Lincoln’s Death, New Nation: April 1865 to 1877

Lincoln Compared to Other Great Presidents

How does Lincoln stand in comparison to other great world leaders of his time?

At the very top. There were two that we know of who had qualities similarly great, and we might place them—on a good day—as his equals. These were Otto von Bismarck, the Chancellor of the Kingdom of Prussia, and Benito Juárez, the embattled president of the Republic of Mexico.

Historians do not usually make comparisons between Lincoln and Bismarck because the former was so clearly the leader of a democratic nation and the latter is seen as the embodiment of Prussian militarism, which later turned into the German militarism that helped bring about not one, but two, world wars. When one compares the two on a level playing field, however, Bismarck is found to be the equal of Lincoln in intellect and in the making of strategy: where he falls below Lincoln is on the level of humor and forgiveness. Benito Juárez’s was a remarkably capable and courageous man, who battled the French invasion of Mexico and eventually threw out the Emperor Maximilian. We wish we knew more of Juárez’s personal qualities, but we suspect that—like almost all other world leaders of that time—his would lag behind those of Lincoln.


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