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Lincoln: Man Vs. Myth

So, you think you know Abraham Lincoln's story?

On the day he would have been 200 years old, historians are revisiting many commonly held beliefs about the nation's 16th president.

As co-anchor Maggie Rodriguez chronicled on The Early Show Thursday, what you think you know for sure about Lincoln may be off-base.

"Fact" No. 1: His Motive Behind The Civil War" Was To Free The Slaves

"So many people believe now that Lincoln actually took action to end slavery," New York University Professor of History Jeffrey Sammons told CBS News. "Really, his action was to restore the union. If he had to free none of the slaves to achieve that objective, he would."

"Fact" No. 2: He Was Great Champion Of Equality

"Lincoln is known as 'The Great Emancipator,' or the great father of black people," Sammons says. "But Lincoln was a man of his times when it came to race. He indicated that he did not believe that blacks were equal to whites, and is said to have used the "N" word in speeches and in letters. So, there's no indication that Abraham Lincoln believes in black equality."

"Fact" No. 3: Assassination Was Booth's First Choice

"What many people don't realize," Sammons explained, "is that, at first, John Wilkes Booth did not act alone. The first plan was to actually kidnap Abraham Lincoln, take him south, and hold him for ransom."

But when others deemed the plan unrealistic, Booth went forward with a different plan, shooting and killing the president.

"Fact" No. 4: His State Of Mind

Was Lincoln depressed? He was revered as the strong, dominant wartime president, but historians generally agree he suffered from clinical depression. And his own law partner said melancholy dripped from him as he walked.

"Fact" No. 5: He Was Straight

"One of the very interesting stories about Abraham Lincoln," Sammons points out, "is that he might have been gay. Lincoln actually did sleep in the same bed with a gentleman for a four-year period."

But, says Rodriguez, one thing remains constant: Lincoln certainly has to go down in history as one of the nation's great presidents.