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Abraham Lincoln is a cult personality in American history. He was the 16th president of the country, becoming a national hero. Lincoln became famous for his fight against slavery, managing to free black slaves and forever changing the history of the country. This president led America through the Civil War, including even his opponents in the new government.
Under Lincoln, a transcontinental railway passed through the country, he decided the agrarian question. The orator's bright speeches inspired contemporaries and even today are a cultural heritage. In 1865, Lincoln was assassinated, becoming the country's first violent death.
Such a bright personality did not go unnoticed by historians, biographers, and writers. The president is generally one of the hundred most studied personalities in history.
However, it is worth noting that there are myths about him. But who wants to be deprived of a beautiful fairy tale about a smart and decent politician? Based on the facts, we will try to debunk the main misconceptions about the greatest president in American history.
Lincoln Abram Myths
Lincoln was a simple country lawyer. This enduring legend was credited with the film Young Mr. Lincoln. At one time, Lincoln's partner in legal practice, William Herndon, in order to increase his reputation, launched a duck about the work of a partner. Allegedly, the young lawyer paid little attention to cases, joked with the judge and jury, and sometimes even could not claim his fee. Indeed, Lincoln's ambitions lay in politics, not legal affairs. But in the 1850s, he skillfully represented Illnkois Central Railroad in court, which built railway bridges. Through this case, Lincoln has earned a reputation as one of the best lawyers in his state. Records of his work during this period show a varied and lucrative practice. In his 23 years of legal career, Lincoln has participated in more than 5,100 cases and has appeared before the State Supreme Court more than 400 times. There is no doubt that if it were not for his career as a politician, the lawyer would have earned fame and fortune in this field.
Lincoln was gay. Gay rights activist Larry Kramer has long believed that Lincoln was committed to same-sex love. And Professor Tripp published a book "The Intimate Life of Abraham Lincoln," in which he gave several controversial facts. Allegedly, back in 1999, the politician's love letters to his former roommate Joshua Speed were found. The couple maintained a cordial relationship for four years in the 1820s and 1830s. And Speed himself said that men did not have such warm ties as he had with Lincoln. In his youth, he also wrote a poem about a certain Billy who could not marry a girl and eventually went down the aisle with his friend Natt. This work is considered to be quite outspoken for the Puritan America of those times. Another close friend of Lincoln's, Billy Greene from Illinois, once noticed that his friend's hips are not inferior to those of beauties. And even already in Washington, the politician secretly cheated on his wife with Captain Davil Derickson, one of his guards. And after the murder of Lincoln, his stepmother said that in his youth he was not interested in girls and was more in touch with guys. Tripp even suggested that the president's sexual indifference contributed to his wife's mental illness. And the first lady of the country and friends of the politician did not even know about his secret, although it remained hidden for almost 150 years. This theory has fewer opponents than supporters. But what is the truth here? The same William Herndon recalled that his partner had a powerful attraction to women, he generally spent a lot of time in brothels before getting married. Lincoln's first son was born nine months after the wedding, which speaks of the man's passion for love. Historians claim that Lincoln and Speed were just close friends, single peers. Yes, men may have slept in the same bed, but not because of tender feelings, but to simply keep warm - then there was no central heating yet. In any case, Lincoln's sexual orientation is clearly not a central part of his historical legacy.
Lincoln was constantly depressed. Four generations of biographers have said that Lincoln was gloomy, as he was constantly depressed. They say that she formed the stately image of the politician. There were indeed moments in Lincoln's life when he felt extremely depressed. So, in 1835, his first great love, Anne Rutledge, died of a fever. He also had a hard time breaking up with Mary Todd in 1841, on the eve of the wedding. The couple, fortunately, still made up. Classic depression in the 19th century was incurable, victims either rolled into madness or committed suicide. This cannot be attributed to Lincoln, who worked tirelessly as an effective president. People with clinical depression sometimes cannot get out of bed, what can we say about commanding the army. Was Lincoln sad? Of course yes! So, his son Willie died in the White House in 1862, when the president himself was waging a war that claimed the lives of 600 thousand people. Times were not easy, and it would be ridiculous to see the head of the country constantly cheerful.
