"Yes, sir, the hour may be at hand when the President's friends must stand by him in more ways than one. When that hour comes, you and I must be ready."
He was intensely in earnest, and his bright, handsome, young face is flushed with indignation, as well as stern with courageous purpose, and you never at any other time liked him so well.
"Nonsense, my dear fellow. What you mean is that we may have to get some rifles, and be ready to prevent the forcible occupation of the White House by somebody. We shall not need any guns. You are hinting at some like a coup d'état, a sudden stroke; something in the nature of a forward movement. There isn't a shadow of a danger of anything of the sort."
"If you had been present! If you had seen and heard what I have, you would feel differently."
"We can get as mad about it as we please, but the general is not at all that kind of man. He does not dream of any such thing, nor do the men around him. It couldn't be done, if they should all go crazy, unless they could control the army, and they couldn't control a corporal's guard!"
The talk is a trifle wild, considering the place and the time, but it has its meaning, and it illustrates the intensities of the situation. There is rapidly increasing, and spreading from Washington over the country, a clear, but as yet cautiously undefined, unformulated understanding that there is a struggle going on between the Constitutional supremacy of the civil authority, represented by the President, and the war-created strength of the military commander. There have been many startling surprises, and who knows but what another, yet more surprising, is in course of preparation for the country? Who knows how large a part of the population is preparing, unconsciously, for precisely such a surprise as has been indicated, and would welcome it as offering a solution of the problem before them?
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Publication information: Book title: Inside the White House in War Times:Memoirs and Reports of Lincoln's Secretary. Contributors: William O. Stoddard - Author, Michael Burlingame - Editor. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press. Place of publication: Lincoln, NE. Publication year: 2000. Page number: 61.