Abraham Lincoln elected president

Abraham Lincoln elected president

Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party, becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator for Illinois.

Watch Lincoln on HISTORY Vault

Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858. The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery, while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave. Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s presidential nomination.

In the November 1860 election, Lincoln again faced Douglas, who represented the Northern faction of a heavily divided Democratic Party, as well as Breckinridge and Bell. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina. In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

For preserving the Union and bringing an end to slavery, and for his unique character and powerful oratory, Lincoln is hailed as one of the greatest American presidents.

READ MORE: Abraham Lincoln: Facts, Birthday & Assassination


Election of 1860: Lincoln Became President at Time of Crisis

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    The election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 was perhaps the most significant election in American history. It brought Lincoln to power at a time of great national crisis, as the country was coming apart over the issue of enslavement.

    The electoral win by Lincoln, the candidate of the anti-enslavement Republican Party, prompted the states of the American South to begin serious discussions about secession. In the months between Lincoln's election and his inauguration in March 1861 these states began seceding. Lincoln thus took power in a country which had already fractured.

    Key Takeaways: The Election of 1860

    • The United States was in crisis, and it was inevitable that the election of 1860 would be focused on the issue of enslavement.
    • Abraham Lincoln began the year in relative obscurity, but a speech in New York City in February helped make him a credible candidate.
    • Lincoln's greatest rival for the Republican Party's nomination, William Seward, was out-maneuvered at the party's nominating convention.
    • Lincoln won the election by running against three opponents, and his victory in November prompted southern states to begin leaving the Union.

    Only a year earlier Lincoln had been an obscure figure outside his own state. But he was a very capable politician, and shrewd strategy and deft moves at critical times moved him into being a leading candidate for the Republican nomination. And the remarkable circumstance of a four-way general election helped make his November victory possible.


    Presidential Elections

    The Illinois Republican State Convention took place at Decatur on May 9-10, 1860. It was here where Lincoln announced his candidacy to the presidential race. He had been campaigning but had not announced his candidacy until this point. He was presented as a self-made man, the son of a pioneer, supporter of free labor and spokesman of the great west. He ran as a moderate as opposed to Seward who preached a “Higher Law” doctrine than the Constitution.

    Republican National Convention

    There were four remarkable men competing for the Republican nomination: William Seward of New York, Salmon Chase of Ohio, Edward Bates of Missouri and Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. The four candidates were successful lawyers. Seward was the favorite, he was regarded as the leading contender for the nomination, and his supporters were confident of his victory. Lincoln was the youngest and the least experienced, undistinguished in his one term in the House of Representatives and had lost two consecutive elections to the Senate. However his political genius enabled him to create political partners and friends, generating impressive results at this convention. In the future, as he won the national elections and became president, all of his political rivals in this nomination were eventually given key positions in his government.

    Photograph by Matthew Brady in his New York studio on the same day as Lincoln’s Cooper Union address. This photograph was used in his press campaign, it appeared in posters, buttons, pamphlets, cards. Source: Library of Congress.

    Lincoln’s team was led by his trusted friend David Davis who together with Norman Judd had managed to bring the Republican National Convention to Chicago. They represented Lincoln in the Convention and their job was to secure votes for Lincoln on the first ballot. They were ready to answer questions, create liaisons and provide information to other delegations to exert influence.

    The Republican National Convention was only the second in the history of the Republican Party and took place on May 16-18, 1860 in Chicago, Illinois. As the election proceeded, the tally on the first ballot was: William Seward 173 ½, Abraham Lincoln 102, Salmon Chase 49 and Edward Bates 48. A minimum of 233 votes were needed to be nominated.

    The second ballot narrowed the race between Lincoln and Seward removing other contestants from the race to nomination. There was an important shift of votes to Lincoln. New England shifted 17, Delaware 6 and Pennsylvania 44 closing the gap between Seward’s 184 ½ and Lincoln’s 181.

