Abraham Lincoln

President of the United States from 1861 to 1865
This article is about the president of the United States For other uses, see Abraham Lincoln (disambiguation)
“Abe Lincoln” redirects here For the jazz musician, see Abe Lincoln (musician)

Abraham Lincoln

Portrait by Alexander Gardner, 1863
16th President of the United States
In office
March 4, 1861 – April 15, 1865
Vice President
  • Hannibal Hamlin
  • Andrew Johnson
    (March–April 1865)
Preceded by James Buchanan
Succeeded by Andrew Johnson
Member of the US House of Representatives
from Illinois’s 7th district
In office
March 4, 1847 – March 3, 1849
Preceded by John Henry
Succeeded by Thomas L Harris
Member of the
Illinois House of Representatives
from Sangamon County
In office
December 1, 1834 – December 4, 1842
Personal details
Born (1809-02-12)February 12, 1809
Hodgenville, Kentucky, United States
Died April 15, 1865(1865-04-15) (aged 56)
Washington, DC, United States
Manner of death Assassination
(gunshot wound to the head)
Resting place Lincoln Tomb
Political party
  • Whig (before 1854)
  • Republican (1854–1864)
  • National Union (1864–1865)
Height 6 ft 4 in (193 cm)
Mary Todd

(m 1842)

  • Robert
  • Edward
  • Willie
  • Tad
  • Thomas Lincoln (father)
  • Nancy Hanks (mother)
Relatives Lincoln family
  • Politician
  • lawyer
Military service
Branch/service Illinois Militia
Years of service 1832
  • Captain
  • Private
  • American Indian Wars
    • Black Hawk War
      • Battle of Stillman’s Run
      • Battle of Kellogg’s Grove
This article is part of
a series about

Abraham Lincoln

  • Early life and career
  • Family
  • Health
  • Sexuality

  • Political career, 1849–1861
  • Lincoln–Douglas debates
  • Cooper Union speech
  • Farewell address
  • Views on slavery
  • Views on religion
  • Electoral history

16th President of the United States
  • Presidency

First term
  • Transition
  • 1st inauguration
    • Address
  • Hannibal Hamlin
  • American Civil War
    • The Union
    • Emancipation Proclamation
    • Ten percent plan
    • Gettysburg Address
    • 13th Amendment

Second term
  • 2nd inauguration
    • Address
  • Andrew Johnson
  • Reconstruction

Presidential elections
  • 1860
    • Convention
  • 1864
    • Convention

Assassination and legacy
  • Assassination
  • Funeral
  • Historical reputation
  • Memorials
  • Depictions
  • Bibliography
  • Topical guide

  • v
  • t
  • e

Abraham Lincoln (/ˈlɪŋkən/ LINK-ən; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865), sometimes known as The Great Emancipator or Honest Abe, was an American lawyer and statesman who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865 Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War and succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, bolstering the federal government, and modernizing the US economy

Lincoln was born into poverty in a log cabin in Kentucky and was raised on the frontier, primarily in Indiana He was self-educated and became a lawyer, Whig Party leader, Illinois state legislator, and US Congressman from Illinois In 1849, he returned to his successful law practice in central Illinois In 1854, he was angered by the Kansas–Nebraska Act, which opened the territories to slavery, and he re-entered politics He soon became a leader of the new Republican Party He reached a national audience in the 1858 Senate campaign debates against Stephen A Douglas Lincoln ran for president in 1860, sweeping the North to gain victory Pro-slavery elements in the South viewed his election as a threat to slavery, and Southern states began seceding from the Union During this time, the newly formed Confederate States of America began seizing federal military bases in the south Just over one month after Lincoln assumed the presidency, the Confederate States attacked Fort Sumter, a US fort in South Carolina Following the bombardment, Lincoln mobilized forces to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union

Lincoln, a moderate Republican, had to navigate a contentious array of factions with friends and opponents from both the Democratic and Republican parties His allies, the War Democrats and the Radical Republicans, demanded harsh treatment of the Southern Confederates Anti-war Democrats (called “Copperheads”) despised Lincoln, and irreconcilable pro-Confederate elements plotted his assassination He managed the factions by exploiting their mutual enmity, carefully distributing political patronage, and by appealing to the American people His Gettysburg Address came to be seen as one of the greatest and most influential statements of American national purpose Lincoln closely supervised the strategy and tactics in the war effort, including the selection of generals, and implemented a naval blockade of the South’s trade He suspended habeas corpus in Maryland and elsewhere, and he averted British intervention by defusing the Trent Affair In 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared the slaves in the states “in rebellion” to be free It also directed the Army and Navy to “recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons” and to receive them “into the armed service of the United States” Lincoln also pressured border states to outlaw slavery, and he promoted the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which upon its ratification abolished slavery

Lincoln managed his own successful re-election campaign He sought to heal the war-torn nation through reconciliation On April 14, 1865, just days after the war’s end at Appomattox, he was attending a play at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, DC, with his wife Mary when he was fatally shot by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth Lincoln is remembered as a martyr and a national hero for his wartime leadership and for his efforts to preserve the Union and abolish slavery Lincoln is often ranked in both popular and scholarly polls as the greatest president in American history

Family and childhood

Early life

Main article: Early life and career of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, the second child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, in a log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky He was a descendant of Samuel Lincoln, an Englishman who migrated from Hingham, Norfolk, to its namesake, Hingham, Massachusetts, in 1638 The family then migrated west, passing through New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Virginia Lincoln was also a descendant of the Harrison family of Virginia; his paternal grandfather and namesake, Captain Abraham Lincoln and wife Bathsheba (née Herring) moved the family from Virginia to Jefferson County, Kentucky The captain was killed in an Indian raid in 1786 His children, including eight-year-old Thomas, Abraham’s father, witnessed the attack Thomas then worked at odd jobs in Kentucky and Tennessee before the family settled in Hardin County, Kentucky, in the early 1800s

The heritage of Lincoln’s mother Nancy remains unclear, but it is widely assumed that she was the daughter of Lucy Hanks Thomas and Nancy married on June 12, 1806, in Washington County, and moved to Elizabethtown, Kentucky They had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas, who died as an infant

