Abraham Lincoln – History Lesson 65 Essay

Being born into a rich farming family is a wonderful blessing… unless your name is “Abraham Lincoln”.

Born in 1809 to Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, Abraham grew up in a rich family living in a farming community, and they were one of the richest farming families in Hardin County, Kentucky! However, by the year 1816, his father lost almost all of his land titles in a legal dispute. The Lincolns were forced to move. They relocated to Perry County, Indiana by the time Abraham was 8 years old. They squatted on public land, where they lived in a crime shelter and hunted game for food, as well as farming a small plot of land. Thomas was eventually able to buy the land.

When Abraham was 9 years old, Nancy Lincoln died of Tremetol (milk sickness caused by drinking milk from an infected animal). Because of this, his father placed more work on him and Abe became alienated from his father.

Abraham did have 2 siblings, a sister and a brother. Both, however, died in infancy. Abe was the only child to survive into adulthood.

Abraham was self-taught. He taught himself to read and write. In total, he had 18 months worth of education, taken a few days or weeks at a time. He often travelled miles to borrow a single book.

In 1830, Abraham moved with his family to Macon County, Illinois (county seat is Decatur; east of Springfield). Thomas tried to relocate Abe and himself to Coles County, later on, but 22 year-old Abraham wanted nothing to do with it. He struck out on his own, living off of manual labor. He eventually migrated to New Salem, IL as a general store owner. Here, he honed in on his talent of storytelling and social skills that made him popular with the locals.

Around the year 1834, he decided to make a living in law practice. He studied and was eventually admitted to the bar in 1837. It was there when he moved to Springfield, Illinois and began to practice law in the John T. Stuart firm.

In 1841, he met and got involved in a relationship with a woman by the name of “Mary Todd”. Abe broke off the relationship but they met again a year later. They got engaged and were quickly married. Together, they had four children. Abe was a very affectionate, but often absent, father.

Lincoln served one therm in congress starting in 1846, but he then returned to Illinois to develop his law practice. In 1854, he returned to politics, helping build up the new Republican party in Illinois. And, being great orator, he began giving speeches. In some of these speeches, he debated Senator Douglas with topics revolving around slavery. Different newspapers often sided with either Douglas or Lincoln, and often portrayed one as better than the other. Lincoln lost the debate, but the widespread news coverage gained him national recognition.

In 1860, he gained the Republican nomination for president, based entirely on a book he wrote after losing the debate with Douglas. He won the election based solely on the north and west states, but none from 10 out of 15 southern states, although he was considered a moderate on slavery. After the Confederate attack on Ft. Sumter, President Lincoln turned his attention to reuniting the splintered nation.

Lincoln welcomed the challenge of the Civil War. He studied many tactics of war, becoming a good strategist. He ran the country more efficiently than several of his lead generals lead the war!

The “Emancipation Proclamation” of 1862 was Lincoln’s first solid decision to support the abolition. He declared that all slaves “henceforward shall be free”.

Lincoln was convinced that he’d be a one-term president, as his enemy, George B. McClellan, was running for presidency. Turns out Lincoln had nothing to worry about! The contest wasn’t even close. Lincoln received 55% of the popular vote and 212 of 243 Electoral votes!

On April 9, 1865, C.S.A. General Robert E. Lee, Commander of the Army of Virginia, surrendered his forces to U.S.A. General Ulysses S. Grant. This war, for all intents and purposes, was over.

On April 14, 1865, while America was still fragilely recovering from the Civil War, a well-known actor and Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, went into Ford’s Theater in Washington D. C. Lincoln was shot by Booth. Although he survived in a coma for nine hours, Lincoln died the following morning. A funeral train took him to his present resting place in Springfield, Illinois.

 

~ Brianna

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