ABRAHAM LINCOLN BIOGRAPHY

Sixteenth President of the United States. (1861-1865). Born: Hardin County, Ky., Feb. 12, 1809. Early on he had a series of jobs fom managing a mill to surveying. In 1834, became a Illinois legislature. Practiced law in Springfield. Became President in 1861. Re-elected in 1864. Lincoln was shot by actor John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater, Washington, on April 14, 1865. Lincoln died the following morning.

Abraham Lincoln Biography:
Abraham Lincoln was born, Sunday, February 12, 1809, in Nolin Creek near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Abraham Lincoln was named after his grandfather. In 1811-12, Abraham's younger brother, Thomas died. Abraham Lincoln attended a log schoolhouse with his sister. At home Abraham Lincoln heard the scriptures read from the family Bible. As a child, Abraham Lincoln almost drowned, but was saved by playmate Austin Gollaher. Later, the Lincoln family moved to southern Indiana. Abraham's mother died on October 5th, 1818. In 1822, Abraham Lincoln attended school taught by James Swaney. Then, in 1824, attended school taught by Azel Dorsey. 1826 Abraham's sister, Sarah, died in childbirth on January 28, 1828. In 1827, Abraham Lincoln earned his first dollar ferrying passengers to a steamer on the Ohio River. By 1831, Abraham Lincoln left home to go his own way in life. On August 1, Abraham Lincoln cast his first ballot. In 1832, Abraham Lincoln joined the Illinois militia for the Black Hawk War. On August 6th Lincoln was defeated while running for the Illinois State Legislature.

In 1833, Abraham Lincoln became Postmaster of New Salem. In 1834, Lincoln ran for the Illinois State Legislature and was elected. On December 1 Lincoln took his seat. In 1836, Lincoln was re-elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. On September 9th, he was licensed to practice law. In 1837, Abraham Lincoln, was admitted to the Illinois Bar, and became a law partner of John T. Stuart. In 1838, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected for a 3rd time to the Illinois House of Representatives. In 1839, Lincoln met Mary Ann Todd. Then in 1840, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected to the Illinois House of Representatives. Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd. Lincoln married Mary Todd. James Harvey Matheny was the best man. The ceremony was performed by Reverend Charles Dresser. In 1843, the first son of the Lincolns, Robert Todd, was born August 1. In 1846, the Lincolns had their first photograph taken. Then, on March 10, 1846, they had their second son. On August 3rd, Lincoln was elected to the United States House of Representatives. In 1849, March 7, Abraham Lincoln was admitted to practice law before the United States Supreme Court. Lincoln's son, "Eddie," died on February 1, 1850. His third son, William Wallace, was born on December 21, 1850. In 1853, Thomas, was born on April 4. In 1854, Lincoln was elected to the Illinois legislature, but declined the office to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate. By 1856, Abraham Lincoln helped organize the new Republican Party in Illinois. He received 110 votes for Vice-President at the Republican National Convention. In 1858, Abraham Lincoln was nominated by the Republicans to run for the U.S. Senate. He gave his famous "House Divided" speech.

On May 18, 1860, Lincoln was nominated for President, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. On November 6th, Abraham Lincoln was elected President. Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the 16th President of the United States on March 4, 1861. The Civil War began, and on April 15th Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to serve for 3 months. On February 20, "Willie" Lincoln died in the White House of typhoid fever. Abraham Lincoln proposed a plan of compensated emancipation for slaves in states that remained loyal to the Union. In 1863, January 1, the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed the slaves in the rebelling areas, took effect. On March 3, Lincoln approved the first draft law in U.S. history. On October 3, Lincoln issued a proclamation creating Thanksgiving Day. In 1864, November 8, Abraham Lincoln defeated Democrat George B. McClellan in the Presidential election. 1865 April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox. Abraham Lincoln gave his last public speech on April 11th. The Lincolns attended the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre on April 14th. Abraham Lincoln was shot by John Wilkes Booth at about 10-15 P.M. Abraham Lincoln died the next morning at 7:22 A.M. Lincoln's body was buried at Oak Ridge Cemetery .

