Abraham Lincoln. Everything you wanted to know

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln

In office
March 41861 – April 151865
Vice PresidentHannibal Hamlin (1861 – 1865)
Andrew Johnson (1865)
Preceded byJames Buchanan
Succeeded byAndrew Johnson

Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from Illinois's 7th district
In office
March 41847 – March 31849
Preceded byJohn Henry
Succeeded byThomas L. Harris

BornFebruary 121809
Hardin County, Kentucky
DiedApril 151865 (aged 56)
Washington, D.C.
Political partyWhig (1832-1854), Republican(1854-1864), National Union(1864-1865)
SpouseMary Todd Lincoln
ChildrenRobert Todd LincolnEdward LincolnWillie LincolnTad Lincoln
ReligionAttended Christian churches, but never joined any church
SignatureAbraham Lincoln's signature
Abraham Lincoln (February 121809April 151865), the sixteenth President of the United States, successfully led his country through its greatest crisis, the Civil War, only to be assassinated less than a month after the war's end. Before his election as President, Lincoln was a lawyer, a member of the United States House of Representatives, and an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Senate. As an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery in the United States,[1][2] Lincoln won the Republican Party nomination in 1860 and was elected president later that year. During his term, he helped preserve theUnited States by leading the defeat of the secessionist Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of slavery, issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoting the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
Lincoln closely supervised the victorious war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including Ulysses S. Grant. Historians have concluded that he handled the factions of the Republican Party well, bringing leaders of each faction into his cabinet and forcing them to cooperate. Lincoln successfully defused a war scare with the United Kingdom in 1861. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border slave states at the start of the war. Additionally, he managed his own reelection in the 1864 presidential election.
Opponents of the war (also known as "Copperheads") criticized him for refusing to compromise on the slavery issue. Conversely, the Radical Republicans, an abolitionist faction of the Republican Party, criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing slavery. Even with these road blocks, Lincoln successfully rallied public opinion through his rhetoric and speeches; his Gettysburg Address is but one example of this. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. His assassination in 1865 was the first presidential assassination in U.S. history and made him a martyr for the ideal of national unity.

Lincoln 1809 to 1854

Early life

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 121809, to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, two uneducated farmers, in a one-room log cabin on the 348-acre (1.4 km²) Sinking Spring Farm, in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky (now part of LaRue County). Lincoln's ancestorSamuel Lincoln had arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts, in the seventeenth century but his descendants had gradually moved west, from Pennsylvania to Virginia and then westward to the frontier.[3]
For some time, Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, was a respected and relatively affluent citizen of the Kentucky backcountry. He had purchased the Sinking Spring Farm in December of 1808 for $200 cash and assumption of a debt. The family belonged to aHardshell Baptist church, although Abraham himself never joined their church, or any other church for that matter.
In 1816, the Lincoln family was forced to make a new start in Perry County (now in Spencer County), Indiana. He later noted that this move was "partly on account of slavery," and partly because of difficulties with land deeds in Kentucky: Unlike land in the Northwest Territory, Kentucky never had a proper U.S. survey, and farmers often had difficulties proving title to their property.
When Lincoln was nine, his mother, then thirty-four years old, died of milk sickness. Soon afterwards, his father remarried to Sarah Bush Johnston. Lincoln was affectionate toward his stepmother, whom he would call "Mother" for the rest of his life, but he was distant from his father.[4]
In 1830, after more economic and land-title difficulties in Indiana, the family settled on public land[5] in Macon County, Illinois. The following winter was desolate and especially brutal, and the family considered moving back to Indiana. The following year, when his father relocated the family to a new homestead in Coles County, Illinois, twenty-two-year-old Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
Lincoln's formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe.[6] Lincoln avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like killing animals, even for food.[7] At 6 foot 4 inches (1.93m), he was unusually tall, as well as strong.

Early political career

Sketch of a younger Abraham LincolnEnlarge picture
Sketch of a younger Abraham Lincoln
Lincoln began his political career in 1832, at age 23, with an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, as a member of the Whig Party. The centerpiece of his platform was the undertaking of navigational improvements on the Sangamon River. He believed that this would attract steamboat traffic, which would allow the sparsely populated, poorer areas along the river to flourish.
He was elected captain of an Illinois militia company drawn from New Salem during the Black Hawk War, and later wrote that he had not had "any such success in life which gave him so much satisfaction."[8][9]
For several months, Lincoln ran a small store in New Salem.
In 1834, he won election to the state legislature, and, after coming across the Commentaries on the Laws of England, began to teach himself law. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, that same year and began to practice law with John T. Stuart. With a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and in his closing arguments, Lincoln became one of the most respected and successful lawyers in Illinois and grew steadily more prosperous.
He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a representative from Sangamon County, and became a leader of the Illinois Whig party. In 1837, he made his first protest against slavery in the Illinois House, stating that the institution was "founded on both injustice and bad policy."[10] It was also in this same year that Lincoln met Joshua Fry Speed, who would become his most intimate friend.
Lincoln wrote a series of anonymous letters, published in 1842 in the Sangamon Journal, mocking State Auditor and prominent DemocratJames Shields. Two years later, Lincoln entered law practice with William Herndon, a fellow Whig. In 1854, both men joined the fledglingRepublican Party. Following Lincoln's death, Herndon began collecting stories about Lincoln and published them in Herndon's Lincoln.
The first photograph ever taken of Mary Lincoln, a daguerreotype by N.H. Shepherd, about 1846.Enlarge picture
The first photograph ever taken of Mary Lincoln, a daguerreotypeby N.H. Shepherd, about 1846.


On November 41842 Lincoln married Mary Todd, daughter of a prominent slave-owning family from Kentucky. The couple had four sons. Robert Todd Lincoln was born in Springfield, Illinois on 1 August1843. Their only child to survive into adulthood, young Robert attended Phillips Exeter Academy andHarvard College.
The other Lincoln children were born in Springfield, Illinois, and died either during childhood or their teen years. Edward Baker Lincoln was born on 10 March 1846, and died on 1 February 1850, also in Springfield. William "Willie" Wallace Lincoln was born on 21 December 1850, and died on 20 February1862 in Washington, D.C., during President Lincoln's first term. Thomas "Tad" Lincoln was born on 4 April 1853, and died on 16 July 1871 in Chicago.
The first photograph ever taken of Abraham Lincoln, a daguerreotype by N.H. Shepherd, about 1846.Enlarge picture
The first photograph ever taken of Abraham Lincoln, a daguerreotype by N.H. Shepherd, about 1846.

Legislative activity

A Whig and an admirer of party leader Henry Clay, Lincoln was elected to a term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. As a freshman House member, he was not a particularly powerful or influential figure. However, he spoke out against the Mexican-American War, which he attributed to President Polk'sdesire for "military glory" and challenged the President's claims regarding the Texas boundary and offered Spot Resolutions, demanding to know on what "spot" on US soil that blood was first spilt.[11]
Lincoln later damaged his political reputation with a speech in which he declared, "God of Heaven has forgotten to defend the weak and innocent, and permitted the strong band of murderers and demons from hell to kill men, women, and children, and lay waste and pillage the land of the just." Two weeks later, President Polk sent a peace treaty to Congress. While no one in Washington paid any attention to Lincoln, the Democrats orchestrated angry outbursts from across his district, where the war was popular and many had volunteered.
Warned by his law partner, William Herndon, that the damage was mounting and irreparable, Lincoln decided not to run for reelection. His statements were not easily forgotten, and would haunt him during the Civil War. These statements were also held against him when he applied for a position in the new Taylor administration. Instead, Taylor's people offered Lincoln various positions in the remote Oregon Territory, primarily the governorship. Acceptance of this offer would have ended his career in the rapidly growing state of Illinois, so Lincoln declined the position. Returning to Springfield, Lincoln gave up politics for several years and turned his energies to his law practice.