    As the third ballot began, Lincoln gained 4 more votes from Massachusetts, 4 from Pennsylvania and 15 from Ohio. As his total tally reached 231 ½, 4 more votes were shifted from Chase to Lincoln giving him the Republican nomination for president.

    One of the most important factors that led Lincoln to victory was his position in the center of the party. Seward and Chase were too radical and Bates too conservative. Lincoln’s men under the leadership of David Davis played an important role in getting swing votes from critical states that did not want Seward elected.

    Abraham kept himself occupied during the period after his nomination, mostly outside the state where he was not well known. Photographers came to capture his portrait and reporters inquired for his biography. Perhaps 100,000 to 200,000 campaign biographies were distributed.

    General Elections

    Lincoln’s prospect of victory in the general elections had been enhanced by the division of the Democratic Party. The Democratic National Convention took place in Charleston, South Carolina and ended up divided over the issue of slavery. Douglas’ “popular sovereignty” proved too moderate for southern states and the party split. The North nominated Stephen Douglas and the South John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky.

    This is how America voted in the 1860 elections. The popular vote went to Abraham Lincoln with 40% of the votes.

    Lincoln secured the support and cooperation of his Republican rivals Chase, Bates and Seward for his campaign. As it was customary Lincoln did not tour the country campaigning, his supporters did. Lincoln received visitors and answered letters. He hired John Nicolay, a German-American immigrant, as an assistant. He worked hard on his campaign strategy paying special attention to states where his campaign was experiencing difficulty. Douglas on the other hand became the first presidential candidate to tour the country campaigning for presidency.

    On election day, November 6, 1860 Lincoln and his close advisers remained at the telegraph office until about 2 am. The first returns were from New England, Indiana and Pennsylvania, all had voted Republican. When they heard the news that Republicans had won New York, they knew Lincoln had won elections.

    The Republicans received the majority of the popular vote at 1’866,452 votes Douglas received 1’376,957 votes Breckinridge 849,781 and Bell 588,879.

    Lincoln and Hamlin won 180 Electoral College votes. Republicans won in all free states except for New Jersey where Douglas won. As expected, Breckinridge won in all slave states.

    Lincoln was elected President of the United States and Hamlin Vice-President. He went home and remembered “for I then felt as I never had before, the responsibility that was upon me”.


    Election of Lincoln

    The election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency in 1860 is commonly viewed as the beginning of a chain of events that erupted into civil war in April 1861. Lincoln was the first member of the Republican Party elected to the presidency, a remarkable rise for a political party that had been in existence less than ten years. At the Republican Convention held in Chicago in 1860, Lincoln received his party&rsquos nomination over several contenders, most notably William H. Seward of New York. Contrary to popular belief, Lincoln was not a backwoods farmer rather, he was a respected lawyer from Illinois who had gained the national spotlight during his campaign for the United States Senate against Stephen A. Douglas in 1858.

    The election of Lincoln was nearly guaranteed by the disintegration of the Democratic Party during its attempts to nominate a candidate. The favorite, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois, was an anathema to Democrats from the Deep South. So the Democratic Convention adjourned without nominating anyone. Different elements of the Democratic Party then chose their own candidates &ndash John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky, who represented the Deep South Democrats, and Stephen A. Douglas, who represented the Northern and border-state Democrats. The Constitutional Union Party, comprised of former Whigs and other factions, nominated John Bell of Tennessee as its candidate.

    On Tuesday, November 6th, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the sixteenth President of the United States, with Hannibal Hamlin of Maine his Vice-President. Lincoln and Hamlin received 1,866,452 popular votes and 180 electoral votes in 17 of the 33 states. The Northern Democratic ticket of Douglas and Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia drew 1,376,957 popular votes, but only 12 electoral votes (9 from Missouri and 3 from New Jersey). The Southern Democratic ticket of Breckinridge and Joseph Lane of Oregon received 849,781 popular votes from 11 of the 15 slave states, for 72 electoral votes. The Constitutional Unionists Bell and John Everett of Massachusetts received 588,879 popular votes and 39 electoral votes (Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia).

