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					Abraham Lincoln: The American President

        It was cold and dark the morning of March 4, 1865. The weather did not match the joy of the occasion. After 5

years of fighting, the end of the Civil War was in sight. President Abraham Lincoln had been reelected and the nation

seemed to be moving closer to the day when the north and south would be reunited. Today was Lincoln’s Second

Inauguration and Washington D.C. was abuzz with the anticipation of what the next 4 years might bring, and not even the

weather could keep the crowd away. They braved the cold and the rain to hear Lincoln’s speech. And as he stepped to the

podium, as if through divine intervention, the sun broke through the clouds and bathed the scene in its warm light (many in

the crowd saw this as a sign of America’s bright future under the president). Lincoln spoke briefly but powerfully (a power

that he possessed more than any other). “…With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God

gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds, to care for him who

shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting

peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” Even though victory was in sight, Lincoln would do no gloating. Nor would

he punish the Confederacy for their traitorous ways. Instead, Lincoln was going to welcome them back with open arms,

there would be no retribution under his watch. In many ways, Abraham Lincoln (the sworn enemy of the south) was going

to be the south’s best friend for the next 4 years.

        Thousands of people heard the president speak that morning, and the applause was thunderous. Despite the large

crowd one person managed to stand out from the masses. Standing on the balcony of the Capitol, just over the stage, was

the dashing and famous actor John Wilkes Booth. As he stood over the president and listened to Lincoln speak, he swore

aloud that this would be the last speech Lincoln ever gave, for he would avenge the south, by assassinating the president.



ABRAHAM LINCOLN: THE AMERICAN PRESIDENT



        Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 in Nolin Creek, Kentucky. The second child of Thomas and

Nancy Lincoln, a pair of illiterate farmers living on the outskirts of American society. Abraham Lincoln’s father, however, did

come from a fairly wealthy family, but his dad (Abraham’s grandfather for whom Abe was named) was killed by Indians and

all of his wealth and land (over 5,500 acres) went to his eldest son, Mordecai, not Abraham’s father. So, verifying the old
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American myth, Abraham was really born in a modest one-room log cabin. Just how modest was his cabin? Built with a dirt

floor, no heat and no windows, it was modest even for a log-cabin. Abraham Lincoln spent the early years of his life in dire

poverty and it would not get much better for a long time.

        In 1816, the Lincoln clan moved to Ohio, where the eight-year-old Abe was given a hand axe and the task of

clearing the trees on the property. Once Lincoln had chopped down enough trees for the new (even worse) log cabin, he

now had the job of helping his father build the cabin and when that task was finished, he had the pleasure of plowing the

fields to plant corn and other vegetables. The first two years in Ohio was constant back-breaking labor for the pre-teen

future president (and you were complaining that your social studies made you read this biography of him).

        Added to his miserable childhood, was the mysterious illness of Nancy Lincoln. Abe’s mother developed an illness

known as “milk sickness” (it seems the cows were eating contaminated food) and she died a week later. This devastated

the young Lincoln, as his mother was the only person that Abe ever felt close to. His father was his boss and made him

work all day long, but his mother (while not particularly loving) was the one who would take care of him. Alone, cold and

tired from working in the fields all day, the child Lincoln was no child at all, but a hardened adult in a child’s body.

        Things began to change next year, though, as Thomas Lincoln remarried Sara Bush Lincoln, a widow from

Kentucky. A woman with some money, she brought luxury items, for the first time, into the Lincoln log-cabin. “Luxury” items

that Abraham had never seen before (a table, chairs, forks, spoons, etc.) and, most importantly, a fondness for the young

Abraham. It was his step-mother who would give him the love that he so desperately craved. In addition, she saw in him

tremendous wit and natural intelligence and forced Thomas to enroll his son in school. Because of distance and work

requirements at home, however, Abraham was only able to finish one year of schooling by the age of 15. It was enough,

however, to give him the tools to teach himself and every night by the light of the fire, Abraham could be found reading

something.

        The heavy workload, however, began to take its toll on him. As his father grew older, so did Abraham’s load of the

chores. In addition, to make ends meet his father would hire his son out to other farms and keep all of his pay (Abraham

was essentially a slave to his father until he was 21). He grew less fond of his father by the day, until they had absolutely no

relationship at all. In fact, in his entire life, Abraham never had a fond word for his father and did not even attend his father’s


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funeral. Soon enough, though, it was time to leave home (especially after his beloved step-mother passed away) and at the

age of 21, Lincoln hopped on a riverboat on the Mississippi River to make his fortune.

        The next few years of his life were a struggle as the future president was searching for an identity. Holding more

than 6 jobs (and failing at most of them) over the next 10 years (including a stint as a soldier in Black Hawk’s War) he was

just trying to find his way. During these years, however, he began to display the wit, intelligence and determination that

would carry him to the highest office of the United States. While working as a store clerk in New Salem, Illinois he

developed a reputation for being the most intelligent man in town and when his boss claimed that he was also the strongest,

a local gang challenged him to prove it against their strongest member. At 6’4” Lincoln towered over the average man of

the 19th century, but his string-bean appearance did not do justice to the strength of a man who had spent his entire

childhood chopping down trees with a hand axe. So Lincoln accepted their challenge and thoroughly whipped his

competition. It seems that the smartest man in town really was the strongest.

        It was during the spring of 1835 that Lincoln realized he needed a new occupation (as being a store clerk was not

paying bills) and he began to study law. He didn’t simply study the law, however, he immersed himself in it. He studied

while at work, while at home, even while walking. It is also during this time that he developed his first romantic relationship

(is it any wonder that at the same time he falls in love, he realizes that he needs to make more money) as he fell in love with

the young Ann Rutledge.

        Not much is known of her today, as Lincoln never left any written records of her and never spoke of her later in life.

