The document under analysis in this paper was authored by Sheriff Melgar Couchman in 1861 as a response to an article that had been published in the Weekly Illinois Journal under the title “A Treasonable Organization in Hancock County” (Couchman). According to the Lilcoln.lib, this article was published in a local newspaper on 19th August, 1981. This took place during the historical civil war of Illinois. Couchman was a democratic citizen of Illinois State who supported the rebellion around which the civil war evolved (Rugh 20).
Couchman’s argument was largely based on democratic views for which he actively advocated. His stance was not in favor of a republican government that existed at the time, led by the then president Lincoln. As a result, he was on the activists’ side, the latter who actively sort a democratic society. Arguably, Couchman’s perspective led him to view the politics at the time as totally unacceptable. This can be evidenced from his adamant refusal of claims by authorities that there existed a group of traitors that stirred the state of peace that prevailed. In her work, Rugh (17) argued that about this time (1861), Illinois was popularly democratic and the supporters of the Democratic Party openly criticized Lincoln’s Republican administration. Evidently, Couchman’s critic came amid a similar trend that was characteristic of the Democrats in the state of Illinois.
Couchman’s article evaluated a publication regarding a rebellious group that had emerged in Hancock County, Illinois in 1861. In the journal, which Hancock constantly referred to as ‘Mr. Journal’, the main argument was that an illegal group was causing havoc in Hancock County and needed to be brought to justice either by law, or mob. It had also been outlined in the same journal that the group was being led by a lawyer and based its rebellion on petty matters that any loyal Illinois citizen would overlook. The journal had further commented that the authorities had the names of the perpetrators that formed the group, as well as those who were backing them. They would therefore face the law, or additionally, mob justice from those considered by the authorities as being loyal to the state, in particular to Lincoln’s administration (Couchman).
In his argument, Couchman claimed that authorities’ informant was a corrupt individual that had failed to achieve his/her political ambitions and thus sort to stir what he termed as a calm state with futile information. He observed that it was unfortunate that such a discussion had been brought at a time when the society of Illinois generally called for unity. Apart from denouncing the publication as false and drawn from a futile source, Couchman asked those behind the publication to disclose the names of those branded as “traitors” and the crimes that they had broken; the victims as well as those who would be backing them in order to justify the information. In his remarks, he observed that the authorities then would call anyone who did not support Lincoln’s politics as a traitor, inclusive of himself as the writer of such work. To Couchman, It was unacceptable to call for mob justice on rebellious citizens and still demand to be referred to as loyal citizens.
Lincoln.lib. NIU Libraries Digitization Projects. Web. 22 February 2013.
Couchman, Melgar. "A Treasonable Organization in Hancock County". Illinois Historical Digitization Project. 1861. Web. 22 February 2013.
Rugh, Susan. “Awful Calamities Now Upon Us”: The Civil War in Fountain Green, Illinois. Illinois Historical Digitization Project. 2000. Web. 22 February 2013.