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Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Abraham Lincoln[2†]

Abraham Lincoln, also known as Honest Abe, The Great Emancipator, and The Rail-splitter, was born on February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Kentucky, U.S[1†]. He served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865[1†][2†]. Lincoln is remembered for his significant role in preserving the Union during the American Civil War and bringing about the emancipation of enslaved people in the United States[1†][2†].

Early Years and Education

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring farm, south of Hodgenville in Hardin County, Kentucky[3†]. His parents, who could neither read nor write, instilled in him a love of learning[3†][4†]. He had two siblings: Sarah Lincoln Grigsby and Thomas Lincoln, Jr[3†].

In 1811, due to a land title dispute, the family relocated to Knob Creek farm, eight miles to the north[3†]. By 1814, Thomas Lincoln, Abraham’s father, had lost most of his land in Kentucky in legal disputes over land titles[3†].

In 1816, the family moved to what became Indiana, where they settled in Hurricane Township, Perry County[3†]. Lincoln spent his formative years, from the age of 7 to 21, on the family farm in the Little Pigeon Creek community of Spencer County, in Southwestern Indiana[3†].

As was common on the frontier, Lincoln received a meager formal education, the accumulation of just under twelve months[3†]. However, Lincoln continued to learn on his own from life experiences, and through reading and reciting what he had read or heard from others[3†].

In October 1818, two years after their arrival in Indiana, nine-year-old Lincoln lost his birth mother, Nancy, who died after a brief illness known as milk sickness[3†]. Thomas Lincoln returned to Elizabethtown, Kentucky late the following year and married Sarah Bush Johnston on December 2, 1819[3†]. Lincoln’s new stepmother and her three children joined the Lincoln family in Indiana in late 1819[3†].

A second tragedy befell the family in January 1828, when Sarah Lincoln Grigsby, Abraham’s sister, died in childbirth[3†]. In March 1830, 21-year-old Lincoln joined his extended family in a move to Illinois[3†]. After helping his father establish a farm in Macon County, Illinois, Lincoln set out on his own in the spring of 1831[3†].

Career Development and Achievements

Abraham Lincoln’s career was marked by a series of significant milestones that shaped the course of American history[5†][1†][2†][6†][7†].

Lincoln’s political career began in the Illinois state legislature, where he served from 1834 to 1842[5†][1†]. His time in the legislature was marked by his opposition to slavery and his support for economic modernization[5†][1†].

In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served one term[5†][1†]. During his tenure, he became known for his opposition to the Mexican-American War and his stance against the expansion of slavery[5†][1†].

Lincoln returned to politics in 1854, spurred by his opposition to the Kansas-Nebraska Act, which allowed territories to decide whether to allow slavery[5†]. This led to his famous “House Divided” speech in 1858, in which he stated, "A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free,"[5†].

In 1858, Lincoln engaged in a series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas, a U.S. senator from Illinois[5†]. The Lincoln-Douglas debates focused on the issue of slavery and its extension into the territories of Kansas and Nebraska[5†]. Although Lincoln lost the Senate race to Douglas, the debates made him a national figure and set the stage for his presidential run[5†].

In the Presidential Election of 1860, Lincoln ran against Douglas and two other candidates[5†]. Despite having little to no support from the South, Lincoln won the presidency[5†]. His election led to the secession of several Southern states, marking the beginning of the American Civil War[5†].

As president, Lincoln led the United States through one of its most challenging periods[5†][1†][2†][6†][7†]. He defended the nation as a constitutional union, defeated the insurgent Confederacy, abolished slavery, expanded the power of the federal government, and modernized the U.S. economy[5†][2†].

Lincoln’s most notable achievements include the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which declared enslaved people in Confederate-held territory to be free, and the Gettysburg Address in 1863, a brief speech that has become one of the most famous in American history[6†].

Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865, just days after the Confederacy’s surrender[5†][1†]. His leadership during the Civil War and his commitment to ending slavery have cemented his legacy as one of the greatest U.S. presidents[5†][7†].

First Publication of His Main Works

Abraham Lincoln, despite not being a traditional author, has left a significant literary legacy. His speeches, letters, and other writings are considered some of the finest examples of American political rhetoric[8†][1†].

These works provide a glimpse into Lincoln’s mind and rhetorical genius. They show his ability to navigate complex political waters and his talent for expressing deep concepts in a way that the public could understand[8†][1†].

Analysis and Evaluation

Abraham Lincoln’s life and work have been the subject of extensive analysis and evaluation. His leadership during one of the most tumultuous periods in American history has been widely studied, with many lessons drawn from his life that are applicable to modern leaders[10†].

