The 16th President of the United States. Born in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky in 1809. Served as President during the Civil War. Issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Delivered the Gettysburg Address. Killed in 1865 by an assassin named John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater. Remembered for his beard, dry wit and tall hat. Made guest appearances in "Star Trek" and "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" (and, MALTP reminds me, "Happy Gilmore").

Surely one of America's most revered Presidents. There are people who dislike him intensely--their complaints about ol' Honest Abe tend to boil down to "Hey! He let the slaves go! I wanted slaves, dammit!"

Contrary to popular belief, Abraham Lincoln did not actually liberate any slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation. The Emancipation Proclamation only released slaves that belonged to the rebellious states that had formed the Confederacy. It did not release any slaves in the few Border States that still remained loyal to the Union. This was a reasonably astute political move. If he had liberated the slaves in the states that were still loyal to the Union, chances are that the remaining slave states would have seceded and joined the war on behalf of the Confederacy.

At this point in time Lincoln technically had no jurisdiction over the Confederate states so the Emancipation Proclamation he issued, freeing all the Confederate slaves was useless and it did not even free a single slave in the Union. However, it did serve to act as a moral boost for the North. They now had the competitive edge in the war. The Civil War had become a battle with a moral cause. This also helped secure the war for the north as it eliminated any chance of foreign intervention.

Lincoln was truly a great man. He had what it took to keep the United States together. However, in doing so, he infringed upon many Constitutional rights. For an extended period of time he suspended the privilege of Habeas Corpus. Lincoln also took over several newspapers and prohibited others from continuing distribution, which is a direct infringement of the rights stated in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Lincoln greatly expanded the powers of the Executive branch during his time in office. It may very well be argued that his actions were justified and reasonable. However, in most cases such as this, when any President greatly expands his powers, the other branches of government must act to take them back once they are no longer necessary for the President to do his job effectively. This most likely would have resulted in the impeachment of Lincoln during his second term. It may not be beyond reason to assume that his untimely death could have saved his image from an impending political assualt and preserved him as one of our Nations greatest heroes.

"I claim not to have controlled events but confess plainly that events have controlled me." –Abraham Lincoln

President Lincoln was by nature and by training a politician: this must be kept in mind to discover his true position in relation to the question of emancipation and slavery. It is well known that he was against slavery—calling it a "great moral wrong"-- but he also was seemingly in favor to "let slavery… alone". To understand how he held this seemingly incompatible beliefs at the same time, it is crucial to see how he developed his beliefs, which were not static but rather changing throughout his career. Lincoln first takes a conservative, hands-off approach to the question, then with the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854 he is galvanized to take a firmer stand against slavery in the territories and free states. While this is the turning point of his view on the matter, it is certainly not the final product: he then appeases both sides throughout the Lincoln-Douglas debates, takes a firm but understanding presidential run, and finally musters the steady, dedicated force to issue, and follow through with, the Emancipation Proclamation.

"I confess I hate to see the poor creatures hunted down… but I bite my lips and keep quiet."

Lincoln’s early position was nothing radical or surprising for a small-time Illinois legislator: on the slavery question, he practically said nothing. Whatever his personal opinions of the practice were, they were simply of too little importance to worry over, the moving of the Illinois capital to Springfield being a much more pressing matter. He let the Fugitive Slave Law pass unmolested, he let slavery reside in the Slave states without a murmur of discontent, and he took no active steps against the practice at all, though he personally disliked the slavery system. His conservative constituents approved of this, because it preserved the status quo by which they prospered. By today’s standards, he was racist and would rather let slavery run its course, which he presumed it would, and die out rather than face black immigrants competing with his constituents for jobs, a sure fallout of immediate emancipation. He ran several successful campaigns, served in the government, but otherwise seemed doomed to obscurity, a moderate Whig but nothing more. Nothing seemed more likely than this obscurity after he fell from public office and public eye in 1848.

"New free States are the places for poor white people to go to, and better their condition."