Prairie lawyer

In the 1920s, historical markers were placed at the county lines along the route Lincoln traveled in the eighth judicial district. This example is on the border of Piatt and DeWitt counties.Enlarge picture
In the 1920s, historical markers were placed at the county lines along the route Lincoln traveled in the eighth judicial district. This example is on the border of Piatt and DeWitt counties.
By the mid-1850s, Lincoln's caseload focused largely on the competing transportation interests of river barges and railroads. In one prominent 1851 case, he represented the Alton & Sangamon Railroad in a dispute with a shareholder, James A. Barret. Barret had refused to pay the balance on his pledge to the railroad on the grounds that it had changed its originally planned route. Lincoln argued that as a matter of law a corporation is not bound by its original charter when that charter can be amended in the public interest, that the newer route proposed by Alton & Sangamon was superior and less expensive, and that accordingly, the corporation had a right to sue Barret for his delinquent payment. He won this case, and the decision by the Illinois Supreme Court was eventually cited by several other courts throughout the United States.[12]
The civil case which won Lincoln fame as a lawyer was the landmark Hurd v. Rock Island Bridge Company. America's expansion west, which Lincoln strongly supported, was seen as an economic threat to the river trade, which ran north-to-south, primarily on the Mississippi river. In 1856 a steamboat collided with a bridge, built by the Rock Island Railroad, between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, the first railroad bridge to span the Mississippi. The steamboat owner sued for damages, claiming the bridge was a hazard to navigation. Lincoln argued in court for the railroad and won, removing a costly impediment to western expansion by establishing the right of land routes to bridge waterways.
Possibly the most notable criminal trial of Lincoln's career as a lawyer came in 1858, when he defended William "Duff" Armstrong, who had been charged with murder. The case became famous for Lincoln's use of judicial notice — a rare tactic at that time — to show that an eyewitness had lied on the stand. After the witness testified to having seen the crime by moonlight, Lincoln produced a Farmers' Almanacto show that the moon on that date was at such a low angle that it could not have provided enough illumination to see anything clearly. Based almost entirely on this evidence, Armstrong was acquitted.[13]
Lincoln was involved in more than 5,100 cases in Illinois alone during his 23-year legal career. Though many of these cases involved little more than filing a writ, others were more substantial and quite involved. Lincoln and his partners appeared before the Illinois State Supreme Court more than 400 times.

Republican politics 1854–1860

Lincoln returned to politics in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which expressly repealed the limits on slavery's extent as determined by the Missouri Compromise (1820). Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, the most powerful man in the Senate, proposedpopular sovereignty as the solution to the slavery impasse, and incorporated it into the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Douglas argued that in a democracy the people should have the right to decide whether or not to allow slavery in their territory, rather than have such a decision imposed on them by Congress.[14]
In the October 161854, "Peoria Speech",[15], Lincoln first stood out among the other free soil orators of the day:[16]
[The Act has a] declared indifference, but as I must think, covert real zeal for the spread of slavery, I cannot but hate it. I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself. I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world — enables the enemies of free institutions, with plausibility, to taunt us as hypocrites — causes the real friends of freedom to doubt our sincerity, and especially because it forces so many really good men amongst ourselves into an open war with the very fundamental principles of civil liberty — criticizing the Declaration of Independence, and insisting that there is no right principle of action but self-interest.[17]
Drawing on remnants of the old Whig, Free Soil, Liberty and Democratic parties, he was instrumental in forming the new Republican Party. In a stirring campaign, the Republicans carried Illinois in 1854 and elected a senator. Lincoln was the obvious choice, but to keep the new party balanced he allowed the election to go to an ex-Democrat Lyman Trumbull.
In 1857-58, Douglas broke with President Buchanan, leading to a fight for control of the Democratic Party. Some eastern Republicans even favored the reelection of Douglas in 1858, since he had led the opposition to the Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. Accepting the Republican nomination for Senate in 1858, Lincoln delivered his famous speech: "'A house divided against itself cannot stand.'(Mark 3:25) 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."[18] The speech created an evocative image of the danger of disunion caused by the slavery debate, and rallied Republicans across the north.
The 1858 campaign featured the Lincoln-Douglas debates, a nationally famous contest on slavery. Lincoln warned that the "Slave Power" was threatening the values of republicanism, while Douglas emphasized the supremacy of democracy, as set forth in his Freeport Doctrine, which said that local settlers should be free to choose whether to allow slavery or not. Though the Republican legislative candidates won more popular votes, the Democrats won more seats, and the legislature reelected Douglas to the Senate. Nevertheless, Lincoln's eloquence transformed him into a national political star.
During the debates of 1858, the issue of race was often discussed. During a time period when few believed in racial egalitarianism, Stephen Douglas informed the crowds, "If you desire Negro citizenship… if you desire them to vote on an equality with yourselves… then support Mr. Lincoln and the Black Republican party, who are in favor of the citizenship of the negro."[19] Lincoln countered that he was "not in favor of bringing about in any way the social and political equality of the white and black races."[20] His opposition to slavery was opposition to theSlave Power, though this would change during the course of the Civil War.[21]
On May 9-10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur. At this convention, Lincoln received his first endorsement to run for the presidency.

Election of 1860

Lincoln in New York City the day of his famous Cooper Union speech,February 271860 by Mathew Brady
Entering the presidential nomination process as a distinct underdog, Lincoln was eventually chosen as the Republican candidate for the 1860 election for several reasons. His expressed views on slavery were seen as more moderate than those of rivals William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase. His "Western" origins also appealed to the newer states: other contenders, especially those with more governmental experience, had acquired enemies within the party and were weak in the critical western states, while Lincoln was perceived as a moderate who could win the West. Most Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the North was the aggrieved party as the Slave Power tightened its grasp on the national government. Yet despite his Southern connections (his in-laws owned slaves), Lincoln misunderstood the depth of the revolution underway in the South and the emergence of Southern nationalism. Throughout the 1850s he denied that there would ever be a civil war, and his supporters repeatedly rejected claims that his election would incite secession.[22]
"The Rail Candidate": Lincoln's 1860 candidacy is held up by the slavery issue (slave on left) and party organization (New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on right)Enlarge picture
"The Rail Candidate": Lincoln's 1860 candidacy is held up by the slavery issue (slave on left) and party organization (New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley on right)
Throughout the election, Lincoln did not campaign or give speeches. This was handled by the state and county Republican organizations, who used the latest techniques to sustain party enthusiasm and thus obtain high turnout. There was little effort to convert non-Republicans, and there was virtually no campaigning in the South except for a few border cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and Wheeling, Virginia; indeed, the party did not even run a slate in most of the South. In the North, there were thousands of Republican speakers, tons of campaign posters and leaflets, and thousands of newspaper editorials. These focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln's life story, making the most of his boyhood poverty, his pioneer background, his native genius, and his rise from obscurity. His nicknames, "Honest Abe" and "the Rail-Splitter," were exploited to the full. The goal was to emphasize the superior power of "free labor," whereby a common farm boy could work his way to the top by his own efforts.[23][24][25]
On November 61860, Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats, and John Bell of the newConstitutional Union Party. He was the first Republican president, winning entirely on the strength of his support in the North: he was not even on the ballot in nine states in the South, and won only 2 of 996 counties in the other Southern states. Lincoln gained 1,865,908 votes (39.9% of the total), for 180 electoral votes; Douglas, 1,380,202 (29.5%) for 12 electoral votes; Breckenridge, 848,019 (18.1%) for 72 electoral votes; and Bell, 590,901 (12.5%) for 39 electoral votes. There were fusion tickets in some states, but even if his opponents had combined in every state, Lincoln had a majority vote in all but two of the states in which he won the electoral votes and would still have won the electoral college and the election.

