Abraham Lincoln Was Actually Hated When President

“I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.” —Abraham Lincoln, Letter to Horace Greeley (1862)

In A Nutshell

Abraham Lincoln is widely accepted as one of the United States’ best presidents. But while in office, many of the American people not only thought he was doing a horrible job but also considered him to be a complete fool. It wasn’t until his tragic assassination that he rose to the ubiquitous popularity he has today.

The Whole Bushel

When Lincoln took office in March 1861, he was entering a presidency he had won with only 39.8 percent of the popular vote. Reactions from the public were so negative that on the eve of his inauguration he had to be smuggled into the capital during the dead of night in a disguise. He was looked down upon for everything from his humble beginnings and lack of education to his awkward appearance and high voice. Even the commanding general of his armies, George McClellan, called him the “original gorilla.” (Gives a whole new meaning to to term “OG.”)

In 1861, Lincoln inherited a nation in crisis. With the United States on the brink of civil war, the American public was on edge and blamed Lincoln for everything going wrong in the country. Of course, Southerners hated him for trying to change the way of life they’d known for years. They resented him for trying to abolish slavery and declared their secession from the Union on February 4, 1861. But Northerners weren’t fond of him either, unimpressed with his slow start at the presidency. They expected him to being doing more and to be doing it sooner.

People even hated his speeches. The Gettysburg Address—now revered as one of the greatest speeches of all time and memorized by school children across the nation—was panned by many. One Chicago Times writer said: “The cheek of every American must tingle with shame as he reads the silly flat dishwatery utterances of a man who has to be pointed out to intelligent foreigners as the President of the United States.” Ouch.

Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, said the constant deluge of insults wore on the president’s feelings, and Lincoln himself reportedly said, “I would rather be dead than, as President, thus abused in the house of my friends.” But he refused to take his criticisms too much to heart. Lincoln went on to win the reelection in 1864, and he led the North to victory when General Robert E. Lee surrendered and ended the Civil War on April 9, 1865. Lincoln was, of course, tragically shot by John Wilkes Booth just six days later.

Of course, Lincoln also had his supporters during his presidency, and his death was mourned by millions. But it wasn’t until his assassination that he had a true surge in popularity, sending him to the beloved status he has today. It was only then, as Edwin Stanton said, that he was relinquished to the ages.

Show Me The Proof

The Atlantic: ‘Idiot,’ ‘Yahoo,’ ‘Original Gorilla’: How Lincoln Was Dissed in His Day
Civil War Trust: Evidence for The Unpopular Lincoln
Smithsonian: My Great-Great-Grandfather Hated the Gettysburg Address. 150 Years Later, He’s Famous For It.

  • Hillyard

    This is not surprising, most presidents get a lot of hate while in office. For some, such as GW Bush it continues afterward and others are raised on a pedestal. Even George Washington had a lot of hate from other politicians and the occasional news editor.

    • Exiled Phoenix

      True.. But the difference is George W. Bush really is a horses ass.

      • Ray

        He’s done more than you ever will.

        • John Wibble

          Not many civilians get the chance to bomb 2 countries and ruin a countrys economy.

          • Ray

            Mortgage backed securities are what ruined the economy and I’m pretty sure he didn’t work for a bank.

          • The CRA, that forced Banks to make loans to unqualified borrowers led to the financial meltdown.
            GWB tried to do something about it but did not try hard enough.
            He brought his concerns forward but perhaps was too concerned with going along to get along
            and was reassured by Maxine Waters and Barney Franks, ‘there is nothing wrong with Freddie and Fannie’.
            Bush gets the blame in the minds of the LIV but the policies that brought about the crash were planted long before, in 1977, and nurtured by succeeding administrations.

          • Mattimao

            Not a lot of civilians realize that the economy was already starting to fail while Clinton was President. Not many civilians realize that actually happens a lot (Jimmy Carter for example)

  • SensiblePerson

    Really? I guess there IS a president who is more hated than Richard Nixon and George Bush.

    • HM8432

      Yes, Barak “The Anointed One” Obama.

      • John Wibble

        Nah, Bush is much worse than Obama.

        • HM8432

          Actually, I’d call it even. GWB and Obama are the Pierce and Buchanan of their era.

  • Only dictators are unanimously ‘loved’ during their rule. Elected leaders will always have to deal with the grudge of those who voted for the other candidate, and the growing disappointment of their own following. And then there’s the issue of being ahead of one’s time … I guess every president is more popular than the next.

  • Dumas911

    GWB needs to be rounded up, and parachuted into Iraq. He was on the verge of being a dictator. He looked no different than most dictators when he landed on the aircraft carrier wearing a flight suit. He should’ve just worn a complete dress uniform with every medal possible so he could look more like Stalin, Hitler, Hussain, or any other dictator who wears/wore military dress “especially” when they weren’t actual generals, etc…I support our troops, and the invasion of Afganistan for Osama, but Iraq is nothing but BLOOD on Bush’s hands. Obama’s not any better with his “BIG BROTHER” cameras, and wire taps. This country needs its own Arab Sping and finally remind our government that they are there to serve the people, and our own rights, not their personal agenda, and the rights of non American citizens or country. I only hope that the president that’s from my generation will have formed his own opinions, and American values instead of being corrupted by their fathers first. Don’t know where all that came from, but I just felt the urge to say it.