    Significantly, Lincoln carried all of the free states and none of the slave states. He was elected with just over a third of the popular vote, but an overwhelming victory in the Electoral College (180 to 123 for the other three candidates combined). When the election results were announced, the people of Charleston, South Carolina, began meeting and talking of succession. On November 10th, the legislature agreed to meet on December 17th to consider the question of secession. On December 20th, 1860, South Carolina dissolved the Union when its legislature voted to secede.


    Abraham Lincoln’s Election

    The year 1860 marks a very pivotal time for the United States, namely the election of President Abraham Lincoln. This marked election is often thought of the first event in a series that turned into the civil war that started April of 1861. The first president from The Republican Party, (only in existence for fewer than 10 years at the time) Lincoln was responsible for many large changes and is an icon in American History.

    There are many who perpetuate the rumor that Lincoln was a backwoods farmer when in actuality he was a well-educated lawyer. He received the nomination from the Republican Convention in 1860 and beat out contenders such as William H. Seward.

    Part of the success behind his election was the Democratic Party disintegrating while attempting to nominate a candidate. Those democrats from the Deep South didn&rsquot like Stephen A. Douglass who was one of the favorites among others in the Democratic Party. The split ended up forcing three candidates from the different factions: Stephen A. Douglas from border-states and Northern states, John Bell from those who used to be the Whig party and John C. Breckinridge from the Deep South Democrats.

    One of the most significant aspects of Lincoln&rsquos election is that he held all of the Free states and none of the slave states. When the results of the election were announced many in South Carolina and Charleston started meeting to discuss succession. Lincoln was elected the President of the United States (the 16th) on November 6th, 1860 and by November 10th legislature had started meeting and succession talk was underway.

    Just over two months after he was elected, President Lincoln saw the first state to succeed when South Carolina voted to secede on December 20th 1860.


    Abraham Lincoln and Failure

    MIXTURE OF ACCURATE AND INACCURATE INFORMATION-->The unsourced “Abraham Lincoln Didn’t Quit” list reproduced below is a ubiquitous piece of American historical glurge that has been printed in countless magazines and newspaper columns over the decades, including an appearance in a 1967 Reader’s Digest collection of humor and anecdotes:

    Example: [Canfield, 1993]

    • 1816: His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.
    • 1818: His mother died.
    • 1831: Failed in business.
    • 1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.
    • 1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.
    • 1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.
    • 1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.
    • 1835: Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.
    • 1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.
    • 1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.
    • 1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.
    • 1843: Ran for Congress – lost.
    • 1846: Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.
    • 1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.
    • 1849 Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.
    • 1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.
    • 1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.
    • 1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.
    • 1860: Elected president of the United States.

    It is now a favorite feature of inspirational e-mail lists, web sites, and Chicken Soup for the Soul-type books, and it exemplifies what is so very wrong about turning history into glurge. Abraham Lincoln is the mythical, towering figure of American history, and whatever one thinks of his accomplishments, he was indeed a fascinating character. He truly fulfilled the “anyone can make it in America” ethos he was the man of little means or education, born in a one-room log cabin, honest and hard-working, who overcame numerous obstacles and failures to become President of the United States when the nation was confronted with its gravest crisis.

    One would think the facts of Lincoln’s life should be a good enough story for anyone, but no, apparently the truth isn’t sufficiently inspirational it has to be shaped and molded into glurge that depicts Lincoln as a man who endured constant failure and defeat from the time he was born until he was elected President. Lincoln certainly survived his fair share of hardship and setbacks, but he also was remarkably successful in many different endeavors throughout his lifetime. Let’s take a look at what this glurge leaves out:

    1816: His family was forced out of their home. He had to work to support them.

