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Abraham Lincoln's Biography

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American President, Abraham Lincoln was born on 12 February 1809 in Kentucky.

Abraham Lincoln was typical of the new people that grew up after the War of Independence in that he spent his early years in a general drift westward.

Born in Kentucky, as a boy Abraham Lincoln moved to Indiana and later to Illinois. Life was tough for the young Lincoln in Indiana. His house was a log cabin and his schooling was poor.

At 17 Abraham Lincoln was big and athletic and was a strong wrestler. For a while he worked in a store, and then went into business as a storekeeper. However his partner was a drunkard and they contracted debts that took fifteen years to pay off.

In 1834 Abraham Lincoln was elected a member of the House of Representatives for Illinois. A couple of years later he began the practice of law and in 1842 he married Mary Todd.

Lincoln had many run-ins with Senator Douglas of Illinois who was leading the movement for the extension of slavery in the National Congress. When the Republican Party was organised in 1856 to oppose the extension of slavery, Lincoln was its most notable leader in Illinois, and the state's delegates put him up for the vice-presidency.

In 1858 Lincoln lost to Douglas for the seat of Illinois. But their struggle culminated on the national stage in 1860 with the presidential campaign, which led to Abraham Lincoln on 4 March 1861 being inaugurated as President.

Lincoln had profited from a split in the Democratic Party between Douglas and Breckinridge.

Although the southern states were already in secession from Federal government and committing acts of war, Lincoln declared the Union perpetual and argued against the futility of secession.

On 12 April 1861 the Civil War began with a Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in Charleston harbour; and gradually expanded and was fought over a large area with a terrible loss of life.

Abraham Lincoln attempted to position the War in terms of national unity and not anti-slavery in his Gettysburg Address of 1863.

Abraham Lincoln won re-election in 1864. In his Second Inaugural Address in March 1865, Lincoln uttered the words later inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C: "With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations."

Throughout the Civil War the Confederates had been under-resourced but well marshalled by General Lee. However after Generals Grant and Sherman were appointed the Union finally broke through and General Lee surrendered on 9 April 1865. Within a month all the secessionists had laid down their arms and the Confederacy was over.

In the aftermath, Abraham Lincoln stood for union and peace. He was opposed to slavery, but his primary aim was to see that the United States remained united.

Lincoln entered Richmond the day after its surrender and then returned to Washington and on April 11 made his last public address. His theme was reconciliation. A few days later on 14 April 1865 Abraham Lincoln was shot in the back of the head at Ford's Theater in Washington by an actor named John Wilkes Booth and he died the next morning.

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