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Abraham Lincoln Biography

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Last updated date: 19th Jul 2024
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Who is Abraham Lincoln?

Abraham Lincoln full name doesn’t include middle name, his name was given in to honour his paternal grandfather. Abraham Lincoln life is a true rag to riches story with lots of perseverance and hard work he went on to become the President of the United States. He was the 16th president and to date considered one of the greatest political leaders. He was a lawyer, and when he took on the role of the presidency, his leadership and championing for liberty stood out. He was also good in crisis management who led the country amid the American Civil war. He was known to perform all his duties with integrity and he always displayed a strength of character. He was also successful in ending slavery that was still very prevalent during his rule. And due to all these brave steps, he was known as the Great Emancipator and Honest Abe, the Rail-Splitter.

Basic Information About Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Date of Birth - 12th February 1809

Birthplace of Abraham Lincoln - Sinking Spring Farm, Kentucky, USA. 

Profession - Lawyer and American Statesmen

Role In American History - 16th President Of America

Years served as President - 4th March 1861- 15th April 1865

Abraham Lincoln’s Death - 15th April 1865 in Washington DC, USA

Age of Death - 56 years old

Cause of Death - Assassination by gunshot in the head.

Abraham Lincoln Biography

About Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln Facts about his life will include his childhood, family life, his early influences, marital life, and his career as a lawyer before his foray into politics that catapulted the path to the presidency.

Childhood and Family Life

Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, in a log cabin near Hodgenville, on Sinking Spring Farm, Kentucky in the year 1809 February 12th. Abraham Lincoln was named after his grandfather Captain Abraham Lincoln. He was the second born after his sister Sarah. Abraham Lincoln’s younger brother Thomas died an infant.

Abraham Lincoln’s father Thomas Lincoln was only a child, 8 years of age when he witnessed his father Captain Abraham Lincoln’s death, after an Indian raid in 1786. Thomas started working shortly after doing odd jobs to support his family and hence was always a believer in physical work rather than academics. Before settling in Kentucky they migrated to various different states like New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia.

The family then moved to Indiana in 1816 after losing their land over property title disputes. In Indiana, they settled in Hurricane Township, Perry County in an ‘unbroken forest’. The main reason for this move was the more reliable land titles and surveys in Indiana and no slaveholding.

Early Impression and Influences

Abraham Lincoln lost his mother in 1818 when he was only 9 years old due to milk sickness. This left a void of an important figure in his life. His sister Sarah filled in as the caretaker of the family, and they formed a different closeness. Thomas Lincoln married a widow Sarah Bush Johnston the following year in 1819. Abraham was very close to his stepmother.

While others accused Abraham of being a lazy person due to his lack of interest and participation in helping the family in his family’s farming line. His stepmother truly saw him and acknowledged his love for reading, writing, and poetry writing which he was scribbling. His stepmother was the one who understood that Abraham was not a person who enjoyed physical labor; his interests were rather intellectual.

10 years later in the year 1828 on January 20th Abraham was left with a devastating mark and hollowness in his life when he lost his sister Sarah. Sarah lost her life during childbirth. The two most important people in his life were his sister and stepmother who valued him and saw his worth. This built confidence and self-belief.

Adult Life

Abraham Lincoln had some help from itinerant teachers, but he majorly was self-taught and educated himself. He was an avid reader from a young age and read many books like  The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, John Bunyan's The Pilgrim's Progress, Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe, and King James Bible.

As a teenager, he did household chores and took responsibility for his family. He even took upon work outside his home and earned an income. And he gave all his earnings to his father customarily till he was 21 years of age.

From his use of an axe as he helped his family in his growing years he was strong and tall. He was even known for his athleticism after he won a wrestling match with a renowned leader. Due to another milk sickness outbreak when he was 21 in March 1830, Abraham with many other of his family members shifted to west Illinois settling in Macon County.

During these years Abraham and his father Thomas grew distant because there was no commonality. Because of the acquired education by Abraham and their lack of it in his father left no common ground of conversation which created a gap between them.

Thomas Lincoln along with other family members moved to Coles County, Illinois the following year in 1831. And Abraham Lincoln on the other hand moved to New Salem, Illinois. He lived there and began his adulthood.

