n 1982, forty-nine historians and political scientists were asked by the Chicago Tribune to rate all the Presidents through Jimmy Carter in five categories: leadership qualities, accomplishments/crisis management, political skills, appointments, and character/integrity. At the top of the list stood Abraham Lincoln. He was followed by Franklin Roosevelt, George Washington, Theodore Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Woodrow Wilson, and Harry Truman. None of these other Presidents exceeded Lincoln in any category according to the rate scale. Roosevelt fell into second place because he did not measure up to Lincoln in character. Washington, close behind, ranked third because of his lesser political skills. It is the general opinion
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Historians, mindful of Lincoln's mythic place in American popular culture, accord him similar praise for what he accomplished and for how he did it. Because he was committed to preserving the Union and thus vindicating democracy no matter what the consequences to himself, the Union was indeed saved. Because he understood that ending slavery required patience, careful timing, shrewd calculations, and an iron resolve, slavery was indeed killed. Lincoln managed in the process of saving the Union and killing slavery to define the creation of a more perfect Union in terms of liberty and economic equality that rallied the citizenry behind him. Because he understood that victory in both great causes depended upon purposeful and visionary presidential leadership as well as the exercise of politically acceptable means, he left as his legacy a United States that was both whole and free.
As the most activist President in history, Lincoln transformed the President's role as commander in chief and as chief executive into a powerful new position, making the President supreme over both Congress and the courts. His activism began almost immediately with Fort Sumter when he called out state militias, expanded the army and navy, spent $2 million without congressional appropriation, blockaded southern ports, closed post offices to treasonable correspondences, suspended the writ