Last Words

New York World editorial

November 8, 1864

The time for argument and discussion on the merits of the candidates who now claim the confidence of America for the chief magistracy of the republic has gone by. The morning breaks upon a day, not of words, but of deeds. All the resources of pen and tongue have been exhausted to set before the people the magnitude of the issues involved in this day’s election. By their votes this day, the freemen of America must stand or fall. Whoever casts his vote to-day blindly, casts his vote passionately, casts his vote in obedience to the dictates of party; whoever fails to-day to cast his vote at all, must bear upon his soul forever the damning sense of an inevitable responsibility for all the ills and miseries and shame which an evil choice of the nation’s rulers through the next four years must bring upon the land.

What can rhetoric add of force to the overwhelming testimony which events have borne to the utter unfitness of ABRAHAM LINCOLN for this awful trust which he now asks the republic to renew to him?

A rebellion which all the ablest men of his own party concurred in asserting might have been subdued in sixty days has grown beneath his hands into a civil war which shakes and sickens Christendom.

That sovereign majesty of the Constitution, endeared to the hearts of the people by seventy years of prosperity and of peace, which all the ablest men of his party concurred in asserting that a loyal army of seventy-five thousand men would be amply adequate to defend, is still insulted and defied by millions of American citizens over the graves of five hundred thousand loyal soldiers sacrificed in vain by him to maintain it. The commerce which whitened, every sea when ABRAHAM LINCOLN assumed the presidential chair, now shrinks under the cover of foreign flags. Upon the people whom he found, out of all the earth, the least burdened by debt, the least harassed by taxation, his financial policy has imposed such a weight as centuries of war have not laid upon the industries and the energy of the oldest European states. We are asked now to believe that the President through whose incapacity–by none more loudly proclaimed than by those who have most enjoyed his confidence and have most profited by his blunders–the hope of reunion and of peace has been thus fearfully adjourned, will prove himself equal to the task of undoing all the mischief he has done.

Four years ago we gave into his keeping a prosperous and happy nation threatened by incipient treason. Four years of his rule have given us desolation for prosperity, and misery for happiness; and the treason incipient then now meets us over half a continent as with the organized front of a hostile nationality.

What argument for a change in the persons and the policy of the national administration can eloquence supply to those whom the facts of 1861, confronted with the facts of 1864, fail to convince?

Citizens of America! Providence itself has conducted before you the canvass of which this day’s setting sun must see the issue decided by your wisdom or your madness. It has set before you in letters of fire and blood, and tears, the contrast between the fatal experiments of a reckless and tyrannical fanaticism, and the ancient guarantees of liberty and of law; of respect for established rights, of justice, and of true humanity.

Choose for yourselves this day! for with this day’s setting sun your irrevocable verdict will have been passed; and with it the weal or woe of yourselves and of your children’s children assured through years on years to come.

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