Lincoln was very compassionate. The biographer of the politician Karl Sandberg did a lot to idealize the image of the president. In fact, he was not at all a person who let go of indulgences and forgave his enemies. Lincoln approved the punishment of deserters, on his order in Minnesota on December 26, 1862, 38 Indian scouts were hanged. It continues to be the largest mass execution in the country's history. Be that as it may, but it was Lincoln who waged the bloodiest war in American history, he authorized the use of the latest types of weapons: mines, battleships, saltpeter (a version of napalm for the 19th century). Having chosen his own path, Lincoln walked along it, despite the numerous human casualties. Recently, a scandal erupted in America at the National Archives. The document, according to which Lincoln managed to pardon a deserter in the last hours of his life, turned out to be forged. So historians will have to revise many cases of presidential pardon, putting this part of the truth on one side of the scale. The other is to be given to the multitude of death sentences signed by Lincoln. And it is still unknown what will outweigh.
Lincoln was terminally ill. Today it is difficult to diagnose Lincoln's health after 150 years have passed. Some say that the politician suffered from cardiovascular diseases, others that he had Marfan syndrome, a rare genetic disease. It is believed that Lincoln had advanced cancer. Some medical historians believe that if the president had not been killed on April 14, 1865, he would have died soon. But if a man's body was so emaciated by disease, how can his excellent physical condition be explained? From a series of illnesses in the war, Lincoln received only a weak form of smallpox, although it killed his servant. How can a sick 56-year-old man perform his favorite ax dexterity trick shortly before his death? Like many other presidents, Lincoln looked haggard in a position of responsibility. He lost weight. But the doctors who examined the president on his deathbed were surprised by his muscular arms and chest. The doctors said that a weaker person would have died from the gunshot right away. Lincoln, on the other hand, resisted death for nine hours, which clearly speaks of his good health.
Lincoln was killed by a madman. John Wilkes Booth is considered insane, because he killed a popular favorite. In fact, some unknown persons were most likely behind the assassination attempt. Booth himself was an undercover Confederate agent during the Civil War. He participated in a conspiracy that aimed first at kidnapping Lincoln, and then killing him, as well as his main associates. Not everyone liked the reconstruction of the South. It is likely that Booth's actions were directed by Jefferson Davis, the former president of the Confederation. The irony of fate is that the killer's actions had exactly the opposite effect. Lincoln became a cult figure, he was idealized. But he was an ambiguous politician who had many flaws and enemies. And death made him almost a saint.
Lincoln did not believe in the supernatural. Lincoln once said: “When I do good, I feel good, and when I do evil, I feel bad. This is my religion. " In fact, it is likely that the president was involved with the occult. There is evidence that he and his wife conducted séances in the White House to communicate with their deceased children. Lincoln turned to a popular medium for help to help him realize the project of freeing slaves and thereby get into history. Intimidating are the stories that Lincoln had visions of his untimely death several times.
Lincoln believed in free speech. Freedom of speech is enshrined in the First Amendment of the American Constitution. But Mark Twain once said that freedom of speech is the most valuable treasure of fools. Lincoln, although nicknamed "Honest Abe," did not really care about the truth or freedom of speech. During his reign, all opposition newspapers were suppressed, and editors were imprisoned without respecting their rights. Lincoln simply thought that in wartime he had the right to do this for the welfare of the country.
Lincoln respected human rights. The last US presidents are often criticized for the treatment of prisoners of war and even excessive torture towards them. But they are all far from Lincoln in terms of disregard of constitutional rights. In two cases, the president effectively stopped the classic Habes Corpus Act, which defines the rules for arresting and bringing an accused to trial. Lincoln first ignored the judicial system in Maryland in 1861, and then throughout the country. Tens of thousands of American citizens, sometimes just protesters, have been imprisoned without trial or trial before a military tribunal. There were cases when even senators and congressmen were imprisoned. All this does not fit in any way with the attractive image of a politician-champion of freedom.
