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16 - Abraham Lincoln
Feb. 12, 1809 -- April 15, 1865
Religion: His father and stepmother were Baptists, but he attended Presbyterian services in Springfield and Washington.
Marriage: Mary Todd
Military service: In the Black Hawk War, Lincoln served as captain of a company under Col. Zachary Taylor; he unsuccessfully attempted to track down Chief Black Hawk and never saw military action.
Term: March 4, 1861 April 15, 1865
Vice President: Hannibal Hamlin, 1861-1865; Andrew Johnson, 1865
Highlights of presidency: Engulfed in the Civil War throughout his time in office, Lincoln at first sought a moderate position on slavery. He worked with Gens. George B. McClellan and Ulysses S. Grant to regain the 11 states that formed the Confederate States of America. In September 1862, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation (effective Jan. 1, 1863), freeing slaves in six Confederate states and portions of two under Union occupation. On April 9, 1865, Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered his Confederate troops at Appomattox Court House, Va., ending the war. Union casualties were 365,000 dead and 282,000 wounded; the number of Confederate casualties is unknown.
During the Civil War, Lincoln's positions became less moderate. He suspended the writ of habeas corpus, permitting military arrest and court-martial of civilian anti-war activists. He spent war funds before he received congressional approval, though his actions were subsequently endorsed by Congress. He was shot April 14, 1865, by John Wilkes Booth, a deranged actor sympathetic to the South, at Ford's Theatre near the White House. He died the next morning across the street from the theater without regaining consciousness. Booth was hunted down and died 12 days later of a gunshot wound whose source has never been confirmed.
Did you know? Lincoln's determination kept the Union together through the bloodiest war in American history. He was the first president born outside the original 13 Colonies. Lincoln was the only president to hold a patentfor a device to lift boats over shoals. He was the tallest president, at 6-foot-4. Lincoln served as postmaster of New Salem, Ill., from 1833-1836. He was appointed by President Andrew Jackson and earned about $55 per month, supplementing his income by surveying and rail-splitting.
He was a member of the Illinois legislature from 1834-1842 as a Whig for three successive terms, the Whig floor leader from 1836 and chairman of the finance committee. Lincoln practiced law in Springfield in partnership with Stephen T. Logan and later with William H. Herndon. As a U.S. House member from 1847-1849, he opposed U.S. involvement in the Mexican War but supported appropriations to continue to supply the Army in the field. He worked to abolish the slave trade in the District of Columbia. Nominated to run for the U.S. Senate, Lincoln delivered his acceptance speech on June 17, 1858, in an address that popularized the biblical phrase, "A house divided against itself cannot stand." That campaign saw Lincoln and Sen. Stephen A. Douglas engage in seven debates across Illinois. With districts having been drawn to favor Democrats, Douglas won 54-46 in the state legislature.
Lincoln's is one of the four immense sculptures at Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota.