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Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
Chapter 1.

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[ABRAHAM LINCOLN, the 16th president of the United States, guided his country through the most devastating experience in its national history - the CIVIL WAR. He is considered by many historians to have been the greatest American president.]

THOMAS LINCOLN Married in 1806 to Miss NANCY HANKS and moved fron Kentucky to Indiana in 1816. He built a cabin, and all was going well until October, 1818, when NANCY (HANKS) LINCOLN died of the "milksick" - drinking milk from cows that had eaten poison snakeroot; in 1821 THOMAS LINCOLN went back to Indiana and married the 33 year old Widow SARAH (BUSH) JOHNSTON, b. 13 Dec. 1788; She had three children from her previous marriage.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN; Son of THOMAS LINCOLN and 1st Wife NANCY (HANKS) LINCOLN; He was born 12 Feb. 1809, in now Larue Co., KY; Was Assassinated 9:30pm at Ford's Theater, Washington D.C. 14 Apr. 1865, he died the next morning 7:22am at the age of 56 years, 2 months, and 2 days; Buried in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL; He Married Miss MARY TODD; They had Three Sons born to this Union:

Early Life ABRAHAM LINCOLN was born on Feb. 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Hardin (now Larue) County, Ky. Indians had killed his grandfather, ABRAHAM LINCOLN wrote, "when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest" in 1786; this tragedy left his father, THOMAS LINCOLN, Sr. "a wandering laboring boy" who "grew up, literally without education." THOMAS, nevertheless, became a skilled carpenter and purchased three farms in Kentucky before the LINCOLNS left the state. Little is known about LINCOLN's mother, NANCY (HANKS) LINCOLN. ABRAHAM LINCOLN had an older sister, SARAH LINCOLN, and a younger brother, THOMAS LINCOLN, Jr., who died in infancy.

In 1816 the LINCOLNs moved to Indiana, "partly on account of slavery," ABRAHAM LINCOLN recalled, "but chiefly on account of difficulty in land titles in K{entuck}y." Land ownership was more secure in Indiana because the Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for surveys by the federal government; moreover, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 forbade slavery in the area. ABRAHAM LINCOLN's parents belonged to a faction of the Baptist church that disapproved of slavery, and this affiliation may account for Abraham's later statement that he was "naturally anti-slavery" and could not remember when he "did not so think, and feel."

Indiana was a "wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods." The LINCOLNs' life near Little Pigeon Creek, in Perry (now Spencer) County, was not easy. LINCOLN "was raised to farm work" and recalled life in this "unbroken forest" as a fight "with trees and logs and grubs." "There was absolutely nothing to excite ambition for education," LINCOLN later recalled; he attended "some schools, so called," but for less than a year altogether. "Still, somehow," he remembered, "I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three; but that was all."

ABRAHAM LINCOLN's mother died in 1818, and the following year his father married a Kentucky widow, Sarah Bush Johnston. She "proved a good and kind mother." In later years ABRAHAM LINCOLN could fondly and poetically recall memories of his "childhood home." In 1828 he was able to make a flatboat trip to New Orleans. His sister died in childbirth the same year.

In 1830 the LINCOLNs left Indiana for Illinois. ABRAHAM LINCOLN made a second flatboat trip to New Orleans, and in 1831 he left home for New Salem, in Sangamon County near Springfield. The separation may have been made easier by ABRAHAM LINCOLN's estrangement from his father, of whom he spoke little in his mature life. In New Salem, ABRAHAM LINCOLN tried various occupations and served briefly in the BLACK HAWK WAR (1832). This military interlude was uneventful except for the fact that he was elected captain of his volunteer company, a distinction that gave him "much satisfaction." It opened new avenues for his life.

Illinois Legislator ABRAHAM LINCOLN ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois legislature in 1832. Two years later he was elected to the lower house for the first of four successive terms (until 1841) as a Whig. His membership in the WHIG PARTY was natural. ABRAHAM LINCOLN's father was a Whig, and the party's ambitious program of national economic development was the perfect solution to the problems LINCOLN had seen in his rural, hardscrabble Indiana past. His first platform (1832) announced that "Time and experience . . . verified . . . that the poorest and most thinly populated countries would be greatly benefitted by the opening of good roads, and in the clearing of navigable streams. . . . There cannot justly be any objection to having rail roads and canals."