    • Lisa 39

      Maybe you should run for president, i agree with what you said. Right now our free country isn’t so free and it’s only going to get worse until the politicians stop focusing on their own agendas and start taking care of john q public. They really have forgotten that they work for us.

    • iamtherealgumby

      As a reader it sure made me feel good, writing it must have been elating at the very least…

    • Lass Curry

      Your A Member of the KKK bitch

      • Zukiniandchurros

        You realize that the KKK is the Ku Klux Klan which only targeted former slaves…

    • I don’t know where I found this photo – probably on Listverse somewhere – but I really love looking at it, trying to imagine what America would have been like back then with Bobby Kennedy for president. A lot of people would have hated it very much for sure, that’s how these things go. There’s enough of hatred, bitterness and fear in this world, shoving us around – there’s never a wrong time to start pushing back. So I am inspired by your comment, thanks for sharing.

      • Exiled Phoenix

        John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy were two great men cut down before they could achieve everything within their ability. But while here, they strove to do their best.

        • Nick Mulgrave

          Americans have an obsession with assassinated presidents and glorify them as if they were Gods.
          JFK was a womanizing punk who would never have been President if his father hadn’t rigged the 1960 election with the help of the Mafia.

          • John Wibble

            People glorify JFK because he was the perfect leader.

            A liberal democrat, and as left wing as you can get.

          • Rob

            The media glorifies them more than the people. The idea of a political dynasty with regard to “Camelot” and the “enchantment” of that era is something popular film and media in general still has a very hard time relinquishing.

            I imagine the reality of it has been rewritten nearly as many times as the bible.

          • Rob Davis

            “Nonsense. Far from being a big-spending liberal, Kennedy was a conservative by the standards of both his time and today. While he increased military spending, overall he restrained federal outlays. His plan for economic growth emphasized not deficits but tax-rate cuts that he argued would eventually pay for themselves by increasing government revenue. He reduced tariffs in pursuit of free trade, and he took a hard line against communism abroad and at home.”-http://ideas.time.com/2013/10/14/jfk-was-a-political-conservative/

          • Joe Smith

            Basically the moral of that story is that American liberalism and conservatism as we know it today is relatively recent. I suppose modern liberalism started with McGovern/Humphery in the late 60s while Goldwater is often considered by many to be the founding father of conservatism (again the kind as we know it today)…yet would you believe that Goldwater, Nixon, and Ford were all pro-choice? I believe Reagan was pro-life but I don’t think he really did all that much regarding abortion…what’s even more surprising is that his gigantic autobiography does not mention one peep about yet another super critical issue of politics today…his judicial appointments. Yet it’s not like his appointments weren’t important…he promised on the campaign trail that he would appoint the first female Justice, and did so on the first try. Of course his Bork appointment didn’t work out so well but that along with the later Clarence Thomas one is no doubt what made judicial appointments such a critical issue today.

          • Joe Smith

            If Bush was shot, the liberals would celebrating like crazy, just as they did when Margaret Thatcher passed away a few years ago. Now I have no use for Obama at all as far as his politically ideology and such goes but I would never want someone shot or dead just because I don’t like their political views.

  • Daniel Lewis

    The fact that the media hated him is no surprise, you say he was hated but he was re-elected. What you should have said is that the elitist snobs hated Lincoln but the public in the north did not. Heck if the media likes a president its the best sign that the president is doing a terrible job. They only actively hate the best presidents.

  • Clara T Ohare

    It doesn’t matter if you are hated or loved. What matters is morality and decency in your actions and deeds. History will judge you, not your peers.

    • Scott

      So, what was so “moral” about what he did? Waging an illegal war against a country that had every right to break away while also completely stripping his citizens of their constitutional rights does not sound all that “moral” to me. And before you start parroting the bullshit your 4th grade teacher told you about how the war was fought to free the slaves, don’t. Lincoln did not give two shits about freeing the slaves. The Emancipation Proclamation was nothing more than a political stunt that actually accomplished nothing while giving the federal government the appearance of being on the moral high ground.

      • Clara T Ohare

        He saved America. Before the civil war people said things like, “the United States are..”. After the civil war people would say, ” the United State is…..”. We are not simply a collection of states bur a great nation because of him. Slavery was banished and the USA went on to become the great nation that it is today. The South was a motley collection of slave holders with no real unity among its people. The cotton gin destroyed the way of life in a real way in the Antebellum South. Lincoln destroyed slavery and southern injustice.

        Lincoln became a moral leader in not only banning slavery but he showed compassion and genorosity to the beleaguered southern population. Lincoln talked about those mystic chords of memory that stretch from the graves of our fallen heros to beseech the better angels of our nature. Lincoln used these better angels of our nature to rebuild the south and make it a better place.

