Though modern history has long since laid the crown of Best President Ever at the feet of Abraham Lincoln, during the man’s lifetime, plenty of people thought Abraham Lincoln was the worst president ever. Before the Civil War erupted, before the first Republican president was gunned down in Ford’s Theater (and subsequently subjected to ludicrous speculation), anti-Lincoln quotes were extremely common among in the political arena.
In 1861, when Lincoln took office, he was already inheriting a country steeped in domestic turmoil. Even worse, there was very little faith in his ability to get the job done. For those men and ... well, mostly it was white dudes. For those white dudes who feared the growing problems of an increasingly enlightened society, Lincoln was an established lightning rod for their wrath. Beyond the landed gentry, there were few people who believed in Lincoln’s ability to fuse an already divided country.
When Lincoln was elected, the numbers weren’t in his favor. He won only 39.8 percent of the popular vote in the 1860 election. That was partially due to the fact that Lincoln had to beat three other candidates instead of just one, but it’s still “the poorest showing by any winning presidential candidate in American history.”
Needless to say, there were a lot of people out there willing to spit some bad quotes about Abraham Lincoln. The man was despised by a large portion of the country both above and below the Mason-Dixon Line. A lot of them were convinced he’d end up as the worst president in the history of the United States. Clearly, those people were bigoted idiots, but their stupidity sure is funny in hindsight. So here for your consideration are quotes from people who hated Abraham Lincoln.
“He is shattered, dazed and utterly foolish. It would not surprise me if he were to destroy himself.”
- Benjamin R. Curtis, former Supreme Court justice, speaking on Lincoln’s antislavery beliefs.
“Our federal Union is in more danger this day from Abraham Lincoln and the unprincipled and fanatical faction to whom he has surrendered himself, soul and body, than from all other causes combined.”
“The fact … begins to shine out clear," it announced, "that Abraham Lincoln is lost; that he will never be President again.… The obscene ape of Illinois is about to be deposed from the Washington purple, and the White House will echo to his little jokes no more.”
“The illustrious Honest Old Abe has continued during the last week to make a fool of himself and to mortify and shame the intelligent people of this great nation. His speeches have demonstrated the fact that although originally a Herculean rail splitter and more lately a whimsical story teller and side splitter, he is no more capable of becoming a statesman, nay, even a moderate one, than the braying ass can become a noble lion.
“People now marvel how it came to pass that Mr. Lincoln should have been selected as the representative man of any party. His weak, wishy-washy, namby-pamby efforts, imbecile in matter, disgusting in manner, have made us the laughing stock of the whole world.
“The European powers will despise us because we have no better material out of which to make a President. The truth is, Lincoln is only a moderate lawyer and in the larger cities of the Union could pass for no more than a facetious pettifogger. Take him from his vocation and he loses even these small characteristics and indulges in simple twaddle which would disgrace a well bred school boy.”
“Of these men Abraham Lincoln is the murderer," it declared. "We charge their blood upon him.... May the Heavens, which have rebuked his madness thus far, still battle his demon designs.”
- Richmond Enquirer, in the wake of the First Battle of Bull Run