So how their courtship began remains a mystery, but not how it ended. The summer of 1835 was extremely hot and rainy

and, as a result, Ann came down with typhoid fever. The idea of losing another woman in his life must have been

excruciating for the young Abraham, but despite the best efforts of her doctors, Ann died within the week and Abraham sunk

into a deep depression. In fact, depression is an infliction that would plague him on and off for the rest of his life. When

Lincoln finally came out his depression, he never spoke her name again and destroyed all of the letters that the two of them

exchanged.

        This seemed to be the perfect opportunity for Lincoln to move again. In the spring of 1837, while still in anguish

over the death of his beloved Ann, and nearly penniless, he borrowed enough money to move to Springfield, Illinois and

opened a law practice. The Lincoln law practice was a successful one, even though he occasionally lost important papers
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(not surprising, for much like the American myth says, he really did keep his most important papers in his stovepipe hat).

Despite the occasional lost paper, his law practice did well and he developed many friends that would become political allies

later in his life and, more importantly, he met a young socialite named, Mary Todd.

           Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln were married in November 1842 and had 4 sons. Their marriage, however, was

not an ideal one. Abraham was known for long bouts of depression and even silence (meaning he would go weeks

without speaking a word to anybody). Mary Todd, on the other hand, was famous for her explosive temper, which would

reveal itself when anyone dared to cross her. She was afflicted by headaches and was deathly afraid of lightning and dogs.

One thing the Lincolns did have common, however, was complete lack of discipline for their children. Reflecting on his

childhood, Abraham swore that his children would be children. The Lincoln boys were never scolded, nor spanked, no

matter what they did and lived a free and very rambunctious lifestyle.

           For the next few years, Lincoln led a very quiet professional life. He worked as a lawyer and dabbled in politics. An

ardent Whig, he served two terms in the state assembly, but he mostly kept to his law practice from 1849-1854. Some

major events did rock his personal life though. In early 1849, Thomas Lincoln (Abe’s father) passed away. Not close while

alive, Abraham refused to attend the funeral as he was tending to his ailing son. Edward, the second Lincoln son, who was

always sick, became seriously ill in 1849 and died on February 1, 1850 from tuberculosis. The death sent Abraham into a

massive depression, which was only alleviated by the birth of his son Willie. Soon after the birth of Willie, Mary was

pregnant again with another son, Thomas Lincoln (named after Abraham’s deceased father). Their fourth son, however, is

known to the world as Tad, as Abraham noted that Thomas’ unusually large head and his tiny body made him look like a

tadpole.

           The Lincoln family was growing, but Abraham was working a great deal of the time (and most of it in other towns)

and this caused a great deal of stress on Mary Todd and their marriage:

           “…his wife’s behavior was unpredictable. Weeks of quiet family life could go by, with pleasant meals
           and long evenings of reading together by the fire…When she was feeling well, there would be parties
           and games for the Lincoln children…Then something would trigger her temper. Perhaps she was
           simply bored by being cooped up in a tiny house much too small for her growing family. Perhaps she
           was affected by the mental instability that was evident in…her family…(for she was known to fly) off
           the handle (at a moment’s notice) at her husband. On one occasion she chased him out of the
           house and down the street with a butcher knife…in her hand.” (Donald, 158)


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Lincoln for his part ignored these outbursts. He would simply round up the children and go for walk. He never

scolded her for her behavior and never embarrassed her for her spells.

        During these years, Abraham became very close to Tad and Willie. He missed out on Robert’s

childhood, as he was always working and was upset by his lack of a relationship with his eldest son. This

was a mistake that he would not make with his youngest boys. Lincoln could be seen all over Springfield,

toting his young boys in a cart or on his shoulders. He would often bring them to his law practice and they

would take all of his papers, pens, files, books, even the ash trays and empty them all on the floor and dance

on top of the pile. Lincoln would never yell at sons, nor stop them (to the anger of the other people who

worked in his office). He would just sit back and smile and enjoy their company. It is this ability to interact

with his sons, and enjoy their company, that would serve him very well later in life as he needed to find a

distraction from his day-to-day business of dealing with the Civil War as president of the United States.

        So how did he become the Republican president of the United States in 1860, when in 1854, he was

a moderately successful lawyer and a low-ranking member of the Whig party, living on the outskirts of

America in Illinois? The answer is, it wasn’t so much that Lincoln found the presidency, but the presidency

found him. The last 6 years of the 1850s were a whirlwind and Abraham Lincoln got sucked right up it into

and emerged as the leader of the newly formed Republican Party.

        1854 was a monumental year in America and Illinois, as the Illinois senator Stephen Douglas

introduced the Kansas-Nebraska Act to Congress. Hoping to secure a railroad through Chicago, Douglas

needed southern support to get the required federal money. In order to receive the south’s vote for his

railroad money, he proposed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. After the Missouri Compromise of 1820 and the

Compromise of 1850, slavery was outlawed in states north of 36 degrees, 30 minutes north latitude (which

included the territories of Kansas and Nebraska). Southerners hated this principle as it blocked the

expansion of slavery. To appease them, Douglas proposed the idea of popular sovereignty. Popular

means the people and sovereignty means rule. It literally means, the people rule. When popular sovereignty

is applied to slavery in the Kansas-Nebraska it means, that if the people of Kansas and Nebraska want


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slaves, then they should be allowed to vote for on the issue (popular-sovereignty, the people rule). This Act

made the south very happy, but infuriated the Whig Party.

        The Whigs (Lincoln’s party) were fervently opposed to the spread of slavery. In fact, it was really

their one defining believe. They believed that it was impossible to stop slavery where it already existed, but it

should not be allowed to spread into the territories. Lincoln, as an Illinois Whig, now had the ability to debate

with Douglas, an Illinois Democrat, and a well-respected national figure. As Douglas would travel Illinois

trying to develop support for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln would stand outside the hall and listen to his

speeches. As the crowd would leave Lincoln would yell that he would refute all of Douglas’ points tomorrow

night. With time to plan his speeches and first hand knowledge of what Douglas had said, Lincoln put on a

marvelous show. His speeches were a resounding success, and while the Kansas-Nebraska Act did pass,

and Douglas got his railroad, Lincoln was now the leading Whig candidate in Illinois. When Lincoln took on a

national figure, he developed a national name for himself.

        If the Kansas-Nebraska Act made Lincoln the leading Whig in Illinois, the Dred Scott decision made

him a leading, national political candidate. The Dred Scott case was decided by the Supreme Court of the

United States on March 6, 1857 and the ramifications of it were tremendous. In this case, Dred, a slave was

brought into a free state by his master, and sued for his freedom on the belief that once he was brought into a

free territory he became a free man. The decision, however, did not go Dred’s way. Chief Justice Roger B.

Taney wrote the majority opinion in which he stated that slaves are not people. They are property and as

property they can never be set free. Furthermore, it is not the slaves that have rights, but the slave owners,

as they own the property. And owning property is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution and, as

such, Congress cannot outlaw slavery anywhere. Slaves are property and property is legal everywhere.

Essentially, slavery is now legal everywhere in the United States. The reason this case is so important

in the story of Abraham Lincoln is he was a Whig and the Whig Party was formed to stop the spread of

slavery. And now that slavery is legal everywhere, the party is obsolete. As the Whig Party ended with Dred

Scott decision, the new Republican Party was formed and Lincoln was one of the founding members of it. As


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a founding member of the only real rival to the Democrat Party, Lincoln was now at the fore-front of national

politics. From an unknown, Illinois lawyer in 1853, to the leader of a national political in only 4 years, not bad.

        In 1858, the Illinois Republicans nominated him to run against Stephen Douglas for a seat in the

United States Senate. In 1858 Douglas and Lincoln took part in several debates (The Lincoln/Douglas

Debates), and these became the hottest ticket in town. For over 3 hours (that’s right 3 hours, this was before

the days of Jersey Shore or Hillbilly Handfishing, but is there really a difference between those two shows?)

crowds of 10,000 people would listen to them discuss the issues of the day. And Lincoln more than held his

own against the “Little Giant” (Douglas was only 5’4” to Lincoln’s 6’4”) and while Douglas won the Senatorial

seat, Lincoln was now a real force in American politics began campaigning for the presidency in the election

of 1860. In fact, losing to Douglas gave him the time he needed to put together his campaign. In 1860

Lincoln received the Republican nomination for the presidency and a gift from the Democrats.

        The Democratic Party was a national party of both the north and south, while the Republican Party

was only made up of northerners. As the Republicans unanimously nominated Lincoln, the Democrats split

their votes and nominated 3 different people for the presidency. Therefore, the Democrats votes would be

split three different ways, while every Republican was now going to vote for Lincoln. So despite the fact that

Lincoln did not receive a single vote in 10 of the southern states (and was left off the ballot in 5 of them), he

was elected president of the United States in 1860. Abraham Lincoln, a man of truly humble beginnings, with

only one year of formal education, had reached the highest office in the United States, but his real trouble

was just beginning.

        Abraham Lincoln was in Springfield when he was informed that he been elected president of the

United States in the election of 1860. He was also there when he was informed that because he was

elected South Carolina had voted to secede from the Union and six other states were following in her

footsteps. As America wondered what the president-elect would do in the face of this adversary, Lincoln did

and said nothing. He would make no comment until his inauguration day in March 1861. In fact the only

major change that Lincoln made during this time was the growth of his beard. It seems that one little girl


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thought that Lincoln would look better if he would just grow “some whiskers” so Grace Bedell wrote the

presidential candidate:

        “Hon                                   A                                    B                                  Lincoln...

        Dear Sir

        My father has just home from the fair and brought home your picture and Mr. Hamlin's. I am a little girl only 11 years
        old, but want you should be President of the United States very much so I hope you won’t think me very bold to
        write to such a great man as you are. Have you any little girls about as large as I am if so give them my love and tell
        her to write to me if you cannot answer this letter. I have got 4 brother's and part of them will vote for you any way
        and if you let your whiskers grow I will try and get the rest of them to vote for you would look a great deal better for
        your face is so thin. All the ladies like whiskers and they would tease their husband's to vote for you and then you
        would be President. My father is going to vote for you and if I was a man I would vote for you to but I will try to get
        every one to vote for you that I can I think that rail fence around your picture makes it look very pretty I have got a
        little baby sister she is nine weeks old and is just as cunning as can be. When you direct your letter direct to Grace
        Bedell Westfield Chatauque County New York

        I must not write any more answer this letter right off Good bye

        Grace Bedell

Lincoln, of course, could not ignore this very important letter, so he responded:


        Miss Grace Bedell

        My dear little Miss

        Your very agreeable letter of the 15th is received - I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughters - I have
        three sons - one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age - They, with their mother, constitute my whole
        family - As to the whiskers, having never worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly affection if I
        were to begin it now?

        Your very sincere well wisher


        A. Lincoln

Lincoln did grow his whiskers and he actually met Grace Bedell one day. On the train ride from Springfield to Washington

DC, the president’s car stopped at several cities so the American people could see their new president and while in Grace’s

hometown, he called her up to the stage and planted a kiss on her and thanked her for the advice.


        The southern states for their part were not very interested in Lincoln’s facial hair. They were interested in his

politics, but they were not going to wait to his inauguration ceremony to hear it from him. They knew that he was a

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Republican, and a former Whig, who was opposed to the expansion of slavery and would be a threat to their way of life. So

in February of 1861 (a month before Lincoln would be sworn into the presidency), South Carolina, Florida, Mississippi,

Alabama, Georgia and Texas met in Montgomery, Alabama to officially secede from the Union and form the Confederate

States of America. With secession came the seizing of federal forts that were located within their borders. Now when

Lincoln assumed command of America, he would do so facing the biggest crisis any US president ever faced (destruction of

the Union), with the least amount of training (in both education and political experience). Lincoln, however, towered above

the vast majority of his predecessors in several areas, with one of them being his sheer genius. While Americans might not

have realized it in the beginning of his presidency, they would know by the end that he was the right man for the job.