Lincoln’s leadership journey was marked by his ability to recognize crucial moments that demanded his leadership and his conscious decision to embrace the cause[10†]. His determination to succeed, discipline in focusing on what mattered, and ability to manage his emotions were key aspects of his leadership style[10†].

As an attorney, Lincoln earned a reputation for his ability to concentrate a jury’s attention on the few essential points of a case, a skill that demonstrates his discernment[10†]. This ability to identify and focus on the essential issues is a valuable lesson for leaders trying to accomplish a worthy mission[10†].

Lincoln’s speeches, such as the Emancipation Proclamation and the Gettysburg Address, are considered some of the finest examples of American political rhetoric[10†][11†]. His ability to navigate complex political waters and express deep concepts in a way that the public could understand is a testament to his rhetorical genius[10†][11†].

In terms of legacy, Lincoln is often portrayed as a self-made man, the liberator of the slaves, and the savior of the Union[10†][12†]. He is remembered as “Father Abraham,” a near-mythological hero, and a “Masterpiece of God” sent to save the Union[10†][12†]. His impact and legacy are widely recognized, with both historians and the public often ranking him as the nation’s greatest President[10†][12†].

Personal Life

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin in Kentucky on February 12, 1809[1†][4†]. His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, who were both illiterate[1†][4†]. Tragically, his mother died when Lincoln was just nine years old[1†][4†].

In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd[1†][2†][13†]. Their marriage was often rumored to be troubled, with many speculations focusing on Mary’s alleged mental illness[1†][13†]. The couple had four sons: Robert, Edward, Willie, and Thomas, also known as "Tad"[1†][2†][13†]. Unfortunately, only their eldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, lived to adulthood[1†][13†].

Despite the personal hardships he faced, Lincoln was known for his distinctively human and humane personality[1†][2†]. He was deeply religious, often using religious imagery and language[1†][2†]. His personal beliefs, however, have been a subject of much debate and speculation[2†].

Conclusion and Legacy

Abraham Lincoln’s presidency, from 1861 to 1865, was among the most momentous periods in America’s history[14†]. His leadership during the American Civil War and his role in the abolition of slavery left a nation changed forever[14†]. Lincoln’s legacy is one of preserving the Union and thus vindicating democracy[14†][12†]. His commitment to ending slavery, coupled with his exceptional political skills, resulted in the creation of a more perfect Union defined by liberty and economic equality[14†][12†].

Lincoln’s legacy of executive authority did not last beyond his death, and over the next forty years, both Congress and the courts overshadowed the White House in power and influence[14†][12†]. However, his impact and legacy continue to resonate today. According to a survey conducted by the Chicago Tribune in 1982, Lincoln was rated as the nation’s greatest President by forty-nine historians and political scientists[14†][12†]. They evaluated all Presidents through Jimmy Carter in five categories: leadership qualities, accomplishments/crisis management, political skills, appointments, and character/integrity[14†][12†]. Lincoln topped the list in every category[14†][12†].

His life was compared to Jesus Christ within days of his death, and he was portrayed to a worshipping public as a self-made man, the liberator of the slaves, and the savior of the Union who had given his life so that others could be free[14†][12†]. Lincoln became Father Abraham, a near mythological hero, “lawgiver” to African Americans, and a “Masterpiece of God” sent to save the Union[14†][12†].

Today, Lincoln is considered by most historians to be one of America’s greatest presidents[14†][15†]. His legacy includes some of the most visionary and important pieces of legislation in American history, including the Homestead Act of 1862[14†][15†]. This act distributed more than 270 million acres of land to homesteaders, charting the course of settlement and development of the American West[15†].

Key Information

References and Citations:

  1. Britannica - Abraham Lincoln: president of United States [website] - link
  2. Wikipedia (English) - Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  3. Wikipedia (English) - Early life and career of Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  4. National Geographic Kids - Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  5. Britannica - Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  6. The American Battlefield Trus - President Abraham Lincoln Biography [website] - link
  7. Totallyhistory.com - Abraham Lincoln's Accomplishments & Greatest Achievements [website] - link
  8. Learnodo Newtonic - 10 Major Accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  9. The Abraham Lincoln Association - The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  10. McKinsey - The leadership journey of Abraham Lincoln [website] - link
  11. Samplius - Analysis Of Abraham Lincoln's Speech [website] - link
  12. Miller Center - Abraham Lincoln: Impact and Legacy [website] - link
  13. ThoughtCo - Abraham Lincoln: Facts and Brief Biography [website] - link
  14. NEH-Edsitement - Lincoln’s Enduring Legacy [website] - link
  15. U.S. National Park Service - What is President Abraham Lincoln's Greatest Legacy? - Homestead National Historical Park [website] - link
  16. History - Abraham Lincoln: Facts, Birthday & Assassination [website] - link
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