"'The young Lincoln was warning about the potential danger of a future Napoleon subverting the United States Constitution.' (p. 366, n. 1).
Napoleon's armies tore up Europe from 1799 until he was poisoned in 1821 (by French monarchists), so when Lincoln spoke, he was speaking about recent history. This is like those of us today speaking about the 1984 Olympics. Yes, that's 17 years ago.
Here is what Lincoln said:
Towering genius disdains a beaten path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the memory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious.
It thirsts and burns for distinction; and, if possible, it will have it, whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving freemen. Is it unreasonable then to expect, that some man possessed of the loftiest genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, will at some time, spring up among us?
And when such a one does, it will require the people to be united with each other,"