Thomas Lincoln bought or leased farms in Kentucky before losing all but 200 acres (81 ha) of his land in court disputes over property titles In 1816, the family moved to Indiana where the land surveys and titles were more reliable Indiana was a “free” (non-slaveholding) territory, and they settled in an “unbroken forest” in Hurricane Township, Perry County, Indiana In 1860, Lincoln noted that the family’s move to Indiana was “partly on account of slavery”, but mainly due to land title difficulties

The farm site where Lincoln grew up in Spencer County, Indiana

In Kentucky and Indiana, Thomas worked as a farmer, cabinetmaker, and carpenter At various times, he owned farms, livestock, and town lots, paid taxes, sat on juries, appraised estates, and served on county patrols Thomas and Nancy were members of a Separate Baptists church, which forbade alcohol, dancing, and slavery

Overcoming financial challenges, Thomas in 1827 obtained clear title to 80 acres (32 ha) in Indiana, an area which became the Little Pigeon Creek Community

Mother’s death

On October 5, 1818, Nancy Lincoln died from milk sickness, leaving 11-year-old Sarah in charge of a household including her father, 9-year-old Abraham, and Nancy’s 19-year-old orphan cousin, Dennis Hanks Ten years later, on January 20, 1828, Sarah died while giving birth to a stillborn son, devastating Lincoln

On December 2, 1819, Thomas married Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow from Elizabethtown, Kentucky, with three children of her own Abraham became close to his stepmother and called her “Mother” Lincoln disliked the hard labor associated with farm life His family even said he was lazy, for all his “reading, scribbling, writing, ciphering, writing Poetry, etc” His stepmother acknowledged he did not enjoy “physical labor”, but loved to read

Education and move to Illinois

Lincoln was largely self-educated His formal schooling was from itinerant teachers It included two short stints in Kentucky, where he learned to read but probably not to write, at age seven, and in Indiana, where he went to school sporadically due to farm chores, for a total of fewer than 12 months in aggregate by the age of 15 He persisted as an avid reader and retained a lifelong interest in learning Family, neighbors, and schoolmates recalled that his reading included the King James Bible, Aesop’s Fables, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

New Salem, Illinois

As a teen, Lincoln took responsibility for chores and customarily gave his father all earnings from work outside the home until he was 21 Lincoln was tall, strong, and athletic, and became adept at using an ax He was an active wrestler during his youth and trained in the rough catch-as-catch-can style (also known as catch wrestling) He became county wrestling champion at the age of 21 He gained a reputation for strength and audacity after winning a wrestling match with the renowned leader of ruffians known as “the Clary’s Grove Boys”

In March 1830, fearing another milk sickness outbreak, several members of the extended Lincoln family, including Abraham, moved west to Illinois, a free state, and settled in Macon County Abraham then became increasingly distant from Thomas, in part due to his father’s lack of education In 1831, as Thomas and other family prepared to move to a new homestead in Coles County, Illinois, Abraham struck out on his own He made his home in New Salem, Illinois, for six years Lincoln and some friends took goods by flatboat to New Orleans, Louisiana, where he was first exposed to slavery

In 1865, Lincoln was asked how he came to acquire his rhetorical skills He answered that in the practice of law he frequently came across the word “demonstrate” but had insufficient understanding of the term So, he left Springfield for his father’s home to study until he “could give any proposition in the six books of Euclid at sight”

Marriage and children

Further information: Lincoln family, Health of Abraham Lincoln, and Sexuality of Abraham Lincoln
1864 photo of President Lincoln with youngest son, Tad
Mary Todd Lincoln, wife of Abraham Lincoln, in 1861

Lincoln’s first romantic interest was Ann Rutledge, whom he met when he moved to New Salem By 1835, they were in a relationship but not formally engaged She died on August 25, 1835, most likely of typhoid fever In the early 1830s, he met Mary Owens from Kentucky

Late in 1836, Lincoln agreed to a match with Owens if she returned to New Salem Owens arrived that November and he courted her for a time; however, they both had second thoughts On August 16, 1837, he wrote Owens a letter saying he would not blame her if she ended the relationship, and she never replied

In 1839, Lincoln met Mary Todd in Springfield, Illinois, and the following year they became engaged She was the daughter of Robert Smith Todd, a wealthy lawyer and businessman in Lexington, Kentucky A wedding set for January 1, 1841, was canceled at Lincoln’s request, but they reconciled and married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary’s sister While anxiously preparing for the nuptials, he was asked where he was going and replied, “To hell, I suppose” In 1844, the couple bought a house in Springfield near his law office Mary kept house with the help of a hired servant and a relative

Lincoln was an affectionate husband and father of four sons, though his work regularly kept him away from home The oldest, Robert Todd Lincoln, was born in 1843 and was the only child to live to maturity Edward Baker Lincoln (Eddie), born in 1846, died February 1, 1850, probably of tuberculosis Lincoln’s third son, “Willie” Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died of a fever at the White House on February 20, 1862 The youngest, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and survived his father but died of heart failure at age 18 on July 16, 1871 Lincoln “was remarkably fond of children” and the Lincolns were not considered to be strict with their own In fact, Lincoln’s law partner William H Herndon would grow irritated when Lincoln brought his children to the law office Their father, it seemed, was often too absorbed in his work to notice his children’s behavior Herndon recounted, “I have felt many and many a time that I wanted to wring their little necks, and yet out of respect for Lincoln I kept my mouth shut Lincoln did not note what his children were doing or had done”

The deaths of their sons, Eddie and Willie, had profound effects on both parents Lincoln suffered from “melancholy”, a condition now thought to be clinical depression Later in life, Mary struggled with the stresses of losing her husband and sons, and Robert committed her for a time to an asylum in 1875

Early career and militia service

Further information: Early life and career of Abraham Lincoln and Abraham Lincoln in the Black Hawk War

During 1831 and 1832, Lincoln worked at a general store in New Salem, Illinois In 1832 he declared his candidacy for the Illinois House of Representatives, but interrupted his campaign to serve as a captain in the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War When Lincoln returned home from the Black Hawk War, he planned to become a blacksmith, but instead formed a partnership with William Berry, 21, with whom he purchased a New Salem general store on credit Because a license was required to sell customers single beverages, Berry obtained bartending licenses for $7 each for Lincoln and himself, and in 1833 the store became a tavern as well As licensed bartenders, Lincoln and Berry were able to sell spirits, including liquor, for 12 cents a pint They offered a wide range of alcoholic beverages as well as food, including takeout dinners But Berry became an alcoholic, was often too drunk to work, and Lincoln ended up running the store by himself Although the economy was booming, the business struggled and went into debt, causing Lincoln to sell his share

In his first campaign speech after returning from his military service, Lincoln observed a supporter in the crowd under attack, grabbed the assailant by his “neck and the seat of his trousers”, and tossed him In the campaign, Lincoln advocated for navigational improvements on the Sangamon River He could draw crowds as a raconteur, but lacked the requisite formal education, powerful friends, and money, and lost the election Lincoln finished eighth out of 13 candidates (the top four were elected), though he received 277 of the 300 votes cast in the New Salem precinct

Lincoln served as New Salem’s postmaster and later as county surveyor, but continued his voracious reading and decided to become a lawyer Rather than studying in the office of an established attorney, as was the custom, Lincoln borrowed legal texts from attorneys John Todd Stuart and Thomas Drummond, purchased books including Blackstone’s Commentaries and Chitty’s Pleadings, and read law on his own He later said of his legal education that “I studied with nobody”

Illinois state legislature (1834–1842)

Lincoln’s home in Springfield, Illinois

Lincoln’s second state house campaign in 1834, this time as a Whig, was a success over a powerful Whig opponent Then followed his four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives for Sangamon County He championed construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and later was a Canal Commissioner He voted to expand suffrage beyond white landowners to all white males, but adopted a “free soil” stance opposing both slavery and abolition In 1837, he declared, ” Institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and bad policy, but the promulgation of abolition doctrines tends rather to increase than abate its evils” He echoed Henry Clay’s support for the American Colonization Society which advocated a program of abolition in conjunction with settling freed slaves in Liberia

He was admitted to the Illinois bar in 1836, and moved to Springfield and began to practice law under John T Stuart, Mary Todd’s cousin Lincoln emerged as a formidable trial combatant during cross-examinations and closing arguments He partnered several years with Stephen T Logan, and in 1844 began his practice with William Herndon, “a studious young man”

US House of Representatives (1847–1849)

Lincoln in his late 30s as a member of the US House of Representatives Photo taken by one of Lincoln’s law students around 1846

True to his record, Lincoln professed to friends in 1861 to be “an old line Whig, a disciple of Henry Clay” Their party favored economic modernization in banking, tariffs to fund internal improvements including railroads, and urbanization

In 1843, Lincoln sought the Whig nomination for Illinois’ 7th district seat in the US House of Representatives; he was defeated by John J Hardin though he prevailed with the party in limiting Hardin to one term Lincoln not only pulled off his strategy of gaining the nomination in 1846 but also won the election He was the only Whig in the Illinois delegation, but as dutiful as any participated in almost all votes and made speeches that toed the party line He was assigned to the Committee on Post Office and Post Roads and the Committee on Expenditures in the War Department Lincoln teamed with Joshua R Giddings on a bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia with compensation for the owners, enforcement to capture fugitive slaves, and a popular vote on the matter He dropped the bill when it eluded Whig support

Political views

Official Portrait of Lincoln in Congress by Ned Bittinger

On foreign and military policy, Lincoln spoke against the Mexican–American War, which he imputed to President James K Polk’s desire for “military glory—that attractive rainbow, that rises in showers of blood” He supported the Wilmot Proviso, a failed proposal to ban slavery in any US territory won from Mexico

Lincoln emphasized his opposition to Polk by drafting and introducing his Spot Resolutions The war had begun with a Mexican slaughter of American soldiers in territory disputed by Mexico, and Polk insisted that Mexican soldiers had “invaded our territory and shed the blood of our fellow-citizens on our own soil” Lincoln demanded that Polk show Congress the exact spot on which blood had been shed and prove that the spot was on American soil The resolution was ignored in both Congress and the national papers, and it cost Lincoln political support in his district One Illinois newspaper derisively nicknamed him “spotty Lincoln” Lincoln later regretted some of his statements, especially his attack on presidential war-making powers

Lincoln had pledged in 1846 to serve only one term in the House Realizing Clay was unlikely to win the presidency, he supported General Zachary Taylor for the Whig nomination in the 1848 presidential election Taylor won and Lincoln hoped in vain to be appointed Commissioner of the General Land Office The administration offered to appoint him secretary or governor of the Oregon Territory as consolation This distant territory was a Democratic stronghold, and acceptance of the post would have disrupted his legal and political career in Illinois, so he declined and resumed his law practice

Prairie lawyer

See also: List of cases involving Abraham Lincoln

Lincoln in 1857

In his Springfield practice, Lincoln handled “every kind of business that could come before a prairie lawyer” Twice a year he appeared for 10 consecutive weeks in county seats in the Midstate county courts; this continued for 16 years Lincoln handled transportation cases in the midst of the nation’s western expansion, particularly river barge conflicts under the many new railroad bridges As a riverboat man, Lincoln initially favored those interests, but ultimately represented whoever hired him He later represented a bridge company against a riverboat company in Hurd v Rock Island Bridge Company, a landmark case involving a canal boat that sank after hitting a bridge In 1849, he received a patent for a flotation device for the movement of boats in shallow water The idea was never commercialized, but it made Lincoln the only president to hold a patent

Lincoln appeared before the Illinois Supreme Court in 175 cases; he was sole counsel in 51 cases, of which 31 were decided in his favor From 1853 to 1860, one of his largest clients was the Illinois Central Railroad His legal reputation gave rise to the nickname “Honest Abe”

Lincoln argued in an 1858 criminal trial, defending William “Duff” Armstrong, who was on trial for the murder of James Preston Metzker The case is famous for Lincoln’s use of a fact established by judicial notice to challenge the credibility of an eyewitness After an opposing witness testified to seeing the crime in the moonlight, Lincoln produced a Farmers’ Almanac showing the moon was at a low angle, drastically reducing visibility Armstrong was acquitted

