Beth Herrington’s favorite president is someone she doesn’t think is very popular in the South, Abraham Lincoln.

“I’m of mixed heritage,” said Herrington. “My mother was a Northerner and my father was a Southerner, so I fall in between.”

Lincoln, a Republican and 16th president of the United States, lead the country through the Civil War before his assassination on April 15, 1865 at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. by John Wilkes Booth.

“He had a heart for the people,” said Herrington. “He was a very bright man and, I think, a tragic figure. He did what he thought was best for the county. He was in agony over the Civil War.”

Lincoln, who’s birthday was Feb. 12, 1809, is one of two reason’s the U.S. celebrates Presidents’ Day on the third Monday of February. The other is George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Lincoln, the son of a Kentucky frontiersman, struggled to learn and make a living in his early years, something Herrington admires in him.

“He had grown up with tragedy,” she said. “But he persevered despite it.”

Lincoln’s mother died when he was 10 years old, and his father moved the family to a wild region in Indiana when Abe was only 8. He spent time working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, keeping a store in New Salem, Ill., and was a captain during the Black Hawk War before being elected to the Illinois legislature.

David Moore, who also names Lincoln as his favorite president, admired the way Lincoln worked to bring the country back together, despite the turmoil of the Civil War.

“He brought the country back together,” said Moore. “He was all about reconciliation, and he did it without punishing the South. It took a big man to do that.”

Unfortunately, Lincoln was unable to see the country’s wounds heal and his death ended the possibility of peace with magnanimity.

Presidents’ Day, a national holiday to honor Washington and Lincoln, is also a time to remember all the men who have served as president. In 1971, it became a federal holiday to celebrate the two men’s birthdays. Washington was born Feb. 22, 1732.

Everyone seems to have their own favorite president, with different reasons for liking each man.

Jo Prout, a former eighth-grade history teacher, says her favorite president is Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

“I like him, not because he served so many terms, but because he took the country through some really difficult years,” said Prout. “He led this country through the Great Depression and through most of World War II.”

FDR, the second Roosevelt to be elected president (his fifth cousin, Theodore, was the 26th president), was the 32nd president. He was also the only president to serve more than two terms in office - something that is no longer possible thanks to the 22nd Amendment to the Constitution.

“A lot of people didn’t agree with him,” said Prout. “But his strength and fortitude and his ability to win over people to his way of thinking made him a great leader. He also created many programs that enabled the country to keep moving after the stock market crash in 1929.”

Prout said FDR’s programs allowed many families to keep food on the table when times were desperate.

Connie Schlittler’s favorite president is Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the U.S.

“He was in that progressive era, and was president during the founding of social work,” said Schlittler, executive director of Bill Willis. “Some very progressive programs were started during his term in office.”

Wilson, a Southerner, was born at the end of the Civil War and lead the country through World War I. During his term in office, child labor was outlawed.

For the younger generation, William Jefferson (Bill) Clinton is one of the most popular presidents.

“He was a man who knew he had flaws, but he put his country first,” said Jeff Bonnifian. “He was a great president.”

Despite being mired in controversy involving his relationship with an intern in the White House and being the second president to be impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, Clinton maintained popular approval ratings.

He was also the first Democrat to win a second term as president since FDR.

During his time in office, the U.S. experienced the lowest unemployment rate in modern history, the lowest inflation rate in 30 years, the highest home ownership in the country’s history, dropping crime rates in many places and reduced welfare rolls. He proposed the first balanced budget in decades and achieved a budget surplus.


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