Abraham Lincoln Biography:
Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 - April 15, 1865) was the sixteenth President of the United States. He successfully led the country through its greatest internal crisis, the American Civil War, saving the Union and ending slavery, only to be assassinated as the war was virtually over. Before becoming the first Republican elected to the Presidency, Lincoln was a lawyer, an Illinois state legislator, a member of the United States House of Representatives, and twice an unsuccessful candidate for election to the Senate. As an outspoken opponent of the expansion of slavery in the United States, Lincoln won the Republican Party nomination in 1860 and was elected president later that year. During his time in office, he contributed to the effort to preserve the United States by leading the defeat of the secessionist Confederate States of America in the American Civil War. He introduced measures that resulted in the abolition of slavery, issuing his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and promoting the passage of the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which passed Congress before Lincoln's death and was ratified by the states later in 1865. Lincoln closely supervised the victorious war effort, especially the selection of top generals, including Ulysses S. Grant. Lincoln successfully defused a war scare with the United Kingdom in 1861. Under his leadership, the Union took control of the border slave states at the start of the war. Additionally, he managed his own reelection in the 1864 presidential election. Opponents of the war criticized Lincoln for refusing to compromise on the slavery issue. Conversely, the Radical Republicans, an abolitionist faction of the Republican Party, criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing slavery. Even with these road blocks, Lincoln successfully rallied public opinion through his rhetoric and speeches; his Gettysburg Address is but one example of this. At the close of the war, Lincoln held a moderate view of Reconstruction, seeking to speedily reunite the nation through a policy of generous reconciliation. His assassination in 1865 was the first presidential assassination in U.S. history and as a result Lincoln is seen as a martyr for the ideal of national unity. Lincoln has been consistently ranked by scholars as one of the greatest U.S. Presidents. Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, two farmers, in a one-room log cabin on the 348-acre (1.4 km2) Sinking Spring Farm, in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky (now part of LaRue County), making him the first president born outside the original Thirteen Colonies. Lincoln's ancestor Samuel Lincoln had arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts from England in the 17th century, but his descendants had gradually moved west, from Pennsylvania to Virginia and then westward to the frontier.

For some time, Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, was a respected and relatively affluent citizen of the Kentucky backcountry. He had purchased the Sinking Spring Farm in December 1808 for $200 cash and assumption of a debt. The family belonged to a Baptist church, although Abraham himself never joined their church, or any other church for that matter. In 1816, the Lincoln family was forced to make a new start in Perry County (now in Spencer County), Indiana. He later noted that this move was "partly on account of slavery," and partly because of difficulties with land deeds in Kentucky: Unlike land in the Northwest Territory, Kentucky never had a proper U.S. survey, and farmers often had difficulties proving title to their property. When Lincoln was nine, his mother, then 34 years old, died of milk sickness. Soon afterwards, his father remarried to Sarah Bush Johnston. Lincoln was affectionate toward his stepmother, whom he would call "Mother" for the rest of his life, but he was distant from his father. In 1830, after more economic and land-title difficulties in Indiana, the family settled on public land in Macon County, Illinois. The following winter was desolate and especially brutal, and the family considered moving back to Indiana. The following year, when his father relocated the family to a new homestead in Coles County, Illinois, 22-year-old Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers. Lincoln's formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe. Lincoln avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like killing animals, even for food. At 6 foot 4 inches (1.93 m), he was unusually tall, as well as strong.

