Abraham Lincoln was an american lawyer, politician, statesman and the sixteenth President of the United States and the first for the Republican Party.
He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of slavery, with the issuance of his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the promotion of the approval of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution in 1865.
Son of Thomas Lincolny Nancy Hanks. He had three siblings: Sarah (1807), Abraham (1809), and Thomas, who died in infancy. He was raised in the bosom of a family of settlers who later settled in Indiana.
In 1831 he moved to Louisiana, to return some time later to Illinois and settled in New Salem, where he began work on the construction of a railroad line and in a store. He also worked as a lumberman and fought Indians.
During 1833 he was appointed postmaster, although he continued to perform surveys and other jobs. Simultaneously he began his law studies.
He was elected congressman of Illinois for the Whig Party in 1834, and held a seat until 1841. In 1836 he began practicing law and soon achieved recognition.
Despite being born in a slave state, he opposed slavery and in 1837 was one of two members of his state’s lower house to sign a protest against it.
Elected to the federal Congress in 1846 he was noted for his outspoken criticism of the war against Mexico and for formulating a plan for gradual emancipation in the federal district of Columbia.
In 1849 he returned to Springfield, but in 1854, because of his astonishment at the Kansas-Nebraska Act (for the introduction of slavery in the Northwest) of Senator Stephen A. Douglas, he decided to return to politics.
Clearly demonstrating his opposition to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, he argued that it was a misguided measure because slavery was unjust in itself.
A year later, he decided to run for the U.S. Senate, but seeing that he could not win, he endorsed Lyman Trumbull, a Democrat who also opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
In 1856 he joined the newly formed Republican Party, and in 1858 he was again a candidate for the Senate against Douglas. A series of debates then began between Lincoln and Douglas on the issue, and although he eventually lost the election, the debate won him nationwide recognition.
President of the United States
In 1860 the Republicans nominated him as candidate for the presidency, starting a campaign to restrict slavery, internal improvements and tariff reform, having as electoral rivals the Democrats Douglas and John Breckinridge, and John Bell, of the Constitutional Union Party, Lincoln won by majority and was elected president.
After his election, South Carolina and six other southern states began the first steps to secede from the Union. After several failed attempts at compromise, in February 1861, the Southern government of the Confederate States of America was established.
The Civil War
On March 4, 1861, he was sworn in, at a time when he faced a hostile Confederacy, determined to expand and threatening the Federal forts in the South, the most important of which was Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
He came to the aid of the besieged garrison and this was the spark that marked the beginning of the American Civil War.
When he recruited 75,000 volunteers, the North responded enthusiastically, but the rest of the Southern states joined the secessionists.
When Irving McDowell was defeated at the first battle of Bull Run, the president chose George McClellan as his military leader, who in turn was replaced by John Pope.
When the latter was defeated at the second battle of Bull Run, the president once again turned to McClellan; despite his victory at the battle of Antietam (Maryland) the general hesitated so much that in the end Lincoln had to dismiss him.
His successor, Ambrose Burnside, was defeated at Fredericksburg (Virginia), so he had to cede command to Joseph Hooker, who in turn was defeated at Chancellorsville (Virginia). He appointed George Meade, who won a victory at Gettysburg (Pennsylvania), although he could not continue in the same line.
Insisting on his determination to find a general who could defeat the Confederacy, in 1864 he gave the general command of the Army to Ulysses S. Grant, who thanks to his victories at Fort Donelson (Tennessee), Vicksburg (Mississippi) and Chattanooga (Tennessee) was able to successfully end the war.
In 1861 he initiated a prudent anti-slavery program, through two Confiscation Acts (for the liberation of slaves used by the Confederates for military purposes) and abolished slavery in the federal district of Columbia.
The process culminated in July 1862, when he informed his cabinet that he intended to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, he took great care to soften its application in the border states that were excluded. The Proclamation came on January 1, 1863.
Enacted by the president in his capacity as commander in chief in times of armed rebellion, it freed slaves in regions dominated by insurgents and authorized the creation of black military units.
In 1864 he advised the approval of an anti-slavery amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment was passed after Lincoln’s reelection, when he used all the powers of his office to ensure its passage in the House of Representatives (January 31, 1865).
He attempted to maintain harmony among the disparate elements of his party by giving them representation in his cabinet.
Publicly recognizing former Whig Party members by appointing William Seward Secretary of State (foreign minister), and Bates attorney general, he extended invitations to former Democrats as well.
In 1864 some disgruntled Republicans tried to prevent his new nomination, in spite of which he managed to obtain the approval of his party in Baltimore (Maryland) despite the fact that some extremists nominated John Fremont.
Upset with his Amnesty Proclamation (December 1863), which called for the restoration of the insurgent states if 10% of the electorate pledged allegiance, Congress passed the Wade-Davis Act in July 1864, which set tougher conditions and required acceptance by 50% of the voters. When he refused to sign this law, he faced attacks from some radicals.
In November 1864, he was re-elected president of the United States. Shortly thereafter he announced his support for limited suffrage rights for blacks in Louisiana.
Marriage and children
In 1842 he married Mary Todd Lincoln. They were the parents of Robert Todd, William Wallace, Tad and Edward Baker.
Faced with the possibility of blacks acquiring the right to vote, John Wilkes Boeth, a famous actor, shot Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in the city of Washington on April 14, 1865.
He died the next day at seven o’clock in the morning. He was the first American president to be assassinated.
Thousands of mourners lined the tracks as the funeral train carried him from Washington to his final resting place in Springfield, Illinois.