The Instigator
Pro (for)
1 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Lincoln wasn't as great of a president as everyone thinks

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Post Voting Period
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after 2 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/24/2015 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 629 times Debate No: 72242
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (3)
Votes (2)




Lincoln freed the slaves and saved the union, is the stance of everyone who knows who he is. To me, he is only well known and supported just because of the situation he was in, and that the union did win the war. What many people do not know is that he was not against slavery. While he was not for slavery, he decided not to take a stance on the matter. One thing that shows this is the Emancipation Proclamation. Yes, it emancipated the slaves, but only in confederate territories. Since the south seceded this virtually did nothing. The south did not follow the laws of the north. It also did not emancipate slaves that were held in union states, such as Maryland. And which president displaced the most Native Americans, Jackson, right? No, it was good ol' honest Abe.


Quick statement: I would like to thank my opponent and establishing civility beforehand to encourage intellectual debate and an amenable climate for the rest of the debate.

I would like to thank my opponent. I appreciate the debate topic. And I would like to preface the debate by saying any criticism that occurs in this debate is criticism waged at the argument and not my opponent personally. I promise not to engage in ad hominem attacks during the debate.

Let’s begin the debate:

First, let me say for Pro to win this argument, he must provide a convincing and probable reason as to why academic scholars, meaning historians with Ph.Ds. are wrong in their assessment of Presidential administrations, despite spending careers studying the matter. Con can demonstrate not only do scholars overwhelming rank Lincoln in the top positions, meaning he has rank 1st in most, 2nd and most others, and only once been 3rd.

We are not talking about one or two historians but a large collection from both the left and right, etc. Pro essential argument must provide a reasonable explanation for why a reasonable person should not trust the accumulative weight of scholars surveyed on the matter, and why Pro has a better answer.

Presidential ratings by academics of the legacy of President’s have placed Abraham Lincoln in #1 or #2 and only one time #3. Nate Silver at The New York Times recently compiled recent surveys by academic historians and Lincoln ranks within the first quintile.[1] Another poll asking historians based on political affiliation their top selection for Presidents on domestic, economic, and social issues and found the following:

Rankings by Liberals and Conservatives[2]

Rank Liberals (n=190) Conservatives (n=50)

1 Franklin D. Roosevelt Abraham Lincoln

2 Abraham Lincoln George Washington

3 George Washington Franklin D. Roosevelt

4 Thomas Jefferson Thomas Jefferson

5 Theodore Roosevelt Theodore Roosevelt

6 Woodrow Wilson Andrew Jackson

7 Andrew Jackson Harry S Truman

8 Harry S Truman Woodrow Wilson

9 Lyndon B. Johnson Dwight D. Eisenhower

10 John Adams John Adams


So far, Pro has not cited any information to support any claims or reasons or demonstrate a link between them and the overall proposition. Moreover, the first claim made by my opponent is, To me, he is only well known and supported just because of the situation he was in, and that the union did win the war.” That is just a personal statement based on personal conjecture, whose value might be more convincing if Pro was a Lincoln biographer or had a background and published articles in distinguished journals on these issues. “To me” statements cannot be disproven because they rely on the subjective state of person. For example, I could similar say something like, “To me, M&Ms are not as good as similar candy product, and the only reason M&Ms have been successful is because of the economy and an enormous advertising budget,” but this does not contribute to the debate, nor validate or substantiate the view itself.

Okay, I’ll leave it there. Thanks for the debate.

[1] Nate Silver, “Contemplating Obama’s Place in History, Statistically,” The New York Times. January 23, 2013.

[2] Robert K. Murray, Greatness in the White House: Rating the Presidents, from Washington Through Ronald Reagan (University Park, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994), 35.

Wikipedia also provides their results as well. It can be found here:

Debate Round No. 1


I would like to start off by thanking you for the best argument I have ever been presented with in any debate or argument I have ever been in. I would also like to say that I have read your sources.

Regarding the New York Times article, it does pose good evidence towards Con. It shows that Lincoln is ranked as number one out of any president, and even received 91% for his reelection. The ranking of number one does show that historians favored Lincoln over any other president. The same article also shows that there is confusion on the rankings.

"I recognize this might be an unpopular position, but one can ask if there is some inconsistency here: whether Kennedy has been ranked so highly based more on his potential than his actual accomplishments.
No, there is no presidential equivalent to Value Over Replacement Player, the baseball statistic that accounts for both the quality of a player"s performance and the amount of time that he served. (I"d nominate Millard Fillmore as the presidential equivalent of Mario Mendoza). But the presidential scholars do implicitly seem to be applying something like that standard: Harrison, who accomplished almost literally nothing, is not regarded as average but instead as the fourth-worst president. (Put another way, only three presidents" accomplishments are regarded as having been worse than nothing.) If that is the measure, it is hard to see how Kennedy is ranked similarly to Dwight D. Eisenhower by the historians, when Eisenhower had a very popular and productive presidency and served for almost three times as long."

Of course this is not an official position, but rather the thoughts of the article writer.
On the scale a pattern appears for presidents during war time, where those presidents all received rankings lower than 15. George Washington (Revolutionary War): 3, James Madison (War of 1812): 15, Abraham Lincoln (Civil War): 1, Woodrow Wilson (World War One): 7, Franklin D. Roosevelt (World War Two): 2, Harry S Truman (Korean War): 6, Lyndon B. Johnson (Vietnam War): 12. Out of these examples all of them were reelected. According to the list the presidents who were considered to have done nothing all ranked low on the list. The pattern shown is that war time will boost favor for some one seeking reelection. The two presidents following Lincoln both scored poorly. As for Grant he was still faced with rebuilding the nation. His abilities and performance during this was why he didn't score highly. Lincoln never had to face this because he was assassinated, so there is no way of knowing how he would have faired in the reconstruction of the country. As we also see with FDR, his favor, while his administration did well during the war, was also due to the fact that during the war voters did not want to risk electing some one they did not know while they already know the abilities of the current president.