As a Whig, ABRAHAM LINCOLN supported the Second Bank of the United States, the Illinois State Bank, government-sponsored internal improvements (roads, canals, railroads, harbors), and protective tariffs. His Whig vision of the West, derived from HENRY CLAY, was not at all pastoral. Unlike most successful American politicians, ABRAHAM LINCOLN was unsentimental about agriculture, calling farmers in 1859 "neither better nor worse than any other people." He remained conscious of his humble origins and was therefore sympathetic to labor as "prior to, and independent of, capital." He bore no antagonism to capital, however, admiring the American system of economic opportunity in which the "man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him." Slavery was the opposite of opportunity and mobility, and ABRAHAM LINCOLN stated his political opposition to it as early as 1837.

Lawyer and U.S. Representative Encouraged by Whig legislator John Todd Stuart, ABRAHAM LINCOLN became a lawyer in 1836, and in 1837 he moved to Springfield, where he became Stuart's law partner. With a succession of partners, including Stephen T. Logan and William H. HERNDON, ABRAHAM LINCOLN built a successful practice. ABRAHAM LINCOLN courted Mary Todd, a Kentuckian of much more genteel origins than he. After a brief postponement of their engagement, which plummeted ABRAHAM LINCOLN into a deep spell of melancholy, they were married on Nov. 4, 1842. They had four sons: Robert Todd (1843-1926), Edward Baker (1846-50), William Wallace (1850-62), and Thomas "Tad" (1853-71). Mary Todd LINCOLN was a Presbyterian, but her husband was never a church member.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN served one term (1847-49) as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he opposed the Mexican War - Whigs did everywhere - as unnecessary and unconstitutional. This opposition was not a function of internationalist sympathy for Mexico (ABRAHAM LINCOLN thought the war inevitable) but of feeling that the Democratic president, James Polk, had violated the Constitution. ABRAHAM LINCOLN had been indifferent about the annexation of Texas, already a slave territory, but he opposed any expansion that would allow slavery into new areas; hence, he supported the WILMOT PROVISO, which would have barred slavery from any territory gained as a result of the Mexican War. He did not run for Congress again, returning instead to Springfield and the law.

The Slavery Issue and the LINCOLN-Douglas Debates ABRAHAM LINCOLN "was losing interest in politics" when the KANSAS-NEBRASKA ACT was passed by Congress in 1854. This legislation opened lands previously closed to slavery to the possibility of its spread by local option (popular sovereignty); LINCOLN viewed the provisions of the act as immoral. Although he was not an abolitionist and thought slavery unassailably protected by the Constitution in states where it already existed, LINCOLN also thought that America's founders had put slavery on the way to "ultimate extinction" by preventing its spread to new territories. He saw this act, which had been sponsored by Democratic Senator Stephen A. DOUGLAS, as a new and alarming development.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN vied for the U.S. Senate in 1855 but eventually threw his support to Lyman TRUMBULL. In 1856 he joined the newly formed REPUBLICAN PARTY, and two years later he campaigned for the Senate against Douglas. In his speech at Springfield in acceptance of the Republican senatorial nomination (June 16, 1858) ABRAHAM LINCOLN suggested that Douglas, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, and Democratic presidents Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan had conspired to nationalize slavery. In the same speech he expressed the view that the nation would become either all slave or all free: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

The underdog in the senatorial campaign, ABRAHAM LINCOLN wished to share Douglas's fame by appearing with him in debates. Douglas agreed to seven debates: in Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy, and Alton, Ill. ABRAHAM LINCOLN knew that Douglas - now fighting the Democratic Buchanan administration over the constitution to be adopted by Kansas - had alienated his Southern support; and he feared Douglas's new appeal to eastern Republicans now that Douglas was battling the South. ABRAHAM LINCOLN's strategy, therefore, was to stress the gulf of principle that separated Republican opposition to slavery as a moral wrong from the moral indifference of the Democrats, embodied in legislation allowing popular sovereignty to decide the fate of each territory. Douglas, & ABRAHAM LINCOLN insisted, did not care whether slavery was "voted up or voted down." By his vigorous showing against the famous Douglas, ABRAHAM LINCOLN won the debates and his first considerable national fame. He did not win the Senate seat, however; the Illinois legislature, dominated by Democratic holdovers in the upper house, elected Douglas.

