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FDR(Franklin Delano Roosevelt) was a better president than Abraham Lincoln

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/8/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 983 times Debate No: 48686
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
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Hello. I believe that FDR was a better president than Abraham Lincoln (I still think Abraham Lincoln was very good. I just think FDR was better). The rounds will go as follows:

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: present your stance
Round 3: rebuttals
Round 4: conclusions

Good luck to my opponent.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


First, let me mention that both of these presidents had to go through some of the worst times in American History. Although Lincoln's ability to keep the union together during the civil war was remarkable - FDR handled both the Great Depression and WWII. He did this with polio, and by the end of his presidency, the U.S. had become one of the world's superpowers.

Domestic Issues:
FDR had to face the great depression, no doubt one of the worst economic times in American History. If the great depression was to continue, the U.S would have easily lost it's status as a world power. While Hoover did nothing to stop this, Roosevelt did. In his first 100 days of the new deal, he was able to pass many laws and acts that enabling him to reach out and help the public. While there were many things FDR did during the New deal, the most notable include:

-Reestablishing banks by giving them aid and establishing FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation), which garunted a certain amount of money put into the bank would be given back to the person no matter what happens (This is still used in banks today). People had lost faith in banks during the great depression, but FDR restored the faith in banks

-Social Security. FDR made sure that people of old age would get pensions and certain benefits, because the old couldn't work anymore

-FDR reached out to farmers. Farmers were suffering due to inflation - they were making very less money. However, FDR tried to stop this by passing the Agricultural Adjustment act. He gave aid to farmers to bring them out of their crisis.

Although his New Deal policies were met with criticism, FDR tried to improve his policies based on what the people wanted him to do, making him a president that would listen to the public. He also had fireside chats, in which he would talk with the people over radio about the policies that were being passed. He was a comforting person that was actually willing to tell the public about everything he was doing, which is the public liked him so much.

FDR was elected 4 times - the most any president has ever been elected. This shows his popularity... he must of been doing something right.

Foreign Affairs:
During FDR's presidency he was faced with one of the world's greatest problem - World War II (abbreviated WWII from now on). Although FDR wanted to help Britain and the Allies during WWII, the general public didn't like that idea. Since the public wanted isolationism, FDR decided to move very slowly towards intervention - without taking big steps at once. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7th 1947, "A day which will live in infamy" - FDR, it was clear that the U.S. had to get involved. FDR helped formulate the strategies and tactics of WWII along with Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin. Also, during this time period there was much reasearch, over the atomic bomb. During FDR's presidnecy, the atomic bomb was being made, which was perhaps one of the most influential scientific adavancements into the modern era.

Overall, at the end of FDR's presidency (he died due to a cerebral hemorrhage), the U.S. emerged as a world superpower, making it one of the most powerful nations in the world.

Due to the fact that FDR was able to lead America out of an economic crisis, through a world war, and passed many beneficial policies along the way (some of which are still used today), i think FDR is a better president than Abraham Lincoln



The United States of America has developed a pantheon of great leaders during the course of its history; men who have accomplished great and awe inspiring things. Franklin Delano Roosevelt has rightfully earned a place of high honor in this pantheon, but the highest seat of honor should be reserved for the Great Emancipator, the man who preserved the Union, and whose name became synonymous with the virtue of Honesty itself.

Executive Leadership and Ability

While this debate may go back and forth on whose political achievements were greater, Lincoln’s ability to lead and manage as the head of the Executive branch is unparalleled in U.S. history.

The story of Lincoln’s cabinet is famous to historians and students of management and leadership. The most prominent positions were occupied by Lincoln’s rivals for the 1860 Republican nomination- Bates, Cameron, Chase, and most notably, William H. Seward. Seward was the strong front-runner in the nomination and established as a well-known and respected statesman, while Lincoln was a one-term Congressman and twice defeated Senate candidate best known for his public speaking.

The decision to include his rivals in his cabinet was a courageous and risky move for Lincoln. Seward believed Lincoln to be weak and inexperienced; Seward expected to run the presidency from the cabinet. Salmon Chase self-righteously coveted the presidency and was bellicose and difficult to work with in general. Lincoln intentionally stocked his cabinet with men who bore personal grudges against him and would be near impossible to manage because he wanted the best men he could find.