With the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the slavery question suddenly gained new importance to Lincoln. Rather then a remote, contained problem that would eventually take care of itself, it was beginning to spread: the 36-30 line was now obsolete, and Supreme Court decisions seemed sure to make slavery a nationwide institution. Lincoln once again entered the realm of politics which he loved so dearly, now on a clear, popular platform. Running for the Republicans, he avoided all other issues besides the halt of slavery’s expansion. Now he finally expressed publicly what he though of "the monstrous injustice of slavery itself." However, he did not become an abolitionist over night—he still believed in the inferiority of blacks, and the practice of letting slavery die a natural death. His complicated policy stemmed from his need to appease two very different interest groups: the growing number of abolitionists and the Negrophobes. The abolitionists were partly appeased with his stopping of slavery’s spread, while the Negrophobes were glad to have slaves and blacks kept out of the state. However, after his enunciation that slavery was inherently evil, it was only a matter of time before he must condemn it not only in his own state but everywhere.

"I would despise myself if I thought that… I was concealing my opinions on slavery."

During the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates, he came very close to doing just that: concealing how he felt. Moving from Anti- to Pro- slave areas of Illinois, he changed his message from talk of the necessity of abolition to the necessity for maintaining the existing racial order. However, he pulled off this near-impossible task with great effectiveness, pulling what was a fracturing Republican party together under a single set of policies: no expansion of slavery. It was this careful tiptoeing through the most controversial subject that would serve him well throughout the rest of his career, whether running for his first presidency or keeping the Union together during the Civil War.

"If all earthly power were given me, I should not know what to do as to the existing institution."

Serving Milwaukee, Chicago, Springfield, St. Louis and intermediate points

Amtrak train numbers: 302-323 and 303-326

Predecessor railroad train numbers: Gulf Mobile and Ohio 2 and 3

The Chicago and Alton Railroad had three major trains on its main line between Chicago and St. Louis, the overnight Midnight Special and the daytime Alton Limited and Abraham Lincoln, all three of which survived the 1947 takeover by the Gulf, Mobile and Ohio Railroad.

Only the two daytime trains managed to make it into the Amtrak era in 1971. Then, beginning in late 1971, Amtrak broke the Chicago barrier by combining the two trains with two previously unnamed Chicago-Milwaukee trains.

The experiment only lasted a couple of years, but in the meantime, the trains had begun running with Amtrak's first new equipment, the Turboliners. The Chicago-St. Louis corridor trains had their names dropped in favor of the umbrella title "Turboliner Service." When individual train names were restored several years later, the Abraham Lincoln name didn't reappear; instead, the train with the morning St. Louis departure and evening St. Louis arrival became the State House.

Condensed historical timetables:

  READ DOWN                         READ UP
(1956)  (1972)                   (1972)  (1956)
 -----   3:15P Dp Milwaukee   Ar  3:00P   -----
 4:50P   5:10P    Chicago         1:30P   2:08P
 7:59P   8:21P    Springfield     9:57A  10:48A
10:00P  10:35P Ar St. Louis   Dp  8:00A   8:58A

The Amtrak Train Names Project

The Young Man

Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in a log cabin in Hodgenville, Kentucky. His father, Thomas, was a carpenter, while his mother Nancy took care of Abraham and his older sister Sarah. There are some reports that Abraham was in fact an illegitimate child of one Wesley Enloe, a North Carolina farmer, but with no credible accounts but conjectures on Abe's genetic makeup in today's age, this can be discarded as mere rumor. His parents strongly disagreed with slavery, and instilled this belief in their son at a young age. When young Abraham was seven, the family packed their belongings and moved to Indiana (after Lincoln's death, this area was incorporated as Lincoln City.) Abe loved books and spent a lot of time after school reading, much to his layman father's chagrin.

In the early 1800s there was little treatment for most disease - home-baked remedies and poultices were used, but to little effect. When Nancy came down ill with milk sickness (obtained by drinking milk toxified through the cow's consumption of white snakeroot), there was little the family could do but pray. Nancy lingered for several days, and passed away on October 5, 1818. Her dying words to Abe and Sarah were

Be good and kind to your father, to one another, and to the world.