Election to the Presidency In February 1860, ABRAHAM LINCOLN made his first major political appearance in the Northeast when he addressed a rally at the Cooper Union in New York. He was now sufficiently well known to be a presidential candidate. At the Republican national convention in Chicago in May, William H. SEWARD was the leading candidate. Seward, however, had qualities that made him undesirable in the critical states the Republicans had lost in 1856: Pennsylvania, Indiana, Illinois, and New Jersey. As a result ABRAHAM LINCOLN won the nomination by being the second choice of the majority.

He went on to win the presidential election, defeating the Northern Democrat Douglas, the Southern Democrat John C. BRECKINRIDGE, and the Constitutional Union candidate John BELL. LINCOLN selected a strong cabinet that included all of his major rivals for the Republican nomination: Seward as secretary of state, Salmon P. CHASE as secretary of the treasury, and Edward Bates as attorney general.

By the time of ABRAHAM LINCOLN's inauguration in March 1861, seven states had seceded from the Union. His conciliatory inaugural address had no effect on the South, and, against the advice of a majority of his cabinet, LINCOLN decided to send provisions to FORT SUMTER in Charleston harbor. The fort was a symbol of federal authority - conspicuous in the state that had led secession, South Carolina - and it would soon have had to be evacuated for lack of supplies. On Apr. 12, 1861, South Carolina fired on the fort, and the Civil War began.

The Civil War As a commander in chief ABRAHAM LINCOLN was soon noted for vigorous measures, sometimes at odds with the Constitution and often at odds with the ideas of his military commanders. After a period of initial support and enthusiasm for George B. MCCLELLAN, LINCOLN's conflicts with that Democratic general helped to turn the latter into his presidential rival in 1864. Famed for his clemency for court-martialed soldiers, LINCOLN nevertheless took a realistic view of war as best prosecuted by killing the enemy. Above all, he always sought a general, no matter what his politics, who would fight. He found such a general in Ulysses S. GRANT, to whom he gave overall command in 1864. Thereafter, ABRAHAM LINCOLN took a less direct role in military planning, but his interest never wavered, and he died with a copy of Gen. William SHERMAN's orders for the March to the Sea in his pocket.

Politics vied with war as LINCOLN's major preoccupation in the presidency. The war required the deployment of huge numbers of men and quantities of materiel; for administrative assistance, therefore, LINCOLN turned to the only large organization available for his use, the Republican party. With some rare but important exceptions (for example, Secretary of War Edwin M. STANTON), Republicans received the bulk of the civilian appointments from the cabinet to the local post offices. ABRAHAM LINCOLN tried throughout the war to keep the Republican party together and never consistently favored one faction in the party over another. Military appointments were divided between Republicans and Democrats.

Democrats accused LINCOLN of being a tyrant because he proscribed civil liberties. For example, he suspended the writ of habeas corpus in some areas as early as Apr. 27, 1861, and throughout the nation on Sept. 24, 1862, and the administration made over 13,000 arbitrary arrests. On the other hand, LINCOLN tolerated virulent criticism from the press and politicians, often restrained his commanders from overzealous arrests, and showed no real tendencies toward becoming a dictator. There was never a hint that ABRAHAM LINCOLN might postpone the election of 1864, although he feared in August of that year that he would surely lose to McClellan. Democrats exaggerated LINCOLN's suppression of civil liberties, in part because wartime prosperity robbed them of economic issues and in part because ABRAHAM LINCOLN handled the slavery issue so skillfully.

