Today In History: Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday
Today is Abe Lincoln’s birthday. Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, was born in Hodgenville Kentucky to an impoverished frontier family. Even as a young boy, Lincoln was an autodidact, attending school for only one year and then self-educating throughout the rest of his life.
As an adult, Lincoln became an Illinois lawyer, a prominent figure in the Whig Party and was eventually elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. He served there for eight years before winning an election to the United States House of Representatives in 1846.
He served one term in the House, and was a vocal opponent of the Mexican-American War. After his term, he returned to his legal work in Illinois.
In 1854, he threw his hat back in the political ring and helped form the Republican Party. Lincoln ran a campaign for the US Senate and had a famous series of debates with Stephen A. Douglas, in which Lincoln advocated against expanding the slavery system. Douglas won the election.
Lincoln was elected president in 1860, after a campaign as a dark horse candidate who had next to zero popularity in the South. His victory was the key event that precipitated the Civil War, as the slaveholding Southern states moved to form a secessionist Confederate States of America before Lincoln took office.
A Confederate assault on Fort Sumter solidified Northern support for the Union. Lincoln was caught in the midst of the biggest political firestorm since the Revolutionary War, weighing the demands of multiple factions. He used his political savvy and considerable rhetorical gifts to see the Union through to victory in the War and the end of slavery.
Five days after Robert E. Lee formally surrendered to the Union, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth. He passed away the following day.
Lincoln is remembered fondly as one of America’s greatest presidents, in the estimation of both historians and laypeople. His name is associated with moral fairness, wisdom and political mastery.
If you want to learn more about Lincoln, check out this in-depth timeline of his life. Also check out this brief biography.