150 years ago today Ft Sumpter, near Charleston, South Carolina, fell. The least qualified president in US history (before or since) was now faced with the imminent de facto dissolution of the USA. Why least qualified? Mr Lincoln had served several terms in the Illinois state legislature and a single two year term in the US House of Representatives, that term having ended over a decade before he took office as president. A few presidents (Taylor, Grant, Eisenhower) had never held political office, but were military heroes. One, Herbert Hoover, only held a previous cabinet position, but had a stellar reputation as the administrator of huge European relief programs (Belgium, Russia). However, his presidency was not exactly the model of success. Abraham Lincoln was the compromise nominee of the Republican Party in 1860. The splitting of the Democratic Party into northern and southern factions virtually guaranteed the election of Lincoln. Other powerful party members extracted promises from Lincoln for cabinet positions from which they expected to run the country with the affable Illinois lawyer serving as a figurehead. Lincoln himself accepted the situation since his political and administrative experience was so meager. While in office Lincoln did take command. He had to. The war was not going well and he could not find competent generals to take overall field command until 1864. In 1863 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation. It was a limited document that probably did not free a single slave on the day it went into effect, given all its exceptions. In part this was due to constitutional issues regarding seizure of "property" without "due process". But in part it was also the choice of Lincoln based on military and political considerations. Nevertheless it was an extremely unpopular move; reviled in the South where a full scale slave uprising was expected, and criticized in the North as a deviation from the 'true' purpose of the war, which was to preserve the union. Very few people living at the time would have ever thought that Abraham Lincoln would eventually be recognized a the US's greatest president (or at least on a par with George Washington). A London Times piece covering the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield on Nov 17, 1863 praised the two hour speech of Edward Everett, but described Mr Lincoln's remarks as: "Anything more dull and commonplace would be hard to imagine." http://www.funtrivia.com/en/subtopics/Great-Political-Insults-Part-3-290351.html The American Civil War was the bloodiest in US history. The 600,000 deaths would be 6 million relative to the current US population (2010 census). Was it worth it ? I'd say it was, but I'd like to hear the views of others.