Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President
of the United States. He was one of the greatest leaders
in the world. As President during the American Civil War,
Abe preserved the Union and abolished slavery.
Abe was born on
February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky. He was
a postmaster, lawyer, and President of the United States.
In the mid-1800's, the United
States had been a country for less than 90 years and
was facing difficult times. The issue of slavery was
dividing the nation. The Southern states were in favor
of slavery, and the Northern states wanted to abolish
or end slavery.
In 1858, Abe ran for the U.S.
Senate. He wanted to end slavery. His opponent for the
Senate was Stephen A. Douglas. The two candidates engaged
in seven debates during the election. These debates
are known as the Lincoln-Douglas Debates. Abe lost the
election, but gained a national reputation.
In November 1860, Abe was elected
President of the United States. He was the first Republican
At that time, there
were 34 states in the Union. The Southern states thought
Abe would end slavery, and they began to secede or withdraw
from the Union. After Abe was sworn in as President
in March 1861, 11 Southern states had seceded. They
formed the Confederate States of America.
American Civil War Begins
On April 12, 1861, Confederate
forces fired upon Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
This began the American Civil War. The Northern and
Southern states fought each other for four years. It
was a costly war where brothers fought against brothers
and friends fought against friends.
During the Civil
War, Abe issued the Emancipation Proclamation and delivered
the Gettysburg Address. In the end, the North won the
war. Abe succeeded in preserving the Union and abolishing
Abe was opposed to slavery. In
1862, Abe issued a Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.
Emancipation means to free slaves from bondage. Proclamation
means an announcement. Therefore, emancipation proclamation
means an announcement to free the slaves from bondage.
Abe issued and signed
the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863. It
freed about 4 million African-Americans held as slaves
in the Southern states. It also changed the Civil War
from a war for preservation (keeping the Union together)
into a war of liberation (freeing the slaves).
The Battle of Gettysburg was fought
from July 1 to 3, 1863, in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.
It was the bloodiest battle of the Civil War. After
the battle, the United States established a National
Cemetery to honor the brave men who had fought and died
at Gettysburg. Abe was asked to say "a few appropriate
remarks" at the dedication ceremony to be held on November
On November 18,
1863, Abe took a train from Washington, D.C. to Gettysburg.
The station where he arrived is now called the Gettysburg
Lincoln Railroad Station.
On November 19,
1863, Abe delivered his "few appropriate remarks" to
the 15,000 people attending the dedication ceremony.
These remarks became known as the Gettysburg Address.
In the Gettysburg
Address, Abe spoke about the
purpose of the Civil War. He stated the war will prove
the government of the United States could work, and
he reemphasized the country's commitment to democracy.
Abe began the Gettysburg
Address with the famous words,
Fourscore 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.
Did you know
a score means 20 years and fourscore means 80 years?
So fourscore and seven years means 87 years. 87 years
before 1863 was the year 1776, which was the year the
Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence.
The Declaration of Independence declared the colonies'
independent from Britain which started the United States
Abe then stated,
The world will little note
nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here.
Abe was half right.
He was right in that we have not forgotten what the
soldiers did at Gettysburg. But he was wrong when he
said the world would forget what Abe said at Gettysburg.
After all, we are reading about it right now! Although
Abe gave the speech in less than two minutes, the speech
has become Abe's most famous speech and is carved into
the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Abe ended the Gettysburg
Address by stating,
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.
This statement refers
to the type of free, self-government which exists in
the United States. In 1863, other nations were ruled
by kings or queens. The United States experimented with
self government in 1776, and this government lasted
87 years. Abe was convinced it would continue after
the civil war came to an end. The Union was divided
for the moment, but it would survive and become a stronger
Union in the end.
the full text of the Gettysburg Address
Civil War Ends
On April 9, 1865, General
Robert E. Lee surrender his Confederate Army to Ulysses
S. Grant in Appomattox Court House, Virginia. This date
marks the end of the American Civil War.
Five days later, on April 14,
1865, Abe and his wife, Mary Todd, attended the play,
Our American Cousin, at Ford's Theater in Washington,
D.C. It was Good Friday. During the performance, John
Wilkes Booth shot Abe in the head. Abe was carried to
the Peterson house across the street from the theater.
Abe died the next
morning, on April 15, at 7:00 a.m. He was 56 years old.
Abe was the first
President of the United States to be assassinated. His
funeral was held at the White House, and his body lay
in state in the U.S. Capitol. More than 25,000 people
came to say good-bye to their President.
Abe's body was taken
by train from Washington, D.C., to Springfield, Illinois.
The train was draped in black to mourn the loss of the
country's leader. Millions of people stood by the railroad
tracks to say their last good-byes to Abe. On May 4,
1865, Abe was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield,
Today, Abe's birthday is a national
holiday in the United States. The U.S. honors both Abe's
birthday and President George Washington's birthday
in February on President's Day. The United States also
celebrates Memorial Day in May. Although this holiday
is not directly associated with Abe, it was first celebrated
in 1868 (after the Civil War) to honor the soldiers
killed in war. It was originally called Decoration Day.
Abe is pictured
on the United States currency. He is pictured on both
the penny and the five dollar bill. Abe's face is on
the front, and the Lincoln Memorial is on the back.
Abe is honored on
Mount Rushmore. From 1927 to 1941, Gutzon Borglum carved
the faces of four United States Presidents into Mount
Rushmore. They include Abraham Lincoln, George Washington,
Thomas Jefferson, and Theodore Roosevelt.
fought to preserve the United States and abolish slavery.
He succeeded in both. He was a great President and a
hero in our hearts.