Abraham Lincoln Past President of United States Term Paper

Pages: 20 (5782 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: American History

Abraham Lincoln past president of United States of America, played a significant role during the American Civil War. He was recognized for his leadership and determination by many historians and laymen not only as American President but also the greatest American of all time. He started with little formal education but this never regarded him to be inferior among his fellowmen. His determination and perseverance put him to be a frontier lawyer and held the nation together through the worst crisis in its history (Abraham Lincoln, 2006a). There is no other president in American history faced the kind of problems that Abraham Lincoln faced upon taking his term. Immediately after his election, Southern states seceded from the Union to form the Confederate States of America followed by Civil War (Abraham Lincoln, 2006b). However, this circumstance does not put him in dispute this challenged him more to preserve the Union. He guided the nation through the danger of war to peace and reunion. He fought for slavery and he reaffirmed freedom (Fehrenbacher, 2006).

A leader of weaker will or fainter vision might have failed this kind of challenge or either win the Civil War or end the institution of slavery (Abraham Lincoln, 2006a). The kind of leadership Abraham Lincoln dedicated brought the terrible slavery into end. Today, Lincoln is regarded as America's greatest president (Abraham Lincoln, 2006b).


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Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Hardin County,

TOPIC: Term Paper on Abraham Lincoln Past President of United States Assignment

Kentucky. He was the eldest son of Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln, and was named after his paternal grandfather (Norton, 1998). His grandfather got killed by Indians in 1786 and left his father, Thomas Lincoln, poor and no education. However, with Thomas will and determination he became a skilled carpenter and farmer. As for the mother of Abraham Lincoln, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, there is not much writing about her (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). His parents were both hardworking yet uneducated pioneers. His family experienced a lot of hardships and trials in life and few pleasures (Fehrenbacher, 2006). Both of his parents were members of a Baptist congregation, which had separated from another church due to opposition to slavery (