Leading up to his presidential campaign, Lincoln elevated his profile in an 1859 murder case, with his defense of Simeon Quinn “Peachy” Harrison who was a third cousin; Harrison was also the grandson of Lincoln’s political opponent, Rev Peter Cartwright Harrison was charged with the murder of Greek Crafton who, as he lay dying of his wounds, confessed to Cartwright that he had provoked Harrison Lincoln angrily protested the judge’s initial decision to exclude Cartwright’s testimony about the confession as inadmissible hearsay Lincoln argued that the testimony involved a dying declaration and was not subject to the hearsay rule Instead of holding Lincoln in contempt of court as expected, the judge, a Democrat, reversed his ruling and admitted the testimony into evidence, resulting in Harrison’s acquittal

Republican politics (1854–1860)

Main article: Abraham Lincoln in politics, 1849–1861

Emergence as Republican leader

Further information: Slave states and free states and Abraham Lincoln and slavery

Lincoln in 1858, the year of his debates with Stephen Douglas over slavery

The debate over the status of slavery in the territories failed to alleviate tensions between the slave-holding South and the free North, with the failure of the Compromise of 1850, a legislative package designed to address the issue In his 1852 eulogy for Clay, Lincoln highlighted the latter’s support for gradual emancipation and opposition to “both extremes” on the slavery issue As the slavery debate in the Nebraska and Kansas territories became particularly acrimonious, Illinois Senator Stephen A Douglas proposed popular sovereignty as a compromise; the measure would allow the electorate of each territory to decide the status of slavery The legislation alarmed many Northerners, who sought to prevent the spread of slavery that could result, but Douglas’s Kansas–Nebraska Act narrowly passed Congress in May 1854

Lincoln did not comment on the act until months later in his “Peoria Speech” of October 1854 Lincoln then declared his opposition to slavery, which he repeated en route to the presidency He said the Kansas Act had a “declared indifference, but as I must think, a covert real zeal for the spread of slavery I cannot but hate it I hate it because of the monstrous injustice of slavery itself I hate it because it deprives our republican example of its just influence in the world ” Lincoln’s attacks on the Kansas–Nebraska Act marked his return to political life

Nationally, the Whigs were irreparably split by the Kansas–Nebraska Act and other efforts to compromise on the slavery issue Reflecting on the demise of his party, Lincoln wrote in 1855, “I think I am a Whig, but others say there are no Whigs, and that I am an abolitionist I do no more than oppose the extension of slavery” The new Republican Party was formed as a northern party dedicated to antislavery, drawing from the antislavery wing of the Whig Party and combining Free Soil, Liberty, and antislavery Democratic Party members, Lincoln resisted early Republican entreaties, fearing that the new party would become a platform for extreme abolitionists Lincoln held out hope for rejuvenating the Whigs, though he lamented his party’s growing closeness with the nativist Know Nothing movement

In 1854, Lincoln was elected to the Illinois legislature but declined to take his seat The year’s elections showed the strong opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act, and in the aftermath, Lincoln sought election to the United States Senate At that time, senators were elected by the state legislature After leading in the first six rounds of voting, he was unable to obtain a majority Lincoln instructed his backers to vote for Lyman Trumbull Trumbull was an antislavery Democrat, and had received few votes in the earlier ballots; his supporters, also antislavery Democrats, had vowed not to support any Whig Lincoln’s decision to withdraw enabled his Whig supporters and Trumbull’s antislavery Democrats to combine and defeat the mainstream Democratic candidate, Joel Aldrich Matteson

1856 campaign

Violent political confrontations in Kansas continued, and opposition to the Kansas–Nebraska Act remained strong throughout the North As the 1856 elections approached, Lincoln joined the Republicans and attended the Bloomington Convention, which formally established the Illinois Republican Party The convention platform endorsed Congress’s right to regulate slavery in the territories and backed the admission of Kansas as a free state Lincoln gave the final speech of the convention supporting the party platform and called for the preservation of the Union At the June 1856 Republican National Convention, though Lincoln received support to run as vice president, John C Frémont and William Dayton comprised the ticket, which Lincoln supported throughout Illinois The Democrats nominated former Secretary of State James Buchanan and the Know-Nothings nominated former Whig President Millard Fillmore Buchanan prevailed, while Republican William Henry Bissell won election as Governor of Illinois, and Lincoln became a leading Republican in Illinois

A portrait of Dred Scott, petitioner in Dred Scott v Sandford

Dred Scott v Sandford

Dred Scott was a slave whose master took him from a slave state to a territory that was free as a result of the Missouri Compromise After Scott was returned to the slave state he petitioned a federal court for his freedom His petition was denied in Dred Scott v Sandford (1857) In his opinion, Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B Taney wrote that black people were not citizens and derived no rights from the Constitution, and that the Missouri Compromise was unconstitutional for infringing upon slave owners’ “property” rights While many Democrats hoped that Dred Scott would end the dispute over slavery in the territories, the decision sparked further outrage in the North Lincoln denounced it as the product of a conspiracy of Democrats to support the Slave Power He argued the decision was at variance with the Declaration of Independence; he said that while the founding fathers did not believe all men equal in every respect, they believed all men were equal “in certain inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”

Lincoln–Douglas debates and Cooper Union speech

Further information: Lincoln–Douglas debates and Cooper Union speech

In 1858, Douglas was up for re-election in the US Senate, and Lincoln hoped to defeat him Many in the party felt that a former Whig should be nominated in 1858, and Lincoln’s 1856 campaigning and support of Trumbull had earned him a favor Some eastern Republicans supported Douglas for his opposition to the Lecompton Constitution and admission of Kansas as a slave state Many Illinois Republicans resented this eastern interference For the first time, Illinois Republicans held a convention to agree upon a Senate candidate, and Lincoln won the nomination with little opposition

Abraham Lincoln, a portrait by Mathew Brady taken February 27, 1860, the day of Lincoln’s Cooper Union speech

