16th president – 1861-1865
Just the Facts:
- Abraham Lincoln is the tallest of our presidents (6 feet, 4 inches).
- Some people think Lincoln was one of our greatest presidents.
- His nicknames were “The Great Emancipator” and “Honest Abe.”
- Lincoln made Thanksgiving an official national holiday.
- He always wore my stovepipe hat – it was a convenient place to store letters and important papers!
- He was a terrible dancer.
Abraham Lincoln grew up in a very poor family. He was born in Kentucky, but then his family moved around looking for work. Frontier life was hard for the Lincoln family. Abraham’s father was a carpenter and his mother died when he was young. By the time he was 20, Abraham was the only sibling still alive.
Neither of his parents knew how to read or write and Abraham couldn’t go to school very much. But that didn’t stop him – Abraham taught himself by reading books as many books as possible. When he turned 21, Abraham could finally leave his father’s farm. He tried some odd jobs – owning a store, a postmaster, surveying and rail-splitting work – before deciding he wanted to become a lawyer and go into politics. He served in both the Illinois legislature and Congress.
Abraham Lincoln led our country through the Civil War (even though he had no military experience). He became president when our country was deeply divided over the issue of slavery – 11 southern states had already voted to secede from the Union. Fighting began all over the country shortly after he took office.
Lincoln was a beloved President – he was thoughtful, compassionate, and generous. One of his most famous acts was to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, in which he officially freed the slaves in all of America (including the southern states). When it seemed clear that the Union would win the Civil War, he started to think about how best to welcome the southern states into the Union again.
Five days after the Southern Confederacy surrendered, President Lincoln was assassinated. He was watching a play at the Ford Theater on Good Friday, 1865, and John Wilkes Booth came into his box and shot him from behind. Booth was from Maryland and supported the South. He was also an actor, so he was familiar with the theater.
Abraham married Mary Todd and they had four sons. Mary grew up in a wealthy Kentucky family and got an education at a prestigious girls school. Her family protested the engagement, but they married anyways at Mary’s sisters home in Springfield, Illinois. She was a dedicated abolitionist, but many of her family members sided with the Confederacy.
First Lady Mary invited Frederick Douglass, a famous African American, to the White House. Mary loved strawberries – she had “strawberry socials” at the White House and served the fruit with cakes and ice cream. She battled depression after her son, Willie, died. She was never the same after President Lincoln was shot.
“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.”
“In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.”
“No man is good enough to govern another man without the other’s consent.”
“Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be.”
Want to Learn More?
Take a virtual tour of his home in Springfield, Illinois at: http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lincoln/sites/home.htm
See pictures of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington DC at: http://www.nps.gov/linc/index.htm
Take a look at the AbrahamLincoln Presidential Museum and Library at: http://www.lincolnlibraryandmuseum.com
Learn more at one of these websites: