Abraham Lincoln Summary

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Abraham Lincoln Summary

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln Summary.jpg
Abraham Lincoln Summary

President Lincoln Summary
President Abraham Lincoln.jpg
President Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg
President Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg.jpg
Abraham Lincoln just three hours before delivering his Gettysburg Address

While Abraham Lincoln is rarely discussed in the context of his birthplace and early years, those formative years, whilst in Kentucky, his beloved Mary is often connected with the Bluegrass State and associated with her cousin, John C. Breckinridge, the highest ranking public official to ever commit treason against the United States. But in the following summary, most will focus on two events: President Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address and his untimely death at the hands of cold, calculated assassin. But it is my hope that as you view the photos and read the summaries, that you will also recall the words of Lincoln himself: "In the end, it's not the years in your life that count. It's the life in your years."
Here are the two rarest photos, with their histories, of President Abraham Lincoln: one is of Lincoln at Gettysburg just three hours before making his Gettysburg Address, and the other is of the President slain and in a casket. The latter photo, along with all photos of the President murdered by an assassin's bullet, was ordered to be destroyed immediately, but in an odd twist of history, the Secretary of War, who issued the directive, held secretly to his own photo of the tragedy, because it would surface nearly one century later while tucked inside of a book at what is considered an ordinary community library.
Abraham Lincoln was of the people, by the people, and for the people, so it is befitting that his rarest of photos was resting, though never hidden, in plain sight, in the midst of people and in the center of a community.

Abraham Lincoln was born on Sunday, February 12, 1809, in a log cabin on his father's farm in what was at that time Hardin County (today Larue County) Kentucky. His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. He had an older sister, Sarah. In 1816, when Abraham was 7 years old, his parents moved to Perry County (later part of Spencer County) in southern Indiana, where his father bought land directly from the federal government. There, as Lincoln later described his life, he was "raised to farm work." His mother died in 1818, and his sister Sarah in childbirth in 1828. From here, Lincoln first traveled on a flatboat to New Orleans.

(Right) Abraham Lincoln, center, at the dedication of the Soldiers' National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on November 19, 1863. Made from the original glass plate negative at the National Archives which had lain unidentified for fifty-five years until 1952 when Josephine Cobb recognized Lincoln in the image. To Lincoln's right is bodyguard Ward Hill Lamon, while to his far left is Governor Andrew G. Curtin of Pennsylvania. The photograph is estimated to have been taken at about noontime, just after Lincoln arrived, before Edward Everett's arrival and about three hours before Lincoln gave his famous Gettysburg Address. While there are only two known portraits of Lincoln at Gettysburg on this occasion, there remains only one photo of the President being dead and in his casket.

In 1830, when Abraham Lincoln was 21 years old, he migrated with his father and stepmother (Sarah Bush Johnston Lincoln) and her children to Macon County, Illinois. After the discouragingly hard winter of 1830-31, the Lincolns started to return to Indiana, but stopped in Coles County, Illinois, where Abraham's parents lived out the rest of their lives.
In the spring of 1831, Lincoln left his parents to try to find his own way in life. He was again hired to take a flatboat of produce to New Orleans. After returning to Illinois from this successful journey, he settled in the small village of New Salem, where he had mixed success in a variety of callings. He had a partnership in a store-which failed, he served in the militia during the Black Hawk war, he was Postmaster, learned and practiced surveying, and considered being a blacksmith. Already in 1832, he first ran for a seat in the state legislature. He lost, but two years later, was successful, and was again in 1836. At the time of the 1834 campaign, he was encouraged to study law. In March of 1837, he was enrolled as an attorney, and that April, he moved to Springfield to begin his law practice.

Abraham Lincoln family tree
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Abraham Lincoln family tree and genealogy chart

While living in Springfield, Abraham Lincoln made the acquaintance of many people in different walks of life. Some of these people were to become his allies - and some his opponents - in political activities and in his work as a lawyer. In the years that he was getting established, Lincoln also met an attractive young woman named Mary Todd. They had many interests in common that brought them together and in 1842 they were married. Within the next year their first son, Robert, was born.
In 1844, Abraham purchased and took up residence with his family in the house on the corner of Eighth and Jackson Streets. This was to be the only home he and his wife ever owned. Here the Lincolns had three more sons - Edward (Eddie), William (Willie), and Thomas (Tad). Their second son, Edward, died near the age of four in their Springfield home. When Lincoln was elected sixteenth President of the United States in 1860, the oldest boy, Robert, was away at college, while the other two, Willie and Tad, were still living with their parents. Lincoln was a loving and indulgent father and Mrs. Lincoln later wrote of him: "Mr. Lincoln was the kindest man and most loving husband and father in the world. He was very - exceedingly indulgent to his children. Chided or praised them for what they did - their acts, etc. He always said It is my pleasure that my children are free, happy and unrestrained by parental tyranny. Love is the chain whereby to bind a child to its parents.'"

On the morning of February 11, 1861, Lincoln was making his final preparations to depart from Springfield and to begin his fateful journey to the White House in Washington, D.C. The sky was full of low clouds and drizzling rain as he went to the train depot. There were about a thousand people gathered at the depot to see him off. They called for a speech and Lincoln made a brief address to the residents of Springfield from the rear platform of the train. Then the train pulled away and Lincoln left the place that had been his home for nearly 25 years. He was leaving Springfield to face formidable difficulties as President during the turbulent years of the Civil War.

Only photo of Abraham Lincoln dead
Photo of Abraham Lincoln dead.jpg
Abraham Lincoln was soon en route to his home state for interment.

Weapons referred to as small arms and firearms killed more soldiers than all other Civil War weapons combined. Although the Civil War witnessed the first use of photography in combat, most of the war's photos were not released immediately for circulation. While many of the photographs of the dead were not released until 40 years after the war, innumerable photos were discarded because many Americans merely wanted to put any and all thoughts of the carnage of war behind them. The war killed 2% of the total US population, 620,000 Americans, and every community was scathed in some manner. Today, many read and study the conflict from history books and websites, but at the time, they endured the unimaginable, the unthinkable, and it was personal and up close. Present-day, however, occasionally a Civil War era photo is discovered and displayed allowing more insight into the war and the art of photography. One such photo discovered was of President Abraham Lincoln in a casket. While at the Illinois State Historical Library in 1952, a 14-year old boy was reading an old book and he found an envelope tucked between the pages that contained a photograph of President Abraham Lincoln in his coffin on April 24, 1865. The discovery startled historians, because Edwin M. Stanton, Lincoln's Secretary of War, had ordered this photograph to be destroyed. Stranger yet, the only surviving print remained with Stanton, whose son preserved it. It is also believed that the majority of the Civil War photos that exist have never been circulated. Perhaps many of the elusive photos are sandwiched between the pages of grandma's old bible on a bookshelf, in a dust covered chest or box in the attic or storage facility, and in an old book in your community library.

Sources: National Park Service; Library of Congress; National Archives.


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