Presidency and the Civil War

Secession winter 1860–1861

As Lincoln's election became more likely, secessionists made it clear that their states would leave the Union. South Carolina took the lead, followed by six other cotton-growing states in the deep South. The upper South (DelawareMarylandVirginiaNorth CarolinaTennessee,KentuckyMissouri, and Arkansas) listened to and rejected the secessionist appeal. They decided to stay in the Union, though they warned Lincoln that they would not support an invasion through their territory. The seven Confederate states seceded before Lincoln took office, declaring themselves to be a new nation, the Confederate States of America. President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy.
President-elect Lincoln evaded possible assassins in Baltimore, and on February 231861, arrived in disguise in Washington, D.C. At his inauguration on March 41861, the German American Turners formed Lincoln's bodyguard; and a sizable garrison of federal troops was also present, ready to protect the capital from Confederate invasion and local insurrection.
A photograph of the March 4, 1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in front of United States Capitol.Enlarge picture
A photograph of the March 4,1861 inauguration of Abraham Lincoln in front of United States Capitol.
In his First Inaugural Address, Lincoln declared, "I hold that in contemplation of universal law and of the Constitution the Union of these States is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments," arguing further that the purpose of the United States Constitution was "to form a more perfect union" than the Articles of Confederation which were explicitlyperpetual, thus the Constitution too was perpetual. He asked rhetorically that even were the Constitution a simple contract, would it not require the agreement of all parties to rescind it?
Also in his inaugural address, in a final attempt to reunite the states and prevent the looming war, Lincoln supported the pending Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which had already passed Congress. This amendment, which explicitly protected slavery in those states in which it existed, was designed to appeal not to the Confederacy but to the critical border states. At the same time, Lincoln adamantly opposed theCrittenden Compromise, which would have permitted slavery in the territories. Despite support for the Crittenden compromise among some prominent Republicans (including William Seward), Lincoln denounced it saying that it "would amount to a perpetual covenant of war against every people, tribe, and state owning a foot of land between here and Tierra del Fuego."
By the time Lincoln took office, the Confederacy was an established fact, and no leaders of the insurrection proposed rejoining the Union on any terms. No compromise was found because a compromise was deemed virtually impossible. Buchanan might have allowed the southern states to secede, and some Republicans recommended that. However, conservative Democratic nationalists, such as Jeremiah S. Black,Joseph Holt, and Edwin M. Stanton had taken control of Buchanan's cabinet around January 11861, and refused to accept secession. Lincoln and nearly every Republican leader adopted this position by March 1861: the Union could not be dismantled. Believing that a peaceful solution was still possible, Lincoln decided to not take any action against the South unless the Unionists themselves were attacked first. This finally happened in April 1861.
Historian Allan Nevins argues that Lincoln made three miscalculations in believing that he could preserve the Union, hold government property, and still avoid war. He "temporarily underrated the gravity of the crisis," overestimated the strength of Unionist sentiment in the South and border states, and misunderstood the conditional support of Unionists in the border states.[26]

Fighting begins: 1861–1862

In April 1861, after Union troops at Fort Sumter were fired upon and forced to surrender, Lincoln called on the governors of every state to send detachments totaling 75,000 troops to recapture forts, protect the capital, and "preserve the Union," which in his view still existed intact despite the actions of the seceding states. Virginia, which had repeatedly warned Lincoln that it would not allow an invasion of its territory or join an attack on another state, responded by seceding, along with North CarolinaTennessee, and Arkansas.
The slave states of MissouriKentuckyMaryland, and Delaware did not secede, and Lincoln urgently negotiated with state leaders there, promising not to interfere with slavery. After the fighting started, he had rebel leaders arrested in all the border areas (especially in Maryland) and held in military prisons without trial. Over 18,000 were arrested, though none were executed. One, Clement Vallandigham, was exiled; but all of the remainder were released, usually after two or three months (seeEx parte Merryman).

Emancipation Proclamation

Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862 for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Use a cursor to identify who is in the picture.Enlarge picture
Lincoln met with his cabinet on July 22, 1862 for the first reading of a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. Use a cursor to identify who is in the picture.
In July 1862, Congress moved to free the slaves by passing the Second Confiscation Act. The goal was to weaken the rebellion, which was led and controlled by slave owners. While it did not abolish the legal institution of slavery (the Thirteenth Amendment did that), the Act showed that Lincoln had the support of Congress in liberating slaves owned by rebels. This new law was implemented with Lincoln's "Emancipation Proclamation."
Ending slavery was always a primary goal of the Lincoln administration. However, the American public was slow to embrace the idea. In a shrewdly penned letter to Horace Greeley, editor of The New York Tribune, Lincoln masked his goal of ending slavery by making it subservient to the cause of preserving the union:
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be restored; the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." ... My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.[27]
The Emancipation Proclamation, announced on September 22 and put into effect on January 11863, freed slaves in territories not under Union control. As Union armies advanced south, more slaves were liberated until all of them in Confederate hands (over three million) were freed. Lincoln later said: "I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper." The proclamation made the abolition of slavery in the rebel states an official war goal. Lincoln then threw his energies into passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to permanently abolish slavery throughout the nation.[28]
In September 1862, thirteen northern governors met in Altoona, Pennsylvania, at the Loyal War Governors' Conference to discuss the Proclamation and Union war effort. In the end, the state executives fully supported the president's Proclamation and also suggested the removal of General George B. McClellan as commander of the Union's Army of the Potomac.[29]
For some time, Lincoln continued earlier plans to set up colonies for the newly freed slaves. He commented favorably on colonization in the Emancipation Proclamation, but all attempts at such a massive undertaking failed. As Frederick Douglass observed, Lincoln was, "The first great man that I talked with in the United States freely who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color."[30]

Gettysburg Address

In spite of the fact that the Battle of Gettysburg was a Union victory, it was also the bloodiest battle of the war and dealt a great blow to Lincoln's war effort. As the Union Army decreased in numbers due to casualties, more soldiers were needed to replace the ranks. Lincoln's 1863 military drafts were considered "odious" among many in the north, particularly immigrants. The New York Draft Riots of July, 1863 were the most notable manifestation of this discontent.
Writing to Lincoln in September 1863, the Pennsylvania governor, Andrew Curtin, warned that political sentiments were turning against Lincoln and the war effort:
If the election were to occur now, the result would be extremely doubtful, and although most of our discreet friends are sanguine of the result, my impression is, the chances would be against us. The draft is very odious in the State... the Democratic leaders have succeeded in exciting prejudice and passion, and have infused their poison into the minds of the people to a very large extent, and the changes are against us.[31]
By November 1863, Lincoln was quite sensible of the fact that he desperately needed to do or say something that might revive popular support for the war effort. Operating in an era without TV, radio, or internet, Lincoln would have to get his message out via the press. His presence at the dedication of the Gettysburg cemetery would certainly draw reporters from around the country, and by means of their reports, Lincoln could speak to the nation. Hence, his decision to go to Gettysburg and urge the Union to highly resolve that the dead there "shall not have died in vain" was Lincoln's way of saying that if the Copperheads had their way, then the men who there gave the "last full measure of devotion" will have done so for no reason at all. In the Gettysburg Address, Lincoln was proposing a question: what would these men who died for this cause want us to do--quit now or finish the job? How the country answered this question would determine the 1864 election.
The political power of Lincoln's rhetoric was undeniable. Even a Copperhead with the misfortune of Mrs. Bixby would be moved by Lincoln's call to "be here dedicated to the unfinished work" that men like her sons had thus far so nobly advanced. Perhaps the most important political consequence of the power of the Gettysburg Address is that Lincoln indeed won the election in 1864, thus assuring that the war would continue until the victory had been achieved.

