Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America and played an integral role in the abolitionist movement as well as the preservation of the Union throughout the Civil War.
Few Americans have had such an impact at the preservation and improvement of American Democracy as Abraham Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky in 1809 to Thomas and Nancy in a log cabin. During his formative years, Abraham Lincoln committed himself to become self-educated and would often be found reading and studying numerous books and topics.
Lincoln moved to Illinois in 1830 and attempted to run for the Illinois General Assembly. After losing his initial election, two years later he won and then proceeded to win reelection in 1836,1838, and 1840. During these years, Lincoln showed an interest in the study of law, and by 1836 Abraham Lincoln gained his license to practice law. By 1846, Lincoln set his sights on the U.S. Congress and won a seat in the House of Representatives.
Throughout the 1850s, Lincoln witnessed the nation become divided over a growing schism related to slavery. As new states were being admitted to the Union, the growing question of whether these states should support slavery quickly led to a divided nation. Lincoln himself opposed the practice of slavery, but was careful not to take a drastic position, as that could lead to a much larger conflict. Lincoln’s rise in popularity grew as he engaged in a series of debates with another Illinois politician named Stephen Douglas. The now famous “Lincoln Douglas Debates” reflected the drastic divide among the nation regarding whether slavery was an institution that should or could remain in the fabric of America. The attention that Lincoln gained from these debates led him to run for president in the 1860 election. Lincoln commanded the northern states during the election which helped him win 180 electoral votes and the presidency.
Few, if any presidents had more of a challenge entering office than Lincoln. Less than 100 days after being inaugurated, South Carolina seceded from the Union and shortly after, the Civil War was underway. Lincoln’s challenge throughout the American Civil War was to not only win the war against the Confederacy, but to find a solution to the issue of slavery, while also coming up with a plan to reconstruct the nation following the war. America’s bloodiest war dragged on through the next four years, which included Lincoln’s reelection in 1864. Through a brilliant war strategy which would become known as the “Anaconda Plan”, along with greater amount of war supplies and factories, the North eventually was able to win the war.
On April 9th, 1865, the Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered at the Appomattox Court House. Following these four long and bloody years, Lincoln and his wife Mary Todd decided to attend a showing of the play Our American Cousin at the Ford Theatre. While watching the play, a Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth, snuck into Lincoln’s viewing booth and shot him in the head. President Lincoln died within a day and the war-torn nation was forced to mourn much more.
Although Abraham Lincoln died prior to achieving all of his goals, he in many ways started the march for Civil Rights in American History. His Emancipation Proclamation paved the way for the 13th Amendment and Civil Rights victories. America’s infamous legacy of slavery was put to rest a year after Lincoln. He passed the torch for future leaders and generations to exemplify that, in fact, “all men are created equal”.
Check out the rest of our Teacher Guides and Lesson Plans!