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w2pow2's avatar

Was Abraham Lincoln a good president?

Asked by w2pow2 (490points) October 28th, 2009

Or was he a war criminal?

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27 Answers

cyn's avatar

He was one of the greatest presidents. It was tough during his presidency.
editnothing is wrong with wanting unity

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

I think he was an average to above average president pushed into an extraordinary situation, and in the coin toss of life, came out on top.

SpatzieLover's avatar

How many people give their life for something they’re standing up for? He was a great man, a great lawyer and one of the best Presidents this country had.

proXXi's avatar

You’re kidding right?

proXXi's avatar

Yes, our Troll…

filmfann's avatar

Saved the country from splintering, which would have destroyed it. Abolished slavery. Allowed an easier reunification than many wanted, or expected.
I can see why you question what every knows.

cookieman's avatar

1) good president
2) war criminal

Is there a third choice?

jeffgoldblumsprivatefacilities's avatar

Well, he had a pretty bitching beard, that’s got to count for something. That and abolishing slavery.

gussnarp's avatar

Where are you going with all this?

ubersiren's avatar

I don’t know if he was a war criminal, but he was notoriously racist. He “freed” the slaves for his politics, not for his want of equality for men of all races. A google search will easily take you to a list of quotes from him regarding his position on “negroes,” but here’s probably the one that is most well known:

“I will say then that 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 – that I am not nor ever have been in favor of making voters or jurors of negroes, nor of qualifying them to hold office, nor to intermarry with white people; and I will say in addition to this that there is a physical difference between the white and black races which I believe will forever forbid the two races living together on terms of social and political equality. And inasmuch as they cannot so live, while they do remain together there must be the position of superior and inferior, and I as much as any other man am in favor of having the superior position assigned to the white race. I say upon this occasion I do not perceive that because the white man is to have the superior position the negro should be denied everything.”

As far as the rest of his presidency, I’d say he was fair.

ubersiren's avatar

I take it back- he was also racist in his war policy, and by my definition a war criminal. See, my problem isn’t that he was racist, necessarily, but more that people recognize him as this fighter for civil rights.

w2pow2's avatar

Funny, isn’t it? He wasn’t remembered for what he said, he was remembered for what he did. And that was to abolish slavery.
His actions don’t line up with his words. Make this make sense @ubersiren .

SpatzieLover's avatar

@w2pow2 “Four Score and seven years ago…” Hmph! Am I the only person to remember his speeches or words of wisdom?

“All that I am, or hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”

He said this about his dear homeschooling mama…bless his soul!

gussnarp's avatar

He ended slavery in America. Sure he was racist, so was your great great grandmother and pretty much everybody else in America in 1865. Abolishing slavery while still being racist was awfully progressive for the time. He wasn’t perfect, but he made America take a step forward, and he preserved the Union.

Although if he had allowed the south to secede they would still be an agricultural backwater economically subservient to the progressive, industrial, and wealthy north, so maybe he should have let them go?

ubersiren's avatar

@w2pow2 : Right. I just wish that people realized that he was just a politician. He wasn’t some wise before his time man who recognized equality despite race. He’s revered as some god-like figure to much of the U.S. which I just don’t get.

filmfann's avatar

He was in charge at a time when the country was in civil war. That was a terrible thing, and he kept the country united.
He had the courage to do something (abolishing slavery) that many felt was political suicide.
He worked on an easy reunification with the South, recognizing the country as a big family. Many Northerners wanted the South bowing before them.
God-like figure? No. Hero worship? Sure! Lincoln was all that!

w2pow2's avatar

@ubersiren can you explain fully why he abolished slavery? I heard it was for economic reasons but can you explain further?

Psychedelic_Zebra's avatar

Sure, let’s judge the man by today’s standards. And while we are at it, let’s judge Genghis Kahn and Marco Polo and Napoleon and Stalin okay, bad example by today’s standards, too. It’s easy to place people from the past as caricatures when they are held up to the light of the modern world.

History has already judged Lincoln for his acts, what’s the point in continually bringing it up to vote again? let’s focus on the present, and study the past only to keep from repeating it. Judging the dead is pointless. No matter what we decide, Lincoln is still dead.

ubersiren's avatar

@w2pow2 : Lincoln wanted to keep the country together- which is a good thing. I’m not debating that. But he did not abolish slavery because he was a friend of the black man, he did it because several states had seceded from the union and a bunch more were threatening to. He did it to appease the public, which is basically what a politician’s job is. I praise him for actually doing his job, as opposed to Bush Jr. who did the exact opposite.Yet, many people hold him to have the highest standards of humans rights. My own parents have a cartoon on their fridge of Lincoln “fist bumping” Obama, and I laugh every time I see it; they couldn’t have less in common. I’ll say again, I suppose his actual presidency was fair. In comparison to other presidents, he is probably closer to the good end of the spectrum, but that’s not saying much.

gussnarp's avatar

@ubersiren He didn’t abolish slavery to appease the public, he did it to provide a stronger moral justification for the war. War to maintain the Union was one thing, but when one can claim a moral high ground over the enemy and make them appear evil, it engenders far more public support.

I am as much in favor of having as accurate as possible an understanding of history, and certainly we have created a Lincoln myth, just as we have founding father myths, but I don’t think it’s appropriate to judge Lincoln on present standards, nor to claim he only freed the slaves for one reason. Freeing the slaves bore significant political risk, and even if he did it mainly to gain support for the war, he may also truly have felt the slavery was immoral. He also certainly caused more Americans to come to that view. And he did end slavery, something the founding fathers who are even more aggrandized, couldn’t even begin to grapple with.

ubersiren's avatar

Ok, so you agree that he did it to justify the war (a political move), not for his own personal beliefs on race.

I can only judge him from today’s standards because I wasn’t alive in the mid 1800s to compare. So, this is how I judge world leaders, medical procedures, films, human behavior, etc. Maybe those things were good enough in their day, but in the grand scheme of it all, they were just so-so. And that’s ALL I’m saying. I agree that the outcome is favorable, as mentioned above, but it doesn’t make my opinion of him any higher. I know it’s an unpopular thought, but I refuse to put someone on a pedestal who doesn’t belong.

gussnarp's avatar

@ubersiren As far as I’m concerned, anyone who created that significant and positive a change in the country, and who was by the standard of his time, and according to all existing evidence, basically a good person, is worthy of being put on a pedestal.

ubersiren's avatar

Fair enough.

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