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.
|U.S. History||Civil War and Reconstruction: 1861-1877|
And his likeness stares down at us from up on high on Mt. Rushmore...
as if he were a God surveying a universe of mere mortals.
Lincoln was a great President, sure...
But he was also a human being who hoped, despaired, loved, and bled just like the rest of us.
Sometimes when we study "great" historical figures it's easy to forget that they were
also just people... with weaknesses and worries like we have right now.
As that Shakespeare fellow once said,
"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great,
some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them."
Before Lincoln became President, he suffered from bouts of extreme depression.
When he was suicidal, his friends would actually
lock him in a near-empty room for days so he couldn't hurt himself.
They didn't have psychiatric medication or any real treatment for depression in those days.
As a result, Lincoln struggled with mental illness his entire life.
However, despite his lifelong struggles,
Lincoln was intelligent, kind, brave... and a great President.
We elected him to lead our country during its most difficult time.
Doesn't it seem unlikely that somebody with serious mental illness in his or her past
would be elected President nowadays?
We research virtually every issue in a politician's past...
... and it seems like nobody who went through
much adversity makes the cut anymore.
Do you think Abraham Lincoln could ever get elected today?
If not, does that mean our system is too hyper-critical
of those who run for public office?
That we "analyze to death" small events in otherwise great lives,
blowing up those small events to mean.. more than they should?
What should we be willing to look past and forgive, and what is truly a red flag?
Shmoop amongst yourselves.