Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. Growing up in the countryside, he made extraordinary efforts to educate himself while working on a farm and in a store. He said,“somehow I could read and write”. He was a captain in the U.S. Army and then spent eight years as a lawyer. His partner said Lincoln’s “ambition was a little engine that knew no rest."
Lincoln was a one-term member of the House of Representatives, but failed to get a seat in the U.S. Senate. He campaigned for years against slavery, calling it a “monstrous injustice”. In his speeches, he continually reminded people that “the authors of the Declaration of Independence…’did consider all men were created equal’”. He was elected as the United States’ 16th President in November 1860.
Lincoln warned the South in his Inaugural Address: "You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it." Despite this, the American Civil War started on April 12, 1861. Lincoln sent 75,000 troops to the South to “preserve the Union”. At Gettysburg in 1863, he said the War had created a new birth of freedom in the nation.
Lincoln was re-elected for a second term in 1864 after building the Republican Party into a strong national organization. He had already issued the Emancipation Proclamation that ended slavery. He promised to rebuild post-War America but was assassinated in April 1865. Lincoln’s death marked the first assassination of a U.S. president. He is continually considered to be one of the three greatest ever Presidents.