Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. Known as one of the most admired and iconic figures in American history, Lincoln’s life and political career have been studied extensively. Serving as the 16th President of the United States, his dedication to equality, freedom, and preserving the Union remains inspirational. This article explores the date and circumstances of his birth, and other important aspects of his life, including his political career.
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Quick Facts About Abraham Lincoln
|Nick Name:||Honest Abe|
|Date of Birth:||February 12, 1809|
|Age:||Died at 56|
|Net Worth:||Information not publicly available|
|Occupation:||Politician | Lawyer | 16th U.S. President|
|Death date:||April 15, 1865|
Early Life and Family
Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln in a simple log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky. He had an older sister Sarah and a younger brother Thomas who died in infancy. Lincoln’s family struggled with poverty and moved several times during his childhood, first to Knob Creek Farm in Kentucky and later to Spencer County, Indiana in 1816 after losing their farm.
The Lincoln family were uneducated farmers who lived in the wilderness frontier. Abraham had very little formal schooling but was an avid reader who educated himself. He disliked farm work and preferred reading, leading to a difficult relationship with his father. His mother Nancy died from milk sickness when Lincoln was only 9 years old. This was a devastating loss for the future president.
In 1819, his father remarried to Sarah Bush Johnston, bringing three of her own children into the new blended family. Sarah encouraged Abraham’s thirst for knowledge and education. As he grew older, Lincoln self-educated by reading Shakespeare, the Bible, newspapers, and whatever books he could access in frontier Indiana. This gave him the foundation that led to his future career.
Read More: When Was George Washington Born?
Political Career of Abraham Lincoln
In the 1830s, Lincoln relocated to New Salem, Illinois where he worked a variety of odd jobs before entering politics as a member of the Whig party. He ran for the Illinois General Assembly in 1832 but lost. However, he tried again two years later and won election at age 25. This launched his long political career on the national stage.
Lincoln went on to serve multiple successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives where he became known for his opposition to slavery. He was an unsuccessful candidate for the US House of Representatives in 1843 but won election two years later, serving from 1847 to 1849. After losing out on becoming Commissioner of the General Land Office under President Zachary Taylor, Lincoln returned to practicing law in Illinois.
He re-emerged as a prominent national political figure during the 1858 Illinois Senate race against Democrat Stephen Douglas. Although he lost the election, the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates thrust him into the national spotlight as an eloquent voice against the expansion of slavery. In 1860, Lincoln won the Republican Party presidential nomination and defeated Douglas along with Democrat John Breckinridge and Constitutional Union candidate John Bell in a four-way race, becoming the 16th president of the United States.
Presidency and the Civil War
Lincoln’s election in 1860 was the catalyst that led to the secession of the southern slave states and the outbreak of the American Civil War. Just weeks after taking office, the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861 marked the start of the four-year conflict.
As president, Lincoln was focused on preserving the Union at all costs. He assumed unprecedented war powers and was involved in every detail of the war effort. Politically, he tried to maintain the support of both conservative Republicans who opposed emancipation and the radical wing that demanded abolition.
In 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves in Confederate territory. This shifted the war’s goal to include the destruction of slavery. In 1863, his victory at Gettysburg along with the simultaneous Union triumph at Vicksburg marked a major turning point that ultimately led to the defeat of the Confederacy in 1865.
Lincoln’s wartime leadership and vision for reunifying the nation through a policy of reconciliation (“malice toward none and charity for all”) established him as one of the greatest presidents. His assassination only days after the war ended turned him into a martyred hero. The successful preservation of the United States as one nation was Abraham Lincoln’s lasting legacy.
Personal Details and Assassination
Despite the enormous pressures of leading the nation through civil war, Lincoln was a devoted family man with four sons and a turbulent marriage to Mary Todd Lincoln. He suffered the loss of two sons during his lifetime, Edward “Eddie” Lincoln who died in 1850 at age 3 and William “Willie” Lincoln who died in 1862 at age 11 while Lincoln was president.
Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865 by John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer angry about the South’s defeat. He was shot at Ford’s Theatre in Washington D.C. and died the next morning at age 56. Lincoln was the first American president to be assassinated. His death was mourned across the nation he fought so hard to preserve.
Related Frequently Asked Questions
The birth of Abraham Lincoln on February 12, 1809, marked the beginning of an extraordinary life that shaped American history. His commitment to the principles of democracy, equality, and justice left an indelible mark on the nation. Reflecting on his life and achievements allows us to better understand our past and inspire our future.