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- Lincoln was born on the Kentucky frontier in 1809. He lived in a small log cabin that had one room. Since the family lived on the frontier, they moved often and Lincoln lived in Indiana and then Illinois. Although Lincoln only attended school for one year, he taught himself to read and eventually studied law in order to pursue a career in politics.
Career before he became President/Loss in Senator Election
- Lincoln served 8 years in the state legislature and 1 term in Congress. He opposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act and decided to run for Senate in 1858. His opponent was named Stephen Douglas and they debated frequently about many issues, including slavery. Douglas won by a slim margin, but Lincoln was known throughout the country after this election.
Presidency/Secession of Southern States
- Lincoln competed in the Election of 1860. His opponent, Stephen Douglas was positive that Lincoln was going to win, but he wanted the Union to stay together no matter the results of the election. As he had predicted, Lincoln had won, and all the votes had come from the North. The southerners took this strongly and believed that the President and Congress would be set against the interests of the South. Soon enough, South Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America.
Presidency/Civil War Begins
- As the president of the Union, Abraham Lincoln was one of the natural choices for the leader of the Civil War. However, many northerners did not think that he would be a good leader because he had little experience in military matters. Lincoln prove them wrong by turning out to be patient, strong and a good war leader.
- In mid-1862, Lincoln believed that the Union could be saved if the goals of the war were changed. On January 1st, 1863, Lincoln released his Emancipation Proclamation in order to release the slaves in all areas controlled by the Confederacy. Although the Emancipation Proclamation had little effect, troops began fighting to end slavery and to save the Union.
- After the Union victory at Gettysburg, there was a ceremony to honor the 50,000+ dead and wounded soldiers. Lincoln attended the ceremony, and gave his famous Gettysburg Address.
- Even before the war ended, Lincoln had formed his Ten Percent Plan. This plan enabled southern states to form a new government after 10% of voters swore loyalty to the US, and after the new government abolished slavery. His plan also offered amnesty, which was a pardon to the Confederates. The Confederates just had to pledge loyalty to the US.
- 5 days after Lee surrendered to the Union, Lincoln shot in the head in a theater by a popular Southern actor. He died the morning after, on April 15th, 1865.
- Gettysburg Address- November 19, 1863
- Summary: Many years ago our Founding Fathers started this nation with liberty and equal rights for all people. Now we are in a war that is testing the strength of our country. There are many people that risked their lives for this country. It is our duty to remember what happened to them and to dedicate our time to finish the work that they started.
- Importance: This speech is important because it reminded the people that this is a free country and that we must work together to accomplish a goal. It was short and sweet pep talk for the people in the Union.
- Farewell Address- February 11, 1861
- Summary: No one will understand that sadness that I feel right now. I owe everything to these people. I have lived here for 25 years and have grown old. Now it’s time for me to leave. I don’t know when I will come back. When I come back I may be working on a task bigger than I have ever done before. Without God I cannot succeed. With His help I cannot fail. Now I say goodbye.
- Importance: It was important because this was the speech with which he departed Illinois on. It moved everyone so much, that he was asked to put this speech into writing. The speech may have been brief and impromptu, but it moved the hearts of the friends and family that were present.
Abraham Lincoln was a very effective president because he was able to keep the country together through some tough times. He seemed to know how to help the nation before, during and after the Civil War. Lincoln was also just and generous. This is proven because in 1863, he created the Ten Percent Plan. This plan allowed the southern states to create their own governments as long as 10% of their voters swore an oath of loyalty to the United States. Many people in Congress thought that he was letting the South off too easily, but he was simply being generous. He also moved hearts with one of his short, yet sweet speeches: The Gettysburg Address, spoken after the tragic battle (yet a win for the Union) at Gettysburg was said by Lincoln to honor the many soldiers who were killed in the battle. At first, Lincoln was not against slavery and he only felt that it should be contained in the South. However, closer to the end of the Civil War, he began to realize how bad slavery was. Thus, he released his Emancipation Proclamation, an ineffective document to the South, but one that changed the goals of the Civil War. Lincoln’s rein as President of the United States had its ups and downs, but all in all, he proved himself to be a very effective president in both his personality and in his methods of running the country.