Thomas sat Abe down to write a letter to a Kentucky reverend and family friend, asking him to provide the funeral sermon. In William Thayer's biography of the President, the elder Lincoln's eyes welled with pride as he watched nine-year-old Abraham open the letter and read it back to him. No one in his family had done that before. Abraham himself was reluctant to speak about his mother's death, and Thayer records the event as "the loss of a good mother to a bright, obedient, and trusting boy, hid away in the woods, where a mother’s presence and love must be doubly precious." Still, the family had to thrive on in the relative wilderness of the Indiana frontier.

Seeking companionship, Thomas Lincoln remarried in 1819 to his old sweetheart before Nancy, Sarah Bush, who had three children of her own from a previous marriage. Thomas and Sarah were good people, and they frequently took in relatives' children during times of hardship. Abraham often served as nurse, teacher, and babysitter for various cousins, nephews, nieces, and his younger siblings. He also continued to his own self-education, reading voraciously through all works of literature, law, and politics. He occasionally worked alongside his father building houses and barns, but mostly worked as a handyman around the area to make money.

Abraham's father was an enterprising man, but he rarely had a day of luck. Once he built a flatboat to deliver some cheap pork he had purchased in Northern Indiana to Kentucky and other parts of the South. However, his boat capsized on the Ohio River, and he lost everything, nearly drowning in the process. He resumed his carpentry to repay the debts he had accrued in the venture. He eventually began to specialize in making wheels - particularly little spinning wheels designed for smaller clothes, such as socks and diapers. For all of these activities, Abraham was nearby to help with construction, artisanship, and entrepreneurship.

Reports vary about Abraham's general character and nature as a boy. Some say he was sickly and gloomy, while others close to him say he was always bright and talkative. One relative who spent time in the Lincoln household claimed Abe liked to show off his athleticism by bending over backwards and putting his head on the floor, doing handsprings, and wrestling. He always had his nose in a book, and was frequently rebuffed by Thomas for "butting in" to other people's conversations to correct or amplify the facts. While Abe was not a particularly religious person in his youth, he spent many hours reading and memorizing the Bible, a trick which came in handy many times during his legislative and political career. He also earned his lifelong nickname "Honest Abe" in his youth, for his excellent skills in rhetoric and debate, and his ability to arbiter the various arguments of friends and family.

Abraham's reading slowly molded him into an admirer of the public servants of America past and present. He set as his role model George Washington, and his fascination with The Life Of Henry Clay convinced him at an early age to become a Whig. He would frequently recite recent speeches for his schoolmates, often instead of working in the fields or at the various houses he assisted. His father would lecture him constantly about exhibiting "more aptitude for fun than work," but Abraham's practice eventually paid off. Eventually Lincoln's handiwork led him to William Wood. Wood's subscription to a local paper ran by a temperance group awed young Abe, so much so that he wrote his own essay on temperance and had it published in the paper. Wood asked the boy to write a paper for a local political newsletter. In his essay, Lincoln wrote

[I believe] that the American Government is the best form of government for an intelligent people; that it ought to be sound, and preserved for ever; that general education should be fostered and carried all over the country; that the Constitution should be saved, the Union perpetuated, and the laws revered, respected, and enforced.

These words would later be reshaped into his 1860 inaugural address. Abraham continued to contribute articles and essays to both papers, and began developing a knack for the epigram - writing of himself on one occasion, "Abraham Lincoln, his hand and pen/He will be good, but God knows when." In addition to his literary prowess, Abe Lincoln was known as the strongest boy in Southern Indiana. A giant at the age of eighteen (possibly due to the effects of Marfan Syndrome, passed on by his grandfather), he became a full-time log splitter and did all kinds of heavy work: sometimes young Abe would do the lifting of "three ordinary men." His traits of strength, courage, and wit would help him succeed in almost everything he did in later life.

The Working Man

In early 1828, Abraham made his first flatboat trip down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. It was here that Abraham had his first brush with death. While staying overnight at a friend's house just north of Baton Rouge, he and his boatmate were attacked by a group of angry Negroes. They fought hand to hand for nearly ten minutes, until finally Abe pushed two of the attackers into the river and the others fled. After the battle, Abraham was erudite, merely commenting that "slavery had robbed them of everything, and they must think it fair play to take what they can get." Despite this travail, Abraham was hooked: flatboating was the life for him.

Upon his return to Indiana, Abe took a keener interest in the courts, often making day trips to nearby Booneville. Here he met a future adversary in Texan John C. Breckinridge, who served as a traveling prosecutor and attorney throughout the young western states. He even formed a temporary lyceum in his backyard, encouraging local boys to come give speeches and write compositions for weekly reviews that he helped print.

Tragedy struck the family again when his sister Sarah died during childbirth in late 1828. Abraham was already 19 at this point, and restless to get out on his own. His love of the courts and speakers led him to move in with his uncle John in Decatur. He liked the area so much that he talked his father into moving out to Decatur himself. They found a nice area and built a new cabin with much of the lumber and nails from the old house. While here, he was offered another trip to the Big Easy on a flatboat, and Abe accepted. However, the flatboat itself was poorly built, and it took nearly three more weeks than expected to reach the Mississippi delta. Disgusted, Abraham set about designing a new boat: a noiseless steam-powered flatboat. Although his inventing stage never got beyond a crude wooden model, he was admired by his boatmates for his ingenuity and innovation.

Upon returning to Illinois, he was met by one Daniel Needham, a semi-professional wrestler who had heard of Lincoln's great strength. He challenged Lincoln to a fight; after throwing Needham twice, Abe allowed the humbled fighter to acquiesce before he received a "serious thrashing." Lincoln, magnanimous in victory, never claimed to have beaten Needham, but that Needham was a fine fellow at the end of the day.

Lincoln's flatboat piloting experience gave him a steady job as a merchant in Illinois under the tutelage of Denton Offutt. He took charge of Offutt's granary and grocery store while Offutt tended to business in other parts of the United States. Here he continued building on his grand reputation as an honest, considerate, and upright citizen and businessman. Tales of him donating food to recent widows, quoting Scripture, entertaining the local children with his stories, and fighting off a local gang who terrorized the area spread like wildfire. "That Abraham Lincoln is some man!" one woman declared.

Before Abraham Lincoln was even born, Native Americans were being pushed out of their native lands, farther and farther west into uncharted territories. One such 1805 "arrangement" had put the Black Hawk tribe of Missouri and Illinois out into the wilds of Iowa. By 1832, the Black Hawks were sick of their treatment and decided to reclaim their old lands. Governor John Reynolds asked for a volunteer militia to be formed to root out and rout the infringing Indians. Abraham Lincoln was one of the first to enlist for the Black Hawk War - many of his friends followed suit out of respect for the man. His popularity was restated when he was named captain of the 1st Regiment. For thirty days, the makeshift army tramped out across northern Illinois. They never found the Indians, though, and their group disbanded. Lincoln rejoined again for thirty more days, and again for thirty more after another unsuccessful campaign. Finally, the Battle of Bad Axe was fought, and the war ended.

One particularly resonant story exists from Lincoln's limited military experience. While traveling through southern Wisconsin, still searching for the Black Hawks, an old Indian entered the camp. At first he was accosted by the regulars, who threatened to kill him. The man handed Lincoln a note which proved to be a vouch for his fidelity from General Lewis Cass. The others claimed it was a forgery, and remained determined to kill the "Injun." In protest, Lincoln stood in the way of the Army's pointed guns, challenging them, "To shoot him, you must shoot HIM also!" The group capitulated, and Lincoln earned their respect and trust through his fearless resolve.

The Public Servant

The returning war hero was given a handsome welcome by his friends in New Salem, and it wasn't long before he was being talked into running for the state legislature. He declined, claiming that he had only lived in New Salem a short while - and to make matters worse, the election was only ten days away! But his friends persisted, and in particular a Robert B. Rutledge finally convinced Honest Abe to make a run for the legislature. Although he lost, he garnered nearly 25% of the vote in the county, a surprisingly large number. This had been Rutledge's goal anyway: to put Lincoln's name in the voters' minds for 1834, when he would run again. As a Whig, Lincoln's political views were right in line with the party leader Henry Clay's: he supported a national bank, a federal program to improve the roads, railroads, and waterways, and a high protective tariff. While stumping, Lincoln's opponents constantly berated his appearance. Lincoln, who was not remotely wealthy and could not afford custom tailoring for his abnormal frame, often settled on ill-fitting clothes and worn-out shoes.

