As far as putting Lincoln first, I believe Washington deserves that honor. He showed all subsequent presidents how to conduct themselves with restraint and honor, even if they don't always follow his lead. He played a pivotal role in the birth of America and that should never be forgotten.
Agreed. Washington was truly “the indispensable man” in Flexner’s words. America can’t even be imagined without him. He was sui generis.
Had the Civil War been fought in 1850, there isn’t much doubt secession would have been successful.
During that 10 years the North grew much faster than the South, creating a much greater imbalance. In particular, the railroads and other industry expanded greatly. Without these assets, Union conquest of the CSA would have been very difficult.