The Constitution protected slavery in peace, but in war, ABRAHAM LINCOLN came to believe, the commander in chief could abolish slavery as a military necessity. The preliminary EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION of Sept. 22, 1862, bore this military justification, as did all of ABRAHAM LINCOLN's racial measures, including especially his decision in the final proclamation of Jan. 1, 1863, to accept blacks in the army. By 1864, Democrats and Republicans differed clearly in their platforms on the race issue: ABRAHAM LINCOLN's endorsed the 13TH AMENDMENT to the Constitution abolishing slavery, whereas McClellan's pledged to return to the South the rights it had had in 1860.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN's victory in that election thus changed the racial future of the United States. It also agitated Southern- sympathizer and Negrophobe JOHN WILKES BOOTH (see BOOTH family), who began to conspire first to abduct ABRAHAM LINCOLN and later to kill him. On Apr. 14, 1865, five days after Robert E. Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox Court House, ABRAHAM LINCOLN attended a performance of American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington. There JOHN WILKES BOOTH entered the presidential box and shot ABRAHAM LINCOLN. The next morning at 7:22 ABRAHAM LINCOLN died.

The Funeral of LINCOLN By: James G. Blaine, 1865 The remains of the late President lay in state at the Executive Mansion for four days. The entire city seemed as a house of mourning. It was remarked that even the little children in the streets wore no smiles upon their faces, so deeply were they imprest by the calamity which had brought grief to every loyal heart. The martial music which had been resounding in glad celebration of the national triumph had ceased; public edifice and private mansion were alike draped with the insignia of grief; the flag of the Union, which had been waving more proudly than ever before, was now lowered to half-mast, giving mute but significant expression to the sorrow that was felt wherever on sea or land that flag was honored.

Funeral services, conducted by the leading clergymen of the city, were held in the East Room on Wednesday, the 19th of April. Amid the solemn tolling of church-bells, and the still more solemn thundering of minute-guns from the vast line of fortifications which had protected Washington, the body, escorted by an imposing military and civic procession, was transferred to the rotunda of the Capitol. The day was observed throughout the Union as one of fasting, humiliation, and prayer. The deep feeling of the people found expression in all the forms of religious solemnity. Service in the churches throughout the land were held in unison with the services at the Executive Mansion, and were everywhere attended with exhibition of profound personal grief. In all the cities of Canada business was suspended, public meetings of condolence with a kindred people were held, and prayers were read in the churches. Throughout the Confederate States where war had ceased but peace had not yet come, the people joined in significant expressions of sorrow over the death of him whose very name they had been taught to execrate.

Early on the morning of the 21st the body was removed from the Capitol and placed on the funeral-car which was to transport it to its final resting-place in Illinois. The remains of a little son, who had died three years before, were taken from their burial-place in Georgetown, and borne with those of his father for final sepulcher in the stately mausoleum which the public mind had already decreed to the illustrious martyr. The train which moved from the National Capital was attended on its course by extraordinary manifestation of grief on the part of the people. Baltimore, which had reluctantly and sullenly submitted to Mr. LINCOLN's formal inauguration and to his authority as President, now showed every mark of honor and of homage as his body was borne through her streets, Confederate and Unionist alike realizing the magnitude of the calamity which had overwhelmed both North and South.

In Philadelphia the entire population did reverence to the memory of the murdered patriot. A procession of more than a hundred thousand persons formed his funeral cortege to Independence Hall, where the body remained until the ensuing day. The silence of the sorrowful night was in strange contrast with the scene in the same place, four years before, when Mr. LINCOLN, in the anxieties and perils of the opening rebellion, hoisted the national flag over our ancient Temple of Liberty, and before a great and applauding multitude defended the principles which that flag typifies. He concluded in words which, deeply impressive at the time, proved sadly prophetic now that his body lay in a bloody shroud where his living form then stood: "sooner than surrender these principles, I would be assassinated on this spot."

In the city of New York the popular feeling was, if possible, even more marked than in Philadelphia. The streets were so crowded that the procession moved with difficulty to the City Hall, where, amid the chantings of eight hundred singers, the body was placed upon the catafalque prepared for it. Throughout the day and throughout the entire night the living tide of sorrowful humanity flowed past the silent form. At the solemn hour of midnight the German musical societies sang a funeral hymn with an effect so impressive and so touching that thousands of strong men were in tears. Other than this no sound was heard throughout the night except the footsteps of the advancing and receding crowd. At sunrise many thousands still waiting in the park were obliged to turn away disappointed. It was observed thatevery person who passed through the hall, even the humblest and poorest, wore the insignia of mourning. In a city accustomed to large assemblies and to unrestrained expressions of popular feeling, no such scene had ever been witnessed. On the afternoon appointed for the procession to more westward, all business was suspended, and the grief of New York found utterance in Union Square before a great concourse of people in a funeral oration by the historian Bancroft and in an elegiac ode by William Cullen Bryant.

