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Abraham Lincoln's Death

Abraham Lincoln

He's regarded by many as the greatest of all American presidents, having steered the nation through a costly, bloody and damaging Civil War. He ended up paying with his life for that accomplishment.

Born of the backwoods of Kentucky, Abraham Lincoln's family moved to Indiana, after his father Thomas lost all of his land in court cases. His mother died when he was nine, but his father re-married and Abe grew close to his step-mother.

As a boy, he did not enjoy the hard labor associated with life on the frontier. But as he grew older, he accepted his chores, and was skillful with an axe as a rail-splitter, building fences.

Abraham Lincoln chopping wood as a younger man

In 1830, fearing the outbreak of an illness, the Lincoln family moved to Illinois. As a 22 year old, Lincoln shipped goods with a flatboat along the Mississippi River.

Abraham Lincoln in his 20's

He later tried his hand at many things, like a general store, and really didn't succeed at them. He turned to politics in 1832, and lost a campaign for state office. He was a postmaster, a surveyor and then studied law, teaching himself by reading books. Admitted to the Illinois bar in 1836, Lincoln later won election to the Illinois legislature and he was elected as a Congressman in 1846. He served one two-year term and returned to Springfield to practice law.

Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1840.

Mary Todd

…and they had four sons: Robert, Edward, Willy and Thomas, known as "Tad".

Lincoln's 4 sons

The last three of them died young. Robert was the only one to be an adult and have children.

After a series of debates in 1858 in which he came out against slavery, Lincoln lost a U.S. Senate race in Illinois to his rival Stephen Douglas.

Two years later in 1860 he swept to the Republican Party presidential nomination, won the North and was elected president in 1860, defeating the Democrats' nominee, John Breckenridge.

But Lincoln won little support in the Southern states and with his election, they began to secede from the Union. First South Carolina weeks after his election, followed by Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida and Texas.

When the Civil War began with the Confederate attack on Fort Sumter in April 1861, Lincoln concentrated on the military and political part of the war.

Lincoln with military

His goal was to reunite the nation and he went after a string of generals to lead his Army.

His most famous act was freeing the slaves, with the Emancipation Proclamation in September 1862.

And in July 1863, Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address after a Union Army victory. It lasted only three minutes and still echoes through history

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

ut, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate -- we cannot consecrate -- we cannot hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Lincoln's pictured here on the day of that speech

Lincoln during Gettysburg Address

Despite the war, Lincoln won re-election in 1864, and the Confederacy gave up in April, 1865, when Southern Commander Robert E Lee surrendered to his fellow West Point graduate, Ulysses S. Grant.

Abraham Lincoln

But six days after the South surrendered Lincoln was assassinated by an actor, John Wilkes Booth …

John Wilkes Booth

…a Confederate sympathizer.

It happened at Ford's Theatre in Washington DC, where the President and Mrs. Lincoln went to see the play "Our American Cousin".

Fords Theatre

Lincoln, shot at point blank range, was mortally wounded but lingered until the next morning…

Lincoln mortally wounded

…and then died. It was the first assassination of an American President.

Booth was hunted down for ten days…

Booth being hunted down

…and died in a barn fire after a shootout with government troops.

His numerous co-conspirators were hanged.

Booth's co-conspirators were hanged

A funeral train brought Lincoln home from Washington and he's interred in his hometown of Springfield, Illinois.

Abraham Lincoln's Head Stone

Abraham Lincoln is forever honored by a Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C…

The Lincoln Memorial

…the $5 bill…

The $5 bill

…a luxury automobile…

Lincoln Town Car

…along with several towns and cities…

Capital of Nebraska

...including the capital of Nebraska.