Lincoln is considered by many to be the greatest American President. He was elected on a strongly anti-slavery platform. With his election, the Southern States seceeded from the Union. Lincoln fought the Civil War to retain the integrity of the Union.
The Early Years
Abraham Lincoln grew up in poverty. He was born in a log cabin in Larue County, Kentucky. When Lincoln was seven, his family moved to Indiana. At the age of nine, Lincoln's mother died. His father remarried and Lincoln became attached to his stepmother, Sarah. He received very little formal education, but taught himself to read. At the age of 19, Lincoln took a raft full of goods down the Mississippi to New Orleans. After his trip to Mississippi, he moved to Illinois with the rest of the family. After a second trip to New Orleans, Lincoln moved to the frontier settlement of New Salem. At first, Lincoln worked as a store clerk for $15 a month plus accommodations.
In 1832, Lincoln responded to the governor's called for volunteers for the Black Hawk War. He was elected captain of a group of volunteers. After serving for a little less than three months, Lincoln was mustered out without seeing any action.
In 1832 Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the State Assembly. From 1833-1836 Lincoln served in his first federal office, that of Postmaster of New Salem. From 1834-1842, he served as a member of the Illinois State legislature. While a member of the legislature, Lincoln studied law and was admitted as a member of the State Bar in 1836.
In 1842 he married Mary Todd.
From 1847-1849 Lincoln served in the US House of Representatives. Lincoln did not seek reelection, and he returned to his law practice in Springfield despite being offered the posts of Secretary and Governor of the Oregon Territory. In 1854 Lincoln ran for the Senate, and although he led on the first six ballots, he lost on the seventh to Lyman Trumball. (Senators were elected by the legislature at that time). In 1858 Lincoln was nominated by the Republican party for the Senate. At his acceptance speech he stated:
"We are now far into the fifth year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have been reached and passed. A house divided against itself cannot endure and permanently stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved; I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will push it towards till it shall become alike lawful in all the States old as well as new, North as well as South."
Lincoln and his opponent, incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas, carried out a series of seven debates throughout Illinois. The major difference between them was Douglas' insistence that it was up to new States to decide if they would be free states or not. While the Republicans received the majority of the votes in the election, the majority of the legislature ended up Democratic and Douglas was re-elected.
Accomplishments in Office
The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln was dominated by the Civil War. Despite his limited military background, Lincoln became a strong military leader, directing the actions of the Union. Lincoln amassed considerable executive power- proclaiming a blockade and suspending habeas corpus. All of this was done to "Preserve the Union".
Lincoln's prompt action in ordering the release of Confederate envoys seized on a British ship avoided a potential conflict with Great Britain. Lincoln was a champion of Ulysses S. Grant, who was controversial as a General due to his unkempt appearance and fondness for drinking. When someone complained to Lincoln about Grant's habits, he replied that if he knew Grant's favorite brand, he would send it to all his Generals.
Lincoln's most well-known action was the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863 after the victory at Antietam. The proclamation freed all slaves held in areas still controlled by the Confederacy.
After his re-election, as the war drew towards a successful conclusion, Lincoln remained committed to reconciliation with the South. In his second inaugural speech he promised "malice towards none'. The peace treaty, signed April 9, 1865 at Appottomax, a month after his inaugural speech, were indeed generous. Southern officers were allowed to return home with their side arms, mounted soldiers with their horses.
Five days later, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at the Ford Theater.
The First Family
Father: Thomas Lincoln
Mother: Nancy Hanks Lincoln
Wife: Mary Todd
Sons: Robert Todd, William Wallace, Thomas
Ft. Sumter Bombed
Battle of Gettysburg
Lincoln's Second Inaugural
War Comes to an End
Secretary of State: William Seward
Secretaries of Treasury: Salomon Chase, William Fessenden, Hugh McCullochs
Secretaries of War Simon Cameron, Edwin Stanton
Attorney Generals: Edward Bates, James Speed
Secretary of Navy: Gideon Welles
Postmaster Generals: Montgomery Blair, William Dennision
Secretaries of Interior: Caleb Smith, John Usher
Did You Know?
First President born in Kentuky
First President to be assasinated.
Applied for a patent for buoying vessels over shoals.
First President to wear a beard.