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

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