Lincoln began his political career in 1832, at age 23, with an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, as a member of the Whig Party. The centerpiece of his platform was the undertaking of navigational improvements on the Sangamon River. He believed that this would attract steamboat traffic, which would allow the sparsely populated, poorer areas along the river to flourish. For several months, Lincoln ran a small store in New Salem. In 1834, he won election to the state legislature, and, after coming across the Commentaries on the Laws of England, began to teach himself law. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, that same year and began to practice law with John T. Stuart. With a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and in his closing arguments, Lincoln became an able and successful lawyer. He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a representative from Sangamon County, and became a leader of the Illinois Whig party. In 1837, he made his first protest against slavery in the Illinois House. It was also in this same year that Lincoln met Joshua Fry Speed, who would become a close friend. Lincoln wrote a series of anonymous letters, published in 1842 in the Sangamon Journal, mocking State Auditor and prominent Democrat James Shields. Two years later, Lincoln entered law practice with William Herndon, a fellow Whig. In 1854, both men joined the fledgling Republican Party. Following Lincoln's death, Herndon began collecting stories about Lincoln and published them in Herndon's Lincoln.

On November 4, 1842 Lincoln married Mary Todd, daughter of a prominent slave-owning family from Kentucky. The couple had four sons. Robert Todd Lincoln was born in Springfield, Illinois on August 1, 1843. Their only child to survive into adulthood, young Robert attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College. The other Lincoln children were born in Springfield, Illinois, and died either during childhood or their teen years. Edward Baker Lincoln was born on March 10, 1846, and died on February 1, 1850, also in Springfield. William "Willie" Wallace Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died on February 20, 1862 in Washington, D.C., during President Lincoln's first term. Thomas "Tad" Lincoln was born on April 4, 1853, and died on July 16, 1871 in Chicago.

A Whig and an admirer of party leader Henry Clay, Lincoln was elected to a term in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. As a freshman House member, he was not a particularly powerful or influential figure. However, he spoke out against the Mexican-American War, which he attributed to President Polk's desire for "military glory". Two weeks later, President Polk sent a peace treaty to Congress. While no one in Washington paid any attention to Lincoln, the Democrats orchestrated angry outbursts from across his district, where the war was popular and many had volunteered.

Warned by his law partner, William Herndon, that the damage was mounting and irreparable, Lincoln decided not to run for reelection. His statements were not easily forgotten, and would haunt him during the Civil War. These statements were also held against him when he applied for a position in the new Taylor administration. Instead, Taylor's people offered Lincoln various positions in the remote Oregon Territory, primarily the governorship. Acceptance of this offer would have ended his career in the rapidly growing state of Illinois, so Lincoln declined the position. Returning to Springfield, Lincoln gave up politics for several years and turned his energies to his law practice.