Of course, I have no sources myself. Everything I have used was either from your sources, what I learned in school, and some of it is my opinions and thoughts (which, yes, I know should not be included in a debate).

I also cannot argue with 70 plus historians, seeing as how my furthest form of education was the completion of high school.


Appreciate the debate; for someone on his or her first debate you are doing very well. I also appreciate fast response time, and I apologize for my delay.

So let me say, I really like Pro. As someone that takes the time to footnote every source I quote during debate, I appreciate any debater that actually takes the time to verify the information—it can be it can be burdensome and virtually no one does it, not even the best debaters on here.

This round is actually not going to involve much in the way of countering arguments.

So I am going to make one quick point about last round:

As you pointed out, my use of statistics was not to prove definitively Lincoln was the best president, because as you also mention all statistical models are flawed. I was going to add that very point, as a caveat, during the last round, but due to personal laziness didn’t. But the basic point stands that Lincoln is generally considered by reputable historians to be a good president. All I wanted to do was undermine you’re contention, that Lincoln’s legacy should not receive the weight it has.

Below I have provided a how-to-navigate DDO commentary meant for Pro

[Voters can disregard this section].

It is a friendly aid to Pro since it is his first debate and seems to have a real talent for debate. So, for those of you kind enough to read the debate, I want to save you some time since what follows is a comment to Pro.

So basically, our debate boils down to the following—and I wish I would have known this when I first joined the site. But it is standard not only on this website but in formal debating that Pro’s obligations is defend the generally proposition and provide reasons and evidence for it. You will see this in acronym form as BOP or Burden of Proof.

All I have to do is counter your claims and evidence and explain, and provide a reasons and evidence for why they are inadequate. This is one reasons I lost my first debate; I was caught up in countering claims rather than advancing and substantiating my own proposition. Anyway, I hope this does not come off as condescending, that isn’t my intention.

You seem to have a good knack for debate, but on here a lot of people will take advantage of a new better by adding, BOP is on [insert name of debater] and then in the voting section you find that line repeated. For instance in the next round, you best strategy is to find a way to rebut me briefly, and then provide reasons and evidence that supports the proposition:
“Lincoln wasn't as great of a president as everyone thinks.” While I’m not going to do this, it will happen the next time you debate: semantic or definition based attacks.

For instance, you set a high bar for yourself—don’t worry; I did the same on my first debate. For example, I could try to counter the proposition by asking you to define: wasn’t as great I could then ask you to define the standard of great, relative to whom, and then whatever answer you provided would likely give me more ammunition. Second, someone could have attacked your position by question “as everyone thinks” because the definition is not self-evident, nor universally agreed upon, etc., etc.

Anyway, next time, you might want to try the following tips when creating a new debate. Have the debate resolution be: Lincoln and then specific that BOP is split 50/50. This trick will significantly improve your chances of winning and will prevent most of the conventional traps other debates will use.]
Reason for unconventional round, if not apparent:

I did want to swamp Pro with information that would require a rebuttal. Second, Pro hasn’t actually make an argument yet. So, in a good-faith effort, I will let Pro do that in the next round. However, for those who might be suspicious, this is not a trick to attack Pro in the third round, thereby creating a series of new arguments, he can’t rebut or address.

To telegraph what I will do in the last round is counter all arguments put forward by Pro. Then I will make a case for Lincoln’s stellar reputation as a US president [footnoted] even though Con’s obligation does not require that.

Anyway, hope this helps. Good Luck.

Debate Round No. 2


I would like to use this round not to rebuttal anything, but to end this debate by saying, I concede. I am not giving up because I just want this to end or any such thing, but because it is quite clear that there is no way for me to win this debate. I have nothing left to say that would end in this being a win for me. The sources that were used clearly show the opposite of my argument using the words of reputable historians who clearly are much better suited in deciding a matter like this than I. So this is where I wave my white flag and extend the olive branch.

I would also like to thank you for this opportunity. I do not often get a chance to voice my opinion like this, and it is always good to be humbled. I would also like to thank you for the advice. I have never been in an official debate like this, so I do not really know all the twists and turns of properly voicing my opinion. I also wish you the best in any of your future debates, even though it does not seem like you need me too. Again, thank you, and sorry for ending this debate like this, but I really have nothing left to say after what you wrote.


Okay, so it won’t be necessary to make ancillary remarks about the legacy of Lincoln. Pro conceded the debate to Con. I thank him for the debate. Maybe we will debate again. Best of luck navigating the depths of DDO.

Debate Round No. 3
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by zmandebater 1 year ago
To be honest, I needed to make three debates in order to get voting privileges. So this was one of my quickly thought of, badly backed, and quite rash ideas to put out. I didn't even research the topic. Sorry to offend anyone.
Posted by Surrealism 1 year ago
Here's a quote from a speech Lincoln made in 1854:

"I think, and shall try to show, that it is wrong,"wrong in its direct effect, letting slavery into Kansas and Nebraska, and wrong in its prospective principle, allowing it to spread to every other part of the wide world, where men can be found inclined to take it.
This declared indifference, but, as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world,"

Lincoln did have a stance on slavery. He just couldn't focus on it that much while president for political reasons.
Posted by americanmade23 1 year ago
A president is only as good as the situation he/she was put into and the people he/she surrounds himself with. everyone with any type of education knows this. and no one is clean of being against African Americans and Native Americans even if they didn't mean to they did go against them.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by lannan13 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:05 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession.
Vote Placed by Wylted 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Concession