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The mentioning of name Abraham Lincoln in any state attracts the audience’s ears and attention. The reason is quite straightforward. Abraham Lincoln is a legend. Others consider Abraham an icon, especially, the United States of America's politics. Yet, others would like to think of Lincoln as a political schemer and a devious man who could go to any distance to get an object of his desire. Hate him or love him, Abraham Lincoln made an indelible mark on the history of American politics and the world in general.
Abraham Lincoln was born in February 1809 in a small town called Hodgenville. Hodgenville is located along the north of the Nolin River, in the county of LaRue, Kentucky. His parents, Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln were a humble couple, and it is no surprise that Abraham spent his childhood living in a log cabin. Nevertheless, Thomas Lincoln made it his duty to provide for his family and managed to achieve moderate prosperity in this conquest. Abraham had two siblings, an elder sister, Sarah and a younger brother Thomas who regrettably, passed on at a unusually tender age. Due to a land dispute, the Lincolns had to move out. Perry County, Indiana would be their next home, a place where they lived under squalid conditions as squatters. Through hunting and small-scale farming, however, they managed to make ends meet.
The Lincolns were to suffer yet another devastating setback in 1818 when Nancy Lincoln, Abraham’s mother passed on too. She had been suffering from “milk sickness” an illness that went on to claim her life. At this time, Abraham was only nineyear-old. After the demise of his mother, the situation became unbearable for young Abraham. The family was in dire need of extra cash and Thomas, Abraham’s father ,was forced to make Abraham work to get the extra cash. Abraham felt like he was being robbed of his childhood, and, expectedly, he resented this. He had always earned a fighter tag among his peers, but the death of his mother and the deterioration of the situation back at home were clearly taking a toll on him. Nevertheless, he rose to the occasion, albeit with considerable reluctance. Thomas Abraham remarried later on, and his marriage to Sarah Johnston would prove to be a mammoth in jumpstarting Abraham’s career as a lawyer. It was his stepmother, though illiterate, who encouraged him to cultivate a reading culture. Abraham gladly took the advice and, even though, books were hard to come by, he would walk to borrow a book or two.
In his younger days, Abraham was an atheist. Religion did not matter much to him. However, within some time, he began finding his stance in religion. His change of attitude towards religion is not clear but the demise of his mother and sibling, could have largely contributed. His thirst for knowledge also got him reading the family Bible once too often. His greatest awakening call, though, relates to the demise of his own son, William Wallace Lincoln, later on in his life. At this point, Abraham seemed to have a purpose for reading the Bible. Seemingly, the death of his son drew him closer to God. He started believing in life after death for the departed souls. This too, contributed immensely to the character of Abraham Lincoln, as a father, a politician and later on, as a popular president of the United States. Abraham occasionally underwent moments of depression. Sometimes, this led him to near suicidal, if not suicidal, thoughts. Some people even suggest that the same bouts of depression are what catapulted him to political greatness.
Progress to Prowess
When Abraham was twenty-two years of age, the Lincolns yet again moved, this time to the state of Illinois. Here, Abraham started out as a manual laborer. He got yet another credit, other than being a good fighter, he was labeled a good axe wielder and he made a living by splitting wood. He was a jack-of-all-trades and aside from wood splitting, worked as a shopkeeper, a postmaster and at some point a storeowner. These posts would serve to help him strike a rapport with the local populace. Therefore, when the war between the Native Americans and the United States broke out; he was among the young people who sacrificed and volunteered to take part in the war. His fellow volunteers singled him out as captain and even though he was never physically involved in the war; the post, as captain was enough to earn him political connections, which would later, serve to be crucial in his ascent to political might. After the war, Abraham Lincoln continued in his political career and was, in 1834, elected to the Illinois state legislature.
Abraham’s affection and thirst for knowledge was significant as he taught himself law by reading an array of books on legislation. His place in history as an emancipator also took charge as his detest for slavery also further fueled his interest to practice law. He reported to the bar in 1837 and started out his career at the John T. Stuart law firm. At about the same time, he met Anne Rutledge whom he dated for some time, though the relationship never saw the light of the day as she died at the age of twenty-two. Abraham soon met and was betrothed to another woman, Mary Owens. Mary later becomes the sixteenth first lady as the two tied the knot in 1842. Mary was from a well-to-do family and was a well-educated young woman. The couple was blessed with four sons, Robert Todd Lincoln, William Wallace Lincoln, Tad Lincoln and Edward Baker Lincoln. William died young. Robert was the only son who lived through to adulthood.
