David Louis Edelman David Louis Edelman

Was Abraham Lincoln Such a Great President?

I was listening to Rush Limbaugh the other day, and he was making comparisons between George W. Bush and Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln in 1865Listening to Rush Limbaugh is a guilty pleasure of mine. He’s much more interesting and nuanced than liberals give him credit for, and a master entertainer to boot. What you get when you listen to Limbaugh is a string of very thoughtful points, including a number of tidbits you don’t read about in the mainstream media, followed by a completely wacky and unsupported conclusion. You’ll hear the man say with a straight face that two plus two plus two plus two equals… four hundred and nine.

So here’s the gist of what Limbaugh was saying. Historians routinely rank Abraham Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents, even though he took many more gross liberties with the Constitution than George W. Bush. Limbaugh’s conclusion: Bush is a great president too.

My conclusion: maybe Abraham Lincoln wasn’t such a great president either. Consider some of the things ol’ Honest Abe and his administration did during his time in office:

  • He appointed generals and war planners so ineffectual they make Donald Rumsfeld look like frickin’ Sun Tzu.
  • When he did finally find generals worth a damn (Grant and Sherman), he let those generals engage in a bloody campaign that directly targeted Confederate civilians (Sherman’s March to the Sea).
  • He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, which allowed him to arrest thousands of U.S. citizens (including plenty of journalists) and hold them without cause or trial. When a U.S. Circuit Court overturned Lincoln on this, he simply ignored their ruling.
  • He won re-election in 1864 through a variety of questionable tactics, including having Union troops redeployed to states to pressure and intimidate voters.
  • He never had a particularly high opinion of blacks, starting from indifference to the plight of slavery and eventually concluding that freed slaves should be shipped back to Africa.
  • He fought for quite a while to preserve slavery in border states and only turned to emancipating slaves as a last-ditch strategy for weakening the Confederacy. (As for Lincoln’s views on the morality of the subject, keep in mind that he was not a Christian; in fact, Lincoln wrote a small book explicitly rejecting the veracity of the Bible.)
  • He kept border states like Maryland loyal to the Union by first promising not to end slavery there, then by hauling away political leaders without trial.
  • He responded to a Sioux Indian rebellion (sparked by refusal of the United States to abide by signed treaties) by not only sending troops out to stomp the insurrection, but by abolishing the Indian reservation there, canceling all treaties with the Sioux, and putting a $25 bounty on their scalps.

Certainly desperate times call for desperate measures, and there’s a certain amount of rule-skirting that’s right and proper when engaging in a noble mission like the abolition of slavery. But could a more effective president have done a better job accomplishing this? We’ll never know.

One wonders whether a more diplomatic and strategically adept president might have accomplished the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery without totally fucking over the country in the process. One wonders if the South might have voluntarily done away with the institution of slavery at some point anyway, or if they might have been coerced into it through a better application of economic and diplomatic pressure. The Union’s blockade of the Confederacy’s ports did a fantastic job of strangling the economy of the South, and with a minimal loss of life. How long could the Confederacy have lasted under such pressure alone before they started to cave? Could a wily dealmaker of a president have enticed the southern states back into the Union one by one, and thus avoided the deaths of over half a million soldiers?

I’m not a historian, so I can’t answer those questions. But it seems pretty obvious to me that Lincoln’s strategies didn’t work very well. The Union he fought so hard to preserve remains deeply fractured to this day. And the slaves he liberated saw another hundred years of oppression, violence, and disenfranchisement before achieving anything like equality in this country.

The relevance of these questions to the situation our current president has gotten us into is obvious. The expunging of a cruel dictator in Baghdad and the establishment of a participatory democracy in the Middle East are noble goals too. But are they worth tens or even hundreds of thousands of lives? Could a smarter and more flexible and less dogmatic president have done a better job of it? Was diplomatic and international pressure a better tool to use than brute force? How long will we be suffering from Bush’s mistakes?

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  1. Brooke on November 22, 2006 at 6:47 pm  Chain link

    The best presidents are those unremembered by history, because they kept the status quo – peace and prosperity. Lincoln was not the best president, and Abolition was a political maneuver designed to punish the South. When I found that out I was absolutely horrified and disgusted, but Bush is great at the “play with the fates of brown people for political gain” game as well. You have a great point about Limbaugh.

  2. David Louis Edelman on November 22, 2006 at 9:00 pm  Chain link

    Not sure I totally agree with your point about the best presidents being the ones who keep peace and prosperity. I mean, FDR coulda sat down with Hitler and made a nice little peace treaty to keep us out of WWII. (Cf. Philip Roth’s alt-history The Plot Against America.)

  3. conrad on November 22, 2006 at 9:52 pm  Chain link

    Actually FDR did not declare war against Germany; even after Pearl Harbour, though he may have wanted to do it, it was still not that popular. Adolf Hitler declared war on Dec 9 I think; then correctly (and no doubt because of a great push from Churchill) FDR made the defeat of the Reich the first priority and immediately started arming and supplying the Red Army who was again correctly seen as the only effective force. Only after the push in N. Africa, Sicily and Italy in 1943 (made possible by the stalemate and then defeat of the germans in their 1942 Caucasus offensive), US could take the war directly to the germans with the great bombardments of Berlin of November 1943.
    So peace with Hitler was quite unlikely barring the defeat of the Soviet Union and that was unlikely because of Hitler’s policy of murder and pillage that turned a relative warm welcome for the germans especially in Ukraine into fierce hatred and resistance.

  4. Brian on November 22, 2006 at 9:59 pm  Chain link

    I’m no historian either. But I’ll happily blather on as i I know something.

    My guess is that Abraham Lincoln would not be remembered with such fondness if he hadn’t been assassinated.

    One wonders whether a more diplomatic and strategically adept president might have accomplished the preservation of the Union and the abolition of slavery without totally fucking over the country in the process.

    From casual reading “probably not”. Both sides of that conflict had by the late 1850s demonstrated that compromise was dead.

    They wanted what they wanted and were determined that the other side was evil – obviously if the other guy is evil there is simply no dealing with him and you’re justified in not compromising.

  5. Dean/Penpusher on November 23, 2006 at 12:14 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln wasn’t that great a president when you look more closely. It is true that the abolition of slavery was simply a ploy to help ruin the south and force them to return to the Union. He was probably more on par with John F. Kennedy, who is also beloved, primarily because he died in office. Relate that to Rudy Giuliani, who was reviled by many New Yorkers during his two terms, but made a name for himself during the events of 9/11/01. Now HE’s ready to make a run for the White House.

    Really though, that Lincoln checklist could directly apply to GWB in some cases!

  6. tommyspoon on November 28, 2006 at 5:04 pm  Chain link

    Well, I’ll carry some water for dear ole Abe…

    Lincoln did what he did because he felt it was the only way to preserve the Union. The United States of America was literally tearing itself apart over the issue of “state’s rights” (slavery, natch). True, he did state that if he could preserve the union by having slavery in some of the states but not in others he would do that. In fact, the Emancipation Proclamation was one of the greatest political PR stunts of all time: with a decisive victory at Gettysburg, Lincoln could spend the resulting “political capital” to rouse the North to win the war.

