Abraham Lincoln: Most-Admired President of the United States
Abraham Lincoln, one of the greatest heroes and icons of the United States, was also a lawyer and civil rights activist before becoming the US President. Rising from an ordinary status to the helm of the country, Abraham Lincoln was instrumental in shaping and developing the nation in various ways. His leadership qualities and unique approach helped the US become a force to reckon with during his tenure and in future, too. Lincoln is also famous for his relentless efforts for the freedom of all the slaves in his country. It distinguished him among other stalwarts of the US and till his death he devoted himself for the benefit of humanity.
Today, he is remembered as a person who fought against all kinds of odds in his lifetime to keep the US flag flying high.
Early Life of Abraham Lincoln
Born on February 12, 1809, in a poor family of Lincolns (residing in a single-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky), Abraham was the second child of his parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln. Within a span of few years, due to land-related issues and slavery, they left the place and moved to the north along the Ohio River as it was a non-slave territory. At the age of nine, Lincoln lost his mother due to milk sickness. That was when his elder sister Sarah took charge of the family and continued doing so until Thomas Lincoln remarried in 1819.
His father's new wife was Sarah Bush Johnston, a widowed mother of three children. He was much close to his stepmother. It's only when he developed interest in reading books, such as Bible, Aesop Fables, life of Robinson Crusoe, and others that his love for education blossomed. However, he did not get enough opportunity to have formal education in schools, but his self-education is an example of how a man can overcome all sorts of odds if he genuinely wants to achieve something.
Young Abraham worked in many places and endured many hardships during those phases. For example, his job as a shopkeeper, surveyor or even a postmaster demanded much of him as he was devoid of any formal education. For a brief period, he even split firewood with an axe to earn his livelihood. As he grew, he became more responsible and discharged all his responsibilities toward the house effectively.
After facing all the possible adversities in life, Abraham Lincoln eventually decided to become a lawyer and enter the world of law. He studied on his own as he was never a regular student of any school. Books like Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and others helped Abraham gain insight into the world of law. And, over a period of time, Lincoln became a famous and well-accepted lawyer and was instrumental in solving several critical cases. During the time, he also became associated and worked with prominent lawyers such as Stephen T. Logan and William Herndon.
When Abraham moved to New Salem, he met Ann Rutledge who became his first love interest. Though not married, they were in a relationship. Unfortunately Ann Rutledge presumably died of typhoid at a young age of 22 on August 25, 1835. Lincoln courted Mary Owens from Kentucky for a brief period of time, but both ended the courtship after giving second thoughts to the relationship.
After that Lincoln found his life partner in Mary Todd, who belonged to a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington, Kentucky. The couple had four sons - Robert Todd Lincoln born in 1843, Edward Baker Lincoln in 1846, Willie Lincoln born in 1850 and Thomas Tad Lincoln in 1853. Out of the four, only the eldest son Robert survived and went on to have children of his own. The deaths of their sons shocked Mary to such an extent that she had to be admitted in a mental asylum for some period and Abraham Lincoln himself suffered from some clinical depression in the form of melancholy.
Foray into Politics
Although the political career of Abraham Lincoln was short, but in that limited span, he made a mark with his vision and mission. He served a single term in the US House of Representatives from the year 1847 to 1849. He expressed his opinions against the Mexican-American War, however, his very criticism of the war made him largely unpopular. He abandoned his political career and returned to Springfield to work as a lawyer. He ran the US Congress in 1845 for one term after winning in the election.
After the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed in 1854, violent protests ensued in Kansas and Illinois giving rise to the Republican Party. This sparked the political passion in Lincoln and he joined the Republican Party in 1856. In 1860, there surfaced a campaign to support Lincoln for the presidency. After much debate, on November 6, 1860, he was elected as the 16th president of the USA although the southern states did not want him as the president because they differed from his policies.
The Civil War
April 12, 1861 saw the start of Civil War at Fort Sumter in South Carolina only a month after Lincoln became the president. Abraham Lincoln was very much determined to keep the integrity of the state and was against any such divisions. He deployed the army to defeat the south and it took four years to stop the war. Till then, 600,000 American people died and many were injured. The good part is despite all sorts of opposition Lincoln was able to hold the country together at any cost. In 1865, General Robert E Lee surrendered in Virginia to end the Civil War. Lincoln was quite enthusiastic in rebuilding the nation and extended his helping hands to the southern provinces, which were mostly affected.
In between the war, on January 1, 1863, Abraham Lincoln issued the famous Emancipation Proclamation - an order to free the slaves from many shackles. Although all the slaves were not freed immediately, but the process started and its execution also took place at the earliest. In the same year, Abraham Lincoln gave a short speech known as Gettysburg Address, which is considered one of the best ever in the US history till date.
Lincoln - Douglas Debate became a famous topic of discussion in the United States. Abraham Lincoln challenged Douglas to a number of debates and debated him on seven different times. On many issues, they agreed, but on the morality of slavery, they differed as Lincoln believed that slavery should not be spread any further. Despite all his efforts, Lincoln lost the state election to Douglas.
Years as US President
November 6, 1860 was a remarkable day for Abraham Lincoln when he was elected as the 16th President of the USA by defeating Southern Democrats and Constitutional Union Party. The first president from Republican part, Lincoln won due to sheer support from the West and the North despite the fact that the South was totally against him. As the president, Lincoln tactically supported Corwin Amendments passed in 1861 to protect the nation against slavery. Although the South was against him, but he did not hold any grudge and went on improving this province. Lincoln created a solid cabinet team and some of his political rivals were also included there as he always believed in the theory, "Hold your friends close and your enemies closer."
The main achievement during his tenure as the president of the US was of course the handling of the Civil War that happened from 1861 to 1865. The Emancipation Proclamation was yet another order issued by which so many slaves were freed and he was ushered with lots of praise and affection. Abraham Lincoln was instrumental in passing the Homestead Act, where squatters could take up to 160 acres of land after living for more than five years.
Abraham Lincoln Assassination
In the year 1863, Abraham Lincoln favored the policy of fast reunification with a minimum of retribution. But the Republicans confronted him in the Senate as well as in the House and while discussions were going on, Abraham Lincoln was shot at on April 14, 1865, at Ford's Theater in Washington DC. The assassin was John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate activist. Lincoln was in coma for nine hours and died the next morning. A funeral train took him to his resting place, Springfield, Illinois. It was said that his favorite horse, Old Bob, towed his funeral hearse.
Booth was on the run and after 12 days, he was finally traced at a farm in Virginia. He refused to surrender to the Union Troops and was killed by Sergeant Boston Corbett on April 26, 1865. Although Lincoln was scorned and ridiculed by many people during his role as the president, but after his death he became a household name in the United States. His efforts bore fruit and finally after years of hard work and dedication, the Republic endured while slavery perished.
Today, Abraham Lincoln is considered the best and the most admired president ever in the United States not only for his hard work in various fields, but also due to low-key presence and amiable nature with all sorts of people.
Some Interesting Facts about Abraham Lincoln
- Incidentally, Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president ever with a height of six feet and four inches.
- He was instrumental in setting up the national banking system while he was the U.S. president. He even started the Agriculture Department.
- Abraham Lincoln features on the $5 bill and one penny coin.
- Many monuments have been named in his honor. Some of these include the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum located in Springfield, Illinois.
- Abraham Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated.
- In his 1863 Proclamation, Lincoln called upon Americans to observe the last Thursday of November as a day of Thanksgiving. This was basically to celebrate the victories in the ongoing civil war.
Abraham Lincoln was re- elected to the post in 1864 and the end of the War was being heralded by the Union military triumphs. Abraham Lincoln was soft flexible in his approach towards the Southerners and encouraged them to join the union.
In 1865 on the 14th of April, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, an actor who believed that Lincoln was assisting the South.
Last Updated on: September 28th, 2017