Abraham Lincoln’s Radical Moderation

Andrew Ferguson
Abraham Lincoln’s Radical Moderation

In the opening days of the Civil War, long before Saturday Night Live appropriated the idea, Louis Trezevant Wigfall earned the distinction in Washington, D.C., of being the Thing That Wouldn’t Leave. Elected to the United States Senate from Texas to fill a vacancy in 1859, Wigfall wasted no time in making himself obnoxious to his colleagues and the public alike. On the Senate floor, he said of the flag and, especially, the Union for which it stood, “It should be torn down and trampled upon.” As the southern states broke away, Wigfall gleefully announced, “The federal government is dead.