Did any good come of Lincoln's assassination?

Garfield’s death spurred civil service reform. McKinley’s death brought Theodore Roosevelt, a much better President IMHO, to office. Kennedy’s death enabled LBJ to get JFK’s domestic program, and much more, through Congress. But I’ll be damned if I can find any silver lining to Lincoln’s tragic death:

  • Andrew Johnson became President, did nothing for freed blacks, irritated Radical Republicans in Congress, got impeached and accomplished nothing other than the purchase of Alaska, which Lincoln probably would’ve approved anyway.

  • Reconstruction was botched, in part because vengeful Republicans in Congress felt they ought to punish the South for John Wilkes Booth’s crime. This led to the imposition of Jim Crow. Lincoln could surely have handled the events of 1865-69 better than Johnson.

  • Lincoln’s widow and the two other people in the box at Ford’s Theatre that night all had crappy lives afterwards.

Well, I cannot speculate on what might have happened had he served out his second term. But his death turned him into a martyr literally overnight, and brought him a degree of popularity he never attained during his presidency. He is now consistently ranked as one of the best presidents by historians and the public alike.

I don’t know if that’s what you’d call a silver lining, and it does not discount what he achieved during his presidency. But his premature death certainly helped to cement his legacy as one of our country’s most beloved leaders.

So, it was “a good career move?” :wink:

I would guess that Secret Service protection might have been tightened up a notch or two for future presidents. Probably a rule or two at prohibiting the personal bodygaurd of the President from leaving his post and evjoying an adult beverage down the street at the tavern.

Yep. It certainly helped JFK’s legacy as well, at least amongst the general public. All presidents should look into this. :wink:

Lincoln shot, pennies ensues.

I disagree with the characterization of the Congressional Reconstruction measures as “punishment” for “the South”. For the nearly 50% of Southerners of African descent, the measures were a desperately needed recognition of civil and voting rights.

Furthermore, there’s no real nexus between Congressional Reconstruction and anger over Lincoln’s assassination. The Congressional Reconstruction measures were imposed in response to white-Southern attempts to impose “Black Codes” in the winter of 1865-66, not to avenge Lincoln.

Had Lincoln lived, he would (unlike Johnson) have shared Congressional anger over the Black Codes and the intransigence of the white South. Congressional Reconstruction would have been imposed with a united federal government behind it, and would have stood a better chance of success. Lincoln’s death was a tragedy for the country in every way.

Actually, I think the issue of Civil Rights might’ve been stunted had Lincoln lived. Lincoln hoped to reconcile with the South, so I doubt he would’ve been so keen to advance the cause of voting rights for black men etc. So the former slaves might’ve sank into a form of perpetual sharecropping and near servitude for lack of a KKK to commit conscience-stirring outrages that helped to launch the Civil Rights movement.

But this is just speculation on my part.

But the way in which they were written and implemented resulted in a lot of anger from white Southerners; no matter what, you’d get some tensions from them, but I think that could have been minimized, and wasn’t.

Lincoln arguably would have paid more attention to the rights of black citizens than Andrew Johnson.

“(Johnson’s) conciliatory policies towards the South, his hurry to reincorporate the former Confederates back into the union, and his vetoes of civil rights bills embroiled him in a bitter dispute with some Republicans.[3] The Radicals in the House of Representatives impeached him in 1868 while charging him with violating the Tenure of Office Act, a law enacted by Congress in March 1867 over Johnson’s veto, but he was acquitted by a single vote in the Senate…He is consistently ranked by historians as being among the worst U.S. presidents.”

I don’t think Lincoln would have wholly agreed with the “Radical Republicans” (doesn’t that have a weird sound to it?) but he likely would have been more outraged than Johnson over Southern attempts to continue white supremacy.

As for good things to come out of the assassination, at least we got the Lincoln Memorial.

He made Mt. Rushmore.

Nah, that was Gutzon Borglum.

His death might have made the “reunion” of north and south after the civil war easier physcologically.

The north no longer had its great leader, and the south didnt have to keep seeing him to be reminded of their loss.

You are so going to heck for that. :slight_smile:

The rights of women would have been impaired.

No seriously.

After Lincoln’s death, Mary Lincoln was obviously a widow. Under the laws of the era, her oldest son Robert had a lot of control over her affairs. Mary and Robert argued a lot. Robert was finally persuaded to have his mother declared incompetent and institutionalized. Mary found a good lawyer and was able to have herself declared competent to handle her own affairs. The decision limited the power the male “head of the family” held over the women in that family. It also helped established rights for people who had been declared mentally ill.

Mary Lincoln regained her sanity. Direct result? You decide.

Well Mary Lincoln was never stable, she was always “on the edge” so to speak. Perhaps Linocoln’s murder pushed her but you could argue she would’ve went anyway.

One thing that happed by Lincoln’s assasination was the entire country was shocked and appaled. John Wilkes Booth was reported to have been taken aback that he was viewed by almost no one as a hero but rather a cut throat and a no good thug, even in the South.

While the South didn’t love Lincoln, they thought that Lincoln was their best bet for a decent outcome.

If you really want to reach at straws I would say the good that came out of the assasination was Andrew Johnson. He was impeached mostly for political reasons and by NOT removing him from office, it established a fairly strong precident that the president should only be removed for criminal acts. Had he been removed it probably would’ve reduced the office of the President to a lackey of Congress.

Of course I’ll admit that’s stretching it but that’s what I come up with

This cannot possibly be true; he would have had no time to discover it. It was a matter of hours between the assassination and his death, during which he was not in contact, as he was fleeing wildly. Most of the country was only beginning to learn of what happened when he died.

Yes it is. Booth didn’t die hours after killing Lincoln. He was on the run for almost two weeks, and spent almost half of that time hiding out in one spot. He was in contact with people sympathetic to him, and received help, food, and as **Markxxx **said, newspapers during that time.

I wanted to edit this in, but it’s too late. A portion of Booth’s diary. He spent time looking through newspapers for accounts of the assassination, and expecting to see the the letter he written that detailed his motives, but it was never printed (because the newspaper didn’t receive it).

“I am here in despair. And why? For doing what Brutus was honored for. What made Tell a hero? And yet I, for striking down a greater tyrant than they ever knew, am looked upon as a common cutthroat. My action was purer than either of theirs. One hoped to be great himself. The other had not only his country’s but his own, wrongs to avenge. I hoped for no gain. I knew no private wrong. I struck for my country and that alone. A country that groaned beneath this tyranny, and prayed for this end, and yet now behold the cold hands they extend to me. God cannot pardon me if I have done wrong. Yet I cannot see my wrong, except in serving a degenerate people. The little, the very little, I left behind to clear my name, the Government will not allow to be printed.”