Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States until he was assassinated. He is known for being extremely outspoken against slavery in the United States and helped preserve the United States by leading them to victory over the Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. This resulted in the abolition of slavery and established the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865. Abraham Lincoln is ranked among the top three United States Presidents and will always be remembered for his influence in politics and by redefining republicanism. Let’s try and take a somewhat more personal look at his life and influence upon this great nation.
Childhood through Young Adulthood
•Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks; both uneducated. They lived in a one room cabin on 348 acres on the Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Kentucky. The Farm was purchased in 1808 for $200 cash but would not belong to the family for long.
•In 1816 the Lincoln family was forced to move to Perry County, Indiana (now Spencer County). The move was partially due to slavery and partially due to difficulties with land deeds.
•When Lincoln was nine years old his mother died of milk sickness. His father quickly remarried Sarah Bush Johnston. He became close to his stepmother, but was never close with his father.
•With more economic land title difficulties in 1830, the family moved once more, only this time to public land in Macon County, Illinois. Things were still difficult and his father moved the family again to Coles County Illinois. This time Lincoln decided to live life on his own.
•At the age of twenty two he canoed down the Sangamon River and found employment with a businessman named Denton Offutt.
•Lincoln’s formal education consisted of eighteen months, but he became a good reader and self educated himself. He was unusually tall for his age as well as strong.
•It would seem that Lincoln developed a knack for politics at an early age. His political career essentially began in 1832 at the age of twenty three when he ran unsuccessfully for Illinois General Assembly. Instead he was elected captain of an Illinois militia company during the Black Hawk War. It has been recorded that this position gave him much satisfaction.
•In 1834 Lincoln won the election to the state legislature and began teaching himself law. Three years later he moved to Springfield, Illinois and began practicing law with John T. Stuart. Lincoln became on of the most respected and successful lawyers in Illinois.
•He served four terms successively in the Illinois House of Representatives.
In 1837 Abraham Lincoln voiced his first protest against slavery in the Illinois House saying that “the institution was founded on both injustice and bad policy.”
There is little known about his family life aside from whom he married and the children they had together.
•Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd on November 4, 1842; she was the daughter of a prominent slave-owning family from Kentucky. They had four sons. Robert Todd Lincoln was their first child born on August 1843 and was the only child that survived into adulthood. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College.
•The other children were also born in Springfield and died during childhood or teen years. Edward Baker Lincoln died in 1862, William Wallace Lincoln died during Lincoln’s first term in office, and Thomas Lincoln in 1871.
Lincoln’s Presidential Influence
Along with the victory during the American Civil War and the abolishment of slavery, Lincoln also signed many presidential acts. The following are a few:
•Revenue Act 1861
•Revenue Act of 1862
•Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864
•Revenue Act of 1864
Originally, it is said that John Wilkes Booth had formulated a plan to simply kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners. He changed his mind after Lincoln’s speech on April 11 which promoted voting rights for blacks. They learned that the President and First Lady would be attending Ford’s theatre and the plans were established. Without his bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon (to whom he related his famous dream of his own assassination) Lincoln was defenseless. Booth waited for a moment during the play for loud laughter; leapt to his feet and fired a single shot round-slug 44 caliber at point blank range. The President laid in a coma for nine hours before he died. He was pronounced dead at 7:22am on April 15, 1865. He died at the age of fifty six.
Abraham Lincoln’s body was carried by train in a grand procession through several states as it made its way back to Illinois. Most of the nation mourned his death except for those that were called “copperheads” as they considered Lincoln an unconstitutional tyrant. He has been memorialized in many cities and his name continues to live today as a symbol for American freedoms.