        The first question that Lincoln had to answer was: “Was secession legal?” There was tremendous debate in

America as to whether a state had the right to secede. If Lincoln believed that secession was legal, then he could do

nothing about the crisis. But if Lincoln believed that secession was illegal, then he could crush the newly formed

Confederate States as traitors to the Union. America awaited his answer.


        So does a state have a right to break away from the federal government and form its own government? According

to the Constitution, it does. Certainly the Constitution was not even the first government of the United States, the Articles

of Confederation was, and they ended after only 9 years. Legally, according to the Constitution, a state has a right to

secede. If secession is legal then Lincoln must allow the southern states to secede. In fact, Lincoln’s presidential

predecessor (James Buchanan) stated in a public address that secession was legal and there was nothing that a president

could do about it. Lincoln, however, told America in his inaugural address that secession was illegal.


         How is it possible that Lincoln could state that secession is illegal, when the Constitution clearly states that it’s

legal? The answer, according to Lincoln, is found in the document that founded America. He pointed to the fact, that the

United States did not begin with the Constitution, but with the Declaration of Independence and the Declaration said

nothing about a state having a right to secede. According to the Declaration of Independence it is the people that have a

right to form a government, not the states, and Lincoln refused to recognize these states as the voice of the people.



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        Kind of complicated, but what it means is, the people formed the government of the United States (with the signing

of the Declaration of Independence) and not the states (with the signing of the Constitution). Therefore, secession is illegal

and Lincoln would fight the Civil War if that is what it took to preserve the Union (preserving the Union being Lincoln’s goal

for the Civil War). This is what Lincoln explained in his First Inaugural Address. So the Civil War was bound to happen, but

who would fire the first shot?


        Lincoln knew that he could not fire the first shot. If the north fired upon the south first, than he would be the

aggressor and they would simply be defending their home turf. No, Lincoln had to coax the south into firing the first shot,

but how and where. Wouldn’t you know it, that “how” and “where” would land on his desk the day of his inauguration.

When he sat down to his desk for the first time he was given a telegram from Major Robert Anderson of Fort Sumter in

South Carolina.    In his telegram, Major Anderson reported that he was running low on supplies and would need to be

restocked soon, but the Confederates warned that if any Union ships entered the harbor, they would consider it an act of

war and would fire on the fort. This was a real dilemma for Lincoln, if he did nothing Fort Sumter would be forced to

surrender to the Confederates and he would look weak to the people of America. If he sent warships to restock the fort (a

fort that by-the-way held no strategic value to the north during the war), it would be considered an act of war, and it would

look like he was starting the war. Both options were out of the question for the new president.


        Lincoln, therefore, chose neither. Displaying the deft political skill that would mark most of his presidency, he forced

the south into firing the first shot of the war and still looked strong to the people of America. Instead of sending a naval ship

to re-supply with military supplies, Abraham Lincoln sent a merchant ship to restock Ft. Sumter with supplies (meaning food

and water). He knew that South Carolina was going to fire on any northern ships that entered the harbor (which it did), so

he sent a non-military ship and thereby, the Confederacy was the aggressor by firing on a peaceful merchant ship, during a

time of peace (war had yet to be declared). The Confederacy fired the first shots of the war and while the south won the

battle for Ft. Sumter (Anderson surrendered the fort after one day of fighting), Lincoln won the political battle, as he could

now fight the war and the traitors from the south, without looking like the aggressor. All of this on his first day on the job.




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        The tests that Lincoln faced during the first day of his presidency, should have served as warning as what lied

ahead. During the Civil War, Lincoln was constantly tested. With no military background he felt dependent upon his

generals. But most of his generals proved to be incompetent (faced with incompetence, Lincoln was forced to teach himself

how to be a military commander). In the early years of the war, in fact, he was constantly looking for a general who would at

least fight (retreating seemed to be the one thing that his generals were capable of doing). In fact, in one famous

conversation he asked General George McClellan, “since he was not planning on using the army, would he mind if I

borrowed it for awhile?”. As the Army of the Potomac continued to lose to the Army of Northern Virginia, the people’s

confidence in their president began to diminish. As the casualties continued to pile up, the morale of the northern soldier

also diminished.


        It was during these early years of the war, that Lincoln found solace in his young boys, Tad and Willie.

Undisciplined in their small house in Springfield, Illinois, they now had the run of the Executive Mansion. The boys would

round up the local neighborhood children and play in the White House. With their friends, they would sneak onto the roof

and build forts. In addition, they would attach to their pet goat (yes, that’s right, pet goat), a sled and go for rides through

the halls of the White House. When he heard about this, Lincoln would simply laugh, and when he happened to view it

himself, he would join in the festivities. The joy that he received from Tad and Willie was his saving grace during the early

years of the Civil War. It was, however, to be short-lived.


        Some time in early 1862, Tad and Willie developed typhoid fever. The prognosis for the boys was not good, and

Lincoln was overcome with grief. With his days spent dealing with the end of the American union, Lincoln spent his nights

reading to his boys in their sickbeds. Despite the care of the best doctors in the country, Willie succumbed to his sickness

on February 20, the second child of Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln to pass away. Lincoln could not deal with the death of

his beloved Willie and in the years following his death was known to lock himself in a dark room so he could shed tears for

his departed son. In addition, Tad was still sick and devastated by the death of his brother and best friend. While Tad did

get his health back, he never recovered emotionally to loss of Willie.




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        Mary Todd’s grief was the worst of them. For three weeks she laid in her bed (she did not even leave bed to attend

Willie’s funeral) and refused to see anyone. The mere mention of his name would bring about hysterics and never again

would she enter Willie’s bedroom. All social activities stopped at the White House as she was in mourning and would have

no visitors. The only activities that she would endorse, in fact, were séances so she could speak to both of her deceased

sons. Séances were a fairly normal occasion in the White House after Willie died, with even Abraham attending one of

them after his wife begged him to.