By the time the election was over, Abe was broke and went back to work as a blacksmith. Still, his heart was in another place. After smithing for a few months, he bought out a local mercantile shop and partnered up with a man named Berry, who turned out to be a drunk and a thief. When he split town one night, Lincoln was left with tremendous debt, which he paid part of by selling the store. He took up a job working at a local tavern, and at night read Shakespeare, Marlowe, and especially books on law. Again, his fortunes changed for the better, when he met a county surveyor by the name of John C. Calhoun - later Senator Calhoun - who enticed young Abe into the business of surveying. He did this for a year, and then in 1833 was appointed postmaster of New Salem. The town did not receive much mail, and often times Abe would simply place the letters under his hat and go for a walk through town, delivering the post at each stop.

From river pilot to merchant to blacksmith to surveyor to postmaster, Lincoln had been a hard worker and made many friends. This finally paid off in 1834, when he routed his opponents for a spot on the Illinois state legislature. He would be re-elected three more times after that, in 1836, 1838, and 1840. While serving in the legislature, he was turned on to a career in law by John Stuart, an eminent attorney in Springfield. In 1835, the term "circuit court" had literal application: the judges would travel town to town, and many times lawyers would travel with them to represent various cases in the cities. Lincoln was one such lawyer, and quickly grew to be respected as an intelligent orator and a scrupulous man. He refused to take cases where he knew his client was guilty; and always deferred to the authority of justice, even if it meant losing the trial. He once famously got off a client by refuting eyewitness testimony: the witness claimed he had witnessed the accused murder the victim by the light of the moon, but Lincoln pointed out the moon had been covered by clouds the night of the killing, and his client was exonerated. Between serving as a legislator and his new prestige as a barrister, Lincoln soon came into much money, and began repaying his debts: for his failed store, for his father's mortgage, and for the many friends he had borrowed from in his earlier days.

One day while at a cotillion, Lincoln spotted a beautiful young lady seated in the room. He walked up to her and said very plainly,

Miss Todd, I want to dance with you the worst way.

Such were the humble beginnings of Abe's relationship with Mary Todd, whom he began to court shortly thereafter. They were very sweet on each other, and became engaged in late 1840. However, they had a prominent fight at a New Years party, and the engagement was called off. During the break, Todd was seen around Springfield with another young politico named Stephen Douglas. However, a family acquaintance Simeon Francis finally brought the two lovebirds together, and they were married on November 4, 1842.

In 1840, Lincoln had taken the next step up in his political career by running for and winning a seat on the United States House of Representatives. His Whig politics had enamored him to Henry Clay, who had personally sent letters of recommendation for Lincoln to post in newspapers throughout the area. Lincoln's legislative career was marked with excitement, as the annexation of Texas and Oregon came to fruition, and the Mexican-American War broke out in 1848. He spoke out against slavery in the new territories as "unjust and cruel" and became a feverish proponent of the Wilmot Proviso outlawing slavery in these areas. His efforts were unrewarded though, and he declined a fifth term in 1848, choosing instead to remain a lawyer in Illinois with his wife, and young sons Robert (born August 1, 1843) and Eddie (born March 10, 1846). His lawyering skills were known throughout Illinois, and he was a celebrated attendant of the United States Circuit Court in Springfield on many occasions.

The Private Man

In late 1849, Eddie took ill with an unknown illness (now believed to be pulmonary tuberculosis). Despite Mary's and the doctors' best efforts, the youngest Lincoln passed away February 1, 1850. It was especially heartbreaking to Abraham, who wrote of his son's demise:

Angel Boy - fare thee well, farewell
Sweet Eddie, We bid thee adieu!
Affection's wail cannot reach thee now
Deep though it be, and true.
Bright is the home to him now given
For "of such is the Kingdom of Heaven."