Early Career

He dabbled into different paths before he became a lawyer. When the economy was booming in 1832, he purchased a general store on credit and decided to run it with a partner Denton Offutt, in New Salem. The business suffered which led to Lincoln selling his shares.

In March of the same year, he ran for the Illinois General Assembly, his first encounter with politics. He was campaigning and drew the attention of the crowds with his oratory skills for navigational improvements on the Sangamon River.

He lost due to a lack of connection with the powerful group who influence and swing these elections.

During his campaign, he also considered serving as a Captain during the Black Hawk War led by Black Hawk when there arose a conflict between the U.S and Native Americans.

After his unsuccessful initial foray into politics, he became a postmaster in New Salem and later also served as a County Surveyor. His love for reading remained intact and he self-taught the law, with Blackstone's Commentaries, and became a lawyer.

Political Life

In the year 1834, Abraham Lincoln entered the statehouse campaign in Illinois as a member of the Whig Party one of the two most powerful political parties, and became a success. In the mid 19th century the 2 powerful and influential political parties were Whig and Democratic. He served the Illinois House of Representatives for Sangamon County for four terms.

In the year 1837, he extended support and echoed Henry Clay's support for the American Colonization Society. This support was truly instrumental in his political career as it was queer for a man with such power to advocate for abolishing slavery and emancipating such discrimination. He was a disciple of Henry Clay and they favoured urbanization and economic modernization.

In the year 1836, he moved to Springfield after being admitted to the Illinois bar that allows for arguing on behalf of your representation or client and began to practice law under John T. Stuart, cousin of Mary Todd, the woman he was courting at the time.

Marital Life and Building a Family

Abraham Lincoln courted different women when he first moved to New Salem. However, none of his courtship led to marriage as one of the women lost her life due to typhoid fever. And separated from others and went on different paths in life.

Abraham married Mary Todd in the year 1842 on 4th November whom he met in Springfield, Illinois in the year 1839. She belonged to a wealthy family, her father was a lawyer and a businessman. Abraham Lincoln was practising law at the time and in two years, the couple bought a house near his office and Mary ran the house with the help of her relative and a hired servant.

He was a devoted husband and a family man who at best tried to keep a balance even with his busy work schedule. He was very fond of his children, he had 4 sons, Robert Todd Lincoln, Edward Baker Lincoln, Willie Lincoln, and Thomas Lincoln. He often let them accompany him to his law office and his partners found his liberal parenting unusual at the time very perturbing.

Path to Presidency

He was a strong supporter of the Wilmot Proviso, which was a failed proposal that put forth the ban of slavery in any U.S territory of Mexico. He also detested the glorification of military showered in blood in the Mexican-American War during that President James K. Polk imputed.

He declined the position of secretary or governor of Oregon Territory which was just offered as a consolation after his support to Zachary Taylor in the Whig Nomination led Taylor to a win in the year 1848. He contemplated the offer and thought it would interrupt his legal and political career and continued practising law.

He was an excellent lawyer who challenged the Judicial system that held the evidence of an eye witness with unquestionable facts and proofs and leading to the ultimate decision by the court favouring him and making his clients acquittal. This garnered him the name of ‘Honest Abe’. His success rate over a decade was remarkable.

In the year 1854, on 16th October, Abraham Lincoln delivered a speech in Peoria making his stance about his despise for the ingrained slavery and the injustices because of it very clear. He highlighted his efforts of the previous years and his mentor Henry Clay’s role in trying to abolish the same.

His statement was truly revolutionary and nullified the  Kansas–Nebraska Act of the Whig Party who were unwilling to compromise. This led to his ascension into the political word and as a Republican Leader. The speech later came to be famously referred to as the ‘Peoria Speech’.

He was practising law actively even during the months leading up close to the commencement of his Presidential Campaign in 1859. And in one such case after defending his opponent’s grandson who was accused of murder his profile elevated to a peak.

He was favoured by many for his ideologies and belief in an inclusive and undivided house. The Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur in May for two days on the ninth and tenth. A campaign led by many of his supporters rallied for him and Lincoln received his first endorsement.

