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

Lincoln Compared to Other Great Presidents

If we rate Lincoln as an “A plus,” how do we rate, or rank, Jefferson Davis?

We give him a “C.” Anyone who studies Davis’ career is struck by how many problems he confronted on the day he became president of the Confederate States. He had to create a government, an army, a navy on the spot, and he had to establish precedents, much like George Washington had done seventy years earlier. Once we acknowledge Davis’ difficulties, however, we have to add that he created many others.

Davis was quarrelsome. He believed himself a fine military mind, and he feuded with his generals (his relationship with Robert E. Lee was one notable exception). Davis did not inspire confidence among his generals or among the rank-and-file. Where he did shine was as the wartime leader of Richmond. That he possessed great courage is beyond dispute, and at times—when examining his poor physical health—one feels quite sorry for the man.



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