Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in 1809. His parents were frontier farmers, so Lincoln was born in a log cabin and barely knew how to read and write.
The family moved to Indiana, where his mother died when Abe was nine, and then moved to Illinois. Lincoln suffered from poverty and bad luck. Lincoln had little education, but had a thirst for knowledge, so he read several books. Abe loved to read, tell stories, talk, laugh, almost anything but work.
Lincoln held many jobs from a log-splitter to running a store to surveying. He earned his nickname "Honest Abe" because he had walked six miles to return a few cents to a woman he had overcharged. Lincoln finally found his career in law in the town of Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln was more concerned with gaining justice for his clients than making money. And he loved to talk to people.
During the time before the Civil War, Lincoln was drawn into politics because of what was happening in the United States. He served four terms in the Illinois state legislature and one term as Illinois delegate to the House of Representatives. Lincoln gained national attention when he challenged Stephen Douglas for the senate seat from Illinois. The two men were engaged in a series of debates, which would later be called the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
Lincoln was a Republican who opposed the spread of slavery into the new territories, and he was a powerful speaker. Although Douglas was more experienced, Lincoln was able to appeal to anti-slavery voters with his message.
Lincoln lost the senate campaign, but became a well- known Republican candidate.
In the election of 1860, the Republicans choose Lincoln as their candidate for President. He wins the election with 40 percent of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote becoming the sixteenth President of the United States.
Lincoln had said in 1858 that, "A house divided against itself cannot stand," and within weeks, the first states left the Union and the Civil War began.
Abraham Lincoln made a call for volunteers to put down the rebellion in the southern states and "preserve the Union" by force. Lincoln believed the United States was one nation, not a collection of states.
He took those United States through four long years of war, and issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all the slaves in the South. This changed the focus of the war from preserving the Union to freeing the slaves.
In November of 1863, Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address, while dedicating a portion of that battlefield as a National Cemetery.
His spoke for less than five minutes, but his words described a new vision of America where a government "of the people, by the people, and for the people shall not perish from the earth."
The Union won the war on April 9, 1865, but five days later, while Abraham Lincoln watched a play in Fords' Theatre, he is shot in the back of the head.
The assassin, John Wilkes Booth, was a southern who wanted revenge against Lincoln for the war. Booth escaped the theatre, but was later shot and killed. Lincoln died the next morning, April 15, 1865.
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