Today’s bitter divisiveness and call-to-arms rhetoric may recall the tumult of Vietnam era 1960s, or we can look even further back to the 1860s when America’s deadliest war cost the lives of many Union and Rebel soldiers in a bitter battle over states’ rights, centralized power and slavery.

No, the country is not on the brink of Civil War, but we do need thoughtful leadership and principled legislation that reflects the will of Americans all over.

And that has led many to ask, what would Abraham Lincoln do?

Here’s a little bit of biographical information you might not’ve known about Honest Abe, the Commander in Chief of the Union Army:

He actually lost a lot of elections



Many Democrats are searching up and down their ranks for a leader right now, but the person who emerges to take over the progressive cause might not even be in public office right now. Indeed, Lincoln himself lost a grand total of five separate elections.

His first loss came in 1832, when he ran for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly. But his time as a “prairie lawyer” and intellectual insights allowed him to rise above the fray in the Republican Party, culminating in the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858.

However, it was not until he had lost races for U.S. Congress, U.S. Senate and a vice presidential bid to boot.

He was challenged politically from inside the Union

After getting whupped by Stonewall Jackson — the famed Confederate general who many historians believe would have won Gettysburg if not for death by friendly fire — Union Gen. George B. McClellan decided to jump into politics, challenging his former commander-in-chief with the backing of “Copperheads” in the North who wanted to negotiate a two-state peace treaty with the South.

Because of a perceived cowardice at Antietam, McClellan was removed from duties in 1862 by Lincoln. So, he decided to run against the president as a Democrat in 1864.

But the Union Army steamrolled the Rebels, who were without their best general in Jackson, boosting the spirits of Northern citizens who helped deliver the presidency to Lincoln in his re-election bid with 55 percent of the vote.

He had to evolve on the issue of slavery

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

During the fourth debate with Douglas, Lincoln claimed, “I am not, nor ever have been, in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races.”

Although he was anti-slavery on moral justifications, the 16th president also seemed to entertain the idea of deporting black slaves back to Africa, where they had first been uprooted from.

This was clearly an opinion he evolved from, however, as evidenced in his Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves of 10 southern states who refused to upend their labor force and allow African-Americans rights as free people under rule of law.

He’s in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame

Lincoln and Clarence Whistler (Wikimedia Commons)

Lincoln and Clarence Whistler (Wikimedia Commons)

While Donald Trump might own the distinction of being the only elected president in WWE’s Hall, it was actually the 6’4″ Lincoln who was first mentioned in Stillwater’s National Wrestling Hall of Fame, which encompasses all of the sport rather than just sports entertainment.

According to the History Channel, Old Abe actually won 300 bouts in his wrestling career prior to becoming president, and once called out to an opponent: “I’m the big buck of this lick. If any of you want to try it, come on and whet your horns.” There were no takers.

That distinction earned him the Hall’s “Outstanding American” honor.

His assassination was meant to reinvigorate the South

Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The night Lincoln was killed by John Wilkes Booth, multiple violent incidents occurred around the capital — all in the name of putting the fight back into Rebels across the South.

The president’s secretary of state, William H. Seward, was stabbed multiple times by one of Booth’s co-conspirators, Lewis Paine. He would go on to survive the attack. The vice president, Andrew Johnson, was also targeted that night — but his would-be assassin chickened out under cowardice at the last moment, failing to attack his target.

Back at the sight of the Ford Theater, however, the damage had been done — the “Great Emancipator” would not be as lucky as his secretary of state or vice president, dying the next morning on April 15, 1865.