Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of United States. He is known for leading the country (1861-1865) during the most tumultuous and crucial years of its existence. His leadership during the civil war, the bloodiest armed conflict of American history and his success in preserving union, abolishing slavery and strengthening the federal government bolstered his legacy as one of the most influential and revered leaders of American history. He was born to a poor family in Kentucky on February 12, 1809. He was not formally educated and was a self educated man who became a lawyer. He served as a state legislator in Illinois. He also worked as a surveyor, shopkeeper and a postmaster.
Time in Congress :
Lincoln became a US Congressman in 1846. He was elected as a ‘Whig’ party member and served a single two year term. He established his reputation as a vocal supporter of abolishing slavery. He wrote a bill that demanded abolishing slavery in District of Columbia. He also opposed Mexican-American War. After his term in the Congress ended he returned to his law practice and established himself as a leading lawyer. Lincoln also unsuccessfully tried to run for US Senate. He lost the race, but was noted by many for his anti-slavery stance.
Lincoln won Republican Party’s presidential nomination for the 1860 Presidential Elections. He swept the Northern States but was unanimously rejected by the Southern slave states. His popularity in North alone was however, enough to see him to the office. By now his anti slavery stance and opinion had become so well known that his ascension to presidency was viewed very negatively by the slave states in South. Before he could take over the reins of presidency, these slave states started seceding from union one by one. South Carolina was the first one to go, followed by six more in February, 1861. When Lincoln took oath in March, 1861 seven states had already seceded and jointly announced independent existence as Confederate States of America.
Civil War :
Lincoln refused to accept Confederation. He was determined to preserve the union. In April, 1861, just after a month of Lincoln’s oath to office, Union and Confederate forces squared off against each other in Battle of Fort Sumter. This confrontation triggered the civil war. The war raged for more than four years and is the bloodiest armed conflict in American history till date. Lincoln led Union during the war and his leadership was instrumental in securing an eventual victory for the Union. Despite opposition of his decisions and adverse situations he displayed immense statesmanship during the war.
Emancipation Proclamation :
After the victory in Battle of Antietam, Lincoln decided to issue Emancipation Proclamation. Through this executive order he announced to extend freedom to all the slaves in ten Confederate States that were still in rebellion on 1st January, 1863. Although, proclamation did not end slavery in United States, it went a long way in the passage of 13th Amendment to US constitution that abolished slavery.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by a well known stage actor, John Wilkes Booth. Booth was a Confederate apologist and blamed Lincoln for Confederate defeat. Lincoln had gone to witness a play at Ford’s Theater with his wife Mary Todd Lincoln, on April 14, 1865. While witnessing the play he was attacked by Booth, who shot him with a revolver in the back of his head. Lincoln died of his wounds the next day. Lincoln is often considered one of the top three presidents along with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.