The southerners started the war. The Constitution stated that Congress had the power to declare war. In this regard, the President's power was limited, but Lincoln ignored this. In fact, he provoked hostilities. The Confederate States of America had already existed for a month by the time the 16th president took office. The new country declared itself sovereign and did not claim US territory. Today historians teach that it was the southerners who started the war, forcing the northerners to respond. Immediately after Lincoln took office, the Confederation sent a delegation to conclude a peace treaty with the United States. However, the president refused to communicate with the "illegitimate" authorities. Lincoln's actions provoked southerners to start shooting near Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The President, using his authority, declared war on the Confederation, ignoring Congress and the Constitution. Politicians could only shrug their shoulders and insist that Lincoln just wanted to keep the Union.
Lincoln was a great general. Lincoln appears to be the greatest strategist among military presidents, although there is clear evidence to the contrary. He did not see real fighting, even as a captain in the militia. At the time, Lincoln spent more time with the bow than many Indians. But his opponent, Southerner Jefferson Davis, graduated from the West Point Military Academy. Lincoln's professionalism is evidenced by the fact that he could promote officers only on the basis of the fact that they have a loud and harmonious surname. It was thanks to the President and his closest aides that the supply plans for Fort Sumter failed, which unleashed the war.
Lincoln won the war. Lincoln learned quickly and appointed effective officers Ulysses Grant and William Sherman to lead an army. Both believed in the doctrine of total war, which was ultimately effective against the southerners. Sherman's march to the sea put pressure on Robert Lee, and on the other hand, the Confederate army was stalled in Virginia against Grant. Sherman decided to make the war take shape through pressure. In retreating, his forces destroyed much of Georgia's infrastructure, slaughtering livestock and forcibly evicting southerners to other states. Even the slaves, accustomed to horror, saw that nothing could stop the northerners. Sherman caused damage of $ 100 million (1.4 billion in modern prices). But many history books regard the general's contribution as a disaster. But it was Sherman's atrocities that formed the basis of the victories attributed to Lincoln.
Lincoln advocated racial equality. After Martin Luther King, it is in Lincoln that the main fighter for racial equality is seen. Even some former slaves called him the greatest man for blacks. But Lincoln also had very ambiguous phrases on this issue: “I believe that it is impossible to ensure social and political equality of whites and blacks. I do not consider it necessary to give them voting rights, the right to hold certain positions and marry whites. " This side of Lincoln is not much publicized. Even before the start of political activity, he supported the "Black Laws", which confirmed the rights of slave masters and returned fugitives from the north. And what are the plans for the future for blacks? Lincoln planned not only to free them, but also to evict them from the country to their historical homeland.
Lincoln launched the Civil War to free the slaves. Most people consider this reason to be the main one for the beginning of the Civil War. But there were also economic reasons. The industrialized northern states pushed for high taxes for the rural South. They could not pay more and decided to secede in the end. And even the announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation was a kind of military tactic. Thus, the southerners received an internal conflict and began to be torn to pieces, and the northerners acquired new recruits who wanted to fight for their freedom. Many newspapers of the time, even allied ones, criticized Lincoln for seeking to destroy the Confederation at any cost. He himself strove first of all to preserve a single country. In his letter to the New York Tribune, the politician wrote: "If I can save the union without freeing even one slave, I will."
Lincoln led an honest campaign. Today the presidential elections are known for meanness, slander, informational stuffing. But people would be surprised to learn that everything was exactly the same in the 19th century. In the midst of the chaos that reigned in the country during the Civil War, Lincoln decided to re-election. And modern politicians would envy his tactics. It turns out that the president used taxpayer money to pay the northerners' leave to travel to the polls.Technically, any soldier could vote for any candidate, but only those who sympathized with Lincoln were allowed on vacation. Today it is known that in the places of voting, some military men voted for themselves and for friends who "cannot do it." In some cases, soldiers even scared civilians into casting votes for Lincoln.