By the mid-1850s, Lincoln's caseload focused largely on the competing transportation interests of river barges and railroads. In one prominent 1851 case, he represented the Alton & Sangamon Railroad in a dispute with a shareholder, James A. Barret. Barret had refused to pay the balance on his pledge to the railroad on the grounds that it had changed its originally planned route. Lincoln argued that as a matter of law a corporation is not bound by its original charter when that charter can be amended in the public interest, that the newer route proposed by Alton & Sangamon was superior and less expensive, and that accordingly, the corporation had a right to sue Barret for his delinquent payment. He won this case, and the decision by the Illinois Supreme Court was eventually cited by several other courts throughout the United States. The civil case which won Lincoln fame as a lawyer was the landmark Hurd v. Rock Island Bridge Company. America's expansion west, which Lincoln strongly supported, was seen as an economic threat to the river trade, which ran north-to-south, primarily on the Mississippi river. In 1856 a steamboat collided with a bridge, built by the Rock Island Railroad, between Rock Island, Illinois, and Davenport, Iowa, the first railroad bridge to span the Mississippi. The steamboat owner sued for damages, claiming the bridge was a hazard to navigation. Lincoln argued in court for the railroad and won, removing a costly impediment to western expansion by establishing the right of land routes to bridge waterways. In the 1920s, historical markers were placed at the county lines along the route Lincoln traveled in the eighth judicial district. Lincoln was involved in more than 5,100 cases in Illinois alone during his 23-year legal career. Though many of these cases involved little more than filing a writ, others were more substantial and quite involved. Lincoln and his partners appeared before the Illinois State Supreme Court more than 400 times. Lincoln returned to politics in response to the Kansas-Nebraska Act (1854), which expressly repealed the limits on slavery's extent as determined by the Missouri Compromise (1820). Illinois Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, the most powerful man in the Senate, proposed popular sovereignty as the solution to the slavery impasse, and incorporated it into the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Douglas argued that in a democracy the people should have the right to decide whether or not to allow slavery in their territory, rather than have such a decision imposed on them by Congress. In the October 16, 1854, "Peoria Speech", Lincoln first stood out among the other free soil orators of the day: Drawing on remnants of the old Whig, Free Soil, Liberty and Democratic parties, he was instrumental in forming the new Republican Party. In a stirring campaign, the Republicans carried Illinois in 1854 and elected a senator. Lincoln was the obvious choice, but to keep the new party balanced he allowed the election to go to an ex-Democrat Lyman Trumbull. At the Republican convention in 1856, Lincoln placed second in the contest to become the party's candidate for Vice-President. In 1857-58, Douglas broke with President Buchanan, leading to a fight for control of the Democratic Party. Some eastern Republicans even favored the reelection of Douglas in 1858, since he had led the opposition to the Lecompton Constitution, which would have admitted Kansas as a slave state. The 1858 campaign featured the Lincoln-Douglas debates, a famous contest on slavery. Lincoln warned that "The Slave Power" was threatening the values of republicanism, while Douglas emphasized the supremacy of democracy, as set forth in his Freeport Doctrine, which said that local settlers should be free to choose whether to allow slavery or not. Though the Republican legislative candidates won more popular votes, the Democrats won more seats, and the legislature reelected Douglas to the Senate. Nevertheless, Lincoln's speeches on the issue transformed him into a national political star. New York party leaders invited him to give a speech at Cooper Union in February 1860 to an elite audience that was startled by the poorly dressed, ugly man from the West. He stunned the audience with the most brilliant political speech they had ever heard. Lincoln was emerging as the intellectual leader of the Republican party, and its best speaker. Lincoln was chosen as the Republican candidate for the 1860 election for several reasons. His expressed views on slavery were seen as more moderate than those of rivals William H. Seward and Salmon P. Chase. His "Western" origins also appealed to the newer states: other contenders, especially those with more governmental experience, had acquired enemies within the party and were weak in the critical western states, while Lincoln was perceived as a moderate who could win the West. Most Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the North was the aggrieved party as the Slave Power tightened its grasp on the national government. Throughout the 1850s he denied that there would ever be a civil war, and his supporters repeatedly rejected claims that his election would incite secession. On May 9-10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur. At this convention, Lincoln received his first endorsement to run for the presidency.

Throughout the general election, Lincoln did not campaign or give speeches. This was handled by the state and county Republican organizations, who used the latest techniques to sustain party enthusiasm and thus obtain high turnout. There was little effort to convert non-Republicans, and there was virtually no campaigning in the South except for a few border cities such as St. Louis, Missouri, and Wheeling, Virginia; indeed, the party did not even run a slate in most of the South. In the North, there were thousands of Republican speakers, tons of campaign posters and leaflets, and thousands of newspaper editorials. These focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln's life story, making the most of his boyhood poverty, his pioneer background, his native genius, and his rise from obscurity. His nicknames, "Honest Abe" and "the Rail-Splitter," were exploited to the full. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats, and John Bell of the new Constitutional Union Party. He was the first Republican president, winning entirely on the strength of his support in the North: he was not even on the ballot in nine states in the South, and won only 2 of 996 counties in all of the Southern states. Lincoln gained 1,865,908 votes (39.9% of the total), for 180 electoral votes; Douglas, 1,380,202 (29.5%) for 12 electoral votes; Breckenridge, 848,019 (18.1%) for 72 electoral votes; and Bell, 590,901 (12.5%) for 39 electoral votes. There were fusion tickets in some states, but even if his opponents had combined in every state, Lincoln had a majority vote in all but two of the states in which he won the electoral votes and would still have won the electoral college and the election. Lincoln was the first U. S. President elected from Illinois.