        Abraham did not receive the same relief that his wife received from these contacts. Mary Todd believed that Willie

would come to her bed every night and they would hold conversations in her sleep. Lincoln, instead found comfort in his

other son, Tad (Robert was off at school and besides the father and son were never that close). Unruly and with a speech

impediment so severe that made him impossible for the vast majority of people to understand him (Abe always could

understand), he and the president shared a special bond and Lincoln would stop whatever he was doing when his son

beckoned (even during Tad’s frequent interruptions of Cabinet meetings). After the death of Willie, Abraham and Tad were

inseparable, with Tad falling asleep most nights in Lincoln’s office and the president carrying the sleeping nine-year-old off

to bed when he finished his work.


        Despite the agony of Lincoln’s personal life, the Civil War was raging and America needed the leadership of its

president. During this time, Lincoln immersed himself in his work, even though the news of the war was still not good. The

Confederacy kept winning and by the summer of 1862, Lincoln’s popularity and the morale of the Union troops were at all

time lows. Lincoln had a plan, however, to change all of that.


        As Lincoln’s goal to “preserve the Union” was valid, it did not inspire and it did not attack the root cause of the Civil

War. As Lincoln so eloquently stated in a letter to The New York Herald: “My paramount object in this struggle is to save

the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slaves, I would do it;

and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I

would also do that. I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty and I intend no modification of my

oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.” Lincoln’s goal was to preserve the Union, but he knew

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that slavery was the root cause of the Civil War. How could he fight an entire war about slavery, and then not free the

slaves? In addition, the idea of “preserving the Union”, did not exactly inspire his troops, or the people of America. There

was a problem with freeing the slaves, though. The Border States (the slave holding states that did not join the

Confederacy). How could he free the slaves and not lose the Border States to the Confederacy? If the Border States lost

their slaves, they would leave the Union and then Washington DC (which is located between Maryland and Virginia) would

be located in the heart of the Confederacy. Once again, Lincoln’s political resolve was going to be tested.


           Could he find some way to change the course of the war, free the slaves, raise the morale of his men, give his men

a reason to continue the fight, keep the Border States from leaving the Union and keep Britain from helping the Confederacy

(which might happen, but would not if the war was fought to free the slaves, as Britain freed their slaves in the 1840s and

would not fight a war to preserve slavery)? Quite a tall order, but once again Lincoln proved why he was the perfect man for

the job.


           On January 1, 1863 Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which stated: “That on the first day of

January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or

designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then,

thenceforward, and forever free…” So Lincoln freed the slaves, right? It says right there that: “all persons held as slaves

within any State or designated part of a State,…in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward,

and forever free.:” All the slaves are free, right? Not exactly; if Lincoln freed the slaves then the Border States would leave

and join the Confederacy. So how many slaves did the Emancipation Proclamation actually free then? Zero, nada, zip,

zilch. The Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves in any state that was in a state of rebellion against the United

States (the Confederacy), and those states no longer followed the laws of the United States government. So what did it

accomplish then, if it freed no slaves? It accomplished everything that Lincoln had hoped it would.


           While no slaves were immediately freed by the Emancipation Proclamation, it changed the course of the war. Now

when the Union takes over an area that is part of the Confederacy, it will free their slaves. In addition, the Union troops now

have a reason to fight (the emancipation of the slaves) and Britain will never join the war now. Finally the outcome of the

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Civil War will now answer the question of slavery in the United States forever, and as the slaves in the Border States were

not freed, they had no reason to join the Confederacy (and risk losing their slaves). In addition, it allowed the Union to

follow the advice of Fredrick Douglass (whom became a confidant of Lincoln’s during the war) and allow African Americans

to fight for the Union cause. Lincoln accomplished all of his goals with one stroke of the pen and the history of the United

States would never be the same.


        As the Emancipation Proclamation turned the tide of public opinion and his soldier’s morale, events in the summer

of 1863, helped to turn the tide of the war. For three days, the Army of Northern Virginia, under the leadership of Robert E.

Lee, and the Army of the Potomac fought at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (a city with no strategic, but apparently very good

shoes). It seems that Lee was hoping to attack some major northern cities and hopefully end the war. As he was marched

his army towards Philadelphia, he was shadowed by the Army of the Potomac. Near Gettysburg, several Confederate

soldiers wandered around hoping to find some shoes, what they found were a few Union soldiers also wandering the

streets. A skirmish broke out between the two sides and soon both armies descended upon the quiet Pennsylvania town.

For three days the two sides were involved in some of the most intense fighting of the war, with the Lee and the

Confederates retreating on July 4th, 1863. When Lincoln received the joyous news of the Battle of Gettysburg, he also

received a telegram from General Ulysses S. Grant that the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi River,

Vicksburg, had fallen to the Union army. July 4th, 1863 was a joyous day for the north (not so much for the people of

Vicksburg, Mississippi who refused to celebrate the 4th of July for the next 100 years!).


        Of course, as with anything else in Lincoln’s life, it could not all be good news. On July 2 nd, as the armies were

fighting it away in Gettysburg and Vicksburg, someone snuck into the stables at the White House and unscrewed the bolts

of the president’s carriage in an apparent assassination attempt, but Lincoln was not the next to use the carriage, Mary

Todd was. She was thrown from the carriage and had to recuperate for over three weeks. After this incident her

headaches became more frequent and severe.


        After the news of the summer of 1863, Lincoln’s popularity began to grow, but not everyone agreed with his

Emancipation Proclamation. Some thought that it was a violation of the Constitution, some felt that it did not go far enough

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and others thought that by freeing the slaves they would be forced to compete for jobs with them. Lincoln was looking for

the opportunity to more fully express his thoughts to a national audience, and an invitation to speak at the November 19 th,

1863 dedication for a new cemetery at Gettysburg offered that exact opportunity.


