After a recent mini email debate, I want to fully expound upon the debate topic. I took the position that Ronald Reagan was the greatest President in US History and, until I'm elected, he will be the only one in that status ;) The other position said that Abraham Lincoln was a better President than Ronald Reagan. The post today will evaluate the Lincoln presidency and the Reagan presidency.
The Lincoln presidency is highlighted by the Civil War. The Civil War saw the potential division of the nation resolved to maintain a Union of all states. So, what did Lincoln bring to the table?
One could argue that the Civil War was a result of Lincoln's election. He was hated in the South because of his opposition to slavery. South Carolina seceded first after the election. In 1863, Lincoln gave his famous Emancipation Proclamation which was supposed to be the freedom the slaves were longing for. In actuality, this did very little to free the slaves. It didn't apply to any southern areas that were already controlled by the Union and didn't apply to the states of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and Delaware. The Proclamation stated, "all persons held as slaves...are, and henceforward shall be free." In return, the South gave the illustrious one-finger salute. In my opinion, the Emancipation Proclamation was the single event to prove that Lincoln had no control over the entire country nor had the ability to maintain it. Remember, Lincoln didn't win the war, Grant did. Now, you might argue that the Emancipation Proclamation changed the view of black men. They were allowed to join the Union Armies and Navies. What?! They were finally allowed to join the UNION military?! How does that discrimination of the North differ from any of the South? Now, before we go on, it would be good to read http://theconservativeanthem.blogspot.com/search/label/Slavery to study the full, historical account of slavery in the US.
What other accomplishments of the Lincoln presidency are often overlooked because of the Civil War?
1. The Homestead Act of 1861 - a Federal subsidy program for land
2. The Morril Act of 1862 - a Federal subsidy program for education
3. Revenue Act of 1861 - Hello Federal Income Tax
4. 1862 - Hello IRS!
5. 1862 - Lincoln suspends Habeas Corpus without Congress' approval - later deemed unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court.
6. 1863 - Lincoln institutes the draft
Contrast this to Reagan's time in office. The election of Lincoln fueled the South to secede from the Union. The election of Reagan - the very day he took office - saw the end to the Iranian hostage situation. Reagan defeated a formidable military force in the Soviet Union without firing a single shot. Lincoln defeats his own countrymen after 600k Union soldiers give their lives. Reagan takes top marginal tax rates from 70% to 28% and the economy roars. The Federal Treasury's intake doubles from 450 billion to 900 billion because of the tax breaks. Reagan stands in Berlin and gives an "Emancipation Proclamation" of his own to free those enslaved by Communism, but again, without requiring 2 more years of bloodshed, Reagan ends the Cold War and brings freedom and liberty to eastern Europe.
If Lincoln fails, we have a divided America. If Regan fails, we have no America. To me, the choice is obvious - Reagan wins, hands down. Unfortunately, if Obama keeps rolling back the Reagan Revolution, those in the future won't be honored to realize its benefits.