The Lincolns were blessed with a third son, Willie, on December 21, 1850. He was the most affectionate and charming of the Lincoln boys, and he was Abraham's particular favorite. He was particularly studious, memorizing railroad timetables, Scripture, and his multiplication tables at an early age. Abe took him on many visits to Chicago, Washington, D.C., and back to Decatur to visit his stepmother and father, who was in failing health. Abe was particularly distant from his father, who still had the trappings of a poor businessman. He had to sell a third of his land to Abe in order to avoid the poorhouse, and though Abe took care of him, Thomas felt Abe had become "too good" for him, and was envious of his son's position. When Thomas finally passed away on January 17, 1851, Abe did not attend the funeral.

The Great Orator

In 1852, he also suffered the death of his friend and party mate Henry Clay; Lincoln delivered a solemn eulogy on the steps of the Capitol to his fallen compatriot. On April 4, 1853, the fourth Lincoln boy, Tad, was born. Abraham continued on as a lawyer until 1854, when the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed through Congress, giving the states popular sovereignty to determine whether they would have slaves. He felt this was an absolute moral wrong, and protested as such to anyone who would listen. Eventually, he determined the best way would be to re-enter politics. In 1856, he began campaigning for the new Republican Party for the open United States Senate spot in Illinois. His opponent was Mary's old flame, Stephen Douglas, the "Little Giant." On the eve of his nomination to the candidacy, Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches, one which contained the most stirring cry for federal unity:

A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, — I do not expect the house to fall; but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other.

As for Douglas, the two men held opposing views on slavery: Lincoln wanted it banned outright, while Douglas supported the Act and popular sovereignty. While campaigning, the two agreed to hold a series of debates in various towns throughout the Illinois area. These debates became famous for their fiery rhetoric and impassioned reasoning, a result of the bygone era where substance always won out over style. Finally, election day arrived, and the votes were tallied: the Democrat Douglas narrowly edged out Lincoln to take over the seat. Still, the fires within Lincoln remained alight.

Lincoln continued to stump for the Party in the western states, so much so that in 1859, the Republican Party added his name to a small set of potential candidates for the United States Presidency. He was running against such party stalwarts as future Supreme Court Justice Salmon P. Chase, William L. Dayton, and South Carolina Senator Benjamin F. Wade. Most prominent of all was William Seward, a New York Senator who had spent many years railing against slavery in Congress. He had many supporters at the convention, but after the first two ballots, it was obvious Seward would gain no more ground. Thus, in a compromise, his backers went with Lincoln, the relative unknown, who seemed a good substitute for Seward's value system. Abraham Lincoln would be their choice.

1860

With Hannibal Hamlin as his running mate, Lincoln was once again pitted against his in-state rival Douglas, running as the Democratic choice for President. In addition to these two, current Vice President John C. Breckinridge, whom Lincoln had observed and admired so many years ago, was being run as a Southern Democratic alternative to Douglas, and John Bell, a former Tennessee senator who also stood against slavery as the Constitutional Union Party candidate. The four men all issued their ideas on the terms of states' rights in America, but Lincoln's powerful message resonated throughout the entire North. Douglas made a rare and unprecedented trip to New England to try and sway voters, but to no avail. On Election Day 1860, Lincoln captured 40% of the popular vote - and every electoral vote of the North and West, sending him to the White House. Before heading to the District of Columbia, Lincoln listened to the advice of a little girl, and for the first time in his life, grew the beard which was to be his trademark in years to come.

1861

Two months after Lincoln arrived to D.C. and was sworn in, the battle of Fort Sumter occurred and the states of the South slowly began seceding from the Union. Lincoln quickly arranged for a standing army to be created to fight against the rebelling Southerners, and soon the Civil War was in full swing. Lincoln took a very active role in the war, selecting generals and assigning them regiments and areas to attack and protect, as well as approving many of the battle plans. Lincoln was continuously worried that the border states might soon fall victim to the Confederacy, and was frequently exasperated by the lack of cohesion and groundmaking by his generals.