        After the Battle of Gettysburg, the tiny town in western Pennsylvania was overcome with decaying bodies, both

humans and horses. In the intense July heat, the 5,000 dead horses were burned in a massive gas fire (a lovely smell

during a particularly hot and humid and summer). The bodies, however, needed to be buried and there was no time to ship

the decomposing corpses home, so both the Confederate and the Union soldiers, over 9,000 bodies, would have to be

buried together in a brand new cemetery right in Gettysburg, a town of only 2,500 people. Lincoln was asked to give a few

words to help consecrate the new grounds. He would use this opportunity to further the Union’s cause.


        At the dedication for the new site, Edward Everett, a Harvard professor, was asked to give the main oration

(speech) during the ceremony. He proceeded to speak for over two and half hours (completely from memory). He

discussed the battle and all of the people involved. Lincoln for his part only spoke for about two and half minutes. He made

no mention of specific events of the battle, nor of the people who took part in it. In fact, not once does he utter the word

Gettysburg. It is Lincoln’s speech, however, that history remembers as the Gettysburg Address. For Lincoln was not

speaking about one battle, or one cemetery, but the entire war and the future of America. Lincoln delivered the speech in

his high Kentucky twang of a voice (not the deep voice favored by actors playing the president). His voice, in fact, served

him very well. In an age before microphones and when large outdoor audiences were very common, his twang always

carried all the way to the back of the masses.


        “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.

        But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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
                                                                                                                              15
         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.”

         Abraham Lincoln- November 19, 1863- “The Gettysburg Address”

Despite popular myth, Lincoln did not write the Gettysburg Address on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg.

Lincoln never enjoyed speaking off the cuff, and would plan out his speeches with painstaking accuracy. He knew the

importance of this day and he knew what he was trying to accomplish and he would never leave that up to chance. In

addition, contrary to stories of the opposite, the crowd at Gettysburg interrupted his speech several times with applause and

followed his speech with a thunderous ovation. Besides the stories and myths about the Gettysburg Address, what is it

about the speech that is so important? Why is it still studied and dissected over 140 years later? Let’s examine it.


         “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.”

First off, while some might have started a speech with “87 years ago”, Lincoln uses the very poetic, “Four score and seven

years ago”, which works out to 87 years. 1863 minus 87 is 1776, the date of the signing of The Declaration of

Independence.      According to Lincoln, the country did not begin with the Constitution, but with the Declaration of

Independence and its principles of all men being created equally and the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness

for all. In the first sentence Lincoln is reminding America about the very principles that guided the founding of our country

and these principles were not enjoyed by all Americans.


         “Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated,
         can long endure.”

This Civil War is not only testing our will as a country, but all countries. If we fail in our mission it will not only mean doom

for us, but for every other country that tries to ensure equality for all.


         “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.”

These sentences explain why everyone is here, and set up the rest of his speech.


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         “But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not 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 doesn’t matter what we say here. It doesn’t matter what we do here, for the men who fought and died have already

dedicated these grounds. It is the struggle that they went through, for us, that is so important. In addition, he never says

the “Union” men who fought and died here. According to Lincoln, everyone who fought here was an American and he never

distinguishes between a northerner and a southerner in any of his speeches.


         “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…”

The “great task remaining before us”. This is Lincoln giving his best Bill Parcells’ halftime speech to his team. He doesn’t

want to hear that you’re tired, or you want to go home. These men fought and died so that you can live, so continue the

fight. Honor the dead here, not by dedicating their graves, but by going and finishing their unfinished work. By continuing

the fight until victory we will ensure that they did not die 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.”

“A new birth of freedom”, meaning freedom for all. This cemetery dedication is not only about the dead, but about the “new

birth of freedom”, freedom for all Americans. By ensuring the freedom of slaves and continuing the fight until victory, the

“government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The man had a power over the

English language that few have every possessed. How else could one person say so much with so few words? In fact, the

only part of his speech that was not accurate was when he said: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say

here…” Almost 150 years later and no American speech has ever even come close to saying so much. Lincoln had

succeeded in his goals for Gettysburg. He explained his war aims and the American public responded with the gusto that is

required to continue the fight.


         As 1863 turned to 1864, it became more obvious that the Union was going to win the war. General US Grant, now

a legitimate war hero, was put in charge of the military and he was certainly not afraid of a fight (the Union armies would no

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longer retreat under his command). In addition, General Sherman had introduced total war to the south, as he swept

through Georgia destroying everything in his path. As the backs of the Confederates were being broken, their only hope

was that Lincoln would not be reelected in 1864 and a peace president would be elected instead (who would end the war).

No such luck, however, as Lincoln was reelected, carrying all states but three.


        Lincoln was reelected and received his validation for the work he done so far but now it was time to look to the

future. The war would be over soon, and Lincoln had a plan for Reconstruction (the rebuilding of the south). During his

inauguration on March 4, 1865, he unveiled it in his Second Inaugural Address. “…With malice toward none; with charity

for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the

nation’s wounds, to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may

achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.” There would be no punishment, no

military occupation of a defeated enemy. He would welcome his brothers home once again.


        After his inauguration, there was not much for Lincoln to do but wait for the end of the war. He frequented the

theater quite often and answered correspondence. One letter that he wrote during this time is particularly powerful,

because of its nature and the eloquence in which Lincoln crafts it:


        To Mrs. Bixby,

        Boston, Massachusetts.

        Dear Madam,

        I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant General of Massachusetts, that
        you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle.

        I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss
        so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the
        Republic they died to save.

        I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished
        memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the
        altar of Freedom.

Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,

A. Lincoln
                                                                                                                                 18
Lincoln knew what it was like to lose a child and felt compelled to personally write to this grieving mother, during her time of

need. Throughout most of March, though, Lincoln waited for the news that April of 1865 would bring.


