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Why is Abraham Lincoln an iconic and idealized figure in American society?I'm writing...

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alincoln2012 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:17 PM via web

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Why is Abraham Lincoln an iconic and idealized figure in American society?

I'm writing a term paper
about the topic "The myth Abraham Lincoln"
and I wanted to collect your personal opinions

why would you say Abraham Lincoln is a legend for yourself?

8 Answers | Add Yours

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rrteacher | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:47 PM (Answer #2)

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Lincoln was president during the most traumatic (and among the most mythologized) period in American history. And he was assassinated before his legacy could have been sullied by the messiness of Reconstruction. Lincoln's speeches were remarkably eloquent and accessible even to modern readers, and he was a formidable politician who excelled at seizing the moral high ground. His Emancipation Proclamation, though quite limited, earned himself the title of "Great Emancipator," and Union victory in the war ensured that he would be remembered as the president who brought the country back together.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 3:57 PM (Answer #3)

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The first post is right, but we should also note that part of what makes Lincoln such an icon is the idea that he was a rags to riches (or at least to great importance) figure.  In this way, he is an icon of the American idea that anyone can grow up to be great.

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tinicraw | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 4:06 PM (Answer #4)

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Because of all that has been said above, his physcal features contributed to his legacy.  He was very tall and wore that famous tall hat. He also wrote many mothers and wives during the Civil War and expressed his deep gratitude for their sacrifice. He was very gentle and kind, but also stalwart and steadfast in his dedication to keeping The United States united as well as freeing the slaves. He was not only a good example in his political life, but he was a good man at home. I bet he would be ashamed of politicians who get caught with their pants down (literally). He represents the idealized American in virtue and strength.

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litteacher8 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:24 PM (Answer #5)

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On a recent carpool for a field trip some students tried to convince me to add Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter to the curriculum, because it’s history!  This is just another in a long series of myths surrounding Lincoln.  I admit that the vampire thing is far-fetched, but I think it does demonstrate how much people idealize Lincoln.  Somehow the idea of him hunting vampires fits right in.

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:37 PM (Answer #6)

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The previous posts pretty much cover Lincoln's legacy: the Great Emancipator, Honest Abe, the man who brought the Union back together again, one of our nation's greatest Presidents. His unusual physical attributes--his great height made taller by his stovetop hat; his gangly, almost unattractive features, his strength--took a back seat to his moral fiber. He also gave his life for his country, the first American President to do so, and he is deserving of the rags to riches Lincoln legend.

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mwalter822 | Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

Posted May 31, 2012 at 5:52 PM (Answer #7)

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Lincoln, like FDR, guided the country through one of its most difficult and contentious times. The fact that slavery ended on his watch is obviously very important. His response to these events, which history looks upon favorably, can make a man legendary.

He also made a number of memorable quotations which have outlived him by 150 years.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted May 31, 2012 at 6:45 PM (Answer #8)

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I like to believe that Lincoln's historical recognition as an honest man is what allows him to live on as an amazing President. As stated before, his success is very positive and allows others to see that dreams can come true.

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catd1115 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Assistant Educator

Posted June 1, 2012 at 9:13 AM (Answer #9)

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The positives of Lincoln's life and career are all mentioned above. I would just like to add that Lincoln lived during a time when the media was quite different than it is today. People read of Lincoln's speeches and his noble acts. Stories of his kindness and greatness were written in papers across the country. Personal issues (like his wife's mental illness or the loss of their son) were not considered fit to print. There way the media wrote and the lack of instant news, along with a greater respect for the office of President allowed Lincoln to shine for his good qualities and not have his work as president sullied by the tabloid journalism that is so mainstream today.

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