Abraham Lincoln was a man who was best known for bolding standing against the difficult problems of his day. Issues such as slavery, negro social and political rights, and saving the Union in a nation based on the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln had many strength as well as flaws. He considered himself a common man and was not interested in his ancestry. Lincoln was a self educated man, who had never had a full year of schooling in his life. But, the 16th President of the United States became “a casualty of conflict”.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. He was born to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. In 1816, the Lincoln’s moved from Kentucky to across the Ohio River to Indiana. His father left Kentucky “partly on account of slavery; but chiefly on account of the difficulty in land titles in Ky. ” Early on in life Lincoln had religious reasons for disliking slavery. His family was Separate Baptists who adhered to a strict code of morality that condemned profanity, intoxication, gossip, horse racing, dancing, and slavery.
October 5, a little over a year after living in Indiana, Lincoln’s mother died of a devastating outbreak of what was called “milk sickness”, along with several other relatives. The hardest years of Lincoln’s life were yet to follow. After a short time it became apparent that Thomas Lincoln could not cope with his family by himself. Thomas went back to Kentucky to seek a wife. He married Sarah Bush Johnson. They made a businesslike arrangement for her to move to Indiana to take care of his family and for him to pay for her debts. Sarah Lincoln’s arrival marked a turning point in Abraham Lincoln’s life.
Sarah brought her three children of her own into the Lincoln family. The Lincoln children felt that they had joined the world of luxury when Sarah brought knives, forks, spoons, tables and chairs, and comfortable bedding. But most of all she brought the love. Although Sarah was illiterate, she felt that it was important for the children to be educated. Lincoln became adept at writing and reading. And almost from the beginning he a became a leader. These years of Lincoln’s childhood were short. He grew up in tough economic times. Out of necessity Abraham was worked very hard on the family farm.
He was even hired out to work for other farmers and by law Thomas Lincoln was entitled to Abraham’s earnings until he came of age. Abraham began distancing himself from his father in his teenage years. As soon as Lincoln was legally able to leave his fathers house he did. In March 1832, Lincoln announced himself a candidate for the state legislature. Lincoln was twenty-three and had settled in New Salem, where he was a clerk in a small country store. He was a young man with limited formal education and no government working experience. He campaigned well, but in the end the votes were counted and Lincoln ran eighth out of thirteen candidates.
In 1834 he entered his second race for the state legislature. Lincoln received 1376 votes, placing him the second highest candidate and was elected. In 1840, Lincoln decided not to run for re-election. In 1842 he married Mary Todd. They were noted as being a remarkable couple. He was tall, thin, and self-conscious, and she was average height, fashionably overweight, with radiant eyes, and a turned up nose. In 1850s, Lincoln was the most sought-after attorneys in Illinois. He had the reputation as lawyer’s lawyer. He earned the respect of his colleagues. Yet Lincoln never used the law for personal gain.
Lincoln was honest in real life as in legend. He was even know by his enemies a incorruptible. In 1858 Lincoln attempted to get a seat in the Senate. His opponent was Stephen Douglas. Douglas and Lincoln rebutted each other speeches, turning into a challenge by Lincoln that was known as the Lincoln Douglas Debates. Lincoln made his now famous House Divided speech. Lincoln said “A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe that this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. ” Lincoln ended up losing the election to Douglas, but in turn gained a national name.
In 1860 he was nominated as the candidate for the Republican party. By the time he took the oath of office a new country was forming. No other president in history has ever been asked to “preserve, protect, and defend the constitution and nation” to the level that Lincoln was asked. Lincoln’s first inaugural address was one of conciliation and peace. He was an opponent of slavery. He felt that it was his duty to save the Union. The Emancipation Proclamation freed all the slaves in the rebellious states. But it was not until the 13th amendment that slavery was abolished nationally.
In his second inaugural address Lincoln set an example that all Presidents are still measure by for eloquence and brevity. During Lincoln’s presidency, the Civil War broke out. For Lincoln the country was out of control. Falling into a depression that would plague him throughout his life. Lincoln underwent endless crises that would have shattered a weaker man. Lincoln was a president that lacked administrative experience, suffered from depression, and was thrust into the middle of the Civil War. Lincoln became a tough wartime President. He flexed his powers whenever necessity demanded. He became a “warrior for the American dream”.
Putting aside he hate for bloodshed and violence, Lincoln derived a plan along with Sherman’s army to storm through and end the war. He did this as the surest way to end the killing and salvage the American dream. Lee surrendered his forces at Appomatox Courthouse on April 10, 1865. Four days later Lincoln was shot by an assassins bullet, while attending a play at the Ford’s Theater. John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, enter the president’s theater box, and at a distance of about two feet shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Booth escaped by jumping down on to the stage and escaped through the rear of the theater.
Twenty-one men carried Lincoln out of the theater to a boarding house down the street. Lincoln never regained consciousness. At 7:22 p. m. , April 15, 1865, President Lincoln was pronounced dead. It was not until April 26 that Booth was tracked down to a farm in Virginia, where he was shot. American innocence died with Booth’s shot at Ford’s Theater. Lincoln would not live to see the peace that he had strived 4 long years for. We will always wonder what Lincoln would have done for this country if he had not died. Instead, we will always ponder what was lost that night at the Ford’s Theater, what ended there and what began.