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Abraham Lincoln: The Truth About America's "Greatest President"

Updated on November 9, 2013
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Bill Watson has authored 3 books and many articles online and for print publications such as Sports Afield, Income Opportunties and more.

Why Do Many Consider Lincoln To Be America's Greatest President?

Most presidential historians agree Lincoln owns that title, it isn't even close.

But why do they believe that? What was it about Lincoln that causes others view him with such high regard? And are there things not taught in any history class that might tarnish his reputation? What skeletons does Lincoln have in his closet?

Photo: A 1/2" (10mm) tall hand painted Lincoln cast in pewter. All photos on this Lens are of N scale miniatures.

A Cannon Crew Position
A Cannon Crew Position

That this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom --

and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Some point to Abraham Lincoln's contribution to the emancipation of the slaves as proof of his greatness, but that was only a small portion of it.

Certainly, presiding during the Civil War is a contributing factor. He made many pre-war, active war and post-war decisions that directly affected the outcome of the war. Some of those decisions continue to affect the lives of all Americans.

He was one of few presidents who had a vision that fully encompassed the country's past, present and future. He knew that if states were permitted to secede at will, the weakened remainder could not endure. As bad as four years of bloody war were, the alternative was equally horrific. Imagine the outcome of World War II had the full will and power of the United States of America not been involved.

Lincoln possessed an amazing ability to capture his complex thoughts on paper with unparalleled eloquence and render them to the masses in stirring, easily understood, fashion. Read the Gettysburg address and there is little room to doubt you've stepped into the mind of a genius.

In that speech, which many historians cite as the greatest ever written, Lincoln stated, "The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it will never forget what they did here." The fitting reply to that, made by Senator Charles Sumter at Lincoln's funeral June 1, 1865 was,"The world noted at once what he (Lincoln) said, and will never cease to remember it."

Little hinges swing big doors and the Gettysburg Address is a prime example. Comprised of just 270 words most historians agree it changed U.S. history in a manner far beyond any book, any law or any Supreme Court rulings that came after.

Did you know Barack Obama has spent a great deal of time studying Lincoln? It's true.

Don't most aspiring artists study Da Vinci?

True Lincoln Fact

There was an Abraham Lincoln on both sides. We know the Northern one. But a private Abraham F. Lincoln also served on the Southern side in a Virginia Regiment. He deserted in 1864 so in the end the north had both.*

*The Civil War: Strange and Fascinating Facts by Burke Davis.

Lincoln Movie Review

Steven Spielberg's movie "Lincoln" starring Daniel Day-Lewis

Released: November 16th, 2012

Five years in the making....wow! That's one year longer than it took to fight the entire Civil War, and at a point or two in the viewing it may feel like you've been sitting there all five years! Spielberg has been fascinated with Lincoln since childhood and it shows in the detail, usually in good ways, but occasionally you're left wondering, "Why is this part in here, it's boring!"

Reviews are mostly reporting this movie to be excellent, here's mine:

I've seen countless movies with masterful individual performances by actors and actresses who totally bought into the role. But I've never once been in total jaw-dropping awe of an acting performance.

Until today.

Daniel Day-Lewis isn't great in Lincoln, he becomes Lincoln. He'll definitely be nominated for an Oscar for this tremendous effort, and he'll win.

One thing Spielberg doesn't bring out, not surprising, considering the moral train wreck that's Hollywood and what has become a Christian bashing U.S. culture, is Lincoln's transformation from basically an atheist viewpoint to Christian which was the principal reason the 13th amendment, which this film is about, actually happened.

Take away Lincoln's conclusion that several bloody years of war was God's punishment for the sin of slavery and the 13th Amendment isn't even a passing consideration for Lincoln. Leaving that fact out is sort of like doing a film about bombs dropping on Pearl Harbor but covering up the fact that Japan's prior behavior had anything to do with it. So on that level the film is a complete and total failure of accuracy you'll have to ignore.

Regardless, the Day-Lewis performance makes this a must see. The movie itself at times has the feel of a double history lesson, extremely slow in spots, but ultimately it's extremely satisfying and you'll be quite glad you endured to the end. It's one of those movies that sticks with you awhile. I would not be at all surprised if, in spite of its few flaws and one glaring omission, it wins best picture this year.

Be sure to see it on the big screen though, I'm not sure it will play so well at home! Check out the links below for more information.

So This Is How Daniel Day-Lewis Pulled It Off!

With this Abraham Lincoln costume you can become Lincoln too! Amaze your friends at the next Halloween party or star in a major motion picture!

Did You Know?

