Many will argue that Abraham Lincoln was the best president we’ve had, or at least one of the best. What made Abraham Lincoln great in many people’s eyes is the preservation of the union. But was Lincoln a good president? In The Real Lincoln, Thomas DiLorenzo shows the problems with Lincoln’s presidency. By taking a look at this book, we’ll ask if Lincoln was good or bad for our country by looking at the results of his presidency. You can find more book reviews in the Conversation of Our Generation Library.
“This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing Government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or their revolutionary right to dismember or overthrow it.“-Abraham Lincoln, First Inaugural Adress
Watch here for my discussion on whether or not Lincoln was a good president:
Lincoln and The American System
The American System was an economic program endorsed by the Whig Party. Largely shaped by Alexander Hamilton, this program involved the government heavily in economic matters. It would increase taxes to pay for large spending projects at the federal level. But, the people didn’t want this. Due to failed infrastructure projects, many northern states went nearly bankrupt. Multiple states even amended their constitutions to not allow this type of program. Despite this, Lincoln believed in the system with all evidence against him and attempted to force it on the country.
Lincoln’s Involvement in the Civil War
When the South seceded, war was not inevitable. Rather, when Lincoln fortified Ft. Sumter without authorization he provoked the war. Also, Lincoln was not a good Commander in Chief. The Confederate Generals outmaneuvered him and his generals, and were actually poised to win the war. As an act of desperation, he and his generals turned to war crimes, burning and pillaging towns across the south, raping the women, and randomly executing boys and men. It was these horrific crimes that made the south surrender, not military prowess.
Did Lincoln Free The Slaves?
Lincoln didn’t really free the slaves with the Emancipation Proclamation. Instead, it was a piece of propaganda. The order exempted the slave states that never seceded or had rejoined the union. The 13th amendment, which actually freed the slaves, was passed by Congress before Lincoln’s death. But, it wasn’t ratified until 8 months after he died. This was only possible because when the north conquered the south, the north revoked the rights of southern citizens to participate in the political system.
Was Lincoln a Good President?
Based on the evidence, I don’t think Lincoln was a good president. Although, I’ll grant that he came into power during crazy and tumultuous times. But, the greatness of leaders is based on how they rise to that occasion. In what I’ve seen, I don’t think Lincoln was the great president people claim he is. His economic system was a failure that eroded liberty and needed to be forced on the people. Lincoln didn’t free the slaves, even the slaves he was able to free. And, he condoned the mass rape, pillaging, and burning of the south, of people he claimed were his fellow countrymen. So no, I don’t think Lincoln was our best president. I don’t think Lincoln was even a good president.
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