Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865): Considered one of the great presidents of the United States, Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president who served from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.
Big accomplishments: Lincoln led the United States through the Civil War, abolished slavery, strengthened the federal government, and modernized the economy.
Background: Reared in a poor family in Kentucky and Indiana, Lincoln was a self-educated lawyer during the 1830s, and a one-term member of the Congress during the 1840s. He promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, canals, railroads and tariffs to encourage the building of factories; he opposed the war with Mexico in 1846.
Ascent to the presidency: After several highly publicized debates in 1858, during which he spoke out against the expansion of slavery, he lost the US Senate race to his archrival, Democrat Stephen Douglas. But in 1860, this moderate from a swing state secured the Republican party’s presidential nomination and swept the North. His election as president prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confedercy before he took office. No compromise or reconciliation was found. Considered an exceptionally astute politician, Lincoln reached out to Democrats who supported the war and managed his own re-election in 1864. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican party, he confronted Radical Republicans who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats who called for more compromise, Anti-War Democrats called Copperheads, who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists who plotted his death. Politically, Lincoln fought back with patronage, by pitting his opponents against each other, and by appealing to the American people.
How he died: Six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated on April 15, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, a noted actor and Confederate sympathizer.
Claim to fame: The Gettysburg Address of 1863 became an iconic statement of America’s dedication to the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to reunite the nation speedily through a policy of generous reconciliation in the face of lingering and bitter divisiveness.
More Fascinating Facts for Abraham Lincoln
Which Federal Holiday In February Is Not Actually Presidents’ Day?
The nation has celebrated the birth of its first president since 1885. But since Congress moved the holiday to the third Monday of February in 1968, it has been colloquially known as Presidents’ Day. That’s partly because Abraham Lincoln’s birthday is Feb. 12, but the official holiday is “Washington’s Birthday.” Interestingly, George Washington was actually born on Feb. 11, 1731, according to the then-used Julian calendar. The 1752 adoption of the Gregorian calendar shifted his birth date to Feb. 22, 1732.
November 19, 1863: Lincoln Delivers the Gettysburg Address
This Month in History: Dressed in a black suit, tall silk hat and white gloves, 151 years ago this month Abraham Lincoln delivered the famous Gettysburg Address to a crowd of onlookers in what is now Lincoln Square. They had come to hear what the President would say about the bloody battle on July 3, where 51,000 soldiers were killed, wounded, or captured.
Lincoln had arrived on the day before, and was escorted to David Wills’ home, where he is known to have finished the 272-word speech. It described his vision for “a new birth of freedom” for America, and while reaction to the address was mixed initially, today the Gettysburg Address is considered one of the greatest speeches of all time. Read more to learn why.
Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met now on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate… we cannot consecrate… we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember, what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us… that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion… that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain… that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom… and that government of the people… by the people… for the people… shall not perish from the earth.
Which first lady was declared insane?
Ten years after her husband’s assassination, Mary Todd Lincoln’s only remaining child had her declared insane and admitted to a sanitarium for a time. During the Civil War, most of her family sided with the Confederacy, leading some Northerners to accuse her of treason; Southerners condemned her for not being loyal to the South.
Who is considered one of the most controversial women in American history?
Mary Todd Lincoln ranks among the most controversial women in American history. High-strung and mercurial, at times she exercised poor judgment and often gave offense to those around her, but she is also remembered as well educated, intelligent, unusually assertive for a woman of her time, a helpmate to Lincoln’s political career, and a loving mother.
What was the divorce rate in the Civil War?
In the 20 years after the Civil War, the national divorce rate increased 150 percent.
What is a carpetbagger?
The term “carpetbagger” was used by Southerners to describe opportunistic Northerners who moved to the South during Reconstruction. These newcomers often carried bags made from used carpet, or carpetbags.
Did weapons or disease kill more men during the Civil War?
During the Civil War, 2 percent of the US population died. This is equivalent to 6 million men today. While rifles were the deadliest weapons during the war, disease killed more men. Camps became breeding grounds for measles, chicken pox, and mumps. One million Union solders contracted malaria.
How many people were killed in the Civil War?
Nearly 3,000 people died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. About the same number of men died in the first 15 minutes at Grant’s assault at Cold Harbor on June 3, 1864. But the Civil War was the bloodiest ever fought on American soil: 618,000 people died — more than WWI, WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined.