Abraham Lincoln. was one of the truly great men on all time as the 16th President of the United States, an American politician and lawyer, who led the United States during the Civil War (1861-1865), which was the greatest crisis in US history. Lincoln helped ended slavery in the nation and helped keep the American Union from splitting apart during the war. Lincoln thus believed that he proved to the world that democracy can be a lasting form of government.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, second inaugural address, and many of his other speeches and writings are basic statements of democratic beliefs and goals. In conducting a bitter war, Lincoln never became bitter himself. He showed a nobility of character that has worldwide appeal. Lincoln, a Republican, was the first member of his party to become President. Until he was assassinated near the end of the Civil War and was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson.
He had become in the eyes of the world equal in importance to George Washington. Through the years, many people have regarded Lincoln as the greatest person in United States history. During the Civil War, Lincoln’s first task was to win the war. He had to view nearly all other matters in relation to the war. But Lincoln was a peace-loving man who had earlier described military glory as “that attractive rain bow, that rises in showers of blood that serpent’s eye that Charms to destroy”.
The Civil War was by far the bloodiest war in US history. In the Battle of Gettysburg, for example, the more than 45,000 total casualties (people killed, wounded, captured or missing) exceeded the number of casualties in all previous Americans wars put together. Lincoln became a remarkable war leader. Some historians believe he was the chief architect of the Union’s victorious military strategy. This strategy called for Union armies to advance against the enemy on all fronts at the same time. Lincoln also insisted that the objective of the Union armies should be the destruction of opposing forces, not the conquest of territory. Lincoln changed generals several times because he couldn’t find one who would fight the war the way he wanted it fought. When he finally found such a general, Ulysses S. Grant, Lincoln stood firmly behind him.
Lincoln’s second great task was to keep up Northern morale through the horrible war in which many relatives in the North and South fought against one another. He understood that the Unions resources vastly exceeded those of the Confederacy, and that the Union would eventually triumph if it remained dedicated to victory. For this reason, Lincoln used his great writing and speech making abilities to spur on his people. If the Union had been destroyed, the US could have become two, or possibly more, nations. These nations separately couldn’t have become as prosperous and important as the United States is today. By preserving the Union, Lincoln influenced the course of world history. By ending slavery in the country, he helped assure the moral strength of the United States. His own life story, too, has been important. Lincoln rose from humble origin to the nation’s highest office. Millions of people regard Lincoln’s career as proof that democracy offers all people the best hope of a full and free life.
Life in the United States during Lincoln’s Administration revolved around the war. But almost miraculously, the nation also laid out a blueprint for modern American during the war years. Economic development played an important role in Lincoln’s vision of America’s future, in which all people would have the right to rise in life. National Banking legislation provided for paper money as we know it today and for federal controls to assure sound banking and credit. US tariffs on European manufactured goods helped limit foreign competition and encouraged the growth of American industry. The Administration encouraged labor unions. The government’s homestead laws gave free land to settlers. Immigration was encouraged, as was the settlement of the West. Land was also granted for colleges that later became great state universities and for the construction of the nation’s first transcontinental railroad. In addition, the nation’s first income tax was levied to provide funds for the war. Lincoln, has been ranked both by scholars and the public as among the greatest US President of all time in American history.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 180, in Hardin, which is now Larue, Kentucky, live in a log cabin near Hodgenville, KY. His father, Thomas Lincoln & grandfather Abraham, were born in Rockingham county Virginia, whittler their ancestors had come from Berks County Pennsylvania. Since Lincoln’s time, his ancestry has been traced to a weaver named Samuel Lincoln who emigrated from Hingham, England, to Hingham, Massachusetts in 1637. Samuel Lincoln founded the Lincoln family in America.
The families of several of his children played important parts in Massachusetts history. A descendants of Mordecai Lincoln, son of Samuel, moved to New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia. One was a great great grandson named Abraham. This Abraham Lincoln was the grandfather of the future President. He owned a farm in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia during the Revolutionary War. In 1782, he and his wife and five small children traveled to the wilderness of Kentucky, until an Indian killed him there in 1786 during the Northwest Indian War.
One of his sons, Thomas Lincoln, became the father of the future President. In later years, Abraham Lincoln said his father was “a wandering laboring boy, and grew up literally without education”.
Thomas Lincoln worked as a frontier farm had during most of his youth. But he learned enough skill at woodworking to earn a living as a carpenter. In 1806, when he was 28 years old, he married Nancy Hawks.
She came from what her son described as a “undistinguished” Virginia family of humbia, ordinary people. Thomas and Nancy lived in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for the first 18 months of their marriage. Their first child, Sarah was born in 1807. Next year Thomas Lincoln bought a farm on the South Fork of the Nolin River, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) South of Elizabethtown. Abraham Lincoln was born on this farm in 1809.
The Lincolns lived for two years on the farm where Abraham was born. Then they moved to a farm on Knob Creek, 10 miles (16 kilometers) away. When Sarah and Abraham could be spared from their chores, they went to a log school house. There the children learned reading, writing, and arithmetic. Many people believe that because Lincoln began his life in a log cabin, he was born in poverty. But many people then lived in log cabins. The Lincolns were as comfortable as most of their neighbors, and Abraham and Sarah were well fed and well clothed for the times. A third child, Thomas, died in infancy.
Thomas Lincoln had trouble over property rights throughout his years in Kentucky. In 1816, he decided to move to Indiana, where people could buy land directly from the government. Besides, Thomas Lincoln didn’t believe in slavery, and Indiana had no slavery. The Lincoln’s loaded their possessions into a wagon. They travel northward to the Ohio River and were ferried across. Then they traveled through the thick forests to Spencer County, in Southwestern Indiana. There, Thomas Lincoln began the task of changing 160 acres (65 hectares) of forest land into a farm.
The Lincolns found life harder in Indiana than in Kentucky. They arrived early in winter, and needed shelter at once. Thousand his son built a three-sided structure made of logs, called a “half-faced camp”. A fire on the fourth side burned night and day. Soon after finishing this shelter, the boy and his father began to build a log cabin. The family moved into it in February 1817. Bears and other wild animals roamed the forest of this remote region. Trees had to be cut and fields cleared so that a crop could be planted. Although Abraham was only 8, he was large for his age and had enough strength to swing an ax. For as long as he lived in Indiana he was seldom without his ax. He later called it “that most useful instrument.”
Slowly, life became happier on the farm. But sadly, in October 1818, Nancy Lincoln died of what the pioneers called “milk sickness”.
The illness was probably caused by poison in the milk of cows that had eaten snakeroot. Thomas buried his wife among the trees on a hill near the cabin. Life on the farm became dull and cheerless after the death of Nancy Lincoln.
Sarah now 12, kept the house as well as she could more than a year. Then Thomas Lincoln returned to Kentucky for a visit.
While there, on December 2, 1819, he married Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow. He had known her before her first marriage.
The new Mrs. Lincoln brought along her three children, aged 12, 8, and 5.
Her arrival at the cabin in Indiana ended the long months of loneliness.
Abraham Lincoln grew from a boy of 7 to a man of 21 on the wild Indiana frontier. His education can best be described in his own words: “There were some schools, so called: but no qualification was ever required of a teacher, beyond readin, writin, and cipher in, to the Rule of Three.
If a straggler supposed to understand Latin, happened to sojourn in the neighborhood he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three, but that was all”.
Lincoln’s formal schooling totaled less than a year. Books and paper were scarce on the frontier. Like other boys and girls of his time, Lincoln made his own arithmetic textbook. Several of its pages still exist.
Abraham often worked his arithmetic problems on boards, then shaved the boards clean with a draw knife, and used then again and again. He would walk a great distance for a book. The few he could borrow were good ones. They included Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s, Progress, and Aesop’s Fables.
Lincoln also borrowed a history of the United Sates and a schoolbook or two. In 1823, when Abraham was 14, his parents joined the Pigeon Creek Baptist Church. There was bitter rivalry among Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, and other demonization.
This help explains why Lincoln never joined any church, and why he never attended church regularly. Yet he became a man of deep religious feelings. He came to know the Bible thoroughly. Biblical references and quotations enriched his later writings and speeches. As President, he kept a Bible on his desk and often opened it for comfort and guidance. Another book also impressed Lincoln deeply, which he told about it years later in a speech before the New Jersey Senate, called Life of Washington.
Youth on the Frontier
Abraham reached his fall height of 6 feet 4 inches (193 centimeters) long before he was 20. He was thin and awkward, big-boned and strong. The young man developed great strength in his chest and legs, and especially in his arms. He had a Lonely face and dark skin. His hair was black and course, and stood on end. Even as a boy, Lincoln shoved ability as a speaker. He often amused himself and others by imitating some preacher or politician who had spoken in the area. People liked to gather at the general store in the crossroads village of Gentry Ville.
Lincoln’s gift for telling stories made him a favorite with the people there. In spite of his youth, he was well known in his neighborhood. A boy of Lincoln’s size and strength had no trouble finding had work. People always needed great piles of cut wood for cooking and for warmth. He could split logs for fence rails. He could plow fields, cut and husk corn, and thresh wheat with a flail. Lincoln worked for a neighbor when his father could spare him. The Ohio River, 15 miles away, attracted Lincoln strongly. The first money he earned was for rowing passengers to a steamboat in midstream. In 1828, he helped take a flatboat loaded with farm produce to New Orleans. The trip gave him his first view of the world beyond his own community. That same year, his sister Sarah died from child birth.
In 1830, Thomas Lincoln decided to move again. The years in Indiana hadn’t been successful for Thomas and his family. The dreaded milk sickness was again striking down settlers. Relatives in Illinois sent ward of deep, rick, black soil on the tree less prairies. The Lincolns and several other families started west. They reached their destination two weeks later, and settled 10 miles west of Decatur, on the north bank of the Sangamon River.
Lincoln was now 21, and free to strikeout for himself. But he remained with his father one money year. He helped plant the first crop, and split rails for a cabin and fences. He worked for neighboring settlers during the winter. In the spring of 1831, a trader named Denton Offutt hired Lincoln and two other young men to take a flat boat to New Orleans. This trip gave Offutt a good impression of his lanky boat hand. He hired Lincoln as a clerk in his new store in the Village of New Salem, Ill, 20 miles northwest of Springfield. While Lincoln was away, his parents moved to Coles County, where they lived for the rest of their lives.