        On April 3, 1865, the capital of the Confederacy, Richmond, Virginia surrendered to Union forces. It was only a

matter of time now before the war was over and Washington DC wanted to celebrate. For the next week the capital was

one big party, with huge crowds walking right up the White House to serenade the president. The Lincoln family would

come out and listen to revelers and bid them goodnight. Then on April 11, 1865 (two days after the surrender of Lee to

Grant at Appomattox Courthouse, signaling the end of the war) a crowd of several thousand walked right up to the White

House to demand a speech from their president on this the end of the Civil War. Lincoln did not disappoint. He appeared

on the balcony with Tad and gave a speech to the enthusiastic crowd. Not everyone in the crowd, however, was as

enthusiastic about the present situation. After the speech, the actor John Wilkes Booth turned to his friend and said: “That

is the last speech he will ever give.”


        The week of April 9th, was a raucous event in Washington DC and on Friday, April 14 th, 1865 (Good Friday), John

Wilkes Booth had decided he had seen enough and it was time to go through with his plan to assassinate the president.

That morning Booth went over to Ford’s Theatre to pick up his mail (which was customary for an actor of the time) and

while there, sitting on the steps of the theatre, he saw the president’s messenger arrive. As the owner of the theatre and the

messenger spoke, Booth couldn’t believe his ears, the Lincolns were attending a play, Our American Cousin, at the

theatre tonight, with Ulysses S. Grant and his wife. This was perfect. Booth, as an actor, had first-hand knowledge of the

layout of the Ford’s Theatre and knew the play Our American Cousin, so well he knew the exact time to do the deed. All he

needed now was to round up his crew of conspirators and wait for the perfect opportunity. For tonight at 10:00, he would kill

the president and US Grant (the two men most responsible for his beloved country losing the war) and his crew would kill

Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward (who was recovering in his bed from injuries

suffered from a carriage accident). He would do this all tonight, but he only had 8 hours to put it all together.


        At 4:00 pm, he hit the first snag in his plan. As he was speaking to a friend he noticed General Grant and his wife

riding towards the train station with their bags (it seems Mrs. Grant could not stand Mary Todd Lincoln and convinced her

                                                                                                                             19
husband to get out of their plans that evening). Upon seeing this, Booth rode up to their carriage and thrust his head into

the carriage and gave out a most unusual grunt. He wanted to kill Grant, but if he shot the general now, he would not be

able to kill the president. Besides he had work to do back at Ford’s Theatre. A Ford’s Theatre, Booth notched a hole into

the president’s booth and fixed the door with bar to prevent anyone from entering it after him. His plan was in place, his

coconspirators were ready to do their part and all he had to do now, was wait.


         Back at the White House, Abraham Lincoln was in great spirits. It was by far one of the happiest days of his life.

His son Robert was home and Mary was in a good mood. There was no war to worry about, no mothers who no longer

have to lose their sons, no reports to go over. It was calm and relaxing and the weather was perfect for a carriage ride

through the city with his wife. His advisers had warned him about riding alone through the city after he returned one night

about 2 months earlier and found a bullet hole in his stovepipe hat (one of the many attempted assassination attempts on

his life). But Abraham was determined. He wanted to go on a ride in broad daylight alone with his wife and discuss their

future. The past few years had not been fun for either one of them and on this ride he promised that he would be more

involved in her life from now on. After his term was over they would travel to the Pacific Ocean, move back to Springfield

and grow old together. In the past decade the two of them of had to endure the death of two of their children, and the Civil

War, but they made it through it all together, and together they would embrace a much happier future, with this carriage ride

marking the first day of the rest of their lives.


         The Lincolns and their guests, Major Rathborne and his fiancé, arrived at the theatre at 8:30 with no security and no

announcement of their arrival. The play had already begun, but when Lincoln entered the presidential box (dressed with an

American flag and painting of George Washington to mark the occasion), the actors stopped performing, the band broke

into “Hail to the Chief” and the crowd gave him a thunderous, standing ovation. Lincoln acknowledged the crowd by bowing

and waving to his animated admirers. He had done what he promised; he saved the Union and even freed the slaves for

good measure. It surely must have been a proud moment for both Lincolns. Tad was not present to hear the applause as

he was the invited guest at a rival theatre, but he also received a standing ovation from the crowd.




                                                                                                                           20
        At 9:00 John Wilkes Booth stepped through the door at Ford’s Theatre. He listened for the dialogue and knew he

still had another hour before he could accomplish his mission. He knew the play, Our American Cousin, so well that he was

going to wait until the loudest burst of laughter from the audience to muzzle the noise from the gunshot. He left the theatre

and headed to a bar to have some whiskey. When he returned an hour later he used the backdoor, opened a trapdoor on

the stage floor and crawled on the floor under the stage without anyone seeing him enter the building. When he reached

the back hallway, by the stairs leading to the presidential box, he saw no one there. When he approached the door leading

to the box, he found nobody. He couldn’t believe it, no one. Not one bodyguard or policeman stood in his way. The only

thing between him and the president was the door that he had rigged this afternoon.


        When he stepped into the presidential box, he peered through the peep hole that he had drilled earlier in the day.

Through the hole he saw Abraham. In a move that is very odd for his very stoic personality, Lincoln grabbed his wife’s hand

and held it close to his body in a very affectionate manner. The two then spoke the last words they would ever say to each

other. Reacting to the president’s affectionate behavior, Mary said: “What will Miss Harris think of my hanging on to you

so?” Abraham responded: “She won’t think anything about it.” As they spoke, Booth watched and listened for the dialogue.

The time had come to fulfill his mission.


        He turned around and locked the door that he had rigged, so no one could enter the box to capture him, or give

assistance to the president. Booth removed his single-shot Derringer pistol from his pocket and took out his knife. He crept

closer to the president, who was now only 5 feet away. Five feet away and still undetected. As he waited for the perfect

time he unfurled his arm and held the gun less than two feet from the president. Once the audience began to laugh, there

was no way he could miss. They laughed, when he knew they would. At that exact moment, he squeezed the trigger

and…BANG! Booth unleashed a bullet to the back of Lincoln’s head, he slumped over motionless. The bullet ripped

through his head and ricocheted around until it stopped behind his right eye (it never made it all the way through Lincoln’s

brain). The Major jumped to his feet, but Booth lodged the knife in his shoulder and he fell to the ground. As Booth

wrestled with the Major he yelled only one word: “Freedom!”