1864 election and second inauguration

After Union victories at GettysburgVicksburg and Chattanooga in 1863, overall victory seemed at hand, and Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant General-in-Chief ( March 121864). When the spring campaigns turned into bloody stalemates, Lincoln supported Grant's strategy of wearing down Lee's Confederate army at the cost of heavy Union casualties. With an election looming, he easily defeated efforts to deny his renomination. At the Convention, the Republican Party selected Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from the Southern state of Tennessee, as his running mate in order to form a broader coalition. They ran on the new Union Party ticket uniting Republicans and War Democrats.
The only known photographs of Lincoln giving a speech were taken as he delivered his second inaugural address. Here, he stands in the center, with papers in his hand.Enlarge picture
The only known photographs of Lincoln giving a speech were taken as he delivered his second inaugural address. Here, he stands in the center, with papers in his hand.
Nevertheless, Republicans across the country feared that Lincoln would be defeated. Acknowledging this fear, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that, if he should lose the election, he would nonetheless defeat the Confederacy by an all-out military effort before turning over the White House:[32]
This morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this Administration will not be re-elected. Then it will be my duty to so co-operate with the President elect, as to save the Union between the election and the inauguration; as he will have secured his election on such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterwards.[33]
Lincoln did not show the pledge to his cabinet, but asked them to sign the sealed envelope.
While the Democratic platform followed the Peace wing of the party and called the war a "failure," their candidate, General George B. McClellan, supported the war and repudiated the platform.
Lincoln provided Grant with new replacements and mobilized his party to support Grant and win local support for the war effort. Sherman's capture of Atlanta in September ended defeatist jitters; the Democratic Party was deeply split, with some leaders and most soldiers openly for Lincoln; the Union party was united and energized, and Lincoln was easily reelected in a landslide. He won all but two states, capturing 212 of 233 electoral votes.
On March 41865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, his favorite of all his speeches. At this time, a victory over the rebels was at hand, slavery was dead, and Lincoln was looking to the future.
Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether." With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.[34]

Conducting the war effort

“Running the ‘Machine’”: An 1864 political cartoon featuring Lincoln; William Fessenden, Edwin Stanton, William Seward and Gideon Welles take a swing at the Lincoln administrationEnlarge picture
“Running the ‘Machine’”: An 1864 political cartoon featuring Lincoln;William FessendenEdwin Stanton,William Seward and Gideon Wellestake a swing at the Lincoln administration
The war was a source of constant frustration for the president, and occupied nearly all of his time. He had a contentious relationship with General McClellan, who became general-in-chief of all the Union armies in the wake of the embarrassing Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and after the retirement ofWinfield Scott in late 1861. Despite his inexperience in military affairs, Lincoln wanted to take an active part in determining war strategy. His priorities were twofold: to ensure that Washington, D.C., was well defended; and to conduct an aggressive war effort in the hope of ending the war quickly and appeasing the Northern public and press. McClellan, a youthful West Point graduate and railroad executive called back to active military service, took a more cautious approach. He took several months to plan and execute his Peninsula Campaign, with the objective of capturing Richmond by moving the Army of the Potomac by boat to the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. McClellan's delay irritated Lincoln, as did his insistence that no troops were needed to defend Washington, D.C. Lincoln insisted on holding some of McClellan's troops to defend the capital, a decision McClellan blamed for the ultimate failure of the Peninsula Campaign.
McClellan, a lifelong Democrat who was temperamentally conservative, was relieved as general-in-chief after releasing his Harrison's Landing Letter, where he offered unsolicited political advice to Lincoln urging caution in the war effort. McClellan's letter incensed Radical Republicans, who successfully pressured Lincoln to appoint John Pope, a Republican, as head of the new Army of Virginia. Pope complied with Lincoln's strategic desire to move toward Richmond from the north, thus protecting the capital from attack. But Pope was soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the summer of 1862, forcing the Army of the Potomac to defend Washington for a second time. In response to his failure, Pope was sent to Minnesota to fight the Sioux.
An 1864 Mathew Brady photo depicts President Lincoln reading a book with his youngest son, TadEnlarge picture
An 1864 Mathew Brady photo depicts President Lincoln reading a book with his youngest son, Tad
Panicked by Lee's invasion of Maryland, Lincoln restored McClellan to command of all forces around Washington in time for the Battle of Antietam (September 1862). The ensuing Union victory enabled Lincoln to release his Emancipation Proclamation, but he relieved McClellan of his command shortly after the 1862 midterm elections and appointed Republican Ambrose Burnside to head the Army of the Potomac. Burnside had promised to follow through on Lincoln's strategic vision for a strong offensive against Lee and Richmond. After Burnside was stunningly defeated at FredericksburgJoseph Hookerwas given the command, despite his idle talk about the necessity for a military dictator to win the war and a past history of criticizing his commanders.[35] Hooker was routed by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863), and relieved of command early in the subsequent Gettysburg Campaignreplaced by George Meade.
After the Union victory at Gettysburg, Meade's failure to pursue Lee and months of inactivity for the Army of the Potomac persuaded Lincoln to bring in a western general, Ulysses S. Grant. Grant already had a solid string of victories in the Western Theater, including the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Responding to criticism of Grant, Lincoln was quoted as saying, "I cannot spare this man. He fights." Grant waged his bloody Overland Campaign in 1864 with a strategy of a war of attrition, characterized by high Union losses at battles such as the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, but by proportionately higher Confederate losses. His invasion campaign eventually bottled Lee up in the Siege of Petersburg, so that Grant could take Richmond, and bring the war to a close in the spring of 1865.
Lincoln, in a top hat, with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at AntietamEnlarge picture
Lincoln, in a top hat, with Allan Pinkerton and Major General John Alexander McClernand at Antietam
Lincoln authorized Grant to target civilians and infrastructure, hoping to destroy the South's morale and weaken its economic ability to continue fighting. This allowed Generals Sherman and Sheridan to destroy farms and towns in the Shenandoah ValleyGeorgia, and South Carolina. The damage caused bySherman's March to the Sea through Georgia totaled in excess of $100 million by Sherman's own estimate.[36]
Lincoln had a star-crossed record as a military leader, possessing a keen understanding of strategic points (such as the Mississippi River and the fortress city of Vicksburg) and the importance of defeating the enemy's army, rather than simply capturing cities. He had, however, limited success in motivating his commanders to adopt his strategies until late 1863, when he found a man who shared his vision of the war in Ulysses S. Grant. Only then could he insist on using African American troops and relentlessly pursue a series of coordinated offensives in multiple theaters.
Throughout the war, Lincoln showed a keen curiosity with the military campaigns. He spent hours at theWar Department telegraph office, reading dispatches from his generals. He visited battle sites frequently, and seemed fascinated by watching scenes of war. During Jubal Anderson Early's raid on Washington, D.C. in 1864, Lincoln had to be told to duck to avoid being shot while observing the battle.


Reconstruction began during the war as Lincoln and his associates pondered questions of how to reintegrate the Southern states and what to do with Confederate leaders and the freed slaves. Lincoln led the "moderates" regarding Reconstructionist policy, and was usually opposed by the Radical Republicans, under Thaddeus Stevens in the House and Charles Sumner and Benjamin Wade in the Senate (though he cooperated with these men on most other issues). Determined to find a course that would reunite the nation and not alienate the South, Lincoln urged that speedy elections under generous terms be held throughout the war in areas behind Union lines. His Amnesty Proclamation of December 81863, offered pardons to those who had not held a Confederate civil office, had not mistreated Union prisoners, and would sign an oath of allegiance.[37] Critical decisions had to be made as state after state was reconquered. Of special importance were Tennessee, where Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson as governor, and Louisiana, where Lincoln attempted a plan that would restore statehood when 10 percent of the voters agreed to it. The Radicals thought this policy too lenient, and passed their own plan, the Wade-Davis Bill, in 1864. When Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill, the Radicals retaliated by refusing to seat representatives elected from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee.[38]
On April 91865, Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, and the war was effectively over. The other rebel armies surrendered soon after, and there was no subsequent guerrilla warfare. Lincoln went to Richmond to make a public gesture of sitting atJefferson Davis's own desk, symbolically saying to the nation that the President of the United States held authority over the entire land. He was greeted at the city as a conquering hero by freed slaves, whose sentiments were epitomized by one admirer's quote, "I know I am free for I have seen the face of Father Abraham and have felt him." When a general asked Lincoln how the defeated Confederates should be treated, Lincoln replied, "Let 'em up easy."[39][40]