Just one week before his assassination, Lincoln had a dream about someone crying in the White House. He located the room, looked in and asked the crying person who had passed away. The man in the room said, "The President." When he looked in the coffin it was his own face he saw.

The Truth About Abraham Lincoln's Personal Life - Lincoln Was A Disturbed Individual

That Lincoln accomplished much of anything, let alone all he did, is amazing when you consider the horrific nature of his life outside of politics and the presidency. Clearly, this was a tortured man.

  • He suffered greatly from bouts of depression. Many accounts describe him as "the saddest man I've ever known," or similar.
  • Lincoln was born into an extremely impoverished family and his father treated him coldly. Some historians and psychologists point to those facts as the roots of his depression.
  • Lincoln was married to Mary Todd for 22 years but it was a stormy relationship. Abe initially called off the marriage due to doubts of his love for her, then reversed his decision over 18 months later.
  • Mary Todd often exhibited strange behavior, due to her irrational fear of dogs, storms and burglars. She berated Abraham constantly and was a confirmed shopaholic who hid her extravagent spending from Abe. And they say he looked sad all the time due to his childhood?
  • Mary had a violent temper and was prone to argue while Abe avoided confrontation by simply walking away, further infuriating Mary.
  • Among the many other things Mary complained about were Lincoln's travels that kept him away for as much as six months of every year.

    Hmm....wonder why he did that?

Miniature Confederate Troops Attempting To Help Settle The Issue of State Secession

Miniature Confederate Troops Attempting To Help Settle The Issue of State Secession
Miniature Confederate Troops Attempting To Help Settle The Issue of State Secession

The Gettysburg Address: Was it Lincoln's "Greatest" Piece? - Some Say No

Lincoln's The Bixby Letter is, in my opinion, a bit cleaner, more concise and slightly better crafted than the Gettysburg Address. It was written to a Mrs. Bixby, the grieving mother of five sons, all of whom who lost their lives in battle. What could possibly be said in a situation like that? But Lincoln- and although authorship is in dispute I do believe Lincoln penned it- somehow found the words.

It's truly amazing. Some say it's Lincoln's best.

Yet, as eloquent and well-written as it is, it is still just an amazing letter that many have admired ever since.

The Gettysburg address altered world history.

Lincoln Loved Self Deprecating Humor

"If I were two-faced, would I be wearing this one?" - Abraham Lincoln

If there were a competion between presidents for dancing while singing "All my Ex's Live In Texas"? - Cast your presidential vote here!

If Lincoln were alive today and had a karaoke contest with Barack Obama, both singing and dancing their way through George Strait's "All My Ex's Live In Texas"...

Who Would Win?

See results

Funny Lincoln-Related Quote

"She's so hot if she were a president, she'd be Baberaham Lincoln" - Garth, a character in the 1992 comedy movie, Wayne's World

The Truth About Lincoln's Views On Slavery

What the media covers up...

Lincoln is viewed by most people as The Great Emancipator. It's assumed he "freed the slaves" and he accomplished that noble achievement via Civil War.

Then some say Lincoln couldn't care less about slavery.

Both statements are loosely rooted in fact, but the truth is much more complex. If you read Lincoln's letters written just prior to his presidential election, it's clear that at that point in time he was a bit of a racist who nevertheless hated slavery. In fact, although he did not at all believe in true equality of the races, the practice of slavery had troubled him greatly since childhood.

But it's also clear that if elected president he intended to do nothing about it. That's right, nothing. He felt as president, it would be his duty to uphold the existing laws. And slavery was legal.

Wolf Blitzer of CNN made a big deal of "The Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation" on January 1st, 2013, because the proclamation turns 150 years old during 2013.

I wonder why the clip stopped as if the reading were over, just as the reader reached the disturbing part of the proclamation, the part detailing which Southern border states and specific counties were completely exempt from freeing slaves? And yes, those exempted were all slaveholding states and counties.

Ironically, by forming the Confederacy, the Southern states set in motion the process to abolish slavery. The original seven states that seceded did so because Lincoln being elected, instead of the Southern candidate they preferred, was the last straw for them. They felt their state's rights were being squashed by an ever more powerful federal government and wanted out. When the states seceded just after Lincoln's election and war broke out, it was to preserve the Union, not to abolish slavery.

Make no mistake about this: At the point of secession there were no laws in Congress about to abolish slavery, slavery was legal and Lincoln had no intentions of doing anything to upset the applecart.

But during the course of the war Lincoln's moral compass was gradually less and less distracted by political strategy, his religious views crystallized and he became convinced the nation was being punished by God with a long, bloody war for permitting slavery. He decided this belief gave him both the duty and authority to issue the Emancipation Proclamation. But look up the dates and read it. It was issued nearly two years into the war and it didn't free all slaves, only the slaves in the rebellious states. Lincoln was afraid of abolishing it in the border states as they might join the Confederacy if he did.