Similar scenes were witnessed in the great cities along the entire route. Final obsequies were celebrated in Oakridge Cemetery near Springfield on the fourth day of May. Major- General Joseph Hooker acted as chief marshal upon the occasion, and an impressive sermon was pronounced by Bishop Simpson of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Perhaps in the history of the world no such outpouring of the people, no such exhibition of deep feeling, had ever been witnessed as on this funeral march from the National Capital to the capital of Illinois. The pomp with which sovereigns and nobles are interred is often formal rather than emotional, attaching to the rank rather than to the person. Louis Philippe appealed to the sympathy of France when he brought the body of the Emperor Napoleon from St. Helena twenty years after his death; but the popular feeling among the French was chiefly displayed in connection with the elaborate rites which attended the transfer of the dead hero to the Invalides, where the shattered remnants of his valiant and once conquering legions formed for the last time around him. Twelve years later the victorious rival bywhom the imperial warrior was at last overcome, received from the populace of London, as well as from the crown, the peers, and the commons of England, the heartiest tribute that Britons ever paid to human greatness.

The splendor of the ceremonials which aggrandize living royalty as much as they glorify dead heroism, was wholly wanting in the obsequies of Mr. LINCOLN. No part was taken by the Government except the provision of a suitable military escort. All beyond was the spontaneous movement of the people. For seventeen hundred miles, through eight great States of the Union, whose population was not less than fifteen millions, an almost continuous procession of mourners attended the remains of the beloved President. There was no pageantry save their presence. There was no tribute but their tears. They bowed before the bier of him who had been prophet, priest, and king to his people, who had struck the shackles from the slave, who had taught a higher sense of duty to the free man, who had raised the Nation to a loftier conception of faith and hope and charity. A countless multitude of men, with music and banner and cheer and the inspiration of a great cause, presents a spectacle that engages the eye, fills the mind, appeals to the imagination. But the deepest sympathy of the soul is touched, the height of human sublimity is reached, when the same multitude, stricken with a common sorrow, stands with uncovered head, reverent and silent. (Source: 1865, Great Epochs in American History, Vol.9 Pg.- 33)

ABRAHAM LINCOLN's achievements - saving the Union and freeing the slaves - and his martyrdom just at the war's end assured his continuing fame. No small contribution was made by his eloquence as exemplified in the GETTYSBURG ADDRESS (Nov. 19, 1863), in which he defined the war as a rededication to the egalitarian ideals of the Declaration of Independence, and in his second inaugural address (Mar. 4, 1865), in which he urged "malice toward none" and "charity for all" in the peace to come.

End of Chapter 01.


BACK
The Conspirators Index
 
Chap.
F.Name
L.Name
b. d.
Subject
01.
Abraham
Lincoln
1809-1865
Profile
02.
John W.
Booth
1838-1865
Profile
03.
John W.
Booth
1838-1865
Pursuit, Death & Burial
04.
The
Conspirators
 
Trial of the Assassins
05.
Samuel B.
Arnold
1834-1906
Profile
06.
George T.
Atzerodt
1832-1865
Profile
07.
David
Herold
1844-1865
Profile
08.
Samuel A.
Mudd
1833-1933
Profile
09.
Michael
O'Laughlin
1840-1867
Profile
10.
Lewis T.
Powell
18??-1865
Profile
11.
Edward "Ned"
Spangler
18??-18??
Profile
12.
Mary E. (Jenkins)
SURRATT
1817-1865
Profile
12.1
Mary E. (Jenkins)
SURRATT
1817-1865
Genealogy FGS
13.
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
Profile
13.1
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
1870 Lecture
13.2
John H., Jr.
SURRATT
1844-1916
Genealogy FGS
14.
The
Conspirators
 
End of Nightmare for the Doomed!
15.
The
Conspirators
 
Notes & Reference

E-Mail: Paul R. Sarrett, Jr., Auburn CA.

Text - Copyright © 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999 20000 Paul R. Sarrett, Jr.
Created: Dec. 01, 1996; Revised: Feb. 25, 2000