What was Abraham Lincoln?

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Do you ever feel like you don’t make enough money? Abraham Lincoln was making $1,200 a year being a lawyer, which was equal to the governors pay. Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president (“Abraham Lincoln”). He was a hardworking man as well as a leader. Though he’s had rough challenges throughout his life, he managed to work through those times. As a young man, Lincoln was hard working, loved to learn, and was a leader of the towns he’s lived in. When Lincoln was a boy, his stepmother encouraged him to learn while he was working hard splitting rails and cutting trees (McPherson). Abraham Lincoln’s love for reading and learning influenced him from his childhood until his assassination.

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Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in a one-room cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky (Burlingame). The article explains, “The son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for a living and for learning. Five months before receiving his party’s nomination for President, he sketched his life: “I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families–second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks…. My father … removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year…. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up…. Of course, when I came of age I did not know much. Still, somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all,” (“Abraham Lincoln”). Lincoln was raised by his mother, Nancy Hanks, and his father, Thomas Lincoln. Lincoln’s childhood is what some people may consider rough. His mother died when he was only nine, and his father remarried shortly after. His father remarried his stepmother, Sarah Bush Johnston, and she encouraged Lincoln’s knowledge. Lincoln basically taught himself how to read and write while he was working on a farm, splitting rails and chopping trees. That’s probably where he got his hard work ethic. Lincoln also didn’t have much room when he was growing up, he lived in a one-room cabin (Burlingame).

Lincoln grew to be six foot four inches. When he was a young man he moved to New Salem and got a job as a store clerk. When he was making a name for himself, he wrestled the bully of the town with the physical strength he earned splitting rails and chopping trees. In the store he worked at, the people that came in loved his intelligence, his wit, and his integrity (Burlingame). James McPherson describes Lincoln as “A Whig, a devotee of Henry Clay, whom Lincoln described as his “beau ideal of a statesman,” (McPherson). Lincoln was in a relationship with a woman named Mary Owens, but she broke it off. Later Lincoln met his wife, Mary Todd, in 1839 while she came to live with her married sister in Springfield (McPherson). Lincoln and Mary had four boys together, but only one of the boys lived to be an adult (“Abraham Lincoln”).

The process to become president started when a Springfield lawyer, John T. Stuart, encouraged Lincoln to study law and read through Sir Williams Blackstone’s commentaries and books who’s mastery was necessary to pass the bar exam (McPherson). Lincoln announced his candidacy for a seat in the Illinois state legislature just six months after his arrival in the town. After throwing his hat in the ring a few weeks later, a Black Hawk war broke out and he volunteered to fight the Indians. Lincoln resumed his campaign for the legislature, but there was not enough time to make himself known. He won 277 out of 300 votes in New Salem but lost for the county coming eighth out of thirteen. He refocused on studying law and arguing cases for local justice of the peace before passing the state bar exam in 1836 and getting his license in 1837. Lincoln was appointed postmaster of New Salem by Democratic President Andrew Jackson even though Lincoln supported National Republican candidate Henry Clay in 1832 presidential election that reelected Andrew Jackson (Burlingame). Lincoln got his license on September 9th, 1836, and Moved to Springfield in 1837 to become Stuart’s partner. In 1836, 1838, and 1840 Lincoln won the election again. James McPherson, the author, mentions Lincoln’s preparation for the presidency, “While deprecating his qualifications for the presidency, Lincoln admitted privately, “The taste is in my mouth a little,” (McPherson). Lincoln was making $1,200 a year, which was equal to what the governor was making. He bought his first house in 1844, it was the only one he had ever owned (McPherson).

In debating with Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln earned a national reputation that won him the Republican nomination for president in 1860, even though he lost the election. In 1861 Abraham Lincoln became the 16th president and issued the emancipation proclamation that declared to forever free the slaves in 1863 within the Confederacy. Lincoln built the Republican party into a strong national organization, rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause, and issued the emancipation proclamation in 1863 when he was president (“Abraham Lincoln”). Manual labor was degraded by slavery by equating it with bondage. Free men could climb the ladder of success if they practiced the virtues of industry, thrift, self-discipline, and sobriety (McPherson). Even if it meant war, Lincoln vowed to preserve the Union. Eventually, he raised an army of about three million Northern men to go against the southern army of more than two million soldiers. A great Civil War tore the states apart in battles from Virginia to California (Burlingame). Lincoln called 75,000 volunteers when Fort Sumter surrendered because

Confederate batteries fired. Four slave states remained with the Union and four joined the Confederacy. The civil war began (Abraham Lincoln). Michael Burlingame, the publisher, describes Lincoln’s personal tragedies and triumphs, “While the war raged, Lincoln also suffered great personal anguish over the death of his beloved son and the depressed mental condition of his wife, Mary. The pain of war and personal loss affected him deeply, and he often expressed his anguish by turning to humor and by speaking eloquently about the meaning of the great war which raged across the land,” (Burlingame). Lincoln lost the presidency to Taylor, he returned to Springfield disheartened with politics and gave all his time to law practice, which paid off when he was one of the top lawyers in the state and was making $5,000 a year. Lincoln rode the circuit of county courts through fall and spring because the Springfield courts only sat a few weeks a year. Most of his cases were about damaged crops, property disputes, debts, and assault and battery, and sometimes murder trials. Lincoln was able to visit his oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, on his way to speak in New England because of his success at Cooper Union. Lincoln used these occasions to focus on “free labor ideology,”(McPherson). Lincoln found Illinois friends mounting a concerted effort for his presidential nomination when he returned from his eastern tour (McPherson). No President has ever shown so much authority until Lincoln, but he did it to preserve the Union. Lincoln refused to cancel national elections, he wanted to hold the election even if he lost than destroy the democratic basis in 1864. With the electoral support of the Union soldiers, Lincoln was reelected (Burlingame). In 1864 Lincoln won re-election. The President was generous and flexible while encouraging the Southerners to join the reunion (“Abraham Lincoln”).

Five days after Lee surrendered his army, John Wilkes Booth barged into Lincoln’s box in the balcony of the Fords Theater while he was watching Laura Keene’s light comedy, and shot him point-blank in the back of his head. John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln at Ford’s theater on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, because he thought he was helping the South. His wife tried to protect him, but John Wilkes Booth fled and was later found in a barn in rural Virginia and died from shooting himself in the burning barn or got shot trying to escape. The article explains, ”John Wilkes Booth, leaped from the box to the stage to make his escape, shouting ‘Sic Semper Tyrannis! [Thus always to Tyrants] The South is avenged!’ (McPherson). Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth was from an ardent Confederate sympathizer and a well-known acting family. Early the next morning the President was dead, and the celebration of victory over the Confederate army was muted by his death (McPherson). The possibility of peace with generosity died with Lincoln’s death, which was the opposite of what they wanted (“Abraham Lincoln”).

Abraham Lincoln’s love for reading and learning influenced him from his childhood until his assassination. Civil War involved a large issue, Lincoln never let the world forget that even after his assassination (“Abraham Lincoln”). Lincoln’s hard work and leadership will never be forgotten. 

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What was Abraham Lincoln?. (2020, Jan 10). Retrieved November 27, 2022 , from

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