His moral compass was still adjusting.

Few understand this, including a surprising number of self-appointed historians, but it wasn't until The Gettysburg Address, three years into the war, that Lincoln finally made it clear that the war's purpose was not only to preserve the Union, but was also a test of whether this nation, founded upon the novel idea that "all men are created equal," could live up to that noble concept and survive intact. Up to that point, while many assumed the war was basically about the slavery issue, the Gettysburg Address made it an official objective, equal to the objective of preserving the Union.

The Gettysburg Address is a beautiful and stirring piece of writing. But what made it "the greatest" piece wasn't just the fact that Lincoln was mightier than most with the pen. It was the concept that Lincoln, his moral compass now fully unencumbered by political expedience, conveyed within that prose a powerful idea: This Civil War is about once and for all reconciling the dichotomy between what the Constitution of The United States says the United States stands for- equality for all men- and the heinous act of slavery that up until now has been sanctioned within its borders.

And that concept, initiated with The Gettysburg Address, was confirmed in 1865 with the passing of the 13th Amendment.

The Truth About Lincoln

Often it's reported as fact that John F. Kennedy had a secretary named Lincoln and Lincoln had a secretary named Kennedy.

It's not true.

Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter Review

Given my interest in Lincoln, I'm probably supposed to hate this movie, but hey, I enjoy clean humor and if it's a bit twisted, so much the better...in fact, I LOVED IT!

The title and concept of this film is so warped, so over the top, at first exposure I knew I had to see it. In the meantime the reviews I read were mixed. Most professional film reviewers absolutely hated it. "Too serious," was the rant for most. "Twists history, but without the prerequisite whimsy," concluded another, "what an insult to my intelligence and it should be an insult to every American."

I guess they figure the only way to take liberty with history is to do it Mel Brooks style. Too serious? Lacks whimsy? Isn't half-demolishing history without apology or regret the very point of great toungue-in-cheek satire?

Fortunately some critics "got it" as did most of the non-professional reviewers commenting on various websites. Many said they thoroughly enjoyed it. As did I.

Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

We've all had the story of Honest Abe Lincoln seared into our memory banks and it's pretty much all here, not many liberties are taken with the basics. What this film does so admirably is it makes almost believable the completely unbelievable: during his rise from a childhood of poverty, to lawyer, to president, Abraham was killing extremely nasty vampires on the side. By his own hand, and with an ax, no less. Who knew?

Now when I say the film takes no liberties with the basic story, that, of course, doesn't include several newly revealed facts: that Lincoln's mother was killed by a vampire, that slaves were owned by vampire plantation owners who fed on their blood, that vampires fought heroically for the Confederacy with fangs fully exposed, you know, just a few minor embellishments here and there. That's enough detail to whet your appetite, I don't want to ruin it for you.

I was totally okay with, and actually expected what most pro reviewers told me was coming: a slow-to-develop, cheaply produced film with a poorly contrived plot and amateurish acting that I'd laugh my way through and enjoy simply because it was so bad. Instead, I was treated to a high action decent quality production, reasonably believable acting and a cleverly written, relatively complex story line that held my interest throughout. If you watch it with your small mind, suspicious of a poltical agenda and wih a pre-conceived expectation that it must be another whacky "Incredible Mr. Limpit" or "Blazing Saddles," you'll hate it as much as most professional reviewers do.

Watch it with your big mind realizing upfront it's simply a serving of pure entertainment from a thoroughly twisted writer and you'll find it quite delicious!

 

The Truth About Lincoln

It is widely believed Lincoln was not a racist.

The truth?

Like almost anyone born anywhere he adopted the views he was exposed to growing up. They were racist views and he could be considered a racist as late as 1858. By 1863 he was not.

Comments on The Civil War, Lincoln, or any of his works are welcome! - Anything else please put somewhere else!

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      Sinem 2 years ago

      For those band directors and wind band cdurnctoos interested, I was commissioned a few years back and have a work entitled Two Days At Shiloh dedicated to the Battle of Shiloh. This work is around grade 3 to 4 and premiered at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C. by the Sonora High School Concert Band (La Habra CA). The work is unpublished and can be obtained through me at the University of Memphis, .

    • Writingmystory1 profile image

      Writingmystory1 4 years ago

      Without President Lincoln or the Civil war, America or even the world, would not be what it is today. We must make sure are children learn, understand, and appreciate our history or someday we may lose this country and freedoms our ancestors worked and fought so hard for!