What does Abraham Lincoln's life teach

Abraham Lincoln - 16th President of the USA


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Abraham Lincoln - 16th President of the USA

Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809 near Hodgenville, Kentucky. Coming from a poor background, he was twice elected President of the USA. Because of him, the constitution was expanded to include the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery. His election on November 6, 1860 led to the so-called civil war between the northern and southern states. He died on April 15, 1865 as a result of an assassination attempt in Washington D.C.

Lincoln worked hard for the presidency. Until he was 19 years old, he helped on his father's farm. It was a difficult life because the family lived on the border to the country still uninhabited by whites, the so-called Frontier. Lincoln taught himself to read, write and do arithmetic. At the age of 21 he moved with his family to Illinois, where he worked as a merchant, surveyor and postal clerk.

Abraham "Abe" Lincoln. He was a very skilled speaker who advocated justice for all people. Source: Wikipedia

It was in a speakers club that Lincoln discovered his talent as a speaker. That made it easy for him to get into politics. He began his career in 1834 as a member of the Illinois State Parliament. There he fought especially for the improvement of the school system. He also taught himself law thoroughly. In 1836 he was admitted to the bar and opened a law firm.

For his sincerity and honesty, he was nicknamed "Honest Abe" by his colleagues. In the Illinois Parliament he first spoke out against slavery as an injustice. In 1847 he made the leap to the House of Representatives in Washington. But he soon returned to his family, who had not come, out of longing, and initially said goodbye to big politics.

The land of the free

Photo: The heads of four presidents have been carved into Mount Rushmore, including A. Lincoln (far right).

Slavery was widespread in the southern states, whose economies were based on agricultural products such as tobacco and cotton. The economy of the northern states was industrial and did not need slaves.

Lincoln was privately against slavery. As a politician, however, he respected the existing laws that allowed slavery in existing states. He just wanted to gradually abolish the laws and compensate the slave owners for it. In no way did he want to go to war over slavery.

But in 1854 a new law was passed that allowed slavery in two newly formed states. Lincoln didn't like that and decided to get back into big politics. He saw that the economy of the old states needed slaves, even if he didn't like the idea. But new states should not become slave states. For him, this was contrary to the spirit of the American Constitution.

The founding of the Republicans

Because of this new slave-owner law, Lincoln's party fell out and, together with other opponents ("abolitionists") and members of other political directions, the Republican Party was founded in 1854.

In the fall of 1860, after years of bitter discussions about slavery and the continued existence of the Union of Northern and Southern States, Lincoln narrowly won the presidential election. Immediately after he took office, the voices among the southerners who wanted to leave the confederation increased.

Preserving the Union was even more important to Lincoln than the abolition of slavery. He didn't want a war and told the southerners that the government would not attack them. But if they were to dissolve, he was obliged by his oath of office to prevent a split, if necessary also militarily.

Jefferson Davis, Lincoln's adversary. He was the leader of the southern states and called himself President of the Confederate States of America.

Yankees versus Confederates

The southern states, also known as "Confederates", did not agree to further negotiations. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces began attacking facilities in the North ("Yankees"). That was the beginning of the American Civil War, also known as the Civil War.

Lincoln took drastic measures, restricted rights and issued compulsory military service for the first time, which in turn led to conflict. But without enough fighters, the northern states would have had no chance. In 1863 the southern states were defeated in the famous Battle of Gettysburg and that was a turning point.

The southern states could no longer win the war militarily. Now they wanted at least to prevent Lincoln from being re-elected by continuing the fighting. When the end of the war was in sight, Lincoln was re-elected.

The famous Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Here the civil rights activist Martin Luther King gave his famous speech "I have a Dream"

The assassination

The last Confederate troops surrendered on April 26th. Lincoln didn’t experience that anymore. He was shot by John Wilkes Booth, a radical southerner, while visiting the theater on April 14, and died the next day. After the victory of the northern states, the American Constitution was expanded to include the 13th Amendment, which regulates the abolition of slavery.

Quotes from Lincoln:

"Nothing is regulated that is not regulated fairly."
"In my experience, people without vice have very few virtues."
"The ballot is stronger than the bullet."


A famous book about the situation of slaves in America in Lincoln's time is "Uncle Tom's Cabin"

Text: -yy- / 14.4. 2005; Photos: Lincoln statue: Raul654: GFDL; all others: pd.

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