Home front

Redefining Republicanism

One of the last photographs of Lincoln, likely taken in February 1865Enlarge picture
One of the last photographs of Lincoln, likely taken in February 1865
Lincoln's powerful rhetoric defined the issues of the war for the nation, the world, and posterity. His extraordinary command of the English language was evidenced in the Gettysburg Address, a speech dedicating the cemetery at Gettysburg that he delivered on November 191863. The speech defied Lincoln's own prediction that "the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here." Lincoln's second inaugural address is also greatly admired and often quoted. In these speeches, Lincoln articulated better than anyone else the rationale behind the Union cause.
In recent years, historians have stressed Lincoln's use of and redefinition of republican values. As early as the 1850s, a time when most political rhetoric focused on the sanctity of the Constitution, Lincoln shifted emphasis to the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of American political values — what he called the "sheet anchor" of republicanism.[41] The Declaration's emphasis on freedom and equality for all, rather than the Constitution's tolerance of slavers, shifted the debate. As Diggins concludes regarding the highly influential Cooper Union speech, "Lincoln presented Americans a theory of history that offers a profound contribution to the theory and destiny of republicanism itself."[42] His position gained strength because he highlighted the moral basis of republicanism, rather than its legalisms.[43][44] Nevertheless, in 1861 Lincoln justified the war in terms of legalisms (the Constitution was a contract, and for one party to get out of a contract all the other parties had to agree), and then in terms of the national duty to guarantee a "republican form of government" in every state.[45] That duty was also the principle underlying federal intervention in Reconstruction.
In his Gettysburg Address Lincoln redefined the American nation, arguing that it was born not in 1789 but in 1776, "conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal." He declared that the sacrifices of battle had rededicated the nation to the propositions of democracy and equality, "that this nation shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth." By emphasizing the centrality of the nation, he rebuffed the claims of state sovereignty. While some critics say Lincoln moved too far and too fast, they agree that he dedicated the nation to values that marked "a new founding of the nation."[46]

Civil liberties suspended

During the Civil War, Lincoln appropriated powers no previous President had wielded: he used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial.

Domestic measures

Lincoln believed in the Whig theory of the presidency, which left Congress to write the laws while he signed them, vetoing only those bills that threatened his war powers. Thus, he signed the Homestead Act in 1862, making millions of acres of government-held land in the West available for purchase at very low cost. The Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, also signed in 1862, provided government grants for agriculturaluniversities in each state. The Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864 granted federal support for the construction of the United States' First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in 1869. Other important legislation involved economic matters, including the first income tax and higher tariffs. Also included was the creation of the system of national banks by the National Banking Acts of 1863, 1864, and 1865, which allowed the creation of a strong national financial system. Congress created and Lincoln approved the Department of Agriculture in 1862, although that institution would not become a Cabinet-level department until 1889.
The Legal Tender Act of 1862 established the United States Note, the first paper currency in United States history. This was done to increase the money supply to pay for fighting the war.
During the war, Lincoln's Treasury Department effectively controlled all cotton trade in the occupied South — the most dramatic incursion of federal controls on the economy.
In 1862, Lincoln sent a senior general, John Pope, to put down the "Sioux Uprising" in Minnesota. Presented with 303 death warrants for convicted Santee Dakota who had massacred innocent farmers, Lincoln affirmed 39 of these for execution (one was later reprieved).

Medical history

As a child, Lincoln was tall for his age. He reached his adult height of 6 feet 3.75 inches (1.924 m) no later than age 21. Friends noticed that his arms, legs, hands, and feet were long. Although well muscled as a young adult, he was always thin. Fragmentary evidence says he weighed 160–180 pounds before the Presidency, but lost weight while in the White House.
Based on Lincoln's unusual physical appearance, Dr. Abraham Gordon proposed in 1962 that Lincoln had Marfan syndrome.[47] Lincoln's unremarkable cardiovascular history and his normal visual acuity have been the chief objections to the theory, and today the diagnosis is considered unlikely.[48][49] Testing Lincoln's DNA for Marfan syndrome was contemplated in the 1990s, but was not done.
In 2007, Dr. John Sotos proposed that Lincoln had a marfan-like disease called multiple endocrine neoplasia, type 2B (MEN2B or MEN 2B).[50] This theory suggests that Lincoln had all the major features of the disease: (1) a marfan-like body shape, (2) large, bumpy lips, (3) constipation, (4) muscular hypotonia, (5) a family history of the disorder (his sons EddieWillie, and Tad, and probably his mother), and (6) a history compatible with cancer. The "mole" on Lincoln's right cheek, the asymmetry of his face, his large jaw, his drooping eyelid, and "pseudo-depression" are also suggested as manifestations of MEN2B. Lincoln's longevity is the principal challenge to the MEN2B theory, which could be proven by DNA testing.
Other illnesses include:[51] frostbitten feetmalaria, traumatic unconsciousness, and smallpox. Claims that Lincoln had syphilis about 1835 have been controversial,[52][53] but a recent analysis finds them credible.[54]


Further information: Abraham Lincoln's burial and exhumation
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln; From left to right: Henry Rathbone, Clara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes BoothEnlarge picture
The assassination of Abraham Lincoln; From left to right: Henry RathboneClara Harris, Mary Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth
Originally, John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, had formulated a plan to kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners. After attending an April 11 speech in which Lincoln promoted voting rights for blacks, an incensed Booth changed his plans and determined to assassinate the president.[55] Learning that the President and First Lady, together with the Grants, would be attending Ford's Theatre, he laid his plans, assigning his co-conspirators to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward.
Without his main bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, to whom he related his famous dream regarding his own assassination, Lincoln left to attend the play Our American Cousin on April 141865. As a lone bodyguard wandered, and Lincoln sat in his state box (Box 7) in the balcony, Booth crept up behind the President and waited for the funniest line of the play, hoping the laughter would muffle the noise of the gunshot. When the laughter began, Booth jumped into the box and aimed a single-shot, round-slug .44 caliber Henry Deringer at his head, firing at point-blank range. Major Henry Rathbone momentarily grappled with Booth but was cut by Booth's knife. Booth then leapt to the stage and shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (Latin: "Thus always to tyrants") and escaped, despite a broken leg suffered in the leap.[56] A twelve-day manhunt ensued, in which Booth was chased by Federal agents (under the direction of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton). He was eventually cornered in a Virginia barn house and shot, dying of his wounds soon after.
Lincoln's funeral train carried his remains, as well as 300 mourners and the casket of his son, William, 1,654 miles (2,661 km) to IllinoisEnlarge picture
Lincoln's funeral train carried his remains, as well as 300 mourners and the casket of his son, William, 1,654 miles (2,661 km) to Illinois
An army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale, initially assessed Lincoln's wound as mortal. The President was taken across the street from the theater to the Petersen House, where he lay in a coma for nine hours before he died. Several physicians attended Lincoln, including U.S. Army Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes of the Army Medical Museum. Using a probe, Barnes located some fragments of Lincoln's skull and the ball lodged 6 inches (15 cm) inside his brain. Lincoln never regained consciousness and was officially pronounced dead at 7:22:10 a.m. April 151865 at the age of 56. There is some disagreement among historians as to Stanton's words after Lincoln died. All agree that he began "Now he belongs to the..." with some stating he said "ages" while others believe he said "angels."[56] After Lincoln's body was returned to the White House, a brain-only autopsy was performed, and his body was prepared for hislying in repose in the East Room. He was the first president to be assassinated or to lie in state.
The Army Medical Museum, now named the National Museum of Health and Medicine, has retained in its collection several artifacts relating to the assassination. Currently on display are the bullet that was fired from the Philadelphia Deringer pistol, the probe used by Barnes, pieces of Lincoln's skull and hair, and the surgeon's cuff stained with Lincoln's blood.
Lincoln's body was carried by train in a grand funeral procession through several states on its way back to Illinois.[56] While much of the nation mourned him as the savior of the United States, Copperheads celebrated the death of a man they considered an unconstitutional tyrant. The Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, is 177 feet (54 m) tall and, by 1874, was surmounted with several bronze statues of Lincoln. To prevent repeated attempts to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for ransom, Robert Todd Lincoln had Lincoln exhumed and reinterred in concrete several feet thick in 1901.
With over 120 photographs taken of him, Lincoln was the most photographed man in the United States up to the time he was assassinated.

