The Lumberton (NC) Robesonian re-examines the presidency of Abraham Lincoln (below). The newspaper notes that Lincoln suspended numerous civil liberties, but today is "listed near the top of any rankings of this nation's presidents" because "the winners write the history." You can respond with a letter to the editor at PO Box 1028, Lumberton NC 28359, by fax at (910) 739-6553, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
IT'S ABE, HONEST
Which of the following presidents was in office when prisoners where starved, tortured and murdered, the government rounded up dissidents and held them without trial, and newspapers were routinely censured. This president was lampooned as a dictator, and barely won re-election to a second term?
A. Bill Clinton
B. Franklin Delano Roosevelt
C. George W. Bush
D. Abraham Lincoln
The answer is Abraham Lincoln.
Doubt the information? Don't.
During the Civil War, Lincoln suspended habeas corpus, which is the right of an accused to appear before a court to determine the legality of his detention. He was president while thousands of Confederate soldiers were killed, starved and tortured at Camp Douglas in Chicago - a fact that few Americans realize, because the winners write the history.
We suspect that Lincoln, had the technology been available, would have also eavesdropped on conversations between the rebels in the South and potential co-conspirators in the North, doing so to shorten a war in which single battles routinely claimed as many as 10 times the number of soldiers who have died so far in Iraq.
During that time, the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment read exactly as it does today. But, because Lincoln kept the union in a single piece, and he freed more than 4 million slaves, he is generally listed near the top of any rankings of this nation's presidents.
This is not an argument that our current president, the liberator of 50 million dark-skinned people but similarly accused as being a dictatorial violator of civil rights, will one day stake out such a lofty position among this nation's presidents. Bush's presidency clearly remains in balance - just as Lincoln's once did.