    To my mind, these things that Lincoln did make him one of our greatest presidents. He stretched the boundaries of his authority for a good cause, I believe. Is there anybody out there who wishes that Lincoln had failed to preserve the union? (Besides pro-Confederacy freaks, that is.)

    GWB is not facing such a crisis; you could argue that GWB has just replicated our civil war in a manufactured country in the Middle East.

  7. tommyspoon on November 28, 2006 at 6:06 pm  Chain link

    The Union he fought so hard to preserve remains deeply fractured to this day. And the slaves he liberated saw another hundred years of oppression, violence, and disenfranchisement before achieving anything like equality in this country.

    Um, don’t blame the Reconstruction on Lincoln. That wasn’t his idea. It was the greedy and callow politicans (who mostly hated Lincoln and his wielding of Executive power) who visited all those horrors on the South and caused the fractures that we see today. The worst thing that ever happened to the South was the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

  8. David Louis Edelman on November 28, 2006 at 6:19 pm  Chain link

    Thanks for that, Tommy. Mostly I find it interesting how there’s all this talk about “pragmatism” vs. “dogmatism” in the Iraq War — and these are largely the same questions that dogged us in the Civil War.

    Um, don’t blame the Reconstruction on Lincoln. That wasn’t his idea.

    Well, he can’t totally escape responsibility for Reconstruction. He did set the board for what was to follow, even if he didn’t move the pieces. I mean, violent civil war between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq wasn’t Bush’s idea either — but he set the board up to allow it to happen. (Of course, if Bush had had a postwar plan in the first place, we might not be having this discussion…)

  9. tommyspoon on November 28, 2006 at 10:57 pm  Chain link

    Well, he can’t totally escape responsibility for Reconstruction.

    Actually, he can. The Reconstruction that took place in the years following the war was not the Reconstruction that Lincoln wanted. He wanted to bring the South back into the Union. He was prepared to approve all sorts of economic policies that would “compensate” for the shifting dynamics of the Southern economy. Of course, these policies would have placed some burden on the North, which was not too happy to rebuild the infrastructure of the people who had murdered their sons and husbands and fathers.

    And another thought I had today while I was Metro-ing home: if you really want someone to blame for Lincoln’s actions, look no further than Thomas Jefferson, James Adams, James Madison, et. al. They were the ones who formalized the institution of slavery into our system of government. They were the ones who set our country up for wholesale slaughter barely a hundred years after we won our freedom. Founding Fathers indeed…

    You should read Shelby Foote’s trilogy of the history of the Civil War. There was a whole lotta politickin’ goin’ on both sides that makes that whole chapter of our history ten times as fascinating as you already think it is.

  10. Brian on November 30, 2006 at 7:38 pm  Chain link

    To my mind, these things that Lincoln did make him one of our greatest presidents. He stretched the boundaries of his authority for a good cause, I believe. Is there anybody out there who wishes that Lincoln had failed to preserve the union? (Besides pro-Confederacy freaks, that is.)

    Tommy, I’m no pro-Confederacy apologist – but you don’t have to be one to see that what Lincoln did enabled the State to exert more power over it’s citizens, which leads, in the end, to tyranny.

    Not all at once. It’s been a long, gradual decline, with many incremental steps, each a logical progression that makes sense at the time. I’m convinced that the Constitution we were lucky to get has kept the worse excesses from happening, so far. But it is inevitable – give the State a little bit of power and they’ll want more.

    Pretty soon you’ve got a government that is able to sell your house to someone who can make better use of it, that feels morally justified in abusing perks of the office, that can execute no-knock warrants and gun down elderly women, and that feels that it’s okay to search a legislator’s office.

    I don’t really blame the man so much – if it wasn’t for him it would have been someone and nothing good lasts forever. But the man in charge when the disaster happens gets the blame.

  11. tommyspoon on December 1, 2006 at 10:49 am  Chain link

    Brian,

    I hear what you’re saying. Although I have no proof, I do believe that had Lincoln lived out his term, he would have reversed many of those powers that he instituted during the war. Remember, and I can’t stress this often enough, he wanted to bring the Union back together. And you can’t do that with police state powers in place.

    It’s too bad that his legacy is what it is. I consider Lincoln our greatest president because of his humanity, warts and all. He was not a nice man, but he was merciful. He was a cold man, but he was compassionate. He was very smart, but often made poor decisions.

    And I’ll still take him over GWB any day of the week and twice on Sunday.

  12. skimeld on December 5, 2006 at 11:32 pm  Chain link

    Hi all, not to enter the fray, but unashamedly say I have a 1915 copy of all of Lincoln’s speeches and papers for sale on ebay.

    If anyone’s interested it closes in an hour – 11.30pm EST 05Dec06 (item number 290055217072) and – my reason for posting – currently at an unbelievable price of $97. Which, sadly, I will sell it at if no-one else is interested.

    Thanks, and apologies for interrupting.

  13. David Louis Edelman on December 6, 2006 at 12:50 am  Chain link

    Ah, capitalism, how could I ever doubt thee?

  14. Jason on December 13, 2006 at 1:34 am  Chain link

    A few points to keep in mind. Lincoln believed that slavery was an evil, he loved the Declaration of Independence, and while he wasn’t an abolitionist he believed that the Kansas-Nebraska Act was a maneuver to make slavery legal throughout the U.S. Hence his famous “house divided” speech. He knew that it could never be only a percentage one way or the other, it would be either 100% free or 100% slavery. Now, he did have views that we would consider racist, but his views on slavery absolutely changed during his tenure. He became friendly with Frederick Douglas during that time and his final speech spoke about black suffrage. Booth saw that speech and ended up assasinating Lincoln. After the Civil War Lincoln was prepared to have “malice towards none” and to welcome the South back with open arms. There were radical Republicans at the time who wanted the South punished. Lincoln wanted no part of that. If he hadn’t been assasinated, the Reconstruction would probably have been smoother and the civil rights struggle would have been different. By the way, how is the Union fractured to this day? Because of the political divide between Republicans and Democrats? Big deal. That has existed ever since Hamilton and Jefferson. As far as I know, no state at this point in time is threatening to leave the Union. Therefore there is no fracture. Also, keep in mind that the South attacked the North first. Even with ports blocked, what was the North supposed to say to Lee’s army? “We want to solve this diplomatically, please leave and we’ll schedule talks.”

  15. David Louis Edelman on December 13, 2006 at 9:30 am  Chain link

    Thanks for that, Jason.

  16. Bill on December 13, 2006 at 9:21 pm  Chain link

    Jason is right on the mark.
    As to George W. Bush and Iraq, if the people who are criticising would only open their ears and listen to the words from the Middle East and the despots there, at some point a stance has to be taken.
    The words coming out of Iran and the Hezbollah in Lebanon are markedly similar if not exact to a lot of the verbiage which emanated from Nazi Germany prior to WWII.
    As to a more reasoned individual handling the situation I take you back to the Carter Administration. If he had been half a President we would not be in this situation today. He absconded on our friends, dictator or not, who kept stability in that area. As a result the biggest supporter of terrorism in the world was able to establish and here we are today.

    You can have it there or here. Make your choice but stop criticising and come up with a solution.

  17. Kevin on December 14, 2006 at 10:43 am  Chain link

    Surely, we can find faults with every president. You are absolutely correct in saying that Lincoln didn’t think too highly of the african race, but in that era, who did? It is difficult to imagine, but even them most liberal thinkers in that day believed that blacks were inferior.

