“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”
“I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life.”
Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, is remembered by most today as a hero. In his time, he was so disliked that he received over 10,000 death threats. Abraham Lincoln became President during one of our nation’s most difficult periods. The Southern states wanted to leave the Union over the issue of slavery. Lincoln believed that as one of the few free governments in the world, America must remain united to help the rest of the world. He also believed that slavery was wrong. He didn’t want slavery to be legal in the new states. He thought the new states should be given to poor people to make a better life, not to rich slave owners. These views made him unpopular. Fortunately, Lincoln wasn’t afraid of being disliked. He believed in doing what was right, no matter what.
Abraham Lincoln was born in a one-room cabin in Kentucky. His family moved frequently. At one time, he lived in a cabin with only three walls! The family kept a fire burning near the open space to warm the cabin. Lincoln had about one year of schooling but he loved to read the Bible and the few other books he could find. He liked to tell jokes and stories. He was tall, skinny, ugly, and poorly dressed. People liked him in spite of his appearance because he was honest.
- Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 near Hodgenville, Kentucky.
- His mother died when he was nine.
- Lincoln taught himself law and became a lawyer; later he served in the U.S. House of Representatives.
- Several southern states were already seceding (leaving) the Union when Lincoln took office.
- Lincoln originally did not believe the Constitution gave the government the right to end slavery; later, he realized that slavery must be abolished (ended) to keep the country together.
- The Civil War started in 1861, when southern soldiers shot at Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina.
- Lincoln hated war and was saddened by the bloodshed on both sides. He often walked alone at night thinking about the war.
- Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842. They had four children, two of whom died as children.
- The Civil War ended in 1865. Abraham Lincoln hoped both sides could forgive and help rebuild the country. He pleaded with the people to be kind to one another.
- Abraham Lincoln died on April 15, 1865. He was shot in the back of a head by John Wilkes Boothe while attending a play with Mary.
Frequently Asked Questions
Question: Was Abraham Lincoln one of the nation’s best presidents?
Answer: Abraham Lincoln was an honest, thoughtful man who wanted what was best for the country. He wanted to be a good husband and father too, and would often wrestle with his boys or take them for rides in a wagon down the street. People visited him for hours every day, asking for help or sharing their opinion. His palms were often blistered from shaking hands. He made difficult decisions that made him unpopular. He understood the “big picture” for our country. OF course, he wasn’t perfect. He sometimes made mistakes. What do you think? Was he a good president?
Visit the History Channel to learn more about Abraham Lincoln.