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Abraham Lincoln - Benjamin P. Thomas

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Abraham Lincoln was born in Kentucky in 1809. He was not born in a fabulously wealthy family, as custom to a majority of our presidents, but through his early years Lincoln gave much attention to his education. During his childhood and up to his early teens, the Lincoln family moved numerous times from Indiana, finally ending in Illinois. At this time Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks, died. Abraham's father, Thomas Lincoln, remained to sustain the young rising family. Sarah Bush Johnston became the second mother to young Lincoln.

The family stayed relatively neutral until Abraham finally went off into his own journey. Lincoln got his start in life after a pair of flatboats journeys to New Orleans. He soon afterwards moved to Salem, Illinois and set up a store. Lincoln settled here very nicely, even looking at a permanent settlement. Lincoln kept up with his studies during his downtime, and aimed to a profession in law. But then the Black Hawk War of 1832 occurred. Lincoln, with his passion for duty, enlisted as a volunteer. While he only expected to be an assistant, Lincoln ended up becoming the captain of his volunteer company, serving for over three months. Though not seeing any combat. This instilled Lincoln's initial thoughts of getting situated with the government.

Lincoln that same year rat for office in the Illinois state legislature. Unsuccessful due to his unpopularity and under qualification, Lincoln still pressed on towards office. Two years later, he ran again and was victorious, becoming a fixture of the Whig party in the General Assembly for the next 8 years! But Lincoln was not satisfied with just his position in office, and continued his studies in law. As a representative, Lincoln's law career flourished, handling numerous cases. Thus at this time, Lincoln accumulated a fairly substantial amount of money. Then in 1837, he was admitted to the bar and moved to Springfield later that year.

At Springfield Lincoln settle and continued his dwelling in law. Lincoln's popularity soon grew as a prominent political lawyer. In Springfield Lincoln meet his soon to be wife, Mary Tood. IN 1842 they married. Over the next 4 years, they would have 4 children, two of which sadly died tragically. This was a very emotional time for Lincoln. While his law practice was still flourishing, and his financial situations keen. His movement towards the higher positions in government was failed, losing many elections. Including his attempt to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. Defeated Lincoln settle away from the realm of politics to return to Springfield and resume his career as a lawyer, as well as spend more time with his family. Lincoln though about ending his political career at this point, but when the slavery question heated up in the middle of 1850s, Lincoln took to politics again. Running unsuccessfully for Senate in 1845 and again in 1858.

Lincolns luck changed when he won the Republican nomination for president in 1860. Lincoln won the race despite the fact that he won less than 40% of the popular vote. An initial wave of secession led by South Carolina brought about the establishment of the Confederate states of America, thus starting the Civil War. Lincoln took an overpowering role as commander in chief at this time. Controversially, he suspended several rights as defined by the Constitution and expanded the powers of both the executive and federal government. And in January 1, 1863, Lincoln initiated the Emancipation Proclamation.

As the Civil war ended, Lincoln made preparation for the reconstruction plans to help unify the nation once again. Less than one week after the Confederate surrender, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth.

Abraham Lincoln is remembered for his vital role as the leader in preserving the Union during the Civil War and beginning the process (Emancipation Proclamation) that led to the end of slavery in the United States. He is also remembered for his character and leadership, his speeches and letters, and as a man of humble origins whose determination and perseverance led him to the nation's highest office. President Lincoln endured extraordinary pressures during the long Civil War. He carried on despite generals who weren't ready to fight, assassination threats, bickering among his Cabinet members, huge loss of life on the battlefields, and opposition from groups such as the Copperheads. However, Lincoln remained brave and persevered. He didn't give in to the pressures and end the war early. He kept fighting until the Confederacy was defeated. A lesser man would have given in and stopped the war before the goals had been achieved. Lincoln did not do this.

The Emancipation Proclamation didn't immediately free any slaves because it only applied to territories not under Lincoln's control. The actual fact is that legal freedom for all slaves in the United States did not come until the final passage of the Thirteenth Amendment in December of 1865. Lincoln was a strong supporter of the amendment, but he was assassinated before its final enactment.

President Lincoln's domestic policies included support for the Homestead Act. This act allowed poor people in the East to obtain land in the West. He signed the Morrill Act which was designed to aid in the establishment of agricultural and mechanical colleges in each state. Also, Lincoln signed legislation entitled the National Banking Act which established a national currency and provided for the creation of a network of national banks. In addition, he signed tariff legislation that offered protection to American industry and signed a bill that chartered the first transcontinental railroad. Lincoln's foreign policy was geared toward preventing foreign intervention in the Civil War.

Lincoln's most famous speech was the Gettysburg Address. In the address Lincoln explained that our nation was fighting the Civil War to see if we would survive as a country. He stated it was proper to dedicate a portion of the Gettysburg battlefield as a remembrance of the men who had fought and died there. Lincoln said that the people who were still alive must dedicate themselves to finish the task that the dead soldiers had begun which was to save the nation so it would not perish from the earth.

One important way Lincoln effects contemporary society is that we look back on his presidency as a role model for future generations. Lincoln's high character affects us because we compare present-day politicians to the example Lincoln set. Another effect is in the area of quotations. Politicians love to quote Abraham Lincoln because Lincoln is considered America's wisest president. A major effect Lincoln has on the U.S. today is simply through the good example he



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