Beating candidates such as Seward and Chase Lincoln won the nomination on the third ballot, on May 18, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago. And Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, a former Democrat was nominated for the vice president.

Abraham was relying on his supporters and the campaign to garner more support for his success. And he won with 180 votes and was elected as the 16th president, on November 6th in the year 1860. His victory was entirely due to his support in the North and West and he was the first Republican president. The lack of support from the South was an indication of premonition of the Civil War ahead. On 4th March 1861, he was officially the President of the United States of America.

Civil War Outbreak and the Role of President

Not long after he started his term in the office, the American Civil War began between the Northern States who were loyal to the Union and in favour of the United States and the Southern states who wanted to withdraw from the organization to form the Confederate State of America.

The prime reason for this war was the division in the country due to the slavery in the territories that were not yet recognized as a state and suffered the slack of it, unlike the other free states.

At a time of war, the Presidency was conflicting, but Abraham Lincoln remained unabashed in claiming that his policy was to have no policy. He was not ashamed of admitting he was no longer controlling the events happening but it was the events that controlled him, his decisions, and his actions. Lincoln took executive action and control during the war by shaping the Union which was a term used for the North military strategy. He made active efforts to not let this war be an international conflict. He exercised unprecedented authority by imposing a blockade on Confederate posts and expanding his war powers.

He suspended the practice of habeas corpus that was prevalent which means to bring the body who is accused of the committed crime and also disbursed funds before appropriation by Congress. His strategic way of dealing garnered him more support from Congress and the other Northern States. He relied greatly on his combative Secretary of State William Seward. And at the same time,  while working closely with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Charles Sumner.

It went on for a long period from 12 Apr 1861 – 9 May 1865, the first battle was of Bull Run and the last battle being on Palmito Ranch. After 4 bloody years of conflict, the Confederate States were defeated by the United States. And the states that were still in rebellion were readmitted to the United States. The practice and the institution of injustice practice of slavery were abolished entirely nation-wide.

Personal Loss, the Aftermath and Death

Abraham Lincoln suffered from melancholy after the loss of his 2 children Edward in 1846 and Willie died on February 20, 1862, from a fever in the White House at 12 years old. This suffering from melancholy is now termed Clinical Depression.

John Wilkes Booth a supporter of slavery believed Lincoln will overthrow the Constitution and destroy the South assassinated him in his box at Ford's Theater in Washington on April 14, 1865, shortly after 10 p.m. The wound was on the head and the gunshot wound was fatal. He was the last and fourth President to be assassinated.

Robert Todd Lincoln, the eldest and only son who lived till maturity committed his Mother Mary for a time to an asylum in 1875 as she was grieving the loss of her beloved husband and sons.


The loss of a great president left a huge void in American history and the world. Even today, his philosophies and ideologies of liberty and modernization without slavery and injustice prevails. The children of the world do not fail to recognize the contribution of a man who came from nothing and ruled America. His part in history to shift the needle and look at individuals as equals and fight for justice is groundbreaking and revolutionary. The world will always remember this great leader.

FAQs on Abraham Lincoln Biography

Q1. Why was Abraham Called ‘Honest Abe’?

Ans. Abraham Lincoln was called Honest Abe when he was an actively practising lawyer and very fiercely protected his clients who committed serious crimes. Even with eyewitnesses claiming otherwise, he stated facts that could not be overlooked. Even when he was defending the grandson of his opponent, he did not lose his integrity and his strength of character truly shone in honesty.

Q2. Why was Lincoln Assassinated?

Ans. Abraham Lincoln was a huge believer in justice and anti-slavery. He believed in the union of the North and South states of America that was divided due to slavery mostly practised in the Southern states. During his entire term in the office, he tackled the Civil war successfully and managed to abolish slavery. But some supporters of slavery could not fathom his success and John Wilkes Booth assassinated him out of spite and according to him for his love for the South as he feared Lincoln would destroy the South.

Q3. Did Abraham Lincoln Start the Civil War?

Ans. No, Abraham Lincoln did not initiate the Civil War. He was rather the defender and strategize the win of the United States against the Confederate States. He tackled and handled with utmost proficiency and leadership.