    His questionable tactics, like the suspension the writ of habeas corpus were put into place for a reason. That reason was his attempt to minimize treason. There were plenty of dissenters who didn’t agree with the war. This was his attempt to try and hold on to as many soldiers as possible so that he could keep the Union together.

    Good article. I’m glad you opened this up for discussion. I like nothing better than new looks at old faithfuls.

  18. Matt on December 14, 2006 at 10:57 am  Chain link

    He also violated the existing interpretations of the Constitution by begining a program of government intervention in business affairs, expanding the reach of the federal government, and violating the sovereignty of the states by attacking those in the south.

  19. RedDelPaPa on December 14, 2006 at 7:41 pm  Chain link

    I think the old saying, “scum rises to the top” sums it up quite well. Nobody ever makes it into a position of power by not stepping on toes, and not sticking a few knives in trusting peoples’ backs along the way. You have to want to rule over people to desire to be in a position such as president of the United States.

  20. jim on February 28, 2007 at 10:05 pm  Chain link

    Did you know? Lincoln was an avowed atheist. and that was verified by his law partner after Lincoln’s death. He would intone the name of God in his speeches. What’s that make him? A pure politician who speaks merely for effect. Also, the image of the hard working rail splitter was created to promote his political future. Lincoln admitted to disliking physical labor and that he sought to avoid it as best he could. Tough to look at history objectively isn’t it. Forget the truth and hang on to your illusions folks.

  21. Lincoln Lvr on May 30, 2007 at 8:25 am  Chain link

    I would like to first point out, Lincoln did not want to free the slaves because he knew this would throw America into turmoil. The slaves were, he originally thought, his ticket to getting the U.S. back into one country (want evidence? look at the emacipation proclamation. He gives the South 100 days to come back. If they come back within this time, they get to keep slavery.). Lincoln, as a Republican, believed that slavery should not be EXPANDED. It would eventually die out if it was isolated. On point two, Sherman was one of the first modern generals. His tactic (cutting off supply lines, and other things) has been used in other wars since. While Sherman did take it to the extreme, far, far, to the extreme, in it’s essence it is genius. Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus because it is perfectly constitutional to do so. It says in the constituion: “the privelege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended, unless when in cases of rebellion or invasion” (Article I, Sec. 9). I have not heard that he won his second election through questionable tactics. The South did not vote in this election, and so this is one reason why he certainly won. I know that he sent the troops throughout the state to PROTECT voters from confederate terrorists. I would also like to point out that slavery was ended by a CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT which requires 3/4’s of all the states to ratify. Meaning, Maryland almost certainly ratified. If the Souix were actually rebelling, it is perfectly within the president’s rights to send troops to calm them in order to make the people of America safe.

  22. Lincoln Lvr on May 30, 2007 at 8:37 am  Chain link

    I would like to add this.
    Right on Jason! You know your history quite well!

  23. Doris Can Goodone on June 8, 2007 at 1:01 pm  Chain link

    None of you have read “Team of Rivals”. Please find a copy somewhere (should be a Costco really cheap by now) and read one of the greatest biographical accounts of a truly great man!

  24. Lew Glendenning on January 5, 2008 at 12:55 pm  Chain link

    FDR screwed up by demanding “unconditional surrender” from both Germany and Japan. At that point, Hitler had nobody he needed to appease, the ‘Final Solution’ had no external barriers, was probably needed for holding onto political power in the face of the completely obvious approaching defeat — no nation has ever conquered all of Europe.

    Ditto Japan: no nation has ever conquered all of Asia, and they needed Nanking as an attempt to quell the Communist partisans.

    The US could have done better for the world by NOT pushing the Japanese into the war, and sitting on the side-lines as the military supplier for England and maybe Russia. We could have ransomed all of the Jews, accepted a lot of refugees, supplied a lot of troops as volunteers (already had a lot of men in the RAF through Canada).

    (We ignored efforts to ransom Rumanian Jews, I believe it was. We turned away boatloads of Jewish refugees just before the war. Very shameful.)

    The US would have emerged from the war, which would have taken longer, a commercial super power, rather than a military super power.

  25. charmaigne on February 25, 2008 at 5:14 pm  Chain link

    I still think Abraham Lincoln is a good president.If you think otherwise its not up to me.I just want to have my comment heard.A comment does not have to be a good thing.He may have done some bad things but that does not mean he is a bad president.I felt like writing this because I have something called the FREEDOM OF THE PRESS. I am a ten year old girl trying to be heard.

    P.S Not everyone has the same religon and believes in God

  26. David Louis Edelman on February 25, 2008 at 5:19 pm  Chain link

    charmaigne: I’m with ya. Freedom of speech is a good thing, and we don’t all have to agree to have a civilized discussion. Keep making yourself heard.

  27. shefster on February 29, 2008 at 7:42 pm  Chain link

    Wow, I am so going to buy your book the day it comes out if its packed with non-conformist ideas like this.
    I mean, rethinking Lincoln’s legacy is crazy enough but rethinking RUSH LIMBAUGH? I guess I should actually listen to him once in a while, rather than snort with disgust and change the channel.

  28. David Louis Edelman on February 29, 2008 at 8:42 pm  Chain link

    shefster: I’m trying to decide if you’re being sarcastic or not. I honestly can’t tell.

  29. Geoff Elliott on July 28, 2008 at 11:45 am  Chain link

    Abraham Lincoln was a complex man who was (and is) little understood by many. Yes, he suspended habeas corpus (permitted by the U.S. Constitution in times of insurrection), did not at first support ending slavery, and took other liberties with personal freedom.

    But, one cannot begin to compare the vastly different situation he faced with what George W. Bush has faced. Yes, we were attacked on 9/11/2001 by terrorists, but does this single event, no matter how heinous, justify the loss of various freedoms under Bush? Lincoln was faced with armed insurrection by armies on American soil. This rebellion threatened the very fabric of our nation, caused brothers and fathers and sons to fight against one another, and nearly destroyed the “last best hope on Earth for democracy.”

    Contrast this with George W. Bush who invaded Iraq based on (at best) faulty intelligence if not plain old lies. Iraq had nothing to do with the terror attacks of 9/11 and he knew it *prior* to the invasion.

    Yes, Abraham Lincoln was a great president. And history will find that George W. Bush is one of the worst.

  30. Adam on September 29, 2008 at 1:19 am  Chain link

    charmaigne,

    Lincoln respected freedom of the speech. He respected it so much that he actually had editors of newspapers who opposed his policies arrested and thrown in jail. He threw politicans and lawyers who dared to defend free speech in jail. I want to love Lincoln. I love studying the Civil War, and have read since I was ten that Lincoln was great, but actually reading the works and history of Lincoln, I am saddened to admit that this man was far from great. It pains me to say that, but denying that, denies history.

  31. One That is conserned on October 7, 2008 at 3:07 pm  Chain link

    I thought that this web-site was about Abraham Lincoln. I am saddened to see that instead we slam the authority that God has put over us. George Bush is a man, He is not perfect, no one is. Everyone makes mistakes. You make them don’t you? But no one slams you, and says that your the worst father, comrad, or person in the history of the United States. I may only be a college student and I may not know much but I do know that God says to honor those that have authority, even if they do make mistakes.