      • Loudestenemy

        Lincoln not only illustrated exactly why he had the legal authority to wage war, he illustrated exactly why there was no legal justification for secession. It’s in his first inaugural address.
        He argued numerous times that slavery was wrong and evil, and ought to be restricted. His voting record was consistently against extending slavery in the territories.
        You are the neo-confederate parrot sir.

      • Zukiniandchurros

        Lincoln freed the slaves because he was going to lose the war, plus he was not the one who started the war, it was on the brink of happening BEFORE he even became president.

  • Scott

    The Great Tyrant earned his name.

    • Ray

      You’re an idiot.

      • Scott

        Actually, the idiot here must be you if you truly think Lincoln was a great President. He carried on an illegal war against our own people while completely suspending any semblance of constitutional rights for the rest of the country. Ya, what a great fucking president. I’d rate him right up there with Obummer and Hoover.

        • Zukiniandchurros

          The war was on the brink of happening BEFORE Abe was even elected!

  • Eoghan-Tony Dwyer

    Hardly a surprise.

  • The Ou7law

    If i looked like Lincoln…..i would hate myself and my parents lol

    • Exiled Phoenix

      Please Pres. Lincoln would’ve broken you in half.

      • Andy West

        He’d have made him his bitch!

        • The Ou7law

          Hey jerk your suppose to be backing me up

          • Andy West

            Sorry but Abe is a personal favorite of mine, ever since I saw him kicking vampire butt in a documentary. Who’da knowed?!

          • The Ou7law

            Damn it, when you are right you are right. He was a pretty hardcore boss and did you ever realize without him our world would still be dark and gloomy

      • The Ou7law

        I would have climbed his ass and when ape shit on him

    • John Wibble

      Lincoln had a disease which unnaturally formed his face, prick.

      • The Ou7law

        Thats why i said i would hate my parents, douche

  • “It wasn’t until his tragic assassination that he rose to the ubiquitous popularity.” The same can be said about nearly every politician or celebrity who came to an untimely end. JFK and James Dean are two more examples.

  • commonsenseforcommongoodcom

    Right! Lincoln and Obama are the rule, not the exceptions. Every decision maker is hated by some who oppose those decisions.

  • Victoria

    Um No, Southerners didn’t like him because he wanted to Tax them because of the high profit the South was making by yes which was Cotton, Corn, Fruits, veggies, ect. that Slaves made for Southerners.

    Abe Lincoln wanted to tax the south for profit.
    He even mentioned it himself.
    In addition Abraham Lincoln also wanted to send slaves back to Africa technically everyone than was racists to an extent.

    Abe wanted Segregation which he kept in place till Martin Luther King’s Time came and ended the discretion.

    Which Martin King mentions in his, -I have a Dream Speech: “But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.”

    Slavery didn’t stop till Martin Luther King’s Time.
    Because Black individuals still worked for little money, lived in slums, had separate restrooms, back of the bus and were still slaves to the system.
    Thanks Abraham for Segregation.
    (sarcastically saying Thanks)

    Anyways if you’re going to tell it like it is best state it to the full facts.

    I didn’t like Abraham because yeah he is a great example of that walking the fence racist.
    (Separation of black & white)

    However Grateful for Martin Luther King for ending Slavery to the fullest.

    • Loudestenemy

      Abraham Lincoln is deeper than you are giving him credit for. The problem with the southern economy is they didn’t really manufacture their own food. for a long time, they imported it. All of their wealth and land was tied up in cotton and slaves.
      As far as him being a racist, well, I don’t believe that historians have the evidence to state what Lincoln thought about the worthiness of blacks as humans. But there was undeniable racism rampant all over the North, and especially in Northern Illinois. But he consistently voted to restrict slavery, and argued about the practice as evil and immoral and wrong.
      The exportation of Africans was a long posited recolonization plan. It was a moderate position then because even if you had the best intentions for former slaves, you still had to deal with the fact that the notion of whites having any inkling of social equality with blacks was absolutely untenable.
      If you want to judge Lincoln by the standards of our time that’s foolish. You have to judge him by the standards of the time in which he lived. By those standards he walked the fence between a moderate and a progressive on the issue regarding slavery.
      As for the south, they were mostly pissed because they were losing power in congress and northern states weren’t in compliance with the Fugitive slave law. Northnerners were galvanized by Bleeding Kansas.
      It’s a lot more complicated than most want to admit.

      And slavery still exists.

  • Loudestenemy

    This is laden with all kinds of factual inaccuracies.
    WInfield Scott told Seward that there was an assassination plot, Lincoln snuck in.
    McClellan had major ego issues.
    Lincoln was incredibly studious.
    The Northerners that knew Lincoln loved him. The exception might be Northern Dems but even many respected him.
    Slow start as President? They didn’t like his handling of the war, which was largely McClellan’s fault.

    It just depends on what one chooses to emphasize.
    Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America William Gienapp
    The Battle Cry of Freedom James McPherson

  • Aaron Josiah Weaver

    Sounds like Trump is following the same path. Time will tell……

  • Clay Fincher

    There are many similarities between Lincoln and Trump. Neither won the popular vote, both were outsiders and hated by many including the press. Their speeches were panned, they suffered constant insults, and both will end up being re-elected for a second term.