Lincoln accepted the nomination with great enthusiasm and zeal After his nomination he delivered his House Divided Speech, with the biblical reference Mark 3:25, “A house divided against itself cannot stand I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free I do not expect the Union to be dissolved—I do not expect the house to fall—but I do expect it will cease to be divided It will become all one thing, or all the other” The speech created a stark image of the danger of disunion The stage was then set for the election of the Illinois legislature which would, in turn, select Lincoln or Douglas When informed of Lincoln’s nomination, Douglas stated, ” is the strong man of the party  and if I beat him, my victory will be hardly won”

The Senate campaign featured seven debates between Lincoln and Douglas These were the most famous political debates in American history; they had an atmosphere akin to a prizefight and drew crowds in the thousands The principals stood in stark contrast both physically and politically Lincoln warned that Douglas’ “Slave Power” was threatening the values of republicanism, and accused Douglas of distorting the Founding Fathers’ premise that all men are created equal Douglas emphasized his Freeport Doctrine, that local settlers were free to choose whether to allow slavery and accused Lincoln of having joined the abolitionists Lincoln’s argument assumed a moral tone, as he claimed Douglas represented a conspiracy to promote slavery Douglas’s argument was more legal, claiming that Lincoln was defying the authority of the US Supreme Court in the Dred Scott decision

Though the Republican legislative candidates won more popular votes, the Democrats won more seats, and the legislature re-elected Douglas Lincoln’s articulation of the issues gave him a national political presence In May 1859, Lincoln purchased the Illinois Staats-Anzeiger, a German-language newspaper that was consistently supportive; most of the state’s 130,000 German Americans voted Democratically but the German-language paper mobilized Republican support In the aftermath of the 1858 election, newspapers frequently mentioned Lincoln as a potential Republican presidential candidate, rivaled by William H Seward, Salmon P Chase, Edward Bates, and Simon Cameron While Lincoln was popular in the Midwest, he lacked support in the Northeast and was unsure whether to seek office In January 1860, Lincoln told a group of political allies that he would accept the nomination if offered, and in the following months’ several local papers endorsed his candidacy

Over the coming months, Lincoln was tireless, making nearly fifty speeches along the campaign trail By the quality and simplicity of his rhetoric, he quickly became the champion of the Republican party However, despite his overwhelming support in the Midwestern United States, he was less appreciated in the east Horace Greeley, editor of the New York Tribune, at that time wrote up an unflattering account of Lincoln’s compromising position on slavery and his reluctance to challenge the court’s Dred-Scott ruling, which was promptly used against him by his political rivals

On February 27, 1860, powerful New York Republicans invited Lincoln to give a speech at Cooper Union, in which he argued that the Founding Fathers of the United States had little use for popular sovereignty and had repeatedly sought to restrict slavery He insisted that morality required opposition to slavery, and rejected any “groping for some middle ground between the right and the wrong” Many in the audience thought he appeared awkward and even ugly But Lincoln demonstrated intellectual leadership that brought him into contention Journalist Noah Brooks reported, “No man ever before made such an impression on his first appeal to a New York audience”

Historian David Herbert Donald described the speech as “a superb political move for an unannounced presidential aspirant Appearing in Seward’s home state, sponsored by a group largely loyal to Chase, Lincoln shrewdly made no reference to either of these Republican rivals for the nomination” In response to an inquiry about his ambitions, Lincoln said, “The taste is in my mouth a little”

1860 presidential election

Main article: 1860 United States presidential election

A Timothy Cole wood engraving taken from a May 20, 1860, ambrotype of Lincoln, two days following his nomination for president

On May 9–10, 1860, the Illinois Republican State Convention was held in Decatur Lincoln’s followers organized a campaign team led by David Davis, Norman Judd, Leonard Swett, and Jesse DuBois, and Lincoln received his first endorsement Exploiting his embellished frontier legend (clearing land and splitting fence rails), Lincoln’s supporters adopted the label of “The Rail Candidate” In 1860, Lincoln described himself: “I am in height, six feet, four inches, nearly; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hundred and eighty pounds; dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray eyes” Michael Martinez wrote about the effective imaging of Lincoln by his campaign At times he was presented as the plain-talking “Rail Splitter” and at other times he was “Honest Abe”, unpolished but trustworthy

On May 18, at the Republican National Convention in Chicago, Lincoln won the nomination on the third ballot, beating candidates such as Seward and Chase A former Democrat, Hannibal Hamlin of Maine, was nominated for vice president to balance the ticket Lincoln’s success depended on his campaign team, his reputation as a moderate on the slavery issue, and his strong support for internal improvements and the tariff Pennsylvania put him over the top, led by the state’s iron interests who were reassured by his tariff support Lincoln’s managers had focused on this delegation while honoring Lincoln’s dictate to “Make no contracts that will bind me”

As the Slave Power tightened its grip on the national government, most Republicans agreed with Lincoln that the North was the aggrieved party Throughout the 1850s, Lincoln had doubted the prospects of civil war, and his supporters rejected claims that his election would incite secession When Douglas was selected as the candidate of the Northern Democrats, delegates from eleven slave states walked out of the Democratic convention; they opposed Douglas’s position on popular sovereignty, and selected incumbent Vice President John C Breckinridge as their candidate A group of former Whigs and Know Nothings formed the Constitutional Union Party and nominated John Bell of Tennessee Lincoln and Douglas competed for votes in the North, while Bell and Breckinridge primarily found support in the South

The Rail Candidate—Lincoln’s 1860 platform, portrayed as being held up by a slave and his party
In 1860, northern and western electoral votes (shown in red) put Lincoln into the White House

Prior to the Republican convention, the Lincoln campaign began cultivating a nationwide youth organization, the Wide Awakes, which it used to generate popular support throughout the country to spearhead voter registration drives, thinking that new voters and young voters tended to embrace new parties People of the Northern states knew the Southern states would vote against Lincoln and rallied supporters for Lincoln

