Author Francis Butler Simkins observed that the South's leaders "had committed a crime against the dominant patriotism of the nineteenth century" by "preaching national disintegration." Lincoln the nationalist responded with "You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to "preserve, protect and defend it." Lincoln would not recognize the right of Americans in the South to create a more perfect union.
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Canny White House Theorist Versus Outlawed Rebels
"Southerners were convinced that what they lacked in military and naval equipment would be outweighed by their superior intelligence, bravery and hardihood. Had not the American colonies, who were weaker than the South, defeated England, a nation stronger than the North? The Confederacy need only stand on the defensive, win a few victories, and the un-heroic Yankees would quickly withdraw from the hornets' nest. Jefferson Davis and other thoughtful leaders, however, did not share such popular fallacies; they believed there would be a long war against a merciless foe.
It was true that in Abraham Lincoln the Confederacy had an implacable enemy. Behind the white face and black beard of a St. John the Baptist was the statesmen willing to use the methods by which great leaders of modern times have built or maintained empires. This meant nothing less than imposing forcibly the will of the strong upon the weak. With Lincoln the word was "charity to all men," the reality "blood and iron."
The President's objective was clear: the complete destruction of the Confederate government, and the restoration of its constituent States to the Union. In his opinion the contest was not a war, but an attempt to put down domestic insurrection which had become too formidable for ordinary officers of the law.
The withdrawal of the Southern States and their subsequent organization into a new nation was declared illegal. To come to terms with the new Confederacy necessitated a great war, but the canny theorist in the White House called it an endeavor to re-establish constitutional authority. Accordingly the President mobilized armies and inaugurated a military struggle without asking Congress for a declaration of war.
He launched an invasion against powerful armies without extending to them the formal belligerent rights customary among civilized war-makers. The Confederacy was blockaded to deprive it of basic necessities. The Federal armies moved forward not to come to terms with a legal enemy, but to possess militarily and politically the territory of outlawed rebels. When the policies of blockade and invasion were not immediately successful, novel methods of warfare were employed.
The Emancipation Proclamation, issued after Lee's advance into the North had been stopped at [Sharpsburg], at least by implication, was designed to demoralize Southern Society and to give the war the character of a crusade in which righteousness was buttressed by vengeance. Provinces were devastated to break their will to resist.
When victory and the cessation of hostilities came, there was no armistice or peace treaty with [a] humbled foe, but surrender by an adversary who had been cut to pieces. The Confederacy was dissolved and its constituent parts re-incorporated into the United States."
(The South Old and New, A History, 1820–1947, Francis Butler Simkins, Albert A. Knopf, 1947, pp. 140-141)