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This is a true story.

Several years ago, I found myself in the airline lounge in Nairobi, Kenya. To call it an airline lounge was generous, at best. More like an airless cupboard. But you work with what you've got; this is what you've got; you work with it. Right?

So, being cheek by jowl, I reluctantly struck up a conversation with an American couple (I'd say mid 50s age group). I generally shut up in these situations, but I was doing my diplomatic best. I searched for what I thought would be common ground.

I had just seen Daniel Day Lewis in Lincoln. A powerhouse performance, I thought. A comfortable, neutral thing to say.

I offered this observation to my new found American friends.

She went frosty, and he started to weep. He told me about what a tyrant Lincoln was, including suspending habeas corpus (apparently defending the Union was not a thing).

I politely smiled, nodded and agreed that the US Civil War was a state's rights issue; all the time hoping my flight would get called.

So, here it is - Abraham Lincoln. A hero or a villain? Over to you.

Palindromeman 7 Apr 13

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Abraham Lincoln was a complicated human being. He did some sketchy things, like the suspension of habeas corpus, for the greater good, as he saw it. He was a human being and therefore not perfect.

His intent was to save the nation first and abolish slavery second. He also suffered through some personal nightmares in the process. He overcame death of a child and his wife's lapse into depression while still accomplishing everything he intended.

As far has his being a tyrant or monster, can you name one other civil war that did not end with mass executions?

JimG Level 8 Apr 14, 2018

Civil wars are inappropriately titled. Because they are never civil.


Abraham Lincoln had the most stressful presidency ever..he dealt with country breaking apart and a crazy wife. I can’t even imagine.

The US Civil War was about slavery..any southern sympathizer today doesn’t see or ignores this fact. Lincoln recognized slavery had to end...even Russia ended serfdom before US ended slavery.

Southerners love to yell states rights...states rights to what? Slavery? Southern states shouted this but didn’t hesitate to violate northern states rights in demanding slaves who escaped north be returned..southern states complained when New York wouldn’t allow slaves moved through Manhattan.

Lincoln also saw France and Britain waiting to take advantage of US turmoil. Lincoln held it together and saw us through it. One of our greatest presidents.

Excellent synopsis


If I remember correctly in my readings, the Civil War was about economics, and slavery was how the South was able to succeed with that.


I'm a Veteran, and I believe we are lied to about every war. So pick your lie.


A true hero in every sense of the word. Lincoln started out as a sharp, shrewd, cutthroat lawyer, by his own admission, using the same underhanded tactics others used to win his court battles. Something happened to him early on before presidency, before the debates with Douglas and he grew into the thoughtful powerhouse that puts him rightfully at the top of all the charts for American icons. As president, he initially tempered his arguments against slavery because of the divisiveness but there was a tipping point, again I don't remember specifics, when he declared his long held beliefs condemning slavery. Lincoln was a young man working on the mississippi and he witnessed slave auctions and they left a lasting impression. He made the war about ending slavery. Lincoln was personal friends with Frederick Douglass and Douglass was his confidant and trusted friend. There's so much to say about Lincoln the man. Hero and I don't know what American history would be without him. He's one of the greats, a real game changer.

Maybe one day your travels will lead you to sit at his feet on the steps of the National Mall, Pal. 😉

Crazy, my travels have led me to his feet on the National Mall twice. Quite an experience.

actually, in thinking about Lincoln, I believe this. He started as a ruthless lawyer and changed his tactics to grow into application of reason and humor. He stepped into the growing rift with the South by giving equal weight/respect to the economy, ownership (of property=SLAVES!!!), plantation culture but GREW into what mattered most: freeing the slaves. He used humor and tolerance with his wife's erratic behavior and as far as we know was always loyal. Based on these things, I give him the benefit of the doubt that if he'd lived to work through it, he would have reconfigured his approach to American Indians to be humane. I want to believe this and we will never know of course.

@AncientNight yes, different time but ambitious, curious, self taught. I agree impressive. are you a lawyer?

@AncientNight I'm glad you were able to get some answers for yourself! Sounds like you turned your life around.

@AncientNight lol we'll all be forever trying to get it together, I guess. You could quiz us all with Jeopardy posts! That might be fun.


He wasn't so honest. Each state's legislature was voting whether to stay with the union or join the confederacy. Virginia went confederacy pretty early. Maryland was trying to stay neutral but probably going to join the confederates. Now would be a good time to look at a map and notice DC is a zit sitting between Maryland and Virginia. Lincoln had 29 succesionist Maryland legislatures thrown in jail preventing Mayland from voting to succeed. The remaining pro Union legislators voted to support the union.


I enjoyed the movie. Have Goodwin's Team of Rivals in my (very large) pile of books to read. I think of Lincoln as more heroic than villainous.

(On a related note - FDR and the depression/WWII is a modern counterpart to the challenges facing a president in war time. American Warlords was a good read about the WWII aspect.)

As others have said - slavery was the cause of the Civil War. Just read Texas' declaration of secession where we find:

She (Texas) was received as a commonwealth holding, maintaining and protecting the institution known as negro slavery--the servitude of the African to the white race within her limits--a relation that had existed from the first settlement of her wilderness by the white race, and which her people intended should exist in all future time.


Crying over the Civil War...alrighty, then! Jeezus H!

knuckleheads, huh, Anne. (I'm showing restraint)


More good than bad.


Both, all presidents have to do dirty deeds and look good doing them.


I must not know the whole story. I never would react with tears about his behavior

Believe me, it was one my greatest social faux pas - and I have had a few.

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