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Lincoln, Abraham

Abraham Lincoln, November 8, 1863, detail

Abraham Lincoln was a southerner who led the North during the Civil War. Born on February 12, 1809, the same day as scientist Charles Darwin, Lincoln began his life on a farm in Kentucky before moving as a young child to Indiana and eventually to Illinois. He settled in Springfield, married Mary Todd, and raised four boys (two of whom died before he did). Lincoln was six-feet, four inches tall and weighed about 180 pounds. He was well respected as a politician and attorney and well-liked for his story-telling abilities. Lincoln served one term in Congress where he gained notice for opposing the Mexican War but otherwise had no experience in Washington before becoming president. During the 1850s, Lincoln helped organize the Republican Party in Illinois and distinguished himself as an anti-slavery orator, especially during the famous Lincoln-Douglas Debates of 1858. Two years later, Lincoln and Stephen Douglas faced each other again, this time as part of the dramatic four-way presidential contest of 1860. Lincoln won an electoral majority and seven Deep South states seceded. President Lincoln refused to bend and war erupted at Fort Sumter in April 1861. As a wartime leader, Lincoln has been widely revered for his actions to save the nation, free the slaves and for his astounding ability to communicate the values of democratic self-government in simple, elegant phrases. He won reelection in 1864 but was shot and killed by actor John Wilkes Booth in mid-April 1865, just over one month into his second term. (By Matthew Pinsker)

Life span: 
02/12/1809 to 04/15/1865
Dickinson Connection: 
James Buchanan (Class of 1809) preceded Lincoln as president. Chief Justice Roger B. Taney (Class of 1795) swore him into office in 1861 and bitterly opposed him until Taney's death in 1864.


How to Cite This Page: "Lincoln, Abraham," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,