As Douglas and the other candidates campaigned, Lincoln gave no speeches, relying on the enthusiasm of the Republican Party The party did the leg work that produced majorities across the North and produced an abundance of campaign posters, leaflets, and newspaper editorials Republican speakers focused first on the party platform, and second on Lincoln’s life story, emphasizing his childhood poverty The goal was to demonstrate the power of “free labor”, which allowed a common farm boy to work his way to the top by his own efforts The Republican Party’s production of campaign literature dwarfed the combined opposition; a Chicago Tribune writer produced a pamphlet that detailed Lincoln’s life and sold 100,000–200,000 copies Though he did not give public appearances, many sought to visit him and write him In the runup to the election, he took an office in the Illinois state capitol to deal with the influx of attention He also hired John George Nicolay as his personal secretary, who would remain in that role during the presidency

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president He was the first Republican president and his victory was entirely due to his support in the North and West No ballots were cast for him in 10 of the 15 Southern slave states, and he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states, an omen of the impending Civil War Lincoln received 1,866,452 votes, or 398% of the total in a four-way race, carrying the free Northern states, as well as California and Oregon His victory in the electoral college was decisive: Lincoln had 180 votes to 123 for his opponents

Presidency (1861–1865)

Main article: Presidency of Abraham Lincoln

Secession and inauguration

Lincoln’s first inaugural at the United States Capitol, March 4, 1861 The Capitol dome above the rotunda was still under construction

New York Times headlines covering Lincoln’s first inauguration on March 4, 1861 Less than six weeks later, on April 12, the South attacked Fort Sumter, launching the American Civil War

Main article: Presidential transition of Abraham Lincoln
Further information: Secession winter and Baltimore Plot

The South was outraged by Lincoln’s election, and in response secessionists implemented plans to leave the Union before he took office in March 1861 On December 20, 1860, South Carolina took the lead by adopting an ordinance of secession; by February 1, 1861, Florida, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas followed Six of these states declared themselves to be a sovereign nation, the Confederate States of America, and adopted a constitution The upper South and border states (Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, and Arkansas) initially rejected the secessionist appeal President Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln refused to recognize the Confederacy, declaring secession illegal The Confederacy selected Jefferson Davis as its provisional president on February 9, 1861

Attempts at compromise followed but Lincoln and the Republicans rejected the proposed Crittenden Compromise as contrary to the Party’s platform of free-soil in the territories Lincoln said, “I will suffer death before I consent  to any concession or compromise which looks like buying the privilege to take possession of this government to which we have a constitutional right”

Lincoln tacitly supported the Corwin Amendment to the Constitution, which passed Congress and was awaiting ratification by the states when Lincoln took office That doomed amendment would have protected slavery in states where it already existed A few weeks before the war, Lincoln sent a letter to every governor informing them Congress had passed a joint resolution to amend the Constitution

En route to his inauguration, Lincoln addressed crowds and legislatures across the North He gave a particularly emotional farewell address upon leaving Springfield; he would never again return to Springfield alive The president-elect evaded suspected assassins in Baltimore On February 23, 1861, he arrived in disguise in Washington, DC, which was placed under substantial military guard Lincoln directed his inaugural address to the South, proclaiming once again that he had no inclination to abolish slavery in the Southern states:

Lincoln cited his plans for banning the expansion of slavery as the key source of conflict between North and South, stating “One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended This is the only substantial dispute” The president ended his address with an appeal to the people of the South: “We are not enemies, but friends We must not be enemies The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield, and patriot grave, to every living heart and hearthstone, all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature” The failure of the Peace Conference of 1861 signaled that legislative compromise was impossible By March 1861, no leaders of the insurrection had proposed rejoining the Union on any terms Meanwhile, Lincoln and the Republican leadership agreed that the dismantling of the Union could not be tolerated In his second inaugural address, Lincoln looked back on the situation at the time and said: “Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather than let the Nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let it perish, and the war came”

Civil War

Main articles: American Civil War and Battle of Fort Sumter

President Lincoln in 1861

Lincoln with officers after the Battle of Antietam Notable figures (from left) are 1 Col Delos Sackett; 4 Gen George W Morell; 5 Alexander S Webb, Chief of Staff, V Corps; 6 McClellan; 8 Dr Jonathan Letterman; 10 Lincoln; 11 Henry J Hunt; 12 Fitz John Porter; 15 Andrew A Humphreys; 16 Capt George Armstrong Custer

Major Robert Anderson, commander of the Union’s Fort Sumter in Charleston, South Carolina, sent a request for provisions to Washington, and Lincoln’s order to meet that request was seen by the secessionists as an act of war On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Union troops at Fort Sumter and began the fight Historian Allan Nevins argued that the newly inaugurated Lincoln made three miscalculations: underestimating the gravity of the crisis, exaggerating the strength of Unionist sentiment in the South, and overlooking Southern Unionist opposition to an invasion

William Tecumseh Sherman talked to Lincoln during inauguration week and was “sadly disappointed” at his failure to realize that “the country was sleeping on a volcano” and that the South was preparing for war Donald concludes that, “His repeated efforts to avoid collision in the months between inauguration and the firing on Ft Sumter showed he adhered to his vow not to be the first to shed fraternal blood But he also vowed not to surrender the forts The only resolution of these contradictory positions was for the confederates to fire the first shot; they did just that”

On April 15, Lincoln called on the states to send a total of 75,000 volunteer troops to recapture forts, protect Washington, and “preserve the Union”, which, in his view, remained intact despite the seceding states This call forced states to choose sides Virginia seceded and was rewarded with the designation of Richmond as the Confederate capital, despite its exposure to Union lines North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas followed over the following two months Secession sentiment was strong in Missouri and Maryland, but did not prevail; Kentucky remained neutral The Fort Sumter attack rallied Americans north of the Mason-Dixon line to defend the nation

As States sent Union regiments south, on April 19, Baltimore mobs in control of the rail links attacked Union troops who were changing trains Local leaders’ groups later burned critical rail bridges to the capital and the Army responded by arresting local Maryland officials Lincoln suspended the writ of habeas corpus where needed for the security of troops trying to reach Washington John Merryman, one Maryland official hindering the US troop movements, petitioned Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger B Taney to issue a writ of habeas corpus In June, in Ex parte Merryman, Taney, not ruling on behalf of the Supreme Court, issued the writ, believing that Article I, section 9 of the Constitution authorized only Congress and not the president to suspend it But Lincoln persisted with the policy of suspension in select areas

