“The tragic death of Lincoln has given currency to the theory that the Lincoln policy of Reconstruction would have been far better and more successful than the policy afterward pursued. If it is meant by this that Lincoln would have more carefully followed public opinion and worked to adjust differences, this is true. But Abraham Lincoln himself could not have settled the question of Emancipation, Negro citizenship and the vote, without tremendous difficulty.
“First of all he was bitterly hated by the overwhelming mass of Southerners. Mark Pomeroy, a Northern Copperhead, voiced the extreme Southern opinion when he wrote:
“ ‘It is you Republicans who set up at the head of the nation a hideous clown ... who became a shameless tyrant, a tyrant justly felled by an avenging hand, and who now rots in his tomb while his poisonous soul is consumed by the eternal flames of hell.’
“Even conservative Southern papers continually referred to Lincoln as a ‘gorilla’ or a ‘clown.’ And when we consider the fact that Lincoln was determined upon real freedom for the Negro, upon his education, and at least a restricted right to vote, it is difficult to see how the South could have been brought to agreement with him.
“In the South there was absence of any leadership corresponding in breadth and courage to that of Abraham Lincoln. Here comes the penalty which a land pays when it stifles free speech and free discussion and turns itself over entirely to propaganda. It does not make any difference if at the time the things advocated are absolutely right, the nation, nevertheless, becomes morally emasculated and mentally hog-tied, and cannot evolve that healthy difference of opinion which leads to the discovery of truth under changing conditions.”
—WEB Du Bois, Black Reconstruction in America