                                                                                                                          21
        John Wilkes Booth then jumped on top of the balcony, that was decorated with the flag and the painting of George

Washington and gave his last performance in an American theatre. Atop the balcony, he turned to the crowd and yelled:

“Sic semper tyrannis!” Latin for: “Thus always to tyrants”, the official motto for Virginia. But when he jumped to the stage,

he caught the spur of his boot on the painting of Washington that was hung there for the president’s appearance. Because

of this, he landed awkwardly and broke his left foot on the fall. On adrenaline alone, however, he was able to run off the

stage and shout to the audience: “The south is avenged!” As he ran off, Clara Harris, the fiancée of Major Rathbone,

shouted: “Stop that man! He has shot the president!”


        At that point, Joseph B. Stewart, a man sitting in the front row, jumped over the orchestra box and chased Booth

through the back door of Ford’s Theatre. Booth was already on his horse when Stewart arrived, and though Stewart

grabbed the reins from Booth, the assassin was able to recover control of the horse, by kicking the pursuer with his boot

spur on Stewart’s hand. Booth rode hard out of Washington DC and made it across the bridge within 10 minutes, past the

soldiers guarding the bridge into Maryland. No one except him and the people inside Ford’s Theatre knew what he had

done by the time he made it out of the capital city.


        Back in Ford’s Theatre, the presidential box was covered in blood. Mary was tending to Abraham and becoming

more and more frantic by the second. He was not responding to her and his eyes had rolled back into his head. Chaos

began to ensue in the theatre and as a doctor, who was in attendance, raced up the stairs he found the door locked. After a

few minutes the Major un-jammed the door and Dr. Leale did an initial prognosis of the president. Upon inspecting the

president, he only found one bullet hole. That meant that the bullet was lodged in the president’s head and he would surely

die. In fact, the president already looked dead. The doctor revived him, though, and the president’s heart began to pump

blood to his vital organs. No matter what the doctor did, though, the president would not make it through the night and he

had to be moved. The president of the United States, the hero of the Civil War, could not die on the floor of Ford’s Theatre.

So Lincoln’s lifeless body was picked up by four soldiers, who had made it to the scene, and brought him across the street

to William Petersen’s house. When the soldiers made it the street, however, a crowd had gathered with news of the

assassination and rushed the president’s body. The soldiers just did make it into the door before they were engulfed by the

masses.
                                                                                                                          22
          News spread through the city like wildfire and when the manager of the rival Grover’s Theatre announced that the

president had been shot, Tad Lincoln screamed from the balcony. Speculation also began to swirl about a Confederate

uprising in the city, as Secretary of State William Seward was also attacked in his home. He survived the attack, but his

home is a bloody mess. Andrew Johnson, by the way, was never attacked. His assailant backed out of the plan at the last

second.


          Back in the Petersen House, the prognosis was not good. Lincoln had not regained consciousness since the

gunshot and Mary Lincoln was a quivering mess. She was hysterical and had to be removed from the room. She sat in

parlor and only returned to the bedside when the doctors would allow her to return. That is it how went throughout the night.

The doctors, Lincoln’s advisors, and Robert and Mary Lincoln attending to his dying body. Finally, at 7:22 am, on the

morning of April 15th, Abraham Lincoln breathed his last breath and passed away. Robert left the room and told his mother

her husband had died. She never went back into the bedroom where Abraham had died, and she left quietly shortly after.

After everyone had left, four soldiers entered the house, wrapped Lincoln in an American flag and brought him back to the

White House. When the soldiers made it to the White House, they found young Tad, standing in doorway waiting for his

father.


          When John Wilkes Booth executed the plan to assassinate Abraham Lincoln, he hoped to incite a southern

insurrection and he believed that history would prove him right for his actions. No such insurrection ever happened, and

history looks upon for what he is, a coward who shot a man in the back (a man by the way who have tossed Booth a beating

in a fair fight). For his part, Booth spent the next 12 days sleeping outside and running from the entire army of the United

States. The manhunt finally caught up to him in a farmhouse in Virginia, where he was shot to death by the cavalry. Eight

of his coconspirators were found guilty for their crimes and hanged. A little side note, it seems that Major General Lewis

Wallace, who was a member of the 1865 military commission which tried Lincoln’s conspirators, was an ancestor to the

Freund family.




                                                                                                                          23
        Abraham Lincoln’s body was to be buried in Springfield, Illinois. The funeral train that brought him back to his home

state, also included the interred body of his deceased son Willie. They traveled back home to buried. Passing hundreds of

thousands or mourners along the way, who came out to pay their last respects.


        Mary Todd Lincoln suffered from great depression and health problems after the death of her husband. In 12 years,

she had buried two children and witnessed her husband shot dead, right in front of her eyes. Her eldest son, Robert,

actually had her sent to an insane asylum, after the death of her third child Tad, in 1871 (three children and one husband in

16 years). She was released, however, after three months. She then moved to Europe, but health issues forced her back

to America and she died at her sister’s house on July 16, 1882. She was buried next to her husband and her three

deceased sons. Robert Lincoln (who had no children of his own) survived until 1926, but the last direct descendent of

Abraham and Mary Todd Lincoln died in 1985.


        Abraham Lincoln was born in a log-cabin to two illiterate parents. He never received more than one year of formal

schooling, but became a well-respected lawyer. He was a deeply devoted husband and father, but buried two of his

children. He became president in 1860, and the Civil War began the next day. The Civil War ended on April 9, 1865 and he

was assassinated 6 days later. Lincoln’s life was a life of failure, depression, and tragedy. But it was also a life of

overcoming failure, depression and tragedy. Abraham Lincoln, a man who answered the call when his country needed him

and gave America a new birth of freedom.




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