A body of mythology has continued to exist about the life and character of Abraham Lincoln that is unsurpassed by any other figure in U.S. History. Some of its elements are examined briefly here in an article titled: "The Americam Myth," which is part of a larger study on the life of Mr. Lincoln.
Those with a completely positive view of Mr. Lincoln might prefer to read LINCOLN IN AMERICAN MEMORY by Merrill D. Peterson, published by Oxford Press in 1995. It is Peterson who came up with the five elements of Lincoln mythology, and they are discussed in greater detail.
I disagree with the unsurpassed part, it seems to me there are others who have surpassed Lincoln in terms of the mythology surrounding them. But the mythology surrounding Lincoln is understandable. Think about it, he was assassinated and died fairly soon. By which I mean it didn't take days or months for him to die, it took hours for him to die. So it seems it was that much quicker to begin immortalizing him.
The fact is there is a bizarre "don't speak ill of the dead" custom we have. I actually overheard a custom my mom was having with one of her cousins recently in which she revealed that her mother had told her to never sugar coat people after they die, don't make them out to be saints but rather always be willing to talk about both the good and bad. And it got me to thinking about it. When someone dies, especially world leaders who we don't view as monsters, then we tend to have this deal where we only want to emphasize their good points to the point where we may over emphasize the smallest detail of good to make the individual saintly. While at the same time choosing to ignore that which either we disagree with or which goes against what is told to make them saintly.
The view of Lincoln today really began with his death. Think about what Stanton supposedly said at the time of his death, either "Now he belongs to the ages" or "Now he belongs to the angels." I've actually in the past four or five years seen it said that Stanton didn't actually say either at the time Lincoln died, he said it years later and it has since been claimed that he said it at the time Lincoln died. But whether he said it then or years after the fact it shows that the view of Lincoln was already changing at his death.