Lincoln’s life was full of tragedy, death, and loss. He lost his mother when he was just 10 months old, his father died when he was 14, and his wife Mary Todd passed away less than three weeks after giving birth to their son Robert Todd Lincoln. Despite all of this, the president went on to become one of America’s greatest leaders.
The list of things we know about Lincoln goes on and on. We know that he was born into slavery and freed in 1857. We know that he had six children, including four sons who lived to adulthood; John D. Johnston, William Wallace, Thomas Ewing, and Robert Todd Lincoln. We know that he served in the Illinois legislature and became a lawyer. And we even know that he owned slaves!
But did you know that Lincoln was a Freemason? Or that he was a member of the secret society known as the Illuminati? Or that he had a close relationship with Edgar Allan Poe? These are just a few of the many fascinating facts about the 16th US president.
Abe was born in 1809, in Hodgenville, Kentucky, to Mary Todd Lincoln and her husband, Thomas Lincoln. His parents named him Abraham because they wanted him to be like the Biblical patriarch, Abraham. The Lincolns moved to New Salem, Illinois, where Abe grew up. At age 12, Abe became ill with typhoid fever. His older half brother Robert Todd Lincoln took care of him during his recovery.
In 1816, Abe’s father married Sarah Bush Johnston, who had three children already. She was 13 years younger than Thomas Lincoln. Her son, John Danks, was five years older than Abe.
The Lincolns soon moved again, this time settling in Springfield, Illinois. There, Abe attended school while working part-time as a surveyor. He also helped out on the family farm.
Abe Lincoln was born into poverty, and had many different jobs before becoming president. He worked as a carpenter, blacksmith, and surveyor, and even practiced law for several years. But it wasn’t until he became a politician that he really found success.
Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd on April 16, 1841. They had four children together, three boys and a girl. Their names are Robert Todd Lincoln, Thomas “Tad” Lincoln, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Ann Stuart and Sarah “Sarah” Matilda McClellan.
The couple had been engaged since she was 15 years old and he was 20. He proposed to her at age 21 and she accepted. After his election to Congress in 1846, they moved into a boardinghouse where they lived together for six months. In February 1847, they moved into a house on North Eighth Street in Springfield, Illinois.
In 1848, Lizzie became ill and died. Her death devastated him. He never recovered emotionally from it and never remarried. His son, Robert Todd Lincoln, died in 1902.
Lincoln in Washington DC
Abe Lincoln’s first trip to Washington, D. C., wasn’t as president. In fact, he didn’t even go there to serve as president. Instead, it was his first trip to the nation’s capital, where he worked as a lawyer.
In 1846, Abraham Lincoln became a member of Congress representing Illinois. However, he lost re-election in 1848. During this time, Lincoln lived in New Salem, Ill. While living in New Salem, Lincoln met Joshua Speed, a man who had been born into slavery. They formed a friendship, and Lincoln eventually freed Speed’s family.
After losing his re-election bid, Lincoln moved to Springfield, Ill., where he practiced law. He married Mary Todd in 1842, and together they had three children.
During this time, Lincoln wrote some of his most famous works, including “The Gettysburg Address.” On Nov. 7, 1860, Lincoln announced his candidacy for president. He won the election in November of that same year.
Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 1860. He only received about 40% of the popular vote, though he got 180 out of 303 electoral votes. This was mainly because he didn’t run in some southern states where his views on slavery might have caused trouble. In fact, many southerners boycotted the elections altogether.
Lincoln won because he had strong support in the North. He was known as a moderate Republican and his campaign slogan was “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” During his presidency, he freed the slaves, abolished the death penalty, signed into law the 13th Amendment, and established the National Academy of Sciences.
The Civil War
Lincoln had been elected president just months earlier, and his inauguration took place on April 15th, 1861. A few days later, Confederate forces attacked Fort Sumter in South Carolina, starting what became known as the American Civil War. The fighting continued throughout the summer, with both sides suffering heavy casualties. By the end of 1862, the North had won control of most of the Confederacy, including Virginia. However, the war dragged on for another three years. In 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Grant at Appomattox Court House, effectively ending the war.
Over 600,000 soldiers died in the conflict, making it one of the deadliest wars in US history. At least 750,000 people are believed to have perished in battle, while many others died from disease and starvation.