In the 1840s, Abraham succeeded in joining the United States congress. This was after attempting and failing to clinch the seat on two earlier occasions. Clearly, his entry into politics had no flamboyance, and it never raised much interest in this man who, fourteen years later Abraham became the sixteenth president of the United States. Being the man he was, Abraham took the lemonade and made lemon out of it. From his not-so-influential position as a congressional representative, Abraham made his opinion known regarding sensitive issues touching on the society. In the 1848 election, he backed Zachary Taylor for the presidential race. He did not run for the second term as a congressional representative as he had lost a considerable level of backing from the populace. Abraham lost popularity due to his utterances regarding the war between the Native Americans and the United States. Therefore, he resorted back to practicing law.
Abraham found a post as attorney for the Illinois Central Railroad and success in court battles earned him extra credit and with it, a broader base of clientele. He mostly represented companies, institutions, businesses and in few and far between instances, was involved in criminal cases. His wit and intelligence helped him emerge victorious in his court cases. Lincoln's attitude towards slavery propelled him to the limelight as in 1854, when a law that allowed every state to decide the issue of slavery passed. Abraham grabbed this opportunity and took the chance to share on his thoughts and views about slavery. The state of Illinois was once again involved in a sequence of debates bringing the issue of slavery to a new level of frenzy. Abraham saw these debates as an important avenue to help him win the masses, dethrone Stephen Douglas who was then the representative of the state of Illinois, and thereby reclaim his seat. However, he did not believe that the African Americans were equal to whites; he felt an urgent sense of enlightenment to the public towards the plight of African Americans. He felt that they, too, had rights and deserved better treatment. In the wake of all this debate, African Americans had continuously suffered segregation.
The year 1860, that saw Abraham Lincoln’s presidential ambitions unveiled, defended and carried forward. He was fifty-one-year-old at the time, a relatively wealthy lawyer who lived in a high-end house. There was a stark difference between his situation then compared to that of his younger days. He could provide for himself and his family basic needs and even could afford some luxuries. The progress in life and sheer hard work and determination earned Abraham increasing number of followers. It got even better when in some political rally, one of his campaigners mentioned that he had worked as a rail fence. Asked, by the crowd, to confirm if the assertions were true, Lincoln did not deny, neither did he admit openly. What followed thereafter was a slow, yet sure sojourn to the White house. He had won yet again faithful.
On the nineteenth day of May 1860, Abraham Lincoln won the Republican nomination, toppling more household names such as Salmon Chase and William Seward. He won by a majority vote. In a way, tact had a role to play in his famous win. It had long become an order of the day in American politics that presidential win could clear at the stage of nomination. The candidate who garnered attention eventually win the presidential race. Abraham did not disappoint in the nomination stages. In a thrilling, three-day nomination process, it was widely regarded as the most exciting, eye-catching nomination process to have occurred in America at the time. A tactful politician, Abraham Lincoln engineered and implemented genius political moves and tricks that ensured he had an easy time. Most notably, in an unlikely turn of events, he later appointed his fiercest rival at the nomination stages, William Seward as the first Secretary of State and later on, another political rival Edwin Stanton (who was a democrat) as the second Secretary of State
However, Abraham was a renowned orator, after his nomination, he hardly made any public speeches. At the time, it was preferable that presidential candidates refrain from making public speeches. This trend died later in the century. He, however, had the services of his former rival, Edwin Stanton who took up the duty of delivering speeches on his behalf. By November 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the president of the United States winning the majority vote. He had garnered about forty percent of the popular vote (1,865,908). This was not a high percentage; he had beaten his closest contender by a substantial margin. He also won the electoral vote by a landslide garnering one hundred and eighty out of the possible three hundred and three votes. Therefore, Lincoln declared the newly elected people’s president. His win came because of a disorganized and disunited opposition, which, among other mistakes, failed to agree on a single candidate to field. In a move that would prove to be costly in the end, the Democrats fielded two candidates. The election of Abraham Lincoln marked a new face in the American politics; an era that was characterized by political schemes and grand plans for a country that was just recuperating from the effects of war. He was inaugurated in March 1861.