1862

1862 marked a troubled year for Honest Abe. In early January, Willie had taken mysteriously ill, and despite all efforts to help him, he passed away February 20. Lincoln was grief-stricken, crying out, "My poor boy. He was too good for this earth!" Still, the war was a pressing matter, and Lincoln's leadership was required. With Southern opposition absent from Congress, the legislature passed the Homestead Act of 1862, which legitimized government grants of land to freemen moving into new territories. He also passed the National Banking Act, which set up a network of national banks to distribute and control currency, and the charter for the first transcontinental railroad.

He also (controversially) suspended the writ of habeas corpus, a blatant overstep of executive authority, but one which Lincoln felt was necessary to save the nation from protesters in the North. When Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney issued a writ to free one such person, Lincoln ordered the military to ignore the issuance, causing friction in the capital.

While in the White House, Lincoln entertained many guests, including Frederick Douglass, Horace Greeley, Harriet Beecher Stowe (to whom he famously said, "So this is the little lady who started this great big war"), and Louisa May Alcott. They all implored him to free the slaves, and by the end of 1862, Lincoln had prepared his most powerful work - the Emancipation Proclamation. On September 22, he delivered the proclamation, which began

That on the 1st day of January, A.D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.

It was perhaps Lincoln's finest moment.

1863

The Civil War raged on, and it looked as if no end was in sight. The Republican Party was growing slightly restless with their President, and Lincoln's mind was greatly troubled by the apparent demise of the Union. On November 19, 4 months after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg had passed, Lincoln stopped there while on a speaking tour of the country. There he gave his renowned Gettysburg Address, printed in full:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- 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.

A month before his famous address, Lincoln had passed an order recognizing Thanksgiving Day. It seemed to him fairly sad that there was little to be thankful for that November.

1864

Tired of General George Halleck's hesitance in battle, Lincoln named current hero Ulysses S. Grant in charge of the Union Army, and soon results began to appear. Sherman's infernal "March to the Sea" campaign began, and the North made significant blows in Tennessee, Georgia, and Virginia. The Republican Party renominated Lincoln for President, with a Southerner Andrew Johnson on the ticket to help garner votes in the border states. The ousted McClellan ran as the Democratic opposition, but his lack of political savvy and the Union's rally behind Lincoln gave Lincoln his second term as President of the United States.

1865

Lincoln was continually worried about security - he had received numerous death threats over the years, but could do little to stop them except prepare. When the war finally ended on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox Court House, Lincoln was greatly received. He decided to celebrate quietly with a night out with his wife. They went to see a promising play, "Our American Cousin," at Ford's Theatre, near the White House. On April 14, as the two sat in a private balcony overseeing the playhouse, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Southern sympathizer, snuck into the balcony and shot Lincoln in the head at point-blank range.

Lincoln was quickly whisked away to a nearby house, where he held on until 7:22 AM, the following day, when he expired. His body was sent away to Illinois for a burial in his home state, and the bodies of his two dead children, Eddie and Willie, were buried next to their father. The whole nation mourned the loss of their President, the first one assassinated in American history.

The legacy of Abraham Lincoln will be forever known as the freer of the slaves. His principles as President were above the popular attitudes of the time, and reached far into what was simply right. A great man, gone before his time, as eulogized by Walt Whitman in his famous poem, "O Captain! My Captain!":

The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
   From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with object won.
      Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
         But I, with mournful tread,
            Walk the deck my Captain lies,
               Fallen cold and dead.

Sources

  • http://members.aol.com/RVSNorton/Lincoln2.html
  • http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~edgmon/lincboy.htm
  • http://www.bibliomania.com/2/9/79/127/21522/1/frameset.html
  • http://adh.sc.edu/ll/ll-table.html
  • http://elections.harpweek.com/2Biographies/bio-1860-Full.asp?UniqueID=1&Year=1860
  • http://www.tulane.edu/~latner/Seward.html
  • http://www.civil-liberties.com/pages/did_lincoln.htm
  • http://www.nps.gov/ncro/anti/emancipation.html

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