My son, a new fifth grader, learned about President Lincoln last year in school. I told him I thought Lincoln probably was the greatest president, not just for his pithy speeches and great, good humor, but because he held the country together. And such is the general, modern opinion of the lanky, homely, country lawyer from Illinois: Saint Abe.
‘Tweren’t always so. Especially not in his own time, where his own cabinet officer Edwin Stanton called him the “original gorilla,” for his height, long arms, and gawkiness. Leila Ellis got her first political dressing-down in the novel when she made the mistake of praising the rail-splitter presidential candidate to her husband’s law partner. President Bush the Younger could feel beloved (despite being mocked by the Left as “a chimp”) in comparison with the hatred dumped on Lincoln—North and South. He was reviled.