Presidential Number: 16th
Years he was President: 1861-1865
State Represented: Illinois
Party Affiliation: Republican
Fact(s): He had to struggle for a living. Lincoln’s mom died when he was 9. He loved to read.
Birthday: February 12, 1809
School(s) attended: Did not attend college, but read at home.
Wife: Mary Lincoln
Occupation(s) before he was President: Store clerk, rail-splitter, lawyer
Other way(s) he served: Congressman
Height: 6 feet 4 inches, tallest president
Favorite Foods: Fruit salad, cheese, crackers
Hobbies or Sports: Walking, wrestling
Life in America
How would he have traveled? Horse and carriage, train
How would he have communicated with his friends? Letter, telegram
U.S. Population when term began: 31,443,321
Number of stars on flag when he left office: 36
The Compelling Story of Abraham Lincoln…
President Abraham Lincoln – one of the most influential men in history. Click on picture to learn about him.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin, located on a farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky (a state that permitted slavery at the time).
When he was only nine years old, his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died. A year later, his father, Thomas Lincoln, remarried a woman named Sarah Bush, who had a tremendous influence on the young Abraham Lincoln.
To support his family, Abraham had to work at a neighboring farm. Working denied him the opportunity to go to school, so the total amount of formal education he received was less than one year.
Although his formal education ended very quickly, his self-education was just beginning. An avid reader, he read everything he could get his hands on, studying a variety of subjects, such as mathematics, literature and law. Eventually this self-educated man became a lawyer.
Lincoln had a very strong desire to make a difference, so he entered politics. In August, 1832, he finished eighth out of 13 in a race for the Illinois House of Representatives.
Abraham believed that the government should be a positive force, whose goal was to serve the people. He reasoned that in order for him to have significant influence and impact on the government, he must achieve a high position in government — preferably the position of the President of the United States. This goal eventually became his burning desire.
In 1834, while practicing law in a firm he had established with several partners, Lincoln ran for and won a seat in the Illinois Legislature. He served a four-year term, and he soon developed a reputation as a capable and honest politician.
Unfortunately, over the next decade he experienced numerous business and political setbacks. But unlike most people, Lincoln did not let any of these challenges — including a business and personal bankruptcy — discourage him from going after his dreams.
On November 4, 1842, he married Mary Todd Edwards, and they had four children over the next 12 years. In 1836, Lincoln won an election to Congress. It was during this time that he took an unpopular stand against President James K. Polk regarding the Mexican War. Abraham thought the war was unjust.
Because Lincoln’s viewpoints were so different from many other government officials, he became unpopular among them.
After his term ended in 1849, Lincoln took the next five years off from politics and focused on his law practice. Again, he encountered more business setbacks. But again, he persisted, and did not let “so-called” failures discourage him.
In 1854, he returned to the political arena. One of the first things he did was to oppose the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which threatened to extend slavery to other states.
In 1855, he ran for the Senate but was defeated. The next year he went after the Vice Presidency position, and was also defeated.
With so many failures, a lot of people, in Lincoln’s position, probably would have given up. But because he was determined and committed to make his political dreams come true, he would get up each time he was knocked down. He knew the only way to gain ground, to move forward, to march on, and to turn his goals into reality, was to learn from his setbacks and failures.
He Pressed On!
Finally, in 1860, Lincoln’s years of persistence and hard work paid off when he was elected the 16th President of the United States.
Sadly, at this time the states were no longer united. The South depended on slavery for its prosperity, so when the North opposed the extension of slavery into the new western states, the southern states broke away and formed their own union.
As the newly elected president, Lincoln decided that the original Union must be saved at all costs — even if it meant a civil war. In 1861, the Civil War began.
On November 19, 1863, on a battle field near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, President Lincoln presented to the people his vision for a nation conceived in liberty, where everyone is created equal. This speech became known as the Gettysburg Address and it has shaped the destiny of the United States of America.
By the time the Civil War ended in 1865, after four long years, it had cost the lives of half a million Americans. But the Union was saved, the slaves were freed, and President Lincoln’s lifelong dream was realized.
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln went with his wife to the Ford Theater in Washington, DC, to celebrate the end of the Civil War. Halfway through the play, John Wilkes Booth, an actor who resented the northern victory and the liberation of North America’s slaves, shot and killed President Lincoln.
Following Lincoln’s death, the Secretary of War, Edwin M. Stanton, declared: “Now he belongs to the ages.”
Today, the spirit of President Lincoln still lives in our memories and it continues to guide us toward creating a nation, and a world, where everyone is treated equally… regardless of our unique differences.