Abraham Lincoln’s political ingenuity popped its famous head once again, when, after his election to office, he constituted an all-inclusive cabinet that took in all his former rivals both in the nomination stage and in the actual presidential race. He had succeeded in bringing most, if not all, of his political rivals to sit on the same table. The likes of Edwin Stanton, William Seward and Salmon Chase all found a place in the new-look cabinet. In a way, he lived by the rule “keep your friends close and your enemies closer” Most analysts argue that this was a calculated political move (inclusion of his political rivals in the cabinet) to guard against political schemes and most importantly, to unite the country which was at war with itself. Indeed, their aid was crucial in reuniting breakaway southern states, which had taken themselves out of the Union when Abraham’s government was still at infancy. This was not as easy as it sounds. President Lincoln had to resort to measures, which brought friction between him and his generals together with the cabinet and other members of his team. He had made it his priority to crush the resistance that was slowly, but surely gaining momentum down in the south. He recruited volunteers to join the war and supplied ammunition. All this he did without declaring that the nation was at war. That was one of the instances, in which Abraham fell out with his generals and the cabinet. The generals and the cabinet did not approve his high handedness in trying to crush the revolt.
He was gradually losing the grassroots support too as the effects of the war took a toll on the economy. In his own mind, he felt he had no probable chance of getting to the office for the second term running. Indeed, at the time, that thought looked more farfetched than it had ever been. In 1862, the military started gaining grounds on the road towards winning the war. The revolt generals revised their approach and took a more unpredictable form of warfare.
This proved a thorn in the flesh for President Lincoln’s government and future presidential ambitions, if he had any at the time. The brief victory of the military in1862 gave room for President Lincoln to open a new chapter in the history. He started preaching unity and together with it an end to slavery. This time, he made his point. His criticism and denouncement of slavery with a fiery passion would prove to be a tremendous breakthrough in his political career yet again. Indeed, especially the African American populace widely and largely remembers President Abraham Lincoln for one massive achievement. Lincoln takes credit for ending slavery.
In 1864, he vied for the presidency for the second term. His doubts about his political future and presidential ambitions fiddled away as they were not even there before. Lincoln won by a unanimous popular vote by garnering an impressive fifty five percent of the total vote, and a staggering two hundred and twelve out of the two hundred and forty, three Electoral votes. He had beaten his closest challenger George McClellan, who was a commander of the Army of Potomac, honestly. If the election results were anything to go by, then he needed not have had sleepless nights over his second tenure as the occupant of the Oval Office. This was by far the biggest indicator that the American people trusted him with their country and their lives. In a way, it was a thanks message from the American people considering the numerous achievements and developmental projects he had undertaken and began implementing. He had risen to political glory in his first term in office on the platform of infrastructural development, good governance and democracy. By any standards, he had not failed on any of his pledges.
On twenty-eighth day of March 1865, the war that was slowly bringing the American economy to its knees gladly came to a stop. Robert Lee, commander of the Army of Virginia surrendered his army to the Union General. In a way, the war was not over yet. It had been four grueling years, and it was time to start another war altogether. The challenge of rebuilding the nation in the wake of the devastating war beckoned. What better leader to have at such a time than Abraham Lincoln. The process of rebuilding had, however, been a gradual process starting out with the states in which the military (essentially, the government) had full control. The process of rebuilding had begun in 1863 with the onslaught of the famous 1862 victory. Abraham Lincoln preached unity with a vehemence that could be likened to the zeal with, which he sought office in the first instance.
Other than his intellect and political wit, Abraham Lincoln stood out, with a stature unique in its own right. As a young adult, he was tall, lanky and heavily built, possibly due to the laborious jobs he took up to make ends meet. As time progressed, he adopted a more serious and “mean” looking face with a trademark-bearded chin. Some would be forgiving and would call it a homely look. Abraham was calm but had noticeable unkempt look. His protruding cheekbones did not do much to help the situation. Abraham made a joke about his looks occasionally. In one occasion, he asserted that if he had two faces, he would not wear the face he had. Such witty remarks only endeared him more to the people, and being the highly democratic people that the American people were they disregarded his appearance and went for the man inside: A man who was conscious of development and gave a voice to the downtrodden by speaking on their behalf. He was loved even more by some of his followers for the numerous poetic quotes and moving speeches he gave during his political rallies and public addresses.
Last Days of Abraham’s Journey
In the most unfortunate twists of fate, Abraham Lincoln lost his life when he had gone to a local theatre to watch a play. John Booth, an actor in the theatre assassinated him. Before his death, Lincoln lay in a comma for about nine hours. That was one of the darkest moments in, not just the political history of the United States, but also of the whole world. His death had dealt a generous blow to his family and his nation. In the wake of his death, he was spearheading the process of rebuilding the country that had just come out of a long, weary war with itself. His development agenda was doubted as a new government headed by Andrew Johnson took over.