Presidential appointments

Administration and cabinet

Lincoln was known for appointing political rivals to high positions in his cabinet to keep in line all factions of his party — and to let them battle each other and not combine against Lincoln. Historians agree that except for Simon Cameron, it was a highly effective group.
Portrait of Lincoln by George P.A. HealyEnlarge picture
Portrait of Lincoln by George P.A. Healy
The Lincoln Cabinet
PresidentAbraham Lincoln1861 – 1865
Vice PresidentHannibal Hamlin1861 – 1865
Andrew Johnson1865
Secretary of StateWilliam H. Seward1861 – 1865
Secretary of TreasurySalmon P. Chase1861 – 1864
William P. Fessenden1864 – 1865
Hugh McCulloch1865
Secretary of WarSimon Cameron1861 – 1862
Edwin M. Stanton1862 – 1865
Attorney GeneralEdward Bates1861 – 1864
James Speed1864 – 1865
Postmaster GeneralMontgomery Blair1861 – 1864
William Dennison1864 – 1865
Secretary of the NavyGideon Welles1861 – 1865
Secretary of the InteriorCaleb B. Smith1861 – 1862
John P. Usher1863 – 1865

Supreme Court

Lincoln appointed the following Justices to the Supreme Court of the United States:

Major presidential acts

Signed as President

States admitted to the Union

Religious and philosophical beliefs

Further information: Abraham Lincoln and religion
In March 1860 in a speech in New HavenConnecticut, Lincoln said, with respect to slavery, “Whenever this question shall be settled, it must be settled on some philosophical basis. No policy that does not rest upon some philosophical public opinion can be permanently maintained." The philosophical basis for Lincoln’s beliefs regarding slavery and other issues of the day require that Lincoln be examined "seriously as a man of ideas." Lincoln was a strong supporter of the American Whig version of liberal capitalism who, more than most politicians of the time, was able to express his ideas within the context of Nineteenth Century religious beliefs.[57]
There were few people who strongly or directly influenced Lincoln’s moral and intellectual development and perspectives. There was no teacher, mentor, church leader, community leader, or peer that Lincoln would credit in later years as a strong influence on his intellectual development. Lacking a formal education, Lincoln’s personal philosophy was shaped by "an amazingly retentive memory and a passion for reading and learning." It was Lincoln’s reading, rather than his relationships, that were most influential in shaping his personal beliefs.[58][59]
Lincoln did, even as a boy, largely reject organized religion, but the Calvinistic "doctrine of necessity" would remain a factor throughout his life. In 1846 Lincoln described the effect of this doctrine as "that the human mind is impelled to action, or held in rest by some power, over which the mind itself has no control."[60] In April 1864, in justifying his actions in regard to Emancipation, Lincoln wrote, "I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years struggle the nation's condition is not what either party, or any man devised, or expected. God alone can claim it."[61]
As Lincoln matured, and especially during his term as president, the idea of a divine will somehow interacting with human affairs more and more influenced his public expressions. On a personal level, the death of his son Willie in February 1862 may have caused Lincoln to look towards religion for answers and solace.[62] After Willie’s death, in the summer or early fall of 1862, Lincoln attempted to put on paper his private musings on why, from a divine standpoint, the severity of the war was necessary:
The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both may be, and one must be, wrong. God cannot be for and against the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God's purpose is something different from the purpose of either party—and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaptation to effect his purpose. I am almost ready to say this is probably true—that God wills this contest, and wills that it shall not end yet. By his mere quiet power, on the minds of the now contestants, He could have either saved or destroyed the Union without a human contest. Yet the contest began. And having begun He could give the final victory to either side any day. Yet the contest proceeds.[63]
Lincoln’s religious skepticism was fueled by his exposure to the ideas of the Lockean Enlightenment and classical liberalism, especiallyeconomic liberalism.[58] Consistent with the common practice of the Whig party, Lincoln would often use the Declaration of Independenceas the philosophical and moral expression of these two philosophies.[64] In a February 221861 speech at Independence Hall in Philadelphia Lincoln said,
I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence. … It was not the mere matter of the separation of the Colonies from the motherland; but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that in due time the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of all men. This is a sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence.[65]
He found in the Declaration justification for Whig economic policy and opposition to territorial expansion and the nativist platform of theKnow Nothings. In claiming that all men were created free, Lincoln and the Whigs argued that this freedom required economic advancement, expanded education, territory to grow, and the ability of the nation to absorb the growing immigrant population.[66]
It was the Declaration of Independence, rather than the Bible, that Lincoln most relied on in order to oppose any further territorial expansion of slavery. He saw the Declaration as more than a political document. To him, as well as to many abolitionists and other antislavery leaders, it was, foremost, a moral document that had forever determined valuable criteria in shaping the future of the nation.[67]

Legacy and memorials

Further information: Cultural depictions of Abraham Lincoln
While Lincoln is usually portrayed bearded, he first grew a beard in late 1860, at the suggestion of 11-year-old Grace Bedell and othersEnlarge picture
While Lincoln is usually portrayed bearded, he first grew a beard in late 1860, at the suggestion of 11-year-old Grace Bedell and others
Lincoln's death made the President a martyr to many. Repeated polls of historians have ranked Lincoln as among the greatest presidents in U.S. history, often appearing in the first position. Among contemporary admirers, Lincoln is usually seen as personifying classical values of honesty and integrity, as well as respect for individual and minority rights, and human freedom in general.
Many American organizations of all purposes and agendas continue to cite his name and image, with interests ranging from the gay rights-supporting Log Cabin Republicans to the insurance corporationLincoln National Corporation. The Lincoln automobile is also named after him. The ballistic missilesubmarine Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) and the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) were named in his honor. Also, the Liberty ship SS Nancy Hanks was named for his mother. During the Spanish Civil War, the American faction of the International Brigades named themselves the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.
Lincoln has been memorialized in many city names, notably the capital of NebraskaLincoln, Illinois, is the only city to be named for Abraham Lincoln before he became President. Lincoln's name and image appear in numerous places. These include the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Lincoln $5 bill and the Lincoln cent, Lincoln's sculpture on the Mount Rushmore, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. In addition, New Salem, Illinois (a reconstruction of Lincoln's early adult hometown), Ford's Theatre, and Petersen House (where he died) are all preserved as museums. The Lincoln Shrine in Redlands, California, is located behind the A.K. Smiley Public Library. The state nickname for Illinois is Land of Lincoln.
Counties in 19 U.S. states (ArkansasColoradoIdahoKansasMaineMinnesotaMississippiMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew Mexico,OklahomaOregonSouth DakotaTennesseeWest VirginiaWashingtonWisconsin, and Wyoming) are named after Lincoln.
Abraham Lincoln's birthday, February 12, was formerly a national holiday, now commemorated as Presidents' Day. However, it is still observed in Illinois and many other states as a separate legal holiday, Lincoln's Birthday. A dozen states have legal holidays celebrating the third Monday in February as 'Presidents' Day' as a combination Washington-Lincoln Day.
To commemorate his upcoming 200th birthday in February 2009, Congress established the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission (ALBC) in 2000. Dedicated to renewing American appreciation of Lincoln’s legacy, the 15-member commission is made up of lawmakers and scholars and also features an adivsory board of over 130 various Lincoln historians and enthusiasts. Located at Library of Congress inWashington, D.C., the ALBC is the organizing force behind numerous tributes, programs and cultural events highlighting a two-year celebration scheduled to begin in February 2008 at Lincoln’s birthplace: HodgenvilleKentucky.
Lincoln's birthplace and family home are national historic memorials: the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in Hodgenville, and the Lincoln Home National Historic Site in Springfield, Illinois. The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum opened in Springfield in 2005; it is a major tourist attraction, with state-of-the-art exhibits. The Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery is located inElwood, Illinois.