    Life on the American frontier in the early 19th century was no picnic for anyone it required hours of back-breaking toil and drudgery day in and day out. In the context of their time, however, the Lincolns lived under rather unremarkable circumstances.

    The statement that the Lincolns were “forced out of their home” in 1816 isn’t completely false, but it is somewhat misleading because it implies they were suddenly and involuntarily uprooted from their home, with no warning and no place to go. Abraham Lincoln’s father, Thomas, had owned farmland in Hardin County, Kentucky, since the early 1800s, and he left Kentucky and moved his family across the Ohio River to Indiana in 1816 for two primary reasons:

    • Kentucky was a slave state, and Thomas Lincoln disliked slavery — both because his church opposed it, and because he did not want to have to compete economically with slave labor.
    • Kentucky had never been properly surveyed, and many settlers in the early 1800s found that establishing clear title to their land was difficult. Thomas Lincoln (and other farmers in the area) were eventually sued by non-Kentucky residents who claimed prior title to their lands.

    With plenty of land available in neighboring Indiana, a territory where slavery had been excluded by the Northwest Ordinance and the government guaranteed buyers clear title to their property, Thomas Lincoln opted to move rather than to spend time and money fighting over the title to his Kentucky farm. So, in a moderate sense the Lincolns could be said to have been “forced out of their home,” but it did not happen abruptly, and they opted to leave because better opportunities awaited them.

    The other part of this statement, that a seven-year-old Abraham Lincoln “had to work to support” his family, is also misleading. Young Abraham did not have to take an outside job lest his poor family sink into financial ruin. Like nearly all farm children of his era, Lincoln was expected to perform whatever chores and tasks he was physically capable of handling around the farm. If Abraham worked harder and longer than most other children, it was not because the Lincolns’ circumstances were extraordinarily difficult, but because Lincoln was exceptionally tall and strong for his age.

    This, at least, is no embellishment. Lincoln’s mother, Nancy, did die of “milk sickness” in 1818, when Abraham was only nine years old. A mother’s death is a tragedy for any child, and it was a special hardship for a struggling farm family.

    1831: Failed in business.

    The statement that Lincoln “failed in business” in 1831 is another misleading claim, because it implies that he was the owner or operator of the failed business, or at least was otherwise responsible for its failure. None of this is true. Lincoln left his father’s home for good in 1831 and, along with his cousin John Hanks, took a flatboat full of provisions down the Mississippi River from Illinois to New Orleans on behalf of a “bustling, none too scrupulous businessman” named Denton Offutt. Offutt planned to open a general store, and he promised to make Lincoln its manager when Abraham returned from New Orleans. Lincoln operated the store as Offutt’s clerk and assistant for several months (and by all accounts did a fine job of it) until Offutt, a poor businessman, overextended himself financially and ran it into the ground. Thus by the spring of 1832 Lincoln had indeed “lost his job,” but not because he had “failed in business.”

    1832: Ran for state legislature – lost.

    Lincoln did run for the Illinois state legislature in 1832, although as Lincoln biographer David Herbert Donald noted, “the post he was seeking was not an elevated one … [legislators] dealt mostly with such issues as whether cattle had to be fenced in or could enjoy free range.” Lincoln finished eighth in a field of thirteen (with the top four vote-getters becoming legislators). However, this same year Lincoln also achieved something of which he was very proud, when the members of a volunteer militia company he had joined selected him as their captain. Lincoln said many years later that this was “a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since.” (He also noted later in his career that his defeat in the 1832 legislative election was the only time he “was ever beaten on a direct vote of the people.”)

    1832: Also lost his job – wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in.

