Originally Posted by DementedLogic
Lincoln was a protectionist. He knew that he could win the presidency without a single southern state, and he exploited it. He proposed high tariffs on imported goods to protect Northern manufacturers, and then spent most of the revenue from those tariffs, on pet projects for the North. His whole goal was to redistribute wealth from the south to the north through tariffs and corporate welfare.
The problem with his plan was that "these United States" was a voluntary union of sovereign states. The southern states began to secede because of his northern protectionism. When the southern states started seceding, he realize that his big tax and spend policies wouldn't work without them. So he blockaded southern ports in order to choke their economies and force them to rejoin the union. Instead, he forced the south to act in self defense and fire the first shot of the civil war.
Lincoln never wanted to end slavery. He made it very clear several times. The Emancipation Proclamation didn't actually free any slaves at all. It only applied to states south of the Mason-Dixon line, which he had no authority over, and it was only a wartime tactic. The goal of the EP was to get the southern slaves to revolt against their owners, and to sway England to not ally with the southern states. Even after the civil war, Lincoln did not want to Emancipate the slaves form the northern states.
That right there is enough to make him the worst president of all-time, and that doesn't even touch on his blatant disregard for the constitution.
-He suspended habeas corpus without congress.
-He imprisoned federal judges for ruling against him.
-He deported a congressman for voting against his proposals.
-He used the military to detain Maryland Legislatures, so that they could not vote on secession.
-He shut down newspapers and arrested editors and reporters for not reporting the official government stories.
-He instituted the first draft and had deserters executed.
-He instituted the first income tax.
I could keep going, but I've probably wasted enough time as it is.
Regardless of how he got things done or the motivation behind his interests, what is your proposed alternative?
Are you suggesting that in an increasingly industrialized society, the appropriate option was to concede to the South and allow them to accelerate a slave practice that was both immoral but also increasingly less profitable? These "pet projects" were projects that accelerated the industrialization of America, including the expansion of the railroads. Are you suggesting that we would have made anything close to the kind of economic progress we built over time without a unified north and south? Are you suggesting that kicking the can down the road like other administrations did was even an option at this point?
Regardless of the interests or the reasons why, it goes like this. The Civil War led to a unified north and south, accelerated the end of slavery and the industrialization and expansion of America, and allowed us to reconstruct into a superpower. In exchange, a devastating amount of lives and property were lost. The alternative was to allow tensions to escalate for years, completely restrict expansion, fall behind in the world because we continued to cater to agrarian interests in an increasingly industrializing society, potentially exist in a US that divided north/south... all this happening maybe for 20 years or more. And throughout that time, not leaving out the idea that the North and the Confederacy would have eventually fought a "civil war" anyway, even if Lincoln chose to punt.
I get that Lincoln is deified in ways he shouldn't be. But in my view, the war was inevitable and Lincoln, regardless of intentions, made the strategic choices that led to what I believe was the better outcome. Therefore, he absolutely belongs in the list of top presidents.