Electoral history

Illinois' 7th congressional district, 1846[68]
  • Abraham Lincoln (Whig) - 6,340 (55.53%)
  • Peter Cartwright (D) - 4,829 (42.29%)
  • Elihu Walcott (Liberty) - 249 (2.18%)
1856 Republican National Convention (Vice Presidential tally)[69]:
Illinois United States Senate election, 1858[70]:
1860 Republican National Convention (Final Results on 3rd Ballot)[71]:
United States presidential election, 1860
United States presidential election, 1864

See also


  1. ^ Goodwin 2005, p. 91
  2. ^ Holzer 2004, p. 232
  3. ^ Tracy Bouvé, Thomas (1893).History of the Town of Hingham, MassachusettsHarvard University.
  4. ^ Donald 1995, pp. 28, 152
  5. ^ Lincoln Trail Homestead State Park. Abraham Lincoln Online. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  6. ^ Abraham Lincoln, The Physical Man. Lincoln Portrait. Retrieved on2008-05-21.
  7. ^ Sandburg 1974, p. 10
  8. ^ Thomas 1952, pp. 32–34
  9. ^ Basler 1946, p. 551
  10. ^ Protest in Illinois Legislature on SlaveryUniversity of Michigan Library(1937-03-03). Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  11. ^ A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774 - 1875Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  12. ^ Donald 1995, §6
  13. ^ Donald 1995, pp. 150–51
  14. ^ Donald 1995, §7
  15. ^ Speech at Peoria, October 16,. Abraham Lincoln and Freedom. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  16. ^ Lincoln at Peoria. Abraham Lincoln at Peoria. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  17. ^ Basler 1955, p. 255
  18. ^ Lincoln, Abraham (June 1858). A House Divided Against Itself Cannot StandNational Center for Public Policy Research. Retrieved on2008-05-21.
  19. ^ Douglas, Stephen A. (1858-08-21).First Debate with Stephen A. DouglasNational Park Service. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  20. ^ Lincoln, Abraham (1858-09-18).Fourth Debate with Stephen A. DouglasNational Park Service. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  21. ^ Donald 1995, §8
  22. ^ Boritt, Gabor S. (1997-05-29). Why the Civil War CameOxford University Press, 3–30. ISBN 0195113764.
  23. ^ Thomas 1952, p. 216
  24. ^ Luthin, Reinhard H. (December 1987). The First Lincoln Campaign. Peter Smith Publishing. ISBN 0844612928.
  25. ^ Nevins, Allan (1992-09-30). Ordeal of the Union Vol. 4Charles Scribner's Sons. ISBN 0020354452.
  26. ^ Nevins, Allan (1971-09-01). The War for the Union Volume I.....The Improvised War 1861-1862. Konecky & Konecky, 29. ISBN 1568522967.
  27. ^ Letter to Horace Greeley. Abraham Lincoln Online. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  28. ^ Letter to Albert G. Hodges. Abraham Lincoln Online (1864-04-04). Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  29. ^ Pulling, Anne Frances (2001-06-11).AltoonaArcadia Publishing, 10. ISBN 0738505161.
  30. ^ Douglass, Frederick (April 2001).The Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. Digital Scanning. ISBN 1582183678.
  31. ^ Curtin, Andrew G. (1863-09-03).Andrew G. Curtin to Abraham Lincoln, Friday, September 04, 1863 (Politics in Pennsylvania)Library of Congress. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  32. ^ Grimsley, Mark (2001-03-01). The Collapse of the Confederacy.University of Nebraska Press, 80. ISBN 0803221703.
  33. ^ Basler 1955, p. 514
  34. ^ Basler 1955, p. 333
  35. ^ Joseph Hooker. Civil War Home. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
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  37. ^ Proclamation of Amnesty.Bartleby.com (1863). Retrieved on2008-05-21.
  38. ^ Donald 1995, §20
  39. ^ Donald 1995, pp. 576, 580
  40. ^ President Lincoln Enters Richmond, 1865. Eyewitness to History. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  41. ^ Jaffa 2000, p. 399
  42. ^ Diggins, John P. (1986-08-15). The Lost Soul of American Politics: Virtue, Self-Interest, and the Foundations of LiberalismUniversity of Chicago Press, 307. ISBN 0226148777.
  43. ^ Foner 1970, p. 215
  44. ^ McPherson 1992, pp. 61–64
  45. ^ Jaffa 2000, p. 263
  46. ^ Wills 1993, p. 39
  47. ^ "Gordon AM. Abraham Lincoln" (March 1962). Kentucky Medical Association (60): 249–53. PMID 13900423.
  48. ^ Marion, Robert (February 1994).Was George Washington Really the Father of Our Country?: A Clinical Geneticist Looks at World History. Perseus Books, 88–124. ISBN 0201622556.
  49. ^ Ready, Tinker (1999). "Access to presidential DNA denied". Nature Medicine 5 (859).
  50. ^ Sotos, JG (2008). The Physical Lincoln: Finding the Genetic Cause of Abraham Lincoln's Height, Homeliness, Pseudo-Depression, and Imminent Cancer DeathMount VernonVA: Mt. Vernon Book Systems.
  51. ^ Maladies and Conditions. Doctor Zebra. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  52. ^ Vidal, Gore (February 1991). "Communications". American Historical Review: 324–326.
  53. ^ Fehrenbacher, Don E. (February 1991). "Communications". American Historical Review: 326–328.
  54. ^ Sotos, JG (2008). The Physical Lincoln SourcebookMount Vernon,VA: Mt. Vernon Book Systems, 318–326.
  55. ^ Harrison, Lowell Hayes (2000).Lincoln of KentuckyUniversity Press of Kentucky, 3–4. ISBN 0813121566.
  56. a b c Townsend, George Alfred (1865). The Life, Crime and Capture of John Wilkes BoothNew York:Dick and Fitzgerald.
  57. ^ Guelzo 1999, pp. 18–19
  58. a b Guelzo 1999, p. 20
  59. ^ Miller 2002, pp. 57–59
  60. ^ Donald 1995, p. 15
  61. ^ Donald 1995, p. 514
  62. ^ Wilson 1999, pp. 251–254
  63. ^ Wilson 1999, p. 254
  64. ^ Guelzo 1999, p. 194
  65. ^ Jaffa 2000, p. 258
  66. ^ Guelzo 1999, pp. 194–195
  67. ^ Miller 2002, p. 297
  68. ^ IL District 7. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  69. ^ US Vice President - R Convention. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on2008-05-21.
  70. ^ IL US Senate. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.
  71. ^ US President - R Convention. Our Campaigns. Retrieved on 2008-05-21.


  • Basler, Roy P. (1946), Abraham Lincoln: His Speeches and Writings.
  • Basler, Roy P. (1955), Collected Works of Abraham LincolnNew Brunswick, NJRutgers University Press
  • Donald, David Herbert (1995), Lincoln, ISBN 0-684-82535-X.
  • Foner, Eric (1970), Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men: The Ideology of the Republican Party before the Civil War
  • Jaffa, Harry V. (2000), A New birth of Freedom: Abraham Lincoln and the Coming of the Civil War, ISBN 0-8476-9952-8.
  • Goodwin, Doris Kearns (2005), Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, ISBN 0-684-82490-6.
  • Guelzo, Allen C. (1999), Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, ISBN 0-8028-3872-3, <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=99466893>
  • Holzer, Harold (2004), Lincoln at Cooper Union: The Speech That Made Abraham Lincoln President.
  • McPherson, James M. (1992), Abraham Lincoln and the Second American Revolution.
  • Miller, William Lee (2002), Lincoln's Virtues: An Ethical Biography, ISBN 0-375-40158-X
  • Sandburg, Carl (1974-10-23), Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and The War Years, Harvest Books, ISBN 0156026112.
  • Thomas, Benjamin P. (1952), Abraham Lincoln: A Biography, <http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=25051697>.
  • Wills, Garry (1993), Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America, ISBN 0-671-86742-3.
  • Wilson, Douglas L. (1999), Honor's Voice: The Transformation of Abraham Lincoln.

