Abraham Lincoln

Honest Abe—what a nickname. Abraham Lincoln was the president who led the country through the Civil War and abolished slavery. And he rocked that black top hat. Let's all give him a pat on the back.

LanguageEnglish Language
U.S. HistoryCivil War and Reconstruction: 1861-1877
Historical Figures

Transcript

00:36

And his likeness stares down at us from up on high on Mt. Rushmore...

00:40

as if he were a God surveying a universe of mere mortals.

00:44

Lincoln was a great President, sure...

00:46

But he was also a human being who hoped, despaired, loved, and bled just like the rest of us.

00:53

Sometimes when we study "great" historical figures it's easy to forget that they were

00:57

also just people... with weaknesses and worries like we have right now.

01:03

As that Shakespeare fellow once said,

01:06

"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great,

01:08

some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."

01:12

Before Lincoln became President, he suffered from bouts of extreme depression.

01:19

When he was suicidal, his friends would actually

01:21

lock him in a near-empty room for days so he couldn't hurt himself.

01:25

They didn't have psychiatric medication or any real treatment for depression in those days.

01:30

As a result, Lincoln struggled with mental illness his entire life.

01:34

However, despite his lifelong struggles,

01:36

Lincoln was intelligent, kind, brave... and a great President.

01:41

We elected him to lead our country during its most difficult time.

01:45

Doesn't it seem unlikely that somebody with serious mental illness in his or her past

01:50

would be elected President nowadays?

01:53

We research virtually every issue in a politician's past...

01:56

... and it seems like nobody who went through

01:58

much adversity makes the cut anymore.

02:02

Do you think Abraham Lincoln could ever get elected today?

02:07

If not, does that mean our system is too hyper-critical

02:10

of those who run for public office?

02:13

That we "analyze to death" small events in otherwise great lives,

02:18

blowing up those small events to mean.. more than they should?

02:24

What should we be willing to look past and forgive, and what is truly a red flag?

02:33

Shmoop amongst yourselves.