Born on February 12, 1809, Abraham Lincoln began his life with humble beginnings. After being introduced to the world in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, Lincolns family moved around the modern Midwest, spending most of his childhood in Indiana before eventually winding up in Illinois, where he worked as a shopkeeper and postmaster before getting involved with politics. As a self-proclaimed member of the Whig Party, Lincoln won the local election in New Salem, Illinois to become a part of the Illinois State Legislature in 1834. The early part of Lincoln’s career was aimed at stopping the spread of slavery and agriculture, while simultaneously promoting the expansion of commerce and cities.
Lincoln would spend the following decade adding to his resume. He would teach himself law and pass the bar, move to Springfield where he would practice law and represent anyone and everyone, earning the nickname “Honest Abe”, and in 1946, Lincoln was elected to the United States House of Representatives, which began his ascent to the top of the national political landscape. When 1960 came around, the Republican Party chose Lincoln to be their nominee for President, where he defeated Stephen Douglas, John Breckenridge, and John Bell becoming the United States’ 16th President.
Lincoln is commonly referred to as the greatest president in our history, which quite the accomplishment based on his presidency being made up almost entirely of war and a split country. The era is defined by the Civil War, and Abraham Lincoln was the major figure of the event. After years of tension and Lincoln’s clear bias towards one side of the argument, it would come as little surprise that by the time Lincoln was inaugurated in March of 1861, seven southern stated had seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. The Civil War started when Lincoln ordered Union ships to bring supplies to Fort Sumter in South Carolina, when the fleet was attacked by the Confederate side.
Although Lincoln had very minimal military background, he learned quickly and appointed the correct generals to lead his charge, proving that the former lawyer could be a better than serviceable war time leader. The President’s most prominent role throughout the conflict was through his voice and influence. After the Battle of Antietam at the end of 1862, Lincoln issued an Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in the rebellious states. His main goal was to preserve the Union, but with slavery as the main point of contempt between the sides, Lincoln took a clear position and stuck with it. After clear and decisive victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg, the tide was beginning to flow towards a Union victory. The Gettysburg Address was published in November of 1863, which became Lincoln’s most famous speech, with talking points of the founding fathers and the pursuit of Human Equality.
Even though victory was clear and he had every reason to have disdain against the rebellious states, upon his reelection in 1864, Lincoln reiterated that he wanted to welcome the states back with open arms in his second inaugural address, and that reconstruction was the new goal – “with malice toward none; with charity for all.” Nearly a month after this speech, on April 14 1965, Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. and died the next morning. Honest Abe never saw the victory that he earned and the reconstruction he desired, but that does not take away from him being the main reason that both occurred.