  32. David Louis Edelman on October 7, 2008 at 7:36 pm  Chain link

    One That is conserned: God doesn’t put presidents into office. Voters do.

    And I’m certainly not claiming that George W. Bush is “the worst father, comrad, or person in the history of the United States.” In fact, unlike most liberals, I sincerely believe the dude’s done the best he could do, without malice. But I certainly am leveling some criticism against him. You can’t start a war that kills over 100,000 people without expecting some.

  33. Lynn Carter on November 22, 2008 at 9:00 pm  Chain link

    I do not think Lincoln was a good president.He was just another politician. The fact that he was assinated in office is why he is remembered.Any president that is willing to place a bounty on the Souix Indians heads(men,women and children)would never get my vote.He allowed General Sherman’s troups to rape,murder,steal,burn downand tourture the families who lived in the south.It wasn’t enough that the North won the war,they had to make sure that they performed an OVERKILL. The South still remembers what the Union did ,as do the Blacks! It is no wonder Barrack Obama is the President Elect. I hope he does not pattern himself after Lincoln.

  34. Vanessa on December 8, 2008 at 10:09 pm  Chain link

    Lynn Carter: “The face that he was assinated in office is why he is remembered.”

    The fact he is assassinated is not why so many people revere him. Either way, numerous amounts of blacks saw him as their emancipator and were grateful to him. Plus, there have been other assasinated presidents who are not nearly as revered as Lincoln is today.

  35. S.C. on December 11, 2008 at 1:07 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln was an expert politician and that is one of the main reasons he is so great. He led public opinion rather than battling it, as well as he possibly could while making divisive decisions. There was a large portion of the north that was “peace at any price” right from the get go.

    As an expert politician he couldn’t be so foolish as to polarize the people who’s support he needed. The border states were indeed crucial and volatile. Even with their south sympathizing leaders removed, the people in those states downright refused to fight and die for the liberty of the blacks. If Lincoln was to express his deep sympathies for the black man, he would have divided not only the border states, but also the rest of the north. Abolitionists were still a minority (or close to it) and there were a lot of people that would not fight in a war to free the black man. The New York draft riots are just a taste of what could have been if Lincoln was not so eloquent.

    He would have had zero success if he was to openly declare the blacks equals. He managed to free the blacks despite the feelings of most people. His assassination caused the rebuilding of this nation to be filled with turmoil. He was replaced by lesser men that really set America back by many many years because of their lack of greatness.

    Sherman’s march to the sea did not target civilians. Sherman declared “Total War” and was supported when he did so by the President and others. This was done so that the south would see that the cost of war was far greater than anything else. They burned everything of any value crops and buildings within a certain distance from their march. The fact that it was allowed to go on so long is a testament to the stubbornness of the south, or at least the leaders of the south.

  36. David Louis Edelman on December 11, 2008 at 6:51 pm  Chain link

    Thanks for that, S.C. That really might be one of the best defenses of Lincoln I’ve read in a long time. Definitely puts things in perspective.

  37. Not a Huge Fan of Lincoln | REBEL CENTRAL on December 23, 2008 at 7:40 pm  Chain link

    […] he preserved a “union” that is still in many ways divided? I found this handy list on a blog: Consider some of the things ol’ Honest Abe and his administration did during his time in […]

  38. Robert Wise on February 6, 2009 at 11:55 pm  Chain link

    Ignorance is bliss. You know nothing of Abraham Lincoln. No need to say more.

  39. David Louis Edelman on February 7, 2009 at 9:34 am  Chain link

    Man, ask some unpopular questions, and suddenly everyone’s a self-righteous dick.

  40. Zeke Hunter on February 22, 2009 at 3:25 pm  Chain link

    I know I’m late to the party, but keep in mind, suspending the writ of habeas corpus is constitutional only for Congress to suspend, not the President. Indeed, in Ex parte Merryman, Chief Justice Roger Taney upholds this position, which is clearly stated in the Constitution. Lincoln, as noted by this blog’s author ignored this ruling. The truth hurts, if you think GWB was a bad president, Abe Lincoln was pretty bad too.

  41. Josh Relkin on March 2, 2009 at 3:25 am  Chain link

    Wow, this is a great blog! I’ve read most of what everyone had to say and it’s mostly good; there’s some faulty information in there though. My best advice for anyone reading is, DO YOUR OWN RESEARCH! -and try not to use wikipedia- I’m currently in 11th grade and taking AP US History(College Level History Course). This blog with it’s biases are pretty helpful. I’ll post again in a couple days with my bias point of view. I’m not a “Yankee” or “Rebel”,”Pro-Confederate Freak” for anyone’s information, and when I post, I’ll have accurate information to support my argument.

  42. Michael on March 25, 2009 at 6:27 pm  Chain link

    I remember hearing Limbaugh talk on this. I believe his point was not so much that “Historians routinely rank Abraham Lincoln as one of our greatest presidents, even though he took many more gross liberties with the Constitution than George W. Bush. Limbaugh’s conclusion: Bush is a great president too.” But that those who are highly critical of Bush blast him for things that Lincoln was also guilty of yet they refuse to criticize Lincoln for as well.

    As for as what I say to the issue with Lincoln (and other Presidents): Even our greatest Presidents (both past and future) had great faults mixed in during their administrations.

    btw, I doubt Lincoln would top the charts if it had not been for the war and the abolition of slavery. I am certain that slavery (which did not the issue in the civil war until Lincoln’s Eman. Proc.) would have ended in the south and probably without the 100 years or so before a similance of equality. It was the abrupt end which that caused all of that.

  43. Nick Peronace on May 18, 2009 at 2:25 am  Chain link

    Lincoln WAS a very bad President. All that you state is true. I would also like to ask a question. Would it be so bad if the south left the Union? Wasn’t that the same thing America did to England?
    I feel that Lincoln should have let it all be. My bet is that in a short time the south would want back in once they felt the $$$ crunch. Even to this day, aside fromt he big city’s, the south is a very poor part of America.

  44. JD on August 7, 2009 at 8:16 pm  Chain link

    Your logic has convinced me, Bush was a much better President than Lincoln.

  45. David Louis Edelman on August 7, 2009 at 10:39 pm  Chain link

    JD: Surely you don’t really think I was trying to convince people of that, do you…?

  46. Anthony Sifuentes on August 29, 2009 at 1:05 am  Chain link

    The notion that Lincoln stumbled onto the slavery issue and used it to end the war is wrong. He was not rooting for the North as if he was rooting for his favorite baseball team. This was a man always destested slavery and began opposing it six years before he became president. As one of the founding members of the Republican Party, the abolition of slavery was one the reasons for the formation of the Republican Party.

  47. Cody on September 8, 2009 at 5:23 am  Chain link

    Well I’m only 13(I’m in a gifted class or whatever so if my post seems a little over the top. Just saying so you don’t get a bit confused…), but after doing research on Abraham Lincoln, he was born in a time where death was a common thing. Medicine was epic fail, advances in weaponry were dizzying…. So maybe during that time, death was accepted more. I mean, some men went through multiple wives like it was no big deal because women died so much from child birth. So maybe when Abraham Lincoln slaughtered the Sioux, or showed some disregard for human life in some other way, it was more accepted and common during that time. But when we look back from this modern age where saving lives is so highly valued and so much easier to do, we look down on some of the things he did. I’m not saying what he did was justifiable in any way, he probably was responsible for the death of woman and children, but we need to keep in mind that during this time, killing/death was not as bad.