With the emergence of the Republicans as the nation's first major sectional party by the mid-1850s, politics became the stage on which sectional tensions were played out. Although much of the West the focal point of sectional tensions was unfit for cotton cultivation, Southern secessionists read the political fallout as a sign that their power in national politics was rapidly weakening. Before, the slave system had been buttressed to an extent by the Democratic Party, which was increasingly seen as representing a more pro-Southern position that unfairly permitted Southerners to prevail in the nation's territories and to dominate national policy before the Civil War. But they suffered a significant reverse in the electoral realignment of the mid-1850s. 1860 was a critical election that marked a stark change in existing patterns of party loyalties among groups of voters; Abraham Lincoln's election was a watershed in the balance of power of competing national and parochial interests and affiliations.

As Lincoln's election became more likely, secessionists made it clear that their states would leave the Union. On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead. By February 1, 1861, South Carolina was followed by six other cotton-growing states in the deep South. The seven states soon declared themselves to be a new nation, the Confederate States of America. The upper South (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) listened to, but initially rejected, the secessionist appeal. President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy. Attempts at compromise, such as the Crittenden Compromise which would have extended the Missouri line of 1820, were discussed. President-elect Lincoln evaded possible assassins in Baltimore, and on February 23, 1861, arrived in disguise in Washington, D.C.

At his inauguration on March 4, 1861, the German American Turners formed Lincoln's bodyguard; and a sizable garrison of federal troops was also present, ready to protect the capital from Confederate invasion and local insurrection. Also in his inaugural address, in a final attempt to reunite the states and prevent the looming war, Lincoln supported the pending Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which had already passed Congress. This amendment, which explicitly protected slavery in those states in which it already existed, had more appeal to the critical border states than to the states that had already declared their separation. By the time Lincoln took office, the Confederacy was an established fact, and no leaders of the insurrection proposed rejoining the Union on any terms. No compromise was found because a compromise was deemed virtually impossible. Buchanan might have allowed the southern states to secede, and some Republicans recommended that. However, conservative Democratic nationalists, such as Jeremiah S. Black, Joseph Holt, and Edwin M. Stanton had taken control of Buchanan's cabinet around January 1, 1861, and refused to accept secession. Lincoln and nearly every Republican leader adopted this position by March 1861: the Union could not be dismantled. Believing that a peaceful solution was still possible, Lincoln decided to not take any action against the South unless the Unionists themselves were attacked first. This finally happened in April 1861.

In April 1861, after Union troops at Fort Sumter were fired upon and forced to surrender, Lincoln called on the governors of every state to send detachments totaling 75,000 troops to recapture forts, protect the capital, and "preserve the Union," which in his view still existed intact despite the actions of the seceding states. Virginia, which had repeatedly warned Lincoln that it would not allow an invasion of its territory or join an attack on another state, responded by seceding, along with North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas. The slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware did not secede. Lincoln urgently negotiated with state leaders there, promising not to interfere with slavery. After the fighting started, he had rebel leaders arrested in all the border areas and held in military prisons without trial. Over 18,000 were arrested, though none were executed. Lincoln had to protect the nation's capital city. In May, angry secessionist mobs in Baltimore, a city to the north of Washington, fought with Union troops traveling south. George William Brown, the Mayor of Baltimore, and other suspect Maryland politicians were arrested and imprisoned at Fort McHenry. Although the Battle of Gettysburg was a Union victory, it was also the bloodiest battle of the war and dealt a blow to Lincoln's war effort. As the Union Army decreased in numbers due to casualties, more soldiers were needed to replace the ranks. Lincoln's 1863 military drafts were considered "odious" among many in the north, particularly immigrants. The New York Draft Riots of July, 1863 were the most notable manifestation of this discontent.

