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

Lincoln Compared to Other Great Presidents

Was there ever a time—even a moment—when Jefferson Davis was the equal of Abraham Lincoln?

There was greatness within the man, and there were moments when he acted with a spirit of greatness, but he was not able to sustain it for long. This does not mean he was an inferior person (far from it), rather that few people have that capacity. When one compares, for instance, the inaugural addresses of Jefferson Davis and Abraham Lincoln in 1861, one is struck by the insistent humble tone of the former and the gradually confident tone of the latter. Reading these addresses, one might think that Lincoln was the person who might be tempted by overconfidence when, in fact, it was the reverse. Listening to the words of these two addresses, one might think that Jefferson Davis’ greater experience in worldly affairs would make him a superior war leader to Lincoln: we know that this was not the case.


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