  48. Peter on September 24, 2009 at 12:23 am  Chain link

    I just found your blog by googling “why was Lincoln a great President”.

    I’ve always admired what I thought I knew about Lincoln. After reading a collection of essays, my opinion wavered, but I’ve come to a conclusion that confirms my original view of him as a very great man and the greatest American President. I think the key is to keep reminding yourself of the times he lived in. When one takes the attitudes of the day into account, the figure of Lincoln emerges as a practical politician who tried very hard, and ultimately succeeded, in performing a difficult job, (the most difficult any President has ever faced), while remaining as true as he could to his own values.

  49. Amber Armstrong on April 13, 2010 at 4:25 pm  Chain link

    In my opinion Abraham Lincoln was the greatest american. one reason is because even though depressing, epic, sad times he gave it all to the country that was falling apart. He also atop the evil sin of slavery. Not only that he stop it completly so that it will be stopped forever. In conclusion Abraham lincoln kept the contry from falling apart, and stopped slavery.

  50. michael on April 14, 2010 at 11:48 am  Chain link

    Abraham Lincoln was the best president ever and worked hard to keep washingtons dreams and every last americans dream together. If it werent for abraham this nation would of fell apart

  51. Tom on June 14, 2010 at 1:56 pm  Chain link

    Old honest Abe didn’t believe in freedom, if he had believed in freedom he would have left the south alone. The voters in the south voted to leave the United States and he sent troops in to go against the will of the people. How is it a good thing to over-ride the voice of a free people? Also, if the war was really about freeing the slaves why didn’t he invade other countries that had slaves?

  52. Matt on June 26, 2010 at 7:05 pm  Chain link

    This whole concept of Lincoln freeing the slaves is ridiculous. He was quoted in an 1858 debate as saying “…I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in anyway the social and political equality of the white and black races.” The Emancipation Proclamation freed the slaves…in the South. So that accomplished nothing. Lincoln just kinda forgot to free the slaves in the North. The whole abolitionist sentiment was added to the Northern war effort to make the war to keep the Southern states in the Union a moral crusade.

  53. Jon on September 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm  Chain link

    You are correct in challenging the wonderful accepted history of Abe Lincoln.

    His comments about slaves and Africans in America should serve as a good guidepost as to who this guy was. He was a chapter head of a “Colonization”
    society that existed in the US at the time, which was for the humanitarian re-patriation of slaves to Africa and, to the best extent possible, their areas of forced deportation. I have to say, however, that it isn’t that clear that this was a race bashing group, but I wouldn’t bet on it having the pc sensibilities we have today.

    Lincloln rushed to war and it is reported that he spurned negotiations with the Confederate states. Napoleon III came to the US for just such a mediation and Lincoln spurned him. This is only the beginning of the unanswered question of why the need or desire to go to war. One conclusion is that Lincoln was tied up with industrialists, et al who would benefit from war. This can be pretty easily inferenced by his lawyerly dealings with big railroad interests, i.e., the Illinois Central Railroad. So, you think of Lincoln as a bit of a Cheney with Halliburton ties.

    Lincoln’s suspension of habeas corpus, as our good host reminds us, is probably his worst act. Maybe, not, when you consider the war Lincoln waged on civilians when the Union was doing badly in the war. This started in the Shenandoah (sp) Valley and spread quickly. But, to be clear, Lincoln locked up anyone of note who disapproved of the war and bloodshed. Even Abolotionists, many of whom were not belligerent types, were rounded up. They were sent for Fort Lafayette next to Ellis Island in New York Harbor. Look it up. And, finally, look up the cause of the day in that period called “The American System,” and see what you find. It is all very interesting. Although I generally like Limbaugh, his blindness towards issues such as this, particularly that Lincoln was such a promoter of the expansion of the central government, makes me very disappointed in his lack of honesty and probity.

  54. ray Flood on November 21, 2010 at 10:32 pm  Chain link

    Remember , he was the president thatwas responsible for more Armerican Deaths in war than anyother president. He is also mentioned in books and investigations as being a gay president, {documented sleeping with other men} did not like Negros and would have done it different if he had the power…and lets face it … being poor , reading by the candle light stuff….his father owned a thousand acres of lad . Even in his day that was alot. BY the way have any of you been ti Ill>/
    Duh….. no wonder he wanted to leave..

  55. Josh on December 14, 2010 at 10:10 pm  Chain link

    I would like to refute all of your claims and reassert that Lincoln was by far the greatest and in many ways most principled president in history.

    1. Ineffective Generals: not his fault, he was never a soldier, he took the advice of his cabinet and let generals in power at the time of his coming to office remain in command. When they were especially bad (McClellan) he had the poise to remove them.

    2. Grant and Sherman caused harm to civilians: The Civil War was a total war and at that one that took place in the 1860s. The North was on the verge of defeat in 1862-63 when Grant and Sherman were given their commands and they had to follow intense practices to placate the rebelling South. Also fuck the South, I find it hard to be moved to sympathy over the destruction of the property of slave owners and bigots.

    3. Habeas Corpus: Yeah I guess this is hard to refute, but I’ll just use the excuse that 1. it was the 1860s and 2. this was a completely unprecedented situation and the only war that has legitimately threatened the power and continuity of the United States. In his place I’d probably do the same thing.

    4. 1864 Reelection Fraud: I’ve never heard of this. Doesn’t mean it’s not true, but again I think it’s likely exaggerated: he still won all the other Northern States where there weren’t troops (and lost some where there were: KY and DE)

    5. Didn’t have a high opinion of blacks: Everyone knows he was no abolitionist, but I don’t see why that’s a strike against him considering he eventually did free all slaves and was all set to let the Radical Republicans run Reconstruction (before his assassination) and pass the 13, 14, and 15th Amendments. In moving to do this he accomplished more than the entire Abolitionist Movement.

    6. Border States: Of course he didn’t free the border state slaves, he needed them (especially MD) to stay loyal to bolster Union ranks and to keep DC from being completely surrounded by the South (it already was a border city). It is to his great credit that he did eventually free all slaves even those in the border states. I don’t think he should be damned for effective wartime strategy and then rectifying any misdeeds at the end of the conflict.

    7. Hauling away leaders: Again this is the first time I’ve heard of this issue, however I will say that any leader hostile to the Union this time who was in charge of a Union state during wartime was committing treason and as such could be removed for the good of the war effort. If their trials would have been unfairly biased in their favor and would have them released as a folk hero to the detriment of the war effort, it was a good choice to postpone trials until later in the war or after the war.

    8. Sioux: He himself did not personally enact many of these laws or bounties, his ground commanders did and I would point you to a recent NYT article that in fact shows that he struggled with his decision to do so and in one case commuted the sentences of hundreds of Indians the Army and settlers wanted sentenced to death saying that he could not hang men for more votes. Quite bold in an era of bigotry and racism on both sides. (http://nyti.ms/fQ2W0P)

    In conclusion Abraham Lincoln was unabashedly the greatest president of all time and will never be topped unless there is another Civil War. That time is beyond parallel in American History.

  56. Greg on December 19, 2010 at 4:38 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln did what he had to do and thank god he did it.