    As noted above, Lincoln actually “lost his job” in 1831, and the notion that in 1832 Lincoln “wanted to go to law school but couldn’t get in” (why he couldn’t get in remains unspecified) is both inaccurate and an anachronism. Lincoln did eventually become a lawyer, and he accomplished the feat in the manner typical of his time and place: not by attending law school, but by reading law books and observing court sessions. He was indeed interested in becoming a lawyer as early as 1832, but, as Lincoln biographer Donald wrote, “on reflection he concluded that he needed a better education to succeed.”

    1833: Borrowed some money from a friend to begin a business and by the end of the year he was bankrupt. He spent the next 17 years of his life paying off this debt.

    Lincoln and William F. Berry, a corporal from Lincoln’s militia company, purchased a general store in New Salem, Illinois, in 1833. (Lincoln had no money for his half he didn’t technically “borrow the money from a friend” but instead signed a note with one of the previous owners for his share.) Lincoln and Berry were competing against a larger, well-organized store in the same town their outfit did little business, and within a short time it had “winked out.”

    The debt on the store became due the following year, and since Lincoln was unable to pay off his note, his possessions were seized by the sheriff. Moreover, when Lincoln’s former partner died with no assets soon afterwards, Lincoln insisted upon assuming his partner’s half of the debt as well, even though he was not legally obligated to do so. Exactly how long it took Lincoln to pay off this debt (which he jokingly referred to as his “national debt”) in its entirety is unknown. It did take him several years, but not seventeen nor, as this statement implies, was he completely financially encumbered until it was paid in full. Within a few months of the store’s failure Lincoln had obtained a position as the New Salem postmaster, and by 1835 he was earning money both as a surveyor and as a state legislator.

    1834: Ran for state legislature again – won.

    In 1834 Lincoln was again one of thirteen candidates running for a seat in the state legislature, and this time he won, securing the second-highest vote total among the field.

    1835: Was engaged to be married, sweetheart died and his heart was broken.

    Much of Lincoln’s relationship with New Salem resident Ann Rutledge remains a mystery, and several aspects of it — including whether or not they were actually engaged (at the time they met, Ann was betrothed to someone else) — are based more on speculation than documented fact. Whatever the exact nature of their relationship, however, her death in the summer of 1835 appears to have affected Lincoln profoundly.

    1836: Had a total nervous breakdown and was in bed for six months.

    Whether Lincoln experienced a “total nervous breakdown” in the aftermath of Ann Rutledge’s death is debatable, but the notion that he somehow found time to stay “in bed for six months” is not. After Ann’s funeral he spent a few weeks visiting an old friend, and within a month of her death he had resumed his occasional surveying duties. He surveyed the nearby town of Petersburg in February 1836, undertook a strenuous two-month campaign for re-election during the summer, and served in the state legislature throughout the year. All of this would have been difficult for a man who spent “six months in bed.”

    1838: Sought to become speaker of the state legislature – defeated.

    By the time of the 1838-39 legislative session, Lincoln had twice been an unsuccessful Whig candidate for the position of speaker of the Illinois House of Representatives. This was a relatively minor political setback, however, and no mention is made here of the fact that by 1838 he was one of the most experienced members of the legislature, or of any of the other notable successes he achieved between 1834 and 1838, namely:

    • He was re-elected to the state legislature in 1836 and 1838, both times receiving more votes than any other candidate.
    • The Illinois Supreme Court licensed him to practice law in 1837.
    • He became the partner of “one of the most prominent and successful lawyers in Springfield” (where he now lived).

    1840: Sought to become elector – defeated.

    This statement is erroneous. Lincoln was named as a presidential elector at the Illinois state Whig convention on 8 October 1839, and he campaigned as a Whig elector during the 1840, 1844, 1852, and 1856 presidential elections (skipping the 1848 campaign because he was serving in Congress).

    1843: Ran for Congress – lost.

    One could claim this as a Lincoln failure in that he wanted to be a Congressman and failed to achieve that goal, but it is technically inaccurate to claim that he “ran for Congress” in 1843 and lost: The election was held in 1844, and Lincoln was not a candidate in that election. Lincoln’s failure to achieve his party’s nomination at the May 1843 Whig district convention is undoubtedly what is referred to here.

