Sidney Blumenthal notes that despite history’s attempt to put him above the political fray, Abraham Lincoln was actually a master of political ruthlessness — for the sake of the highest ideals.
“While the political Lincoln may be difficult for us to acknowledge at a time when politics and partisan commitments are widely denigrated, Lincoln’s presidency demonstrates that partisanship and political ruthlessness can be used to advance the highest ideals. And there were no clearer cases than during his 1864 battle for reelection (without which the slave-owning South would almost certainly have triumphed) and subsequent effort to pass the 13th Amendment, which at long last purged slavery from the Constitution. In the end, Lincoln became the master of events because he was the master of politics.”
“The mythology of Lincoln as too noble for politics began at the moment of his death, with his body sprawled across a small bed in a house across from Ford’s Theatre, where he was shot… The historical truth reveals one of the most astute professional politicians the country has produced.”