Union military strategy

Lincoln took executive control of the war and shaped the Union military strategy He responded to the unprecedented political and military crisis as commander-in-chief by exercising unprecedented authority He expanded his war powers, imposed a blockade on Confederate ports, disbursed funds before appropriation by Congress, suspended habeas corpus, and arrested and imprisoned thousands of suspected Confederate sympathizers Lincoln gained the support of Congress and the northern public for these actions Lincoln also had to reinforce Union sympathies in the border slave states and keep the war from becoming an international conflict

Running the Machine: An 1864 political cartoon satirizing Lincoln’s administration – featuring William Fessenden, Edwin Stanton, William Seward, Gideon Welles, Lincoln, and others

It was clear from the outset that bipartisan support was essential to success, and that any compromise alienated factions on both sides of the aisle, such as the appointment of Republicans and Democrats to command positions Copperheads criticized Lincoln for refusing to compromise on slavery The Radical Republicans criticized him for moving too slowly in abolishing slavery On August 6, 1861, Lincoln signed the Confiscation Act that authorized judicial proceedings to confiscate and free slaves who were used to support the Confederates The law had little practical effect, but it signaled political support for abolishing slavery

In August 1861, General John C Frémont, the 1856 Republican presidential nominee, without consulting Washington, issued a martial edict freeing slaves of the rebels Lincoln canceled the illegal proclamation as politically motivated and lacking military necessity As a result, Union enlistments from Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri increased by over 40,000

Internationally, Lincoln wanted to forestall foreign military aid to the Confederacy He relied on his combative Secretary of State William Seward while working closely with Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman Charles Sumner In the 1861 Trent Affair which threatened war with Great Britain, the US Navy illegally intercepted a British mail ship, the Trent, on the high seas and seized two Confederate envoys; Britain protested vehemently while the US cheered Lincoln ended the crisis by releasing the two diplomats Biographer James G Randall dissected Lincoln’s successful techniques:

Lincoln painstakingly monitored the telegraph reports coming into the War Department He tracked all phases of the effort, consulting with governors, and selecting generals based on their success, their state, and their party In January 1862, after complaints of inefficiency and profiteering in the War Department, Lincoln replaced War Secretary Simon Cameron with Edwin Stanton Stanton centralized the War Department’s activities, auditing and canceling contracts, saving the federal government $17,000,000 Stanton was a staunch Unionist, pro-business, conservative Democrat who gravitated toward the Radical Republican faction He worked more often and more closely with Lincoln than any other senior official “Stanton and Lincoln virtually conducted the war together”, say Thomas and Hyman

Lincoln’s war strategy embraced two priorities: ensuring that Washington was well-defended and conducting an aggressive war effort for a prompt, decisive victory Twice a week, Lincoln met with his cabinet in the afternoon Occasionally Mary prevailed on him to take a carriage ride, concerned that he was working too hard For his edification Lincoln relied upon a book by his chief of staff General Henry Halleck entitled Elements of Military Art and Science; Halleck was a disciple of the European strategist Antoine-Henri Jomini Lincoln began to appreciate the critical need to control strategic points, such as the Mississippi River Lincoln saw the importance of Vicksburg and understood the necessity of defeating the enemy’s army, rather than merely capturing territory

In directing the Union’s war strategy, Lincoln valued the advice of Gen Winfield Scott, even after his retirement as Commanding General of the United States Army On June 23–24, 1862, President Lincoln made an unannounced visit to West Point, where he spent five hours consulting with Scott regarding the handling of the Civil War and the staffing of the War Department

General McClellan

After the Union rout at Bull Run and Winfield Scott’s retirement, Lincoln appointed Major General George B McClellan general-in-chief McClellan then took months to plan his Virginia Peninsula Campaign McClellan’s slow progress frustrated Lincoln, as did his position that no troops were needed to defend Washington McClellan, in turn, blamed the failure of the campaign on Lincoln’s reservation of troops for the capitol

Lincoln and McClellan, October 3, 1862

In 1862, Lincoln removed McClellan for the general’s continued inaction He elevated Henry Halleck in July and appointed John Pope as head of the new Army of Virginia Pope satisfied Lincoln’s desire to advance on Richmond from the north, thus protecting Washington from counterattack But Pope was then soundly defeated at the Second Battle of Bull Run in the summer of 1862, forcing the Army of the Potomac back to defend Washington

Despite his dissatisfaction with McClellan’s failure to reinforce Pope, Lincoln restored him to command of all forces around Washington Two days after McClellan’s return to command, General Robert E Lee’s forces crossed the Potomac River into Maryland, leading to the Battle of Antietam That battle, a Union victory, was among the bloodiest in American history; it facilitated Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation in January

McClellan then resisted the president’s demand that he pursue Lee’s withdrawing army, while General Don Carlos Buell likewise refused orders to move the Army of the Ohio against rebel forces in eastern Tennessee Lincoln replaced Buell with William Rosecrans; and after the 1862 midterm elections he replaced McClellan with Ambrose Burnside The appointments were both politically neutral and adroit on Lincoln’s part

Burnside, against presidential advice, launched an offensive across the Rappahannock River and was defeated by Lee at Fredericksburg in December Desertions during 1863 came in the thousands and only increased after Fredericksburg, so Lincoln replaced Burnside with Joseph Hooker

In the 1862 midterm elections the Republicans suffered severe losses due to rising inflation, high taxes, rumors of corruption, suspension of habeas corpus, military draft law, and fears that freed slaves would come North and undermine the labor market The Emancipation Proclamation gained votes for Republicans in rural New England and the upper Midwest, but cost votes in the Irish and German strongholds and in the lower Midwest, where many Southerners had lived for generations

In the spring of 1863 Lincoln was sufficiently optimistic about upcoming military campaigns to think the end of the war could be near; the plans included attacks by Hooker on Lee north of Richmond, Rosecrans on Chattanooga, Grant on Vicksburg, and a naval assault on Charleston

