Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, the second child to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Lincoln (née Hanks), in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky (now LaRue County).
Called “Honest Abe,” Lincoln was self-taught. After working as a farmer, a rail-splitter, a riverboat operator, and a postmaster, Lincoln studied law and became a famous trial lawyer in Springfield, Illinois. Abe married Mary Todd on November 4, 1842, and they had four sons, including Robert Todd Lincoln, himself a candidate for President in ther 1880s.
Lincoln ran for his first term as a Republican and his second as a member of the National Union Party. Lincoln’s Vice Presidents were Hannibal Hamlin and Andrew Johnson.
Often called our greatest President, Lincoln led the country through four bloody Civil War battle years, 1861-1865. In his election campaign, Lincoln promised he would put an end to slavery. On January 1, 1863, he signed the Emancipation Proclamation, declaring freedom for slaves in the Confederacy. Slaves in the Union states were finally freed by the 13th Amendment to the United States Constitution, which passed many years later.
Mary Todd had four brothers who all fought for the South. On September 17, 1863, two months after the bloody battle of Gettysburg fought in the summer of 1863, Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address, perhaps the most quoted of all Presidential speeches (“Four score and seven years ago…”). On April 11, 1865, after four years of fighting, the South lost to the North and General Robert E. Lee surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Court House in Virginia.
Four days after the Civil War ended, while attending a performance of “Our American Cousin” at Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C, Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln died the next morning, April 15, 1865. His funeral train from Washington back to Springfield was watched by hundreds of thousands of grieving Americans.