After Union victories at Gettysburg, Vicksburg and Chattanooga in 1863, overall victory seemed at hand, and Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant General-in-Chief ( March 12, 1864). When the spring campaigns turned into bloody stalemates, Lincoln supported Grant's strategy of wearing down Lee's Confederate army at the cost of heavy Union casualties. With an election looming, he easily defeated efforts to deny his renomination. At the Convention, the Republican Party selected Andrew Johnson, a War Democrat from the Southern state of Tennessee, as his running mate in order to form a broader coalition. They ran on the new Union Party ticket uniting Republicans and War Democrats. The only known photographs of Lincoln giving a speech were taken as he delivered his second inaugural address. Nevertheless, Republicans across the country feared that Lincoln would be defeated. Acknowledging this fear, Lincoln wrote and signed a pledge that, if he should lose the election, he would still defeat the Confederacy before turning over the White House.

While the Democratic platform followed the Peace wing of the party and called the war a "failure," their candidate, General George B. McClellan, supported the war and repudiated the platform. Lincoln provided Grant with new replacements and mobilized his party to support Grant and win local support for the war effort. Sherman's capture of Atlanta in September ended defeatist jitters; the Democratic Party was deeply split, with some leaders and most soldiers openly for Lincoln; the Union party was united and energized, and Lincoln was easily reelected in a landslide. He won all but three states.

On March 4, 1865, Lincoln delivered his second inaugural address, his favorite of all his speeches. At this time, a victory over the rebels was at hand, slavery was dead, and Lincoln was looking to the future. The war was a source of constant frustration for the president, and occupied nearly all of his time. He had a contentious relationship with General McClellan, who became general-in-chief of all the Union armies in the wake of the embarrassing Union defeat at the First Battle of Bull Run and after the retirement of Winfield Scott in late 1861. Despite his inexperience in military affairs, Lincoln wanted to take an active part in determining war strategy. His priorities were twofold: to ensure that Washington, D.C. was well defended; and to conduct an aggressive war effort in the hope of ending the war quickly and appeasing the Northern public and press. McClellan, a youthful West Point graduate and railroad executive called back to active military service, took a more cautious approach. He took several months to plan and execute his Peninsula Campaign, with the objective of capturing Richmond by moving the Army of the Potomac by boat to the peninsula between the James and York Rivers. McClellan's delay irritated Lincoln, as did his insistence that no troops were needed to defend Washington, D.C. Lincoln insisted on holding some of McClellan's troops to defend the capital, a decision McClellan blamed for the ultimate failure of the Peninsula Campaign. McClellan, a lifelong Democrat who was temperamentally conservative, was relieved as general-in-chief after releasing his Harrison's Landing Letter, where he offered unsolicited political advice to Lincoln urging caution in the war effort. McClellan's letter incensed Radical Republicans, who successfully pressured Lincoln to appoint John Pope, a Republican, as head of the new Army of Virginia. Pope complied with Lincoln's strategic desire to move toward Richmond from the north, thus protecting the capital from attack. But Pope was soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the summer of 1862, forcing the Army of the Potomac to defend Washington for a second time. In response to his failure, Pope was sent to Minnesota to fight the Sioux.

Panicked by Lee's invasion of Maryland, Lincoln restored McClellan to command of all forces around Washington in time for the Battle of Antietam (September 1862). The ensuing Union victory enabled Lincoln to release his Emancipation Proclamation, but he relieved McClellan of his command shortly after the 1862 midterm elections and appointed Republican Ambrose Burnside to head the Army of the Potomac. Burnside had promised to follow through on Lincoln's strategic vision for a strong offensive against Lee and Richmond. After Burnside was stunningly defeated at Fredericksburg, Joseph Hooker was given the command, despite his idle talk about the necessity for a military dictator to win the war and a past history of criticizing his commanders. Hooker was routed by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville (May 1863), and relieved of command early in the subsequent Gettysburg Campaign replaced by George Meade. After the Union victory at Gettysburg, Meade's failure to pursue Lee and months of inactivity for the Army of the Potomac persuaded Lincoln to bring in a western general, Ulysses S. Grant. Grant already had a solid string of victories in the Western Theater, including the battles of Vicksburg and Chattanooga. Grant waged his bloody Overland Campaign in 1864 with a strategy of a war of attrition, characterized by high Union losses at battles such as the Wilderness and Cold Harbor, but by proportionately higher Confederate losses. The Confederacy was out of replacements so Lee's army shrank with every battle, forcing it back to trenches outside Petersburg. In April 1865 Lee's army finally cruumbled under Grant's pounding, and Richmond fell.

