The Index – 30 April 1863
This page of The Index, from 30 April 1863, includes a copy of The Lincoln Catechism. This was a satirical piece that painted Lincoln as tyrannical ruler who was suppressing freedom by stretching his executive powers, suspending habeas corpus and bending Congress to his will. Far from being a defender of liberty, when the question ‘what is the meaning of the word “law”?’ is asked, the response is simply ‘the will of the President’.
From a Confederate perspective, which advocated states’ rights as justification for secession, this piece would have been well received. Interestingly, The Lincoln Catechism is often discussed in relation to a longer publication from 1864. That version was part of anti-Lincoln campaigns during the presidential election and has often been attributed to Northern Democrat propaganda. The newspaper’s version of The Lincoln Catechism, however, dates from over eighteen months before the election.
According to The Index, the piece comes from a New York journal called the Old Guard devoted to the Principles of 1776 and 1787 which published in March 1863. It is thus likely that The Index provides one of the first printed copies of The Lincoln Catechism.