Abraham Lincoln Biography – Early Life
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, as the second child of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, in a one-room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky.
In Kentucky and Indiana, Thomas worked as a farmer, cabinetmaker, and carpenter. He owned farms, town lots and livestock, paid taxes, sat on juries, appraised estates, served on country slave patrols, and guarded prisoners.
On October 5, 1818, his mother died of milk sickness, leaving 11-year-old Sarah(his sister) in charge of a household.
In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd, a daughter of Robert Smith Todd, a wealthy slave-owner in Lexington, Kentucky.
In 1832 Lincoln and partner Denton Offutt bought a general store on credit in New Salem, Illinois. Although the economy was booming, the business struggled and Lincoln eventually sold his share.
Abraham Lincoln Biography – Entered Politics
That March he entered politics, running for the Illinois General Assembly, advocating navigational improvements on the Sangamon River. He could draw crowds as a raconteur, but he lacked an education, powerful friends, and money and lost the election.
Lincoln served as New Salem’s postmaster and later as county surveyor, all the while reading voraciously. Later he decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books.
His second state legislature campaign in 1834 was successful. Although he ran as a Whig, many Democrats favored him over a more powerful Whig opponent. Lincoln served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a Whig from Sangamon County.
Admitted to the Illinois bar in 1836, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and began to practice law under John T. Stuart, Mary Todd’s cousin. Lincoln developed a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and closing arguments. He partnered with Stephen T. Logan from 1841 until 1844.
Abraham Lincoln Biography – Leader of Republican Party
He left government to resume his law practice, but angered by the success of Democrats in opening the prairie lands to slavery. Soon he reentered politics in 1854.
Later he became a leader in the new Republican Party and gained national attention in 1858 for debating and losing to national Democratic leader Stephen A. Douglas in a Senate campaign.
He then ran for President in 1860, sweeping the North and winning. Southern pro-slavery elements took his win as proof that the North was rejecting the Constitutional rights of Southern states to practice slavery.
Abraham Lincoln Biography – President of USA
They began the process of seceding from the union. To secure its independence, the new Confederate States of America fired on Fort Sumter, one of the few U.S. forts in the South. Lincoln called up volunteers and militia to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union.
As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South; War Democrats, who rallied a large faction of former opponents into his camp; anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him; and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination.
Later Lincoln fought the factions by pitting them against each other, by carefully distributing political patronage, and by appealing to the American people. His Gettysburg Address became an iconic call for nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.
Soon he suspended habeas corpus, and he averted British intervention by defusing the Trent Affair. Lincoln closely supervised the war effort, including the selection of generals and the naval blockade that shut down the South’s trade.
As the war progressed, he maneuvered to end slavery, issuing the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863. He ordered the Army to protect escaped slaves, encouraging border states to outlaw slavery.
Later he pushed through Congress the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery across the country.
Lincoln managed his own re-election campaign. He sought to reconcile his damaged nation by avoiding retribution against the secessionists.
A few days after the Battle of Appomattox Court House, he was shot by John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, on April 14, 1865, and died the following day. Abraham Lincoln is remembered as the United States’ martyr hero.