February 17, 2009

Historians: Lincoln top Prez; Clinton makes big gain

Posted: 10:26 AM ET

 It's been 145 years since Abraham Lincoln appeared on a ballot, but admiration for the man who saved the union and sparked the end of slavery is as strong as ever, according to a new survey.

Lincoln finished first in a ranking by historians of the 42 former White House occupants. The news wasn't quite as good for the latest addition to the nation's most exclusive fraternity: George W. Bush finished 36th in the survey, narrowly edging out the likes of historical also-rans Millard Fillmore, Warren Harding and Franklin Pierce.

James Buchanan - the man who watched helplessly as the nation lurched toward civil war in the 1850s - finished last.  

Bill Clinton registered the greatest gain among recent presidents, jumping from 21st to 15th in the survey. Ronald Reagan edged forward from 11th to 10th overall, while George H.W. Bush moved up from 20th to 18th.

(Click HERE for the full list)

*NOTE: Our guest tonight is President Bill Clinton!  Tell us what you want to hear from the former President NOW!

Filed under: Bill Clinton • Larry King Live

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sean brizendine   February 17th, 2009 11:10 am ET

lincoln was truly a great president and freeing the slaves was the best thing he ever did, but to read some of his speeches on race, his veiws seem completely out of touch in todays climate.
"sean in santa rosa"

debbie   February 17th, 2009 2:19 pm ET

If you ask white people they will tell you President Lincoln freed the slaves but I watched a document on tv the other night and a black man was not so easy to give Lincoln the credit . I feel Lincoln was a great President also and I'm not a republican but I quess each culture has a view on what Lincoln did. I'm a white woman but I have a black son -in -law and we have discussion about Lincoln and Martin Luther King and I see how we differ in looking at each of them and what each man brought to history.

Ethel   February 17th, 2009 3:59 pm ET

Lincoln was against freeing the slaves, at first. It was politics, that made him change his mind. The fact that all the folks were getting too rich, was a factor in stopping, the ownership of blacks. Fact is, those who chose to not stay with or near their former masters, often were just left to fend, for themselves. Many chose to live on the same land and work. Some of the slaves and their owners became so closeknit that they continued to care for one another.

I do realize that many black people suffered greatly. So did many poor white people. And then there is the matter, that we don't hear much about, where the natives, who lived in various parts of this country, had their home pillaged, wives, daughters and sisters, raped and their lands and goods taken from them, and then they were driven out of their country.

Summing it up, I don't know if Lincoln was a great president, or not. I wasn't born yet. History has a tendency to deal with facts, sometimes slanted with whatever one has in his/her eyes. I suppose he was pretty good, as was others.

Donna   February 17th, 2009 5:25 pm ET

What can you do to help deter terrorism?

Vern   February 17th, 2009 6:09 pm ET

As a president, there is little to contradict the fact that the Civil War and the period afterwards would have been extremely difficult for any of the 43 former presidents. Abraham Lincoln was the right individual for that time. Yes, Lincoln agreed with businesmen's right to slaves, however he did have an acute moral compass; in time, he rightfully changed his opinion and pressed toward abolishing slavery. Tragically, he was asassinated for his beliefs (and others involving the economic system) which helped to initiate America down the right path of democracy and freedom for all citizens.

What is unfortunate, however, is that the wounds from Lincoln's tumultuous period in history continue to play a part in the 'fabric of society' today.

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