A Biography of Abraham Lincoln

A photograph of the President and Thomas (Tad) made by Mathew B. Brady on February 9, 1864.
Photographic print of Abraham Lincoln, seated, with his son Tad, standing, looking at album.
Photograph by Anthony Berger of the Brady Studio.

National Archives no. B-5737.
From the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division,
Reproduction #: LC-USZ62-11897 (b&w film copy neg)

Five months before receiving his party's nomination for President, Lincoln spoke of his life:

"I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families--second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks.... My father ... removed from Kentucky to ... Indiana, in my eighth year.... It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.... Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher ... but that was all."

Lincoln made extraordinary efforts to educate himself all while helping his father working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He was a captain in the Black Hawk War, spent eight years in the Illinois legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, "His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest."

Married to Mary Todd, and they had four boys. Only one lived to adulthood.

As President, Lincoln built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.

Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue when dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg he said: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--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."

In 1864 Abraham Lincoln was re-elected to a second term as President of the United States. He was re-elected while Union military victories ended the war. In his peace plan, the President encouraged Southerners to lay down their arms and join together.

The Second Inaugural Address clearly tells of Lincolnís spirit as the words now inscribed on one wall of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C. reveal: "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.... "

On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington.

© Lucie LeBlanc Consentino
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