The 16th President of the United States was born February 12, 1809, near Hodgenville, Ky. In the harsh Kentucky wilderness that the young Abraham Lincoln and his family called home, settlers struggled to eke out a living on hardscrabble farms. Endless legal wrangling over land ownership and the family's opposition to slavery persuaded the Lincolns to move to the backwoods of southern Indiana in 1816.
Years later, President Lincoln recalled, "We reached our new home about the time the state came into the union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals in the woods. There I grew up." IT was on this frontier where many of the Lincoln legends known to generations of American schoolchildren were born: learning to read by firelight, walking miles to return a borrowed book, working as a rail-splitter on the family farm.
By 1830, when the Lincolns relocated to Illinois, the boy had grown into a studious yet amiable young man. Gregarious and affable, he looked for a life beyond farm labor. That ambition would lead him to the White House at the time of his nation's greatest peril.