Abe Lincoln (that Bearded Guy) Essay, Research Paper
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. Born in a log cabin in the backwoods, Lincoln was almost entirely self-educated. In 1831 he settled in New Salem, Ill., and worked as a storekeeper, surveyor, and postmaster while studying law. The story of his brief love affair there with Anne Rutledge is now discredited. In 1834 he was elected to the state legislature, and in 1836 he became a lawyer. He served one term (1847?49) in Congress as a Whig; in 1855 he sought to become a senator but failed. In 1856 he joined the new Republican Party. He ran again in 1858 for the Senate against Stephen A. Douglas, and in a spirited campaign he and Douglas engaged in seven debates. Lincoln was not an abolitionist, but he regarded slavery as an evil and opposed its extension. Although he lost the election, he had by now made a name for himself, and in 1860 he was nominated by the Republicans for president. He ran against a divided Democratic party and was elected with a minority of the popular vote. To the South, Lincoln’s election was a signal for secession. By Inauguration Day seven states had seceded, and four more seceded after he issued a summons to the militia. It is generally agreed that Lincoln handled the vast problems of the Civil War with skill and vigor. Besides conducting the war, he faced opposition in the North from radical abolitionists, who considered him too mild, and from conservatives, who were gloomy over the prospects of success in the war. His cabinet was rent by internal hatred, and the progress of the war went against the North at first. In 1863 he moved to free the slaves by issuing the Emancipation Proclamation, but preserving the Union remained his main war aim. His thoughts on the war were beautifully expressed in the Gettysburg Address (1863). In 1864 Lincoln ran for reelection against George B. McClellan and won, partly because of the favorable turn of military affairs after his appointment of General Ulysses Grant as commander-in-chief. Lincoln saw the end of the war but did not live to implement his plan for Reconstruction. On Apr. 14, 1865, while attending a play at Ford’s Theater, in Washington, D.C., he was shot by the actor John Wilkes Booth. He died the next morning. As time passed a full-blown “Lincoln legend” grew, and he became the object of adulation and a symbol of democracy.