With the exception of George Washington, perhaps no other American President has been wrapped up in legend, myth, and hoax quite the way that Abraham Lincoln has. His legacy has at times resembled something of a national cult, with various political factions vying to claim the mantle of his authority for their own sometimes dubious ends.
However, in the end, the story of Abraham Lincoln is certainly filled with enough remarkable and historic facts to justify his place as one of our most truly revered Presidents. In that spirit, we present the reader with what we believe to be the top 10 myths and hoaxes regarding our 16th President, Abraham Lincoln.
10. Lincoln Was A Barely Competent Country Lawyer
Over the years, a legend has grown up about Lincoln’s early years as a “back woods attorney” in rural Illinois. The location is accurate, but the facts are quite different. Lincoln made his name, as well as a considerable fortune, in the 1850’s by successfully representing the Illinois Central Railroad and the Rock Island Bridge Co.
This led to a political career that ended at the White House. You can find plenty of Lincoln’s surviving legal papers at a special Library of Congress collection on the Internet.
9. Lincoln Was Prone To Depression
Much has been written about how Lincoln was frequently prone to bouts of serious depression. While it is certainly true that Lincoln was President of a nation that was embroiled in a brutal Civil War – the bloodiest in our nation’s history – it is not necessary to believe that he was constantly in the throes of melancholy.
On the contrary, there are many stories of Lincoln greeting friends and strangers alike with hearty good cheer and plenty of jovial aplomb. It is safer to say that he could, indeed, have moments of severe self doubt without picturing him as a martyr to severe depression.