Lincoln, as you might imagine, takes the palm.
My liking for Lincoln is personal. The First and Second Inaugural, the Gettysburg Address, the Letter to Mrs. Bixby, the normal run of Lincoln stories and biography–reading them has made me for a little bit a better and a nobler man. Their is a homespun, muted providence that used him for its ends in a way that he would have appreciated (that, in the end, he did appreciate).
His critics, on the other hand, are churlish when they discuss him. Better a lifetime with Lincoln than a minute with their malice.
Character is sui generis. No good man or good woman is precisely the same as any other. But character is also contagious. The scriptures tell stories as much or more than they teach doctrine, because where we can’t apply an abstract principle, we can emulate a concrete character. Great men are icons.
The striking thing about Lincoln’s character more than his humor, humility, and his eloquence was his supernormal charity and his allied supernormal submission to the will of God. He displayed this love and this submission in the middle of a horrible war that he waged to kill hundreds of thousands, where he was the main human agent and driver of events. This apparent contradiction, this mystery, is why his critics tend to reject his charity and his submission as humbug. But they are real. When we have grasped how he could love and make war, and submit and act, we will have taken a step or two further to the abode of God.