    1846: Ran for Congress again – this time he won – went to Washington and did a good job.

    Lincoln won a seat as an Illinois representative to the U.S. Congress in 1846.

    1848: Ran for re-election to Congress – lost.

    Lincoln did not “lose” the 1848 election. He did not run for re-election because Whig policy at the time specified that party members should step aside after serving one term to allow other members to take their turns at holding office. Lincoln, a faithful party member, complied.

    1849: Sought the job of land officer in his home state – rejected.

    The position referred to here was commissioner of the General Land Office, a federal position, not a state one, and one that came with a fair amount of power and patronage. Since Lincoln’s term in Congress was about to expire, his friends urged him to apply for this post, but Lincoln was reluctant to give up his law career. He finally agreed to apply for the job when the choice was deadlocked between two other Illinois candidates and it looked like the appointment might therefore go to a compromise candidate from outside of Illinois. Whigs from northern Illinois then decided that too many appointments were going to party members from other parts of the state and put up their own candidate against Lincoln. The choice was left to the Secretary of the Interior, who selected the other candidate.

    1854: Ran for Senate of the United States – lost.

    In Lincoln’s time, U.S. senators were not elected through direct popular vote they were appointed by state legislatures. In Illinois, voters cast ballots only for state legislators, and the General Assembly of the state legislature then selected nominees to fill open U.S. Senate seats. So, in 1854 (and again in 1856) Lincoln was not technically running for the Senate he was campaigning on behalf of Whig candidates for state legislature seats all throughout Illinois. Nonetheless, after the 1854 state election, Lincoln made it known that he sought the open U.S. Senate seat for Illinois. The first ballot of a divided General Assembly was taken in February 1855, and Lincoln received the most votes but was six votes shy of the requisite majority. When the process remained deadlocked after another eight ballots, Lincoln withdrew from the race to lend his support to another candidate and ensure that the Senate seat did not go to a pro-slavery Democrat.

    1856: Sought the Vice-Presidential nomination at his party’s national convention – got less than 100 votes.

    This is both misleading and inaccurate. Lincoln did not “seek” the vice-presidential nomination at the 1856 Republican national convention in Philadelphia his name was put into nomination by the Illinois delegation after most national delegates were already committed to other candidates. (Lincoln himself was back in Illinois, not at the convention, and did not know he had been nominated until friends brought him the news.) Nonetheless, in an informal ballot, Lincoln received 110 votes out of 363, not at all a bad showing for someone who was little known outside his home state.

    1858: Ran for U.S. Senate again – again he lost.

    Again, Lincoln was not directly campaigning for a Senate seat, although it was a foregone conclusion that he would be the Republicans’ choice to take Stephen Douglas’ U.S. Senate seat if his party won control of the Illinois state legislature. Lincoln actually bested Douglas in the sense that Republican legislative candidates statewide received slightly over 50% of the popular vote, but the Republicans failed to gain control of the state legislature, and Douglas therefore retained his seat in the Senate.

    1860: Elected president of the United States.

    And again in 1864. A pretty good ending for someone who wasn’t quite the perennial failure this glurge makes him out to be.


    Our History

    For over a quarter of his Presidency, Abraham Lincoln lived in his cottage at the Soldiers’ Home. While living here, he visited with allies and adversaries, veterans, wounded soldiers, spent time with self-emancipated men, women and children, and developed the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln’s experiences here provided new and diverse perspectives on issues of freedom, justice, and humility. Learn more about the history of President Lincoln’s Cottage.

