Abraham Lincoln:
A Legacy Of Truth And Fairness

Abraham Lincoln is widely considered one of the most notable leaders in our nation's history. Lincoln is remembered for his honesty, humility, courage and fairness in light of the controversies that he faced as our 16th president from 1861 to1865 - a time of internal strife between the North and South.

Humble Beginnings In A Log Cabin
Abraham Lincoln was born in a simple log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky in 1809, an appropriate beginning for a man who exuded humility throughout his life. He grew up in a poor but progressive family who moved from the Southern U.S. to the North because of their moral opposition to slavery.

Lincoln worked a variety of jobs and earned his law degree prior to being elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. He left politics for awhile after his first term, due to his opposition of the U.S. - Mexican War. He viewed this conflict as a means of further extending slavery, to which he was unwaveringly opposed.

After returning to his pre-political career as a lawyer and despite an unsuccessful run for the U.S. Senate, he entered the presidential election of 1860. Lincoln was viewed as the underdog of the presidential race. Many Southerners disliked him because of his opposition to slavery. He won the presidency despite the South's opposition to him and became the 16th president of the United States. He and his wife, Mary, traveled to Washington, D.C. by train and he was sworn in on March 4, 1861. Interestingly enough, this is the first time "Honest Abe" appeared with a full beard. He grew it at the suggestion of an 11-year-old girl from New York.

The Civil War Erupts Over Slavery Issue
When Lincoln was elected president, the Southern states stood their ground in opposition to him. South Carolina was the first to secede from the Union in December 1860 in protest to Lincoln's election. Immediately after Lincoln took office, many other states seceded; this group of states became known as the Confederacy. The secession of the Southern states ultimately led to the first shots of the Civil War in 1861 when the Confederacy seized Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

Lincoln was president for the duration of the Civil War, winning re-election in 1864. While he despised war and its ensuing bloodshed, he never strayed from his commitment to end slavery. He issued the historic Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, and delivered his Gettysburg Address in Pennsylvania later that year - both were eloquent tributes to his passionate crusade to end slavery.

As the Union Army gained on the Confederate Army, Lincoln traveled to Union Army headquarters at City Point, VA. There he meet with General Ulysses S. Grant and others to discuss final battle plans and to begin for the reunification of the country after the anticipated end of the war.

A Deadly Premonition
It was while he was visiting City Point that Lincoln experienced a disturbing dream about his own death, which was to occur only two weeks later. On April 14, 1865, only weeks after the South's great General Robert E. Lee surrendered, a Southern extremist who was angry about the outcome of the Civil War, shot President Lincoln. The 16th president died the following morning at the age of 56.

President Lincoln will forever be remembered as the man who began profound change in our country. It was he who took the first steps to ensuring equality for all Americans, as well as guaranteeing our existence as a unified country.

Jimmy Blankenship, Petersburg National Battlefield, 804-458-9504 (Pete_City_Point@nps.gov)
Jen Larson, National Park Foundation, 202-530-1487 (jlarson@goparks.org)
Sue Waldron, National Park Service, 202-208-5477 (sue_waldron@nps.gov)

Jill Sharp or Kim Scher, Lord, Sullivan & Yoder, 614-846-7777 (jsharp@lsy.com; kscher@lsy.com)