  57. Demosthenes on January 11, 2011 at 5:55 pm  Chain link

    I used to love Lincoln (until I actually did some research). However, I do not think Lincoln was a terrible president if you let the ends justify the means. He was obsessed for preserving the Union, which, as history shows, turned out to be the greatest, richest and most powerful nation on the planet until China, our politicians and our debt crush us like the empires of the past.
    Lincoln screwed up plenty, but he succeeded in keeping the country together.
    One more thing, I love how the posts before 2009 bash up on Bush. After Obama’s inauguration, Bush seems like the good old days. I cannot believe I just said that.

  58. Mike Robbins on January 20, 2011 at 2:07 am  Chain link

    So all the presidents had some bad things happen
    Bush – killed several hundred thousand Iraqi’s and instilled in the American public the hatred of Muslims.
    Kennedy- left a bunch of allies on the beaches of Cuba to die. Slept with everything in a dress. Camelot I do not think so…
    Nixon – well they say today that 5 million men, women and children were killed in Vietnam. Dick even added Cambodia and Laos to the death toll ,thanks Dick.
    FDR – Promised we would never get into another war. Turned away ships full of Jewish refugees, they were eventually sent back to Germany to die.
    Clinton – got a blow job, how horrible!

    Hey maybe we are better with a king? Well maybe not…
    Mike

  59. Mel on February 17, 2011 at 12:51 am  Chain link

    Well… Im just a kid but the only reason lincoln was puplar was cause he got killed at a good time cus the president after him had to handle alot of the problem after lincoln died so like linconln died in a good time O_O ummm yea so that’s why he was a puplar president

  60. JohnnyRebel on February 28, 2011 at 6:24 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln was a tyrant and a despot who got what he deserved – a bullet in the head.

    The problem with John Wilkes Booth shooting Abe Lincoln was his timing. If Booth shot Lincoln before the war ended, he would have been viewed as a hero and not a villain. He would have technically been a war combatant – not a criminal. Lincoln would not today be a Martyr and a hero in the hearts of many.

    Lincoln and GW Bush were the two worst US Presidents in history. They both started un-necessary wars that killed lots of people and wasted billions in US wealth. There were other soultions that would have solved the problems at hand without these losses but these gentlemen were too stupid and arrogant to find these answers. Lincoln was the worst US President in history; followed by GW Bush, who is the second worst US President in history.

    If the South had won the war over states rights (mis-named the Civil War), Lincoln and Sherman would have been tried and hung for war crimes.

  61. FUCK YOU on March 9, 2011 at 7:39 pm  Chain link

    Fuck you. Abe Lincoln was a much better president than Bush. Lincoln freed the slaves in the south. Bush fucking got us into more debt than any other fucking president in history! If you think that Bush is better than Lincoln, God help you.

  62. David Louis Edelman on March 9, 2011 at 9:11 pm  Chain link

    I fail to see where I said or implied that George W. Bush was a better president than Abraham Lincoln. Reread the article.

  63. Dennis Van Quaethem on March 20, 2011 at 11:38 am  Chain link

    Concerning your comments about President Abraham Lincoln…

    In 1862 303 Sioux prisoners were convicted of murder and rape by military tribunals and sentenced to death. President Lincoln personally reviewed the trial records to distinguish between those who had engaged in warfare against the U.S., versus those who had committed crimes of rape and murder against civilians.

    On the other hand, General Pope and Minnesota Senator Morton S. Wilkinson told him that leniency would not be received well by the white population. Governor Ramsey warned Lincoln that, unless all 303 Sioux were executed, “Private revenge would on all this border take the place of official judgment on these Indians.” In the end, Lincoln commuted the death sentences of 264 prisoners, but he allowed the execution of 39 men.

    This clemency resulted in protests from Minnesota. In the 1864 election, Republicans did not fare as well in Minnesota as they had before. Ramsey (by then a senator) informed Lincoln that more hangings would have resulted in a larger electoral majority. The President replied, “I could not afford to hang men for votes.”

  64. David Louis Edelman on March 21, 2011 at 10:47 am  Chain link

    Thanks for that, Dennis. Definitely provides some perspective. Man, that Abe was a quotable one.

  65. Self Researched on April 22, 2011 at 12:13 am  Chain link

    I think the real litmus test that one must use when deciding whether or not Lincoln was a good or bad president is whether you believe in a strong central national government, or a federation of sovereign states united by mutual interest.

    There was a great deal of debate over this during the constitutional convention. The Articles of Confederation were too weak, and did not allow for any means to collect revenue for the federal government. However, there was a great movement to ensure that the Federal government remained FEDERAL, not National (ie; federation of sovereign states). The separation of powers concept was intended expressly for that purpose. There was great fear among the states that the federal government would usurp the powers of the state governments, therefore many demanded a bill of rights. It was argued by the Federalists that “a bill of rights is unnecessary, since the government is only given express powers by the constitution, and none further. Therefore there is no need to restrict the congress from passing laws that they have no authority to” [sic] – The Federalist Papers, Alexander Hamilton. This was basically an ad campaign to get the states behind ratification.

    Some states (NY and VA) specifically placed conditions on ratification- basically, we’ll sign it, but reserve the right to secede when we feel like it:

    “We the Delegates of the People of Virginia duly elected in pursuance of a recommendation from the General Assembly and now met in Convention having fully and freely investigated and discussed the proceedings of the Federal Convention and being prepared as well as the most mature deliberation hath enabled us to decide thereon Do in the name and in behalf of the People of Virginia declare and make known that the powers granted under the Constitution being derived from the People of the United States may be resumed by them whensoever the same shall be perverted to their injury or oppression and that every power not granted thereby remains with them and at their will: that therefore no right of any denomination can be cancelled abridged restrained or modified by the Congress by the Senate or House of Representatives acting in any Capacity by the President or any Department or Officer of the United States except in those instances in which power is given by the Constitution for those purposes …”

    Now, why did I lead with all that? Then end result of Lincoln’s presidency was a massively more powerful centralized government, in which state sovereignty is given mere lip service. While that southern states were slave holding bigots is reprehensible, there was no constitutional way to say they couldn’t. Additionally, there was no constitutional way to keep any state from seceding. I’m not saying the south was right, but the 10th amendment is the 10th amendment.

    As for the suspension of Habeas Corpus, there technically was no insurrection. The south (at the time) did not invade the United States. They sent no armies to Washington to depose the government. They fired on a United States garrison that was technically in a harbor that was no longer part of the US.

    My personal opinion is that he was a bad president for the results that we live with today. A too-strong national government by its nature erodes the freedoms of the individual. A strong state/local government gives each of us the most freedoms, provided the constitutionality of free travel within states is upheld… If you don’t like how things are done in Alabama? Fine, move to New York (or vice versa). Want a law that provides for a government retirement safety net? Fine call up your local legislator or councilman… he or she will be a lot more receptive to your opinion since you are one of 100,000 rather than one of 10,000,000. What is good for Arizona is not necessarily what is good for Massachusetts, so I don’t think that a one size fits all approach to governance is a good idea.

    Nevertheless, that’s the legacy that Lincoln left.

  66. David Louis Edelman on April 25, 2011 at 9:00 am  Chain link

    Thanks for that, Self Researched.