Further reading

  • Isaac N. ArnoldThe Life of Abraham Lincoln (1885), written by Lincoln's friend and political ally
  • William H HerndonLincoln
  • Beveridge, Albert JAbraham Lincoln: 1809-1858 (1928). 2 vol. to 1858; notable for strong, unbiased political coverage online edition
  • Richard Carwardine. Lincoln: A Life of Purpose and Power ISBN 1-4000-4456-1 (2003), winner of the 2004 Lincoln Prize from Gettysburg College
  • William E. Gienapp. Abraham Lincoln and Civil War America: A Biography by ISBN 0-19-515099-6 (2002), short online edition
  • John Hay & John George NicolayAbraham Lincoln: a History (1890); online at Volume 1 and Volume 2 10 volumes in all; highly detailed narrative of era written by Lincoln's top aides
  • Reinhard H Luthin The Real Abraham Lincoln (1960), emphasis on politics
  • Mark E. Neely. The Abraham Lincoln Encyclopedia (1984), detailed articles on many men and movements associated with AL
  • Mark E. Neely. The Last Best Hope of Earth: Abraham Lincoln and the Promise of America (1993), Pulitzer prize winning author
  • Ralph G. Newman [editor]. Lincoln for the Ages (1960), Doubleday and Company, New York. Seventy eight articles by distinguished authors
  • Stephen B. Oates. With Malice Toward None: The Life of Abraham Lincoln (1994)
  • James G. Randall. Lincoln the President (4 vol., 1945–55; reprint 2000.) by prize winning scholar
    • Mr. Lincoln excerpts ed. by Richard N. Current (1957) online edition
  • Ingri and Edgar Parin d'AulaireAbraham Lincoln (1939), for children
  • John C. Waugh. One Man Great Enough: Abraham Lincoln’s Road to Civil War ISBN 978-0-15-101071-4 (2007), Harcourt
  • John C. Waugh. Reelecting Lincoln: The Battle for the 1864 Presidency ISBN 0-517-59766-7 (1997), Crown Publishers
Specialty topics
  • Angle, Paul M., Here I Have Lived: A History of Lincoln's Springfield, 1821-1865, (1935) online edition
  • Baker, Jean H. Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography (1987) online edition
  • Belz, Herman. Abraham Lincoln, Constitutionalism, and Equal Rights in the Civil War Era (1998)
  • Boritt, Gabor S. Lincoln and the Economics of the American Dream (1994). Lincoln's economic theory and policies
  • Boritt, Gabor S. ed. Lincoln the War President (1994)
  • Boritt, Gabor S., ed. The Historian's Lincoln U. of Illinois Press, 1988, historiography
  • Bruce, Robert V. Lincoln and the Tools of War (1956) on weapons development during the war online edition
  • Bush, Bryan S. Lincoln and the Speeds: The Untold Story of a Devoted and Enduring Friendship (2008) ISBN 0979880262
  • Chittenden, Lucius E.Recollections of President Lincoln and His Administration, (1891). – Google Books
  • Donald, David Herbert. Lincoln Reconsidered: Essays on the Civil War Era (1960)
  • Donald, David Herbert. We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends Simon & Schuster, (2003).
  • Guelzo, Allen C., Lincoln and Douglas: The Debates that Defined America, Simon & Schuster (2008). ISBN-13: 978-0743273206
  • Harris, William C. With Charity for All: Lincoln and the Restoration of the Union (1997). AL's plans for Reconstruction
  • Hendrick, Burton J. Lincoln's War Cabinet (1946) online edition
  • Hofstadter, Richard. The American Political Tradition: And the Men Who Made It (1948) ch 5: "Abraham Lincoln and the Self-Made Myth"
  • Lea, James Henry, The Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln, Houghton Mifflin (1909) [1]
  • Marshall, John A., " American Bastille" (1870) Fifth edition: A History of the Illegal Arrests and Imprisonment of American Citizens in the Northern and Border States on Account of Their political opinions during the late Civil War. Part 1
  • McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era (1988). Pulitzer Prize winner surveys all aspects of the war
  • Morgenthau, Hans J., and David Hein. Essays on Lincoln's Faith and Politics. White Burkett Miller Center of Public Affairs at the U of Virginia, 1983.
  • Neely, Mark E. The Fate of Liberty: Abraham Lincoln and Civil Liberties (1992). Pulitzer Prize winner. online version
  • Ostendorf, Lloyd, and Hamilton, Charles, Lincoln in Photographs: An Album of Every Known Pose, Morningside House Inc., 1963, ISBN 089029-087-3.
  • Paludan, Philip S. The Presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1994), thorough treatment of Lincoln's administration
  • Peterson, Merrill D. Lincoln in American Memory (1994). how Lincoln was remembered after 1865
  • Polsky, Andrew J. "'Mr. Lincoln's Army' Revisited: Partisanship, Institutional Position, and Union Army Command, 1861–1865."Studies in American Political Development (2002), 16: 176-207
  • Randall, James G. Lincoln the Liberal Statesman (1947)
  • Richardson, Heather Cox. The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republican Economic Policies during the Civil War (1997)
  • Shenk, Joshua Wolf. Lincoln's Melancholy: How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness (2005)
  • Kenneth P. Williams. Lincoln Finds a General: A Military Study of the Civil War (1959) 5 volumes on Lincoln's control of the war
  • Williams, T. Harry. Lincoln and His Generals (1967).
  • Wilson, Douglas L. Lincoln's Sword: The Presidency and the Power of Words(2006) ISBN 1-4000-4039-6.
Lincoln in art and popular culture
  • DiLorenzo, Thomas (2002). The Real Lincoln. ISBN 0-7615-2646-3.
  • Lauriston, Bullard. F. (1952). Lincoln in Marble and Bronze. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
  • Mead, Franklin B. (1932). Heroic Statues in Bronze of Abraham Lincoln: Introducing The Hoosier Youth by Paul Manship. Fort Wayne, Indiana: The Lincoln National Life Foundation.
  • Moffatt, Frederick C. (1998). Errant Bronzes: George Grey Barnard's Statues of Abraham Lincoln. Newark, DE: University of Delaware Press.
  • Murry, Freeman Henry Morris [1916] (1972). Emancipation and the Freed in American Sculpture. Freeport, NY: Books For Libraries Press, the Black Heritage Library Collection.
  • Petz, Weldon (1987). Michigan's Monumental Tributes to Abraham Lincoln. Historical Society of Michigan.
  • Redway, Maurine Whorton; Bracken, Dorothy Kendall (1957). Marks of Lincoln on Our Land. New York: Hastings House, Publishers.
  • Savage, Kirk (1997). Standing Soldiers, Kneeling Slaves: Race War and Monument in Nineteenth Century America. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press.
  • Tice, George (1984). Lincoln. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press.
In fiction
  • Robert Emmet Sherwood; Abe Lincoln in Illinois: A Play in Twelve Scenes (1939) online version
  • Gore VidalLincoln ISBN 0-375-70876-6, a novel.
In film and television
Primary sources
  • Lincoln, Abraham (2000). in ed by Philip Van Doren Stern: The Life and Writings of Abraham Lincoln. Modern Library Classics.
  • Fehrenbacher, Don E., ed. Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1832-1858 (Library of America, ed. 1989) ISBN 978-0-94045043-1
  • Fehrenbacher, Don E., ed. Abraham Lincoln: Speeches and Writings 1859-1865 (Library of America, ed. 1989) ISBN 978-0-94045063-9

External links

Project Gutenberg eTexts

United States House of Representatives
Preceded by
John Henry
Member from Illinois's
7th congressional district

March 41847 – March 31849
Succeeded by
Thomas L. Harris
Political offices
Preceded by
James Buchanan
President of the United States
March 41861 – April 151865
Succeeded by
Andrew Johnson
Party political offices
Preceded by
John C. Frémont
Republican Party presidential candidate
Succeeded by
Ulysses S. Grant
Honorary titles
Preceded by
Henry Clay
Persons who have lain in state or honor
in the United States Capitol rotunda

April 191865 – April 211865
Succeeded by
Thaddeus Stevens

NAMELincoln, Abraham
SHORT DESCRIPTION16th President of the United States of America
DATE OF BIRTHFebruary 121809
PLACE OF BIRTHHardin County, Kentucky
DATE OF DEATHApril 151865
PLACE OF DEATHWashington, D.C.

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