When historians are asked to choose the greatest Presidents in the history of the United States, one of the names most frequently mentioned is Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was President during the greatest ordeal that ever faced the United States-the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in the state of Kentucky, but when he was a child, the family moved to the state of Indiana. Abraham’s parents, Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, were farmers who were very poor, and they received only a few years of education. When Abraham was only nine years old, his mother became ill and died. About one year later, Abraham’s father remarried.
As a young man, Abraham continued to work on the family farm, and he also worked as a laborer. During this time, the Lincolns moved to the state of Illinois. Abraham became known to the local people as an excellent athlete and story-teller. He educated himself by reading many books, most of which he borrowed from neighbours.
Lincoln was interested in politics, and when he was in his mid-20s, he was elected to the Illinois state legislature. During this time, Lincoln also studied law, and soon became known as an excellent lawyer. People called Lincoln “Honest Abe” because of his personal integrity. In 1842, Lincoln married a woman named Mary Todd.
During the 1850s, Lincoln became strongly opposed the expansion of slavery into the western parts of the United States. Lincoln held several famous debates against a supporter of slavery named Stephen Douglas.
In 1860, Lincoln was a candidate in the election for President of the United States. During this election, the issue of slavery and its expansion was very prominent. Lincoln won, but soon after, several of the southern states decided to secede from the United States, and form their own country. A few months later, fighting started between those southern states and the federal government, which was supported by the northern states.
Lincoln managed the Civil War with skill and determination. Gradually the North began to win the war. In 1863, Lincoln made the “Emancipation Proclamation,” which freed the slaves. Later that year, Lincoln gave his most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The Civil War had brought terrible suffering to many Americans, and people were very bitter after the war. But Lincoln wanted the country to become united again, and he urged people to forgive. However, in April of 1865, only months after the war ended, Lincoln was shot and killed by an assassin. Many people, even Lincoln’s critics, mourned his death.
In the generations that have passed since Lincoln’s death, he has continued to be viewed as a great President. Some historians have criticized Lincoln for not being more strongly opposed to slavery, but others have defended him, saying that Lincoln’s approach to the issue was realistic and humane. But nearly all historians agree that Lincoln was an honest and brave leader during the most difficult period in American history.