    A Home that has Changed History

    President Lincoln’s Cottage was built for banker George W. Riggs in 1842. Architect John Skirving designed the house, situated on a hilltop overlooking downtown Washington, D.C. in the Gothic-Revival style popularized by A.J. Downing. During the Civil War, President Lincoln and his family relocated to the Soldiers’ Home for the “hot season.” The tranquil surroundings at the Soldiers’ Home offered refreshing breezes, a relief from White House protocol, and a place for the President to reflect on all-consuming decisions about military strategy, domestic policy, and foreign relations. Though often viewed as a sanctuary for the president, Lincoln was no less consumed with the war and issues of freedom and slavery here. In many ways, life at the Cottage brought the first family closer to the war and its human cost.

    At the Soldiers’ Home, Lincoln made some of the decisions that defined his presidency. He met and consulted with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton, Secretary of State William Seward, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin, and many others. He also formulated his ideas on how to bring about an end to slavery during the war in what became the Emancipation Proclamation.


    1860: On this Day in History, Abraham Lincoln Elected 16th President of USA

    America's Greatest President? Lincoln was elected over a deeply divided Democratic Party becoming the first Republican to win the presidency.

    On this November 6th day in 1960, Abraham Lincoln is elected the 16th president of the United States over a deeply divided Democratic Party becoming the first Republican to win the presidency.

    Lincoln received only 40 percent of the popular vote but handily defeated the three other candidates: Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge, Constitutional Union candidate John Bell, and Northern Democrat Stephen Douglas, a U.S. senator for Illinois.

    Lincoln, a Kentucky-born lawyer and former Whig representative to Congress, first gained national stature during his campaign against Stephen Douglas of Illinois for a U.S. Senate seat in 1858.

    The senatorial campaign featured a remarkable series of public encounters on the slavery issue, known as the Lincoln-Douglas debates, in which Lincoln argued against the spread of slavery, while Douglas maintained that each territory should have the right to decide whether it would become free or slave.

    Lincoln lost the Senate race, but his campaign brought national attention to the young Republican Party. In 1860, Lincoln won the party’s presidential nomination.

    In the November 1860 election, Lincoln again faced Douglas, who represented the Northern faction of a heavily divided Democratic Party, as well as Breckinridge and Bell. The announcement of Lincoln’s victory signaled the secession of the Southern states, which since the beginning of the year had been publicly threatening secession if the Republicans gained the White House.

    Buy on Amazon.com – Acclaimed historian Doris Kearns Goodwin illuminates Lincoln’s political genius in this highly original work, as the one-term congressman and prairie lawyer rises from obscurity to prevail over three gifted rivals of national reputation to become president.

    By the time of Lincoln’s inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded, and the Confederate States of America had been formally established, with Jefferson Davis as its elected president. One month later, the American Civil War began when Confederate forces under General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter in South Carolina.

    In 1863, as the tide turned against the Confederacy, Lincoln emancipated the slaves and in 1864 won reelection. In April 1865, he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. The attack came only five days after the American Civil War effectively ended with the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee at Appomattox.

    For preserving the Union and bringing an end to slavery, and for his unique character and powerful oratory, Lincoln is hailed as one of the greatest American presidents.


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    Abraham Lincoln elected president - HISTORY

    Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the United States, was the first president born west of the Appalachian Mountains. His birth in a log cabin at Sinking Springs Farm took place on February 12, 1809, when that part of Kentucky was still a rugged frontier. When Abraham was two and a half his father moved his young family ten miles away to a farm on Knob Creek. The story of Lincoln's journey from log cabin to the White House that began here has long been a powerful symbol of the unlimited possibilities of American life. For almost a century, tourists and historians have come here to seek out the origins of the man and his virtues&mdashhonesty, unpretentiousness, tolerance, hard work, a capacity to forgive, and a clear-sighted vision of right and wrong. The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site consists of two units. The centerpiece of the Birthplace unit is a symbolic birth cabin enshrined within a Neoclassical Memorial Building. The Lincoln Boyhood Home unit is located at Knob Creek Farm, where the family lived from 1811 until 1816.

