern newspapers. “Especial efforts had been made to render Mr. Lincoln personally odious and contemptible,” he wrote, “and his election formed the pretexts of these reckless conspirators who had long been plotting the overthrow of the Union. No falsehood was too gross, no statement too exaggerated, to be used for that purpose, and so zealously did these misguided men labor in the cause of disunion, and so systematically concerted was their action, that the mass of the people of the slave states were made to believe that this pure, patient, humane, Christian statesman was a monster whose vices and passions made him odious, and whose political beliefs made him an object of just abhorrence.” Pinkerton worried that the hostile Southern press would tip over into actual violence against Lincoln, which might, in turn, serve as the flash point for armed rebellion. –  Daniel Stashower, The Hour of Peril

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