Lincoln authorized Grant to target the Confederate infrastructure such as plantations, railroads, and bridges hoping to destroy the South's morale and weaken its economic ability to continue fighting. This allowed Generals Sherman and Sheridan to destroy plantations and towns in the Shenandoah Valley, Georgia, and South Carolina. The damage caused by Sherman's March to the Sea through Georgia totaled in excess of $100 million by Sherman's own estimate. Lincoln possessed a keen understanding of strategic points (such as the Mississippi River and the fortress city of Vicksburg) and understood the importance of defeating the enemy's army, rather than simply capturing cities. He had, however, limited success in motivating his commanders to adopt his strategies until late 1863, when he found a man who shared his vision of the war in Ulysses S. Grant.

Throughout the war, Lincoln showed a keen curiosity with the military campaigns. He spent hours at the War Department telegraph office, reading dispatches from his generals. He visited battle sites frequently, and seemed fascinated by scenes of war. Reconstruction began during the war as Lincoln and his associates pondered questions of how to reintegrate the Southern states and what to do with Confederate leaders and the freed slaves. Lincoln led the "moderates" regarding Reconstructionist policy, and was usually opposed by the Radical Republicans, under Thaddeus Stevens in the House and Charles Sumner and Benjamin Wade in the Senate (though he cooperated with these men on most other issues). Determined to find a course that would reunite the nation and not alienate the South, Lincoln urged that speedy elections under generous terms be held throughout the war in areas behind Union lines. His Amnesty Proclamation of December 8, 1863, offered pardons to those who had not held a Confederate civil office, had not mistreated Union prisoners, and would sign an oath of allegiance. Critical decisions had to be made as state after state was reconquered. Of special importance were Tennessee, where Lincoln appointed Andrew Johnson as governor, and Louisiana, where Lincoln attempted a plan that would restore statehood when 10% of the voters agreed to it. The Radicals thought this policy too lenient, and passed their own plan, the Wade-Davis Bill, in 1864. When Lincoln pocket-vetoed the bill, the Radicals retaliated by refusing to seat representatives elected from Louisiana, Arkansas, and Tennessee. Near the end of the war, Lincoln made an extended visit to Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia. This allowed the president to visit Richmond after it was taken by the Union forces and to make a public gesture of sitting at Jefferson Davis's own desk, symbolically saying to the nation that the President of the United States held authority over the entire land. Lincoln arrived back in Washington on the evening of April 9, 1865, the day Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House in Virginia. The war was effectively over. The other rebel armies surrendered soon after, and there was no subsequent guerrilla warfare.

Lincoln's rhetoric defined the issues of the war for the nation, the world, and posterity. His second inaugural address is also greatly admired and often quoted. As early as the 1850s, a time when most political rhetoric focused on the sanctity of the Constitution, Lincoln shifted emphasis to the Declaration of Independence as the foundation of American political values what he called the "sheet anchor" of republicanism. The Declaration's emphasis on freedom and equality for all, rather than the Constitution's tolerance of slavers, shifted the debate. In 1861 Lincoln justified the war in terms of legalisms (the Constitution was a contract, and for one party to get out of a contract all the other parties had to agree), and then in terms of the national duty to guarantee a "republican form of government" in every state. That duty was also the principle underlying federal intervention in Reconstruction.