    Lincoln&rsquos father, Thomas, moved to Kentucky, then part of Virginia, with his parents about 1782, only seven years after Daniel Boone pioneered this uncharted region. By the time of his marriage to Nancy Hanks in 1806, he was a farmer and carpenter. In 1808, he purchased 300 acres near the Sinking Spring, one of the area&rsquos numerous springs whose water dropped into a pit and disappeared into the earth. The soil was stony red and yellow clay, but the spring provided an important source of water. Near the spring was a white oak tree, a landmark that lived for approximately 195 years, the &ldquolast living link&rdquo to Abraham Lincoln. Only two years after he purchased it, Thomas Lincoln lost his land in a title dispute, which was not settled until 1816.

    In 1811, the Lincolns leased 30 acres of a 230-acre farm in the Knob Creek Valley while waiting for the land dispute to be settled. The creek valley on this new farm contained some of the best farmland in Hardin County. A well-traveled road from Bardstown, Kentucky, to Nashville, Tennessee, ran through the property. Abraham Lincoln&rsquos first memories are from his time here, working alongside his father, playing with his sister, and assisting his adored mother. In the early years of his life, he learned from the self-sufficiency of pioneer farming and from short periods of schooling. His attendance at subscription schools lasted only a few months. Lincoln may have begun to form his views on slavery here. The Lincoln family belonged to an antislavery church. In 1816, when Abraham was seven years old, the family moved across the Ohio River to Indiana and settled at the present site of the Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial.

    As the centennial of Lincoln&rsquos birth approached, interest in memorializing the 16th president increased. Robert Collier, publisher of Colliers Weekly, bought the Sinking Springs Farm in 1905. The following year, he and his associates formed the Abraham Lincoln Farm Association to create a suitable memorial. They purchased the cabin and began work on the Memorial Building. Over 120,000 individuals from across the country, including thousands of schoolchildren, contributed a total of about $350,000 for the memorial. In 1909, President Theodore Roosevelt dedicated the cornerstone. President William Howard Taft dedicated the memorial for the nation two years later. In his remarks, he said that it would be a reminder of &ldquothe unexplained and unexplainable growth and development, from the humblest and homeliest soil, of Lincolns&rsquo genius, intellect, heart, and character.&rdquo The small, simple cabin represents the simplicity of Lincoln&rsquos early years. While the gleaming granite and marble Memorial Building that houses the cabin, which the young John Russell Pope designed in the Neoclassical style, is an appropriate symbol of the honored position Lincoln holds in American memory. The Knob Creek Farm property became part of the Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site in 2001.

    The Birthplace unit consists of the Memorial Building and 116 acres of Thomas Lincoln's Sinking Spring Farm. Walking trails trace the paths of Lincoln&rsquos earliest days, past the famous Sinking Spring, and the site of the boundary marker oak tree. The trails at the Knob Creek Farm unit trace the creek where young Abraham and friends used to work and play.

    Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site, located at 2995 Lincoln Farm Rd. off of U.S. 31E, near Louisville, KY, consists of two units of the National Park System. Click here for the National Register of Historic Places file: text and photos. The Birthplace Unit is open daily Labor Day through Memorial Day from 8:00am to 4:45pm and Memorial Day through Labor Day from 8:00am to 6:45pm. A visitor center at the Birthplace Unit houses exhibits on Lincoln and pioneer life and offers an audiovisual program.

    The Boyhood Home Unit at Knob Creek is open daily year round. Interpretive staff are available on Saturday and Sunday from April 1st until Memorial Day from 8:30am to 4:30pm and daily from Memorial Day through Labor Day 8:30am to 4:30pm. Several walking trails and picnic areas are available at both units. For more information including directions, visit the National Park Service Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Site website or call 270-358-3137. The Kentucky Department of Tourism website also offers useful visitor information related to the historic sites of Lincoln and his family.

    The Abraham Lincoln Birthplace has both been documented by the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey.


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