Hooker was routed by Lee at the Battle of Chancellorsville in May, then resigned and was replaced by George Meade Meade followed Lee north into Pennsylvania and beat him in the Gettysburg Campaign, but then failed to follow up despite Lincoln’s demands At the same time, Grant captured Vicksburg and gained control of the Mississippi River, splitting the far western rebel states

Emancipation Proclamation

Main articles: Abraham Lincoln and slavery and Emancipation Proclamation

First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter (1864) (Clickable image—use cursor to identify)

The Federal government’s power to end slavery was limited by the Constitution, which before 1865 was understood to reserve the issue to the individual states Lincoln believed that slavery would be rendered obsolete if its expansion into new territories were prevented, because these territories would be admitted to the Union as free states, and free states would come to outnumber slave states He sought to persuade the states to agree to compensation for emancipating their slaves Lincoln rejected Major General John C Frémont’s August 1861 emancipation attempt, as well as one by Major General David Hunter in May 1862, on the grounds that it was not within their power and might upset loyal border states enough for them to secede

In June 1862, Congress passed an act banning slavery on all federal territory, which Lincoln signed In July, the Confiscation Act of 1862 was enacted, providing court procedures to free the slaves of those convicted of aiding the rebellion; Lincoln approved the bill despite his belief that it was unconstitutional He felt such action could be taken only within the war powers of the commander-in-chief, which he planned to exercise Lincoln at this time reviewed a draft of the Emancipation Proclamation with his cabinet

Privately, Lincoln concluded that the Confederacy’s slave base had to be eliminated Copperheads argued that emancipation was a stumbling block to peace and reunification; Republican editor Horace Greeley of the New York Tribune agreed In a letter of August 22, 1862, Lincoln said that while he personally wished all men could be free, regardless of that, his first obligation as president was to preserve the Union:

On September 22, 1862, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which announced that, in states still in rebellion on January 1, 1863, the slaves would be freed He kept his word and, on January 1, 1863, issued the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing the slaves in 10 states not then under Union control, with exemptions specified for areas under such control Lincoln’s comment on signing the Proclamation was: “I never, in my life, felt more certain that I was doing right, than I do in signing this paper” He spent the next 100 days preparing the army and the nation for emancipation, while Democrats rallied their voters by warning of the threat that freed slaves posed to northern whites

With the abolition of slavery in the rebel states now a military objective, Union armies advancing south liberated all three million slaves in the Confederacy The Emancipation Proclamation having stated that freedmen would be “received into the armed service of the United States,” enlisting these freedmen became official policy By the spring of 1863, Lincoln was ready to recruit black troops in more than token numbers In a letter to Tennessee military governor Andrew Johnson encouraging him to lead the way in raising black troops, Lincoln wrote, “The bare sight of 50,000 armed and drilled black soldiers on the banks of the Mississippi would end the rebellion at once” By the end of 1863, at Lincoln’s direction, General Lorenzo Thomas had recruited 20 regiments of blacks from the Mississippi Valley

Gettysburg Address (1863)

Main article: Gettysburg Address

Lincoln (absent his usual top hat and highlighted in red) at Gettysburg on November 19, 1863 Roughly three hours later, he delivered the Gettysburg Address, one of the best known speeches in American history

Lincoln spoke at the dedication of the Gettysburg battlefield cemetery on November 19, 1863 In 272 words, and three minutes, Lincoln asserted that the nation was born not in 1789, but in 1776, “conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal” He defined the war as dedicated to the principles of liberty and equality for all He declared that the deaths of so many brave soldiers would not be in vain, that slavery would end, and the future of democracy would be assured, that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth”

Defying his prediction that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here”, the Address became the most quoted speech in American history

Promoting General Grant

The Peacemakers, an 1868 painting by George PA Healy of events aboard the River Queen in March 1865 (Clickable image—use cursor to identify)

General Ulysses Grant’s victories at the Battle of Shiloh and in the Vicksburg campaign impressed Lincoln Responding to criticism of Grant after Shiloh, Lincoln had said, “I can’t spare this man He fights” With Grant in command, Lincoln felt the Union Army could advance in multiple theaters, while also including black troops Meade’s failure to capture Lee’s army after Gettysburg and the continued passivity of the Army of the Potomac persuaded Lincoln to promote Grant to supreme commander Grant then assumed command of Meade’s army

Lincoln was concerned that Grant might be considering a presidential candidacy in 1864 He arranged for an intermediary to inquire into Grant’s political intentions, and once assured that he had none, Lincoln promoted Grant to the newly revived rank of Lieutenant General, a rank which had been unoccupied since George Washington Authorization for such a promotion “with the advice and consent of the Senate” was provided by a new bill which Lincoln signed the same day he submitted Grant’s name to the Senate His nomination was confirmed by the Senate on March 2, 1864

Grant in 1864 waged the bloody Overland Campaign, which exacted heavy losses on both sides When Lincoln asked what Grant’s plans were, the persistent general replied, “I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer” Grant’s army moved steadily south Lincoln traveled to Grant’s headquarters at City Point, Virginia, to confer with Grant and William Tecumseh Sherman Lincoln reacted to Union losses by mobilizing support throughout the North Lincoln authorized Grant to target infrastructure—plantations, railroads, and bridges—hoping to weaken the South’s morale and fighting ability He emphasized defeat of the Confederate armies over destruction (which was considerable) for its own sake Lincoln’s engagement became distinctly personal on one occasion in 1864 when Confederate general Jubal Early raided Washington, DC Legend has it that while Lincoln watched from an exposed position, Union Captain (and future Supreme Court Justice) Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr shouted at him, “Get down, you damn fool, before you get shot!”

As Grant continued to weaken Lee’s forces, efforts to discuss peace began Confederate Vice President Stephens led a group meeting with Lincoln, Seward, and others at Hampton Roads Lincoln refused to negotiate with the Confederacy as a coequal; his objective to end the fighting was not realized On April 1, 1865, Grant nearly encircled Petersburg in a siege The Confederate government evacuated Richmond and Lincoln visited the conquered capital On April 9, Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox, officially ending the war


Main article: 1864 United States presidential election

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