After the Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which took effect on January 1, 1863, and freed all of the slaves in the rebellious states.
In November 1863, Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address to commemorate the fallen soldiers at the national cemetery held in Gettysburg. Lincoln expressed the purpose of the war, giving heed to the Founding Fathers, the Declaration of Independence, and the pursuit of happiness.
In 1864, Lincoln faced a challenging reelection battle against former Union General George McClellan, but Union victories in battle (William T. Sherman’s capture of Atlanta) swung many votes the president’s way.
As Sherman marched triumphantly northward through the Carolinas, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9. On April 11, Lincoln gave a speech on the White House lawn urging everyone to welcome the southern states back into the fold.
On April 14, John Wilkes Booth slipped into the president's box at the Ford's Theater and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. Lincoln was quickly carried into a boarding house across the street, but he unfortunately never regained consciousness. He died in the early morning hours on April 15, 1865.