During the Civil War, Lincoln appropriated powers no previous President had wielded: he used his war powers to proclaim a blockade, suspended the writ of habeas corpus, spent money without congressional authorization, and imprisoned 18,000 suspected Confederate sympathizers without trial.

Lincoln believed in the Whig theory of the presidency, which left Congress to write the laws while he signed them, vetoing only those bills that threatened his war powers. Thus, he signed the Homestead Act in 1862, making millions of acres of government-held land in the West available for purchase at very low cost. The Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act, also signed in 1862, provided government grants for agricultural universities in each state. The Pacific Railway Acts of 1862 and 1864 granted federal support for the construction of the United States' First Transcontinental Railroad, which was completed in 1869. Other important legislation involved economic matters, including the first income tax and higher tariffs. Also included was the creation of the system of national banks by the National Banking Acts of 1863, 1864, and 1865, which allowed the creation of a strong national financial system. Congress created and Lincoln approved the Department of Agriculture in 1862, although that institution would not become a Cabinet-level department until 1889. The Legal Tender Act of 1862 established the United States Note, the first paper currency in United States history. This was done to increase the money supply to pay for fighting the war. During the war, Lincoln's Treasury Department effectively controlled all cotton trade in the occupied South the most dramatic incursion of federal controls on the economy.

Prior to Lincoln's presidency, the Thanksgiving holiday, while a regional holiday in New England since the 17th century, had only been proclaimed by the federal government sporadically, the last such proclamation having come during James Madison's presidency. In 1863, Lincoln declared the final Thursday in November to be a day of Thanksgiving, and the holiday has been celebrated annually at that time ever since Originally, John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and a Confederate spy from Maryland, had formulated a plan to kidnap Lincoln in exchange for the release of Confederate prisoners. After attending an April 11 speech in which Lincoln promoted voting rights for blacks, an incensed Booth changed his plans and determined to assassinate the president. Learning that the President and First Lady would be attending Ford's Theatre, he laid his plans, assigning his co-conspirators to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William H. Seward. Without his main bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, to whom he related his famous dream regarding his own assassination, Lincoln left to attend the play Our American Cousin on April 14, 1865. As a lone bodyguard wandered, and Lincoln sat in his state box (Box 7) in the balcony, Booth crept up behind the President and waited for what he thought would be the funniest line of the play ("You sock-dologizing old man-trap"), hoping the laughter would muffle the noise of the gunshot. When the laughter began, Booth jumped into the box and aimed a single-shot, round-slug 0.44 caliber Henry Deringer at his head, firing at point-blank range. Major Henry Rathbone momentarily grappled with Booth but was cut by Booth's knife. Booth then leapt to the stage and shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" (Latin: Thus always to tyrants) and escaped, despite a broken leg suffered in the leap. A twelve-day manhunt ensued, in which Booth was chased by Federal agents (under the direction of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton). He was eventually cornered in a Virginia barn house and shot, dying of his wounds soon after.

An army surgeon, Doctor Charles Leale, initially assessed Lincoln's wound as mortal. The President was taken across the street from the theater to the Petersen House, where he lay in a coma for nine hours before dying. Several physicians attended Lincoln, including U.S. Army Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes of the Army Medical Museum. Using a probe, Barnes located some fragments of Lincoln's skull and the ball lodged 6 inches (15 cm) inside his brain. Lincoln never regained consciousness and was pronounced dead at 7:22:10 a.m. April 15, 1865. He was the first president to be assassinated. The Army Medical Museum, now named the National Museum of Health and Medicine, has retained in its collection several artifacts relating to the assassination. Lincoln's body was carried by train in a grand funeral procession through several states on its way back to Illinois. The Lincoln Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, is 177 feet (54 m) tall and, by 1874, was surmounted with several bronze statues of Lincoln. To prevent repeated attempts to steal Lincoln's body and hold it for ransom, Robert Todd Lincoln had Lincoln exhumed and reinterred in concrete several feet thick in 1901.

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