1809 - 1865
The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party's nomination for President, he sketched his life:
"I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families - second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks. My father...removed from Kentucky to...Indiana, in my eighth year. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up...of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher... but that was all."
Lincoln made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, "His ambition was a little engine the knew no rest." He married Mary Todd, and they had four boys, only one of whom lived to maturity.
In 1858, Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator. He lost the election, but in debating with Douglas, he gained a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination
for President in 1860. Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved and even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "That we here highly resolve that these dead shall to have died in vain - that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom - an that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Lincoln won re-election in 1864, as Union military triumphs heralded an end to the war. In his planning for peace, the President was flexible and generous, encouraging Southerners to lay down their arms and join speedily in reunion. On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth.
Famous Abraham Lincoln Quotations:
"Don't interfere with anything in the Constitution. That must be maintained, for it is the only safeguard of our liberties."
"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent an new nations, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."
"To stand in silence when they should be protesting makes cowards out of men."
"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falser and lose our freedom, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."