Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 to April 14, 1865) was the 16th president of the United States and is regarded as one of America’s greatest heroes due to his role as savior of the Union and emancipator of the slaves. His rise from humble beginnings to achieving the highest office in the land is a remarkable story. He was suddenly and tragically assassinated at a time when his country needed him to complete the great task remaining before the nation. His eloquence of democracy and insistence that the Union was worth saving embody the ideals of self-government that all nations strive to achieve. Lincoln’s distinctively human and humane personality and incredible impact on the nation has endowed him with an enduring legacy.
Abraham Lincoln was born Feb 12, 1809, in a single-room log cabin, Hardin Country, Kentucky. His family upbringing was modest; his parents from Virginia were neither wealthy or well known. At an early age, the young Abraham lost his mother, and his father moved away to Indiana. Abraham had to work hard splitting logs and other manual labour. But, he also had a thirst for knowledge and worked very hard to excel in his studies. This led him to become self-trained as a lawyer. He spent eight years working on the Illinois court circuit; his ambition, drive, and capacity for hard work were evident to all around him. Lincoln became respected on the legal circuit and he gained the nickname ‘Honest Abe.’ He often encouraged neighbors to mediate their own conflicts rather than pursue full legal litigation. Lincoln also had a good sense of humor and was deprecating about his looks.
He married Mary Todd in 1842, and they had four children, although three died before reaching maturity. On November 19, 1863, Lincoln delivered what would become his most famous speech and one of the most important speeches in American history, the Gettysburg Address. Addressing a crowd of around 15,000 people, Lincoln delivered his 272-word speech at one of the bloodiest battlefields of the Civil War, the National Cemetery of Gettysburg, in Pennsylvania.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865, by well-known actor and Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theater in Washington, D.C. He was taken from the theater to the Petersen House across the street and laid in a coma for nine hours before dying the next morning. His body lay in state at the Capitol before a funeral train took him back to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds…. ”
– Abraham Lincoln