  67. Yogendran on May 26, 2011 at 10:14 am  Chain link

    I am very interesting about the history of Abraham Lincoln.So very about your instruction.See you later.

  68. Jay Ufer on June 4, 2011 at 12:33 pm  Chain link

    When Presidents are new in office and someone in the media asks which former presidents they admire most, many respond with Abraham Lincoln.
    They are then usually perceived and protrayed as being on the side of the down trodden, freeing us from something, great leaders, noble and admired, simply from the way the question was phrased and answered.

    Self Research has a great summary above, we should ALL be on guard when a new president admires leaders in the past who CENTRALIZED the POWERS of the FEDERAL Government over the STATE Governemnt in a REPUBLIC, suspended rights we have, and reshaped the entire structure of our society and republic.
    It may be more efficient to centralize power and control, but it is certainly less representative! Regardless of political party, we are losing our freedoms!

    For another example and perspective on history, power and control, read “Gangs of America”…”The rise of corporate power and the disabling of democracy” by Ted Nace….I do not agree with all of his conclusions about the evils of the modern day corporation but in his book he reviews Tom Scott, a rather obscure person in American history who was Abe Lincoln’s assistant secretay of war and part of the Pennsylvania Railroad Company. Tom Scott helped to make the Northern troop movements more efficient and effective which aided in the Norths victory, the unintended consequences of that was what it did to states rights and the construct of the modern corporation is quite stunning. I think you will find it an interesting read.

  69. David Louis Edelman on June 4, 2011 at 1:50 pm  Chain link

    Jay: I’ve had “Gangs of America” sitting on my bedside table for months now. Maybe it’s time for me to actually crack it open. (I see that you can download it for free from the author’s website too, which helps.)

  70. Michael Chik on July 20, 2011 at 6:45 am  Chain link

    I used to think that Lincoln was a great President but as I get older, I realize that he was not. The system of government in the United States of America is designed NOT to have war. It is designed to have change in leadership by voting instead of armed conflict.

    Yes, slavery is bad. There is really no argument about that. But to actually have ten of thousands of people fight and die, that is NOT what America is all about.

    If you think about what happened after the Civil War, things really did not change much. Opportunities for African Americans still was not great. Over the course of time, people starting to change their opinions about African Americans.

    It took around one hundred years for the Civil Rights Movement to change things for African Americans and also other minor groups. Things changed because people stood up for their rights as human beings. People that would not stand for discrimination whether because of the color of their skin, their gender, or their ethnicity.

    The bottom line is that Lincoln should have continued to find non-violent ways to deal with the issue of slavery.

  71. Michael Chik on July 20, 2011 at 7:04 am  Chain link

    In my opinion, the greatest President was George Washington. If you consider that America was against all odds versus the most powerful nation in the world at the time (England) and still Washington led America to victory, Washington had great power. He had the loyalty and respect of the Army and the citizens of America. If he really wanted to, Washington could have declared himself King of America.

    But that would have gone against everything the War of Independence was all about. He set a great precedent of serving his two terms and gracefully leaving his office of President. (By away, he really did not want to be President in the first place, he wanted to retire to his farm in Mount Vernon).

    Future generations of people in politics should follow his lead, to truly serve your time in office in the United States as a STATEMEN or STATEWOMAN. Notice I did not write policymaker or politician.

    What is really lacking in America today is STATEMEN or STATEWOMAN. People who have achieved much in their lives and choose to serve their nation out of the kindness of their heart.

    This is just my opinion and yes I grew up in New York City so I maybe biased, but I see that Michael Bloomberg, the current Mayor of New York City to be a STATEMAN.

  72. Michael Chik on July 20, 2011 at 7:41 am  Chain link

    reply to tommyspoon,

    You have to understand that not ALL of the Founding Fathers wanted to have slaves or have slavery in America. Spend a little more time reading, please.

    Especially, read about the life of James Madison. Read his letters and what he did in his life. About how his slaves (or workers that he had live and fed) actually cried for him after his death. How he wanted to free his slaves but could not really find other labor for his family’s farms.

    How the majority of people in America did not want to give up their slaves… Do you think that it would have been better that America would have fought again after the War of Independence against themselves in a Civil War???

    You wanted the America to be completed unstable? As a matter of fact, if the Founding Fathers did not do what they did, we would not be here in America now… America would not have been the United States of America. The land that we are in right now, would have become as Europe is right now.

    Separate nations.

  73. art on August 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm  Chain link

    I dont blame a single President. It is my belief they are only puppets influenced by the voting replublic. Lincoln made mistakes but, so has every man born with one exception. I see alot of great things come from Lincoln administration and if he had not been assisnated I also believe he would have reversed several wartime necessary policies. We the people make this nation and it is us coming to agreements for the beter that will put our country back on top.

  74. David Louis Edelman on August 7, 2011 at 2:16 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln made mistakes but, so has every man born with one exception.

    Stanley Kubrick?

  75. arya on November 2, 2011 at 12:51 pm  Chain link

    this was intrusting

  76. richard on December 1, 2011 at 2:23 am  Chain link

    the emancipation proclamation was issued after antietam not gettysburg just as a friendly reminder

  77. tr2006x on January 28, 2012 at 1:19 am  Chain link

    Wow, so many people who declare “I am not historian”, still are entirely and magically capable to conclude about what an a.. Lincoln was. Very bad guy, an atheist! Wow, he was a normal man! The big problem is that those who ARE historians, strongly disagree with your bashing. They think that Lincoln was one of the greatest American presidents. Learn some history and judge him in the context of his time.

  78. Alan on February 21, 2012 at 12:03 am  Chain link

    It is easy to judge what a man did over 150 years ago. But, as to slavery, reconstruction, the civil war etc. I can think of no better man than we had at the time than Abraham Lincoln. I have studied his life and his actions. He did the best he could to keep the Union together. That was his first and foremost acts. His second priority was to bring an end to slavery. He was without any doubt placed into his position by divine power and we who are the beneficiaries of his acts will someday see this more clearly. For many this revelation will not sink in until the next life.
    If you really study the man, you will learn, that he had one character that few in this life ever really achieve. He had true Charity for all, and most especially the common man. He was, and will be one of the greatest Presidents, we have ever had to preside over this nation.

  79. Karina on March 15, 2012 at 10:52 pm  Chain link

    hello, i am a high school student. we are debating if president Lincoln was a good president. i am on the apposing team. I found what you wrote very interesting. i have been doing research on the points you did and i was amazed. you don’t exactly hear this in you history class. i new that it was somewhat filtered but, have never thought about looking into it. the only point i could not find was the book he had written “explicitly rejecting the veracity of the Bible.” do you think you would be able to send me the tittle.
    -Karina

  80. Karina on March 15, 2012 at 10:53 pm  Chain link

    hello, i am a high school student. we are debating if president Lincoln was a good president. i am on the apposing team. I found what you wrote very interesting. i have been doing research on the points you did and i was amazed. you don’t exactly hear this in you history class. i new that it was somewhat filtered but, have never thought about looking into it. the only point i could not find was the book he had written “explicitly rejecting the veracity of the Bible.” do you think you would be able to send me the tittle.

  81. lilla on April 17, 2012 at 10:32 pm  Chain link

    I love Abraham Lincoln.

  82. Steven Houle on June 3, 2012 at 12:25 pm  Chain link

    I do not believe that Lincoln could survive the press of today. Every country (Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt) beleives in the protection of the government. In every case, the government to protect itself and control the people, kills it citizens. Lincoln did the same. It is hard to imagine a person killing over 500,000 of its own citizens, many were women and children, being considered a hero. Who paid the price in the Union for these attrocities? The history books are written by the victors and shape the message. Lincoln had a vision , damn the indians and damn the south.

  83. Kelsey on August 1, 2012 at 12:04 am  Chain link

    tr2006x, I have to agree, who are we to judge? I’m just a college student, I am no historian. However, it is my personal opinion that Lincoln did what he had to do to save the Union. If fact, in 1862 he responded to an editorial by Horace Greeley in a letter, saying:
    “My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union …”
    Yes, he suspended habeas corpus, he constantly changed his mind about slavery throughout his presidency, he appointed crappy generals at first (because he trusted people too much), he was racist (back then, few weren’t), he may have even done some shady things to be reelected (which I doubt, considering he was very humble when reelected and refused to focus on his accomplishments), but desperate times call for desperate measures, and I believe he did what he had to to save our country. If our country had divided back then, it would have been catastrophic for both sides. We were a young and immature country…it would have been bad. The main reason behind his nickname of “Honest Abe” (besides the fact that he ran for the office honestly while fighting off countless rumors by Douglas), was because even though some of his important backers were hard-core activists who actually DID believe in complete racial equality, he had the guts to get up in front of thousands and give his honest opinion that he did not believe the races were equal. Ya, he was racist…but at least he was honest. Finally, whether or not he really believed in the abolition of slavery, he still started it. AND he reunited the country. I’d say his actions matter more than his reasons behind them. But of course, that is just my personal opinion.

  84. Kevin on October 21, 2012 at 7:13 pm  Chain link

    Lincoln treated the south no differently than he treated the Sioux. “Don’t tell me what you believe, show me what you have done, and I will tell you what you believe.”

  85. John on November 3, 2012 at 8:07 pm  Chain link

    I cringe when I hear someone proclaim that their favorite or greatest president was Abraham Lincoln. This guy was simply just another dirt-bag politician. The only difference is that he had a lot more blood on his hands and pissed on the constitution more than many of our worst presidents combined. After his term in office, the 10th amendment ceased to exist, habeas corpus was rendered useless, and the federal government pretty much seized all of the power that the constitution reserved for the states. This a-hole set precedent for the size fits all government that screws us in the ass year after year and will only get worse. If he was a true American and actually believed in freedom (which we don’t have btw), he would have let the south go its own way. The constitution was designed so that civil wars and uprisings would never happen. And liberals complain about bush.. pfft. Honest abe my ass.

  86. Frank on November 22, 2012 at 8:15 pm  Chain link

    I agree Abraham Lincoln was a very complex man. We tend to look at the
    culture back then and trying to replace it with our thinking of today.
    Won’t work. None of us lived back then. Only read history about the Civil
    War.

    Over the years that story like the bible has been rewritten and words replaced
    by those that would want to change history for there own benefit. I’m sure
    there are stories that happened that were not written about this complex man.

    All we can do is use common sense and know there was the good with the bad
    of a human being. Which all of have. In a situation that President Lincoln was
    in at that time of history I’m sure the man tried what he could to save this
    nation from all out total destruction.

    Even today if one goes to the Southern states there is still that attitude of
    The South Will Rise Again……It is up to all of us today even if we don’t like
    it to come together as a nation to save ourselves. There is other dangers out
    their that wish to destroy us. This time with Nuclear weapons.

  87. Bob Dylan on November 29, 2012 at 6:34 pm  Chain link

    Rush Limbaugh is the shit stain on the underwear of american society. He is an utter crackpot. HE makes me ashamed to call myself an American.

  88. James on December 6, 2012 at 12:32 am  Chain link

    Lincoln was certainly a powerful politician.

  89. lue on December 9, 2012 at 8:23 pm  Chain link

    lincon was born febuary 12,1809

  90. isaac on December 18, 2012 at 4:15 pm  Chain link

    you are awesome… this is really gonna help with my history debate

  91. carl on January 18, 2013 at 9:08 pm  Chain link

    Just wanted to say this is one of the longest comments blogs I have come across. Started in 2006 and there is a comment from dec 2012, its now middle january 2013, the world is still here and there was a couple lincoln movies which clearly demonstrate that he was the best besides geo washington.

  92. robert on September 4, 2013 at 9:50 pm  Chain link

    Happened to run across this article on Lincoln. It’s refreshing to actually see someone address the shortcomings of Lincoln. I have long know that Lincoln was somewhat of a scoundrel. He was very much in support of the style of government we have today in being too involved in industry and society. He was a crony-capitalist and supported the public private partnerships that unlevel the free market playing field. He used such corporate welfare to gain support from influential industrialists who saw the South as a market to plunder. The South saw Central and South America as economically beneficial for trade while they viewed the North as over priced and less than optimal trading partners. The industrialists and their politicians like Lincoln saw a potentially fatal economic disaster if the south left the Union and was free to engage in trade elsewhere. There were many causes that contributed to the eventual war with slavery being the most emotional and easiest to manipulate. The modern communists of today learned well from the pre-communists of yesterday. Keep up the good work with bringing out the un-PC facts and information. Historians won’t do it, journalists won’t do it, and certainly so-called educators won’t do it.

  93. Gudmund on March 13, 2014 at 4:57 pm  Chain link

    I really think Lincoln was great. His aim was to keep the us. a union. The emancipation of the blacks was subordinate to maintaining the union. The Confederates were arrogant and gloating. Their culture was aristocratic and one passed long ago in Europe. I don’t think so much about slavery here, but the total culture of the south of the 1850s. The southern states did not negotioate in any way with president Lincoln nor with his government. They elected Davis as their president, and said good bye to USA. And the general opinion in the south – at least among the leading aristocratic slaveholders – were that the south would easily win a war against the north, because their boys and generals were totally superior to the northern rabble.
    The war was inevitable, the south started it at Sumpter, Lincoln knew there was no other way to maintain the union than to force the rebells back into it. AND the rebelling confederates did NOT give in – in spite of all the atrocious hardships the endured – they had to be fought to the zero level! A hard, aristocratic stock – in their own eyes totally superior in culture and personality to the northern states.
    Lincoln was aware of all this all the time from 1861 to 65.

  94. Frank on May 5, 2014 at 4:02 pm  Chain link

    Abraham Lincoln was no doubt the worst president this coutry ever had, he is responsible for the deaths of 600,000 americans. You people think he ended slavery? He helped pass a law in Illinois not allowing free blacks to live in the state, he wanted to colonize them out of the country as well. He also had an ammedment making slavery a permanent institution where it already existed, if all the south wanted to do was keep their slaves they just had to stay in the union and vote to pass the amendment. Lincoln invade the south and forced it back into the union for one reason, money, the south generated 3/4 of the governments money mostly from the 40% tax that was forced on them, who would want to pay that, no wonder they left. When the Confederate army went north into Pennsylvania General Lee orderd his men to leave civillian property and people alone, when Sherman and the union army invaded the south they burned women and children out of their homes, took their food and left them starving. Lincoln a great president??? By far the worst this country has ever had and should have been brought up on war crimes and hung.

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