Lincoln’s executive ability was on high display when, after observing chronic mismanagement by Cameron, Lincoln was persuaded by Chase and Seward to appoint Edwin Stanton. Early in his career, Lincoln had been hired by Stanton as legal support in a high profile case, only to be insultingly dismissed when the case was transferred out of Lincoln’s circuit and was also a political Democrat. Yet Stanton proved to be an exceptionally capable Secretary of War, crucial to the Union victory. Only a man of Lincoln’s exceptional humility could have rightly relied on the advice of his rivals to appoint a man who had once humiliated and politically opposed him.

Conduct of the Civil War

The Civil War was the single most important military conflict since the inception of the U.S. It represented a literal existential crisis and metaphorical spiritual crisis for the United States. Lincoln was able to solve both crises; not only did he preserve the Union, but he also cleansed the nation of stain of slavery and forged a greater Union in the wake of the war.

The achievement these goals could not have been accomplished by a man without Lincoln’s unique virtues. The Civil War represented a challenge laced with delicate veins of domestic and international diplomacy. Lincoln had to manage domestic politics within the Union, work to prevent the international community from recognizing the Confederacy as legitimate, woo border states like Kentucky and Maryland to the side of the Union, and win the war without destroying the country he sought to preserve.

WWII was in many ways a much simpler conflict. Most of the heavy warfare was conducted on the Eastern front by Old Joe Stalin- the Soviet Union suffered 9 million military deaths while the U.S. suffered only 500,000 [5]. The U.S. main contribution was economic in the form of supplies and ammunition. WWII simply did not require the level of finesse Lincoln exhibited in handling the Civil War. This point is underscored by the fact that WWII was actually won under the leadership of two presidents- FDR and Harry Truman.

Emancipation of Slaves

The Civil War could easily have ended without the permanent eradication of slavery from the U.S. Past crises had been resolved by kicking the can down the road- this was the case during the drafting of the Constitution and the “3/5” compromise and the Missouri Compromise.

Early in the war, Union politicians argued about the Confiscation Acts- legislation which expanded the army’s ability to confiscate rebel property, including slaves. The legislation was controversial as factions developed within the Republican party over whether the Constitution authorized such broad powers over private property. In the face of this controversy, Abraham Lincoln conceived the now famous Emancipation Proclamation, in which all slaves in rebel states were emancipated as an act of war time necessity.

The salient points here are that such a bold and momentous move was entirely the product of Lincoln’s mind and was done in the face of indecision and controversy. The Emancipation Proclamation was a singular act of political and moral leadership, and an act of great political vision. Perhaps most importantly, it was executed with grace. It made the issue of emancipation central to the Union cause, paving the way for the 13th Amendment. At the same time, it cemented international support for the Union cause in countries such as Britain where abolitionist sentiment was predominant.

Finally, passage of the 13th Amendment can be directly attributed to Lincoln. The amendment passed the Senate but was stuck in the House were Democrats opposed the bill along party lines. Lincoln engaged a hard political push to gain the Democratic votes needed to pass the Amendment. Even so, on the morning of the House vote the final outcome of the vote was uncertain. The whole vote was put in jeopardy when a rumor that a Confederate Commission was in Washington to negotiate an end to the war- if this were true, the Democratic support for the Amendment would collapse for fear of upsetting peace negotiations. The rumor was dispelled by a letter from Lincoln stating “So far as I know, there are no peace Commissioners in the City, or likely to be in it.” In fact, peace commissioners were en route to D.C. - Lincoln issued a diplomatically worded but honest message to ensure the passage of the amendment and the permanent freedom of millions of men and women. The final vote hinged on just 5 Democratic votes.

Domestic Policy:

In the midst of the overwhelming conflict of the Civil War, Lincoln was able to initiate several landmark domestic policies crucial to the development of the U.S. The Homestead Act made millions of acres of western land available to citizens and the Pacific Railroad Act provided federal support for the first transcontinental railroad. Lincoln also signed the Morrill Act, which laid the foundation for the U.S. world class University system by providing land for agricultural and engineering colleges; this act directly lead to the foundation of such high profile technical schools as MIT, the University of Illinois, and the University of California.

Each of these pieces of legislation was crucial to the economic development of the U.S.


I have a great deal of respect for FDR, but his presidential ability does not match up to that of Lincoln.

FDR’s shortcomings can be seen in the Court Packing fiasco of his second term. In his attempt to expand the Supreme Court and fill it with sympathetic justices, FDR exhibited a characteristic over-confidence and aggressiveness. The Court Packing scheme failed and backfired, eroding his political capital. His second term was subsequently unproductive.

Pro similarly over-credits Roosevelt in solving the great depression. Many economists believe New Deal policies had little impact on the Great Depression [6]. Others who believe government stimulus brought about economic recovery must concede that FDR’s premature slashing of federal stimulus caused the “Roosevelt Recession” of 1938. Either way, Roosevelt’s management of the economy is overstated by Pro.


[1] Team of Rivals, D.K. Goodwin

[2] Lincoln on Leadership, D.T. Phillips

[3] FDR, J. E. Smith

[4] No Ordinary Time, D. K. Goodwin



Debate Round No. 2


KingDebater369 forfeited this round.


It appears that my opponent has forfeited, but I will briefly add to my case.

FDR had several shortcomings as president:

1) FDR authorized the forced internment of over 100,000 U.S. citizens with Japanese ancestry during WWII. These citizens were stripped of property and home and forced to live in concentration camps based only on their race. Internment during WWII represents one of the blackest marks on the US's moral scorecard.

2) As shown by the court packing incident, in which FDR massively overplayed his popularity and killed his ability to get anything done, FDR tended to overextend himself and polarize his opponents.

3) FDR mishandled and misjudged Stalin. FDR based his early relations with Stalin on a grossly incorrect belief that Stalin valued democratic government and would work toward a free post-war society. By the time FDR realized that Stalin was a totalitarian monster, Stalin had achieved an impenetrable geopolitical position in Eastern Europe. FDR's miscalculation set the stage for the East/West split of Europe during the Cold War.

Lincoln's Virtues

1) Lincoln maneuvered a complex international landscape with incredible success. Despite efforts by the Confederacy to maintain relations with France and Britain, not a single country recognized the legitimacy of the Confederacy during the Civil War. This can be attributed to the stern foreign policy Lincoln and Seward took up- that recognition of the South would entail a declaration of war by the U.S. government.

The delicacy of the situation was underscored by the Trent Affair, in which the U.S. boarded a British ship, the "Trent," and seized two Confederate envoys to Britain along with British mail. This erupted into a major crisis in relations as Britain demanded the envoys be released and the U.S. was loath to release the envoys for loss of face. Lincoln worked with his cabinet and Secretary of State Seward to defuse the situation, avoiding what could have been a disastrous re-alignment of power in favor of the Confederacy.

2) Lincoln had to overcome a lack of military leadership. The head of the Union army, General Scott, was far too old to head the army at the start of the Civil War. Scott wanted to hand over command to "the finest soldier [he] ever saw," Robert E. Lee, but Lee would not take up arms against Virginia. Lincoln started the war with his best man playing for the other side. Lincoln then had to tread the tight rope of trying on new and unproven generals in a time of great crisis, cycling through leadership until he found General Grant. Lincoln displayed incredible patience and capacity to develop leadership in others during this time- he had to know when to trust capable generals and when to ditch generals who failed to perform. Ultimately Lincoln's magament of military personell proved correct by virtue of the victory of the war.

What I remember from the above cited sources.
Debate Round No. 3


KingDebater369 forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited his final round.

I believe the strengt hof my case warrants a vote in favor of myself and Abraham Lincoln.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
I apologize Raisor. I have been very busy lately and i was unable to deliver my argument. I will try my best to post next round.
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
i do apologize. don't worry - i fixed it.
Posted by Hematite12 2 years ago
You can at least spell the name right of the man who emancipated the slaves <_<

1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Relativist 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit results in loss of conduct. Pro was so fixiated in building up FDR's case in that he did not properly establish how FDR is better than Lincoln as he did not make any comparisons whatsoever. Pro resorts to a subjective conclusion in R2 based on this case. Con however have successfully denied Pro's case by substantiating FDR's minor involvement in WW2 as well as his shortcomings. He made a careful comparison of Lincoln and FDR based on their executive decisions, how FDR imprisoned japanese citizens solely on race in contrast with Lincoln's humility and the emancipation of slaves. Con even continued with additional arguments that is directly linked with the resolution, henceforth denouncing it successfully.