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View Poll Results: What is your assessment of Abraham Lincoln?
He was a bona fide American hero who saved the nation against all odds 9 37.50%
He was a Machiavellian backstabber who ignored the Constitution at will 2 8.33%
Both 5 20.83%
Neither 8 33.33%
Voters: 24. You may not vote on this poll

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Old March 5th, 2014, 07:50 AM   #1

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Your assessment of Abraham Lincoln


What do you think about Abraham Lincoln? I would say that he was one of our most Machiavellian Presidents who is perhaps unjustly remembered as one of our most gentle. The professional historian Thomas Flagel sums it up more eloquently than I can.

"The impression that Lincoln was caring and sensitive is plausible, because it is partially true. From an early age he displayed a gentleness blatantly out of place in the unforgiving wilderness of frontier Kentucky....
Throughout the Civil War, which consumed all but the first five weeks of his Presidency, he was no less repulsed by the misery around him. He became prone to nightmares and severe headaches. He lost weight. But during the entirety of the conflict, Lincoln displayed a behavior that can be classified as obsession. Nothing under his Presidency, including Constitutional law, the federal treasury, and the general welfare of millions, was deemed more important than the maintenance of an ethereal "Union".
Within a week of South Carolina's firing upon Fort Sumter, Lincoln ordered the assembly and arming of seventy thousand troops, suspended the writ of habeas corpus in Maryland, and issued a naval blockade against the entire Southern half of his own country. All of this was done without the consent of Congress, which he did not call into session until July 4th, 1861, nearly three months after the shooting started.
Today, his most acclaimed act is the Emancipation Proclamation. In 1862, it was widely unpopular, manipulative, and opportunistic, but it was a work of Machiavellian genius. In his famous public letter to abolitionist Horace Greely in August 1862, Lincoln confessed his loathing for human slavery, yet he acknowledged that it was only a chess piece in his quest to obtain military victory."- Thomas Flagel, 2007.

Was Lincoln a Machiavellian? What do you think? (Remember that "Machiavellian", does not necessarily mean "evil" it just signifies a willingness to use whatever means necessary to accomplish one's ends).
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Old March 5th, 2014, 12:59 PM   #2
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Obviously, Lincoln's time in office was dominated by the war. He had few options other than to pursue an expansion of his authority. As we can see in the 21st century Congress has the potential to do as little as possible and take a long time to act on anything.

Baltimore had the serious potential for getting out of hand and thus engulfing DC within the South.

A blockade and other dire measures are things that are done in wartime; I'm no such strategist, but I would guess they can be effective and hence desirable.

To be fair to Lincoln, we could understand him much better today if he had survived the war. His death gave him legendary status and perhaps legends are always given the benefit of the doubt.

Was he gentle or cunning? Not sure so many gentile commanders win wars. Was he the right guy to have in office, like FDR during WWII? The methods I guess are arguable, the results not so much.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 01:52 PM   #3
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He did not save the Union against all odds.

Any President who wanted to preserve the Union could have done so... The South had no chance at any point during the war.


And he was not machiavellian. He was, perhaps, the smartest, shrewdest, and most emotionally well balanced person who ever held the office. He presidency was certainly defined by the war... and he might not have been much of a president without that challenge...
but given the challenge he, uniquely, faced... he was possibly the very best man who we could have had saddled with that challenge.

He was neither vain, nor self aggrandizing. He was compassionate, and committed.
Forgiving, and yet relentless.

He was not in hock to special interests, nor did he act oblivious to the economic and political realities he had to navigate.

It is hard to evaluate so great a leader against leaders who were not faced with equally dire circumstances.
Perhaps, given similar trials, there are many a politician in our history who would have so skillfully steered us thru...

but I would have to say that Lincoln, the man, represents the very model of what we all wish every politician might be.
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Old March 5th, 2014, 02:25 PM   #4

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To paraphrase Lincoln, "This is an excellent poll for those who like that sort of thing."
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Old March 5th, 2014, 02:30 PM   #5

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Quote:
Originally Posted by sculptingman View Post
He did not save the Union against all odds.

Any President who wanted to preserve the Union could have done so... The South had no chance at any point during the war.


And he was not machiavellian. He was, perhaps, the smartest, shrewdest, and most emotionally well balanced person who ever held the office. He presidency was certainly defined by the war... and he might not have been much of a president without that challenge...
but given the challenge he, uniquely, faced... he was possibly the very best man who we could have had saddled with that challenge.

He was neither vain, nor self aggrandizing. He was compassionate, and committed.
Forgiving, and yet relentless.

He was not in hock to special interests, nor did he act oblivious to the economic and political realities he had to navigate.

It is hard to evaluate so great a leader against leaders who were not faced with equally dire circumstances.
Perhaps, given similar trials, there are many a politician in our history who would have so skillfully steered us thru...

but I would have to say that Lincoln, the man, represents the very model of what we all wish every politician might be.

'Nuff said...to add to this would be in vain. Well done!
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Old March 6th, 2014, 02:48 PM   #6
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The South had a hell of a chance during the Battle of Bull Run. The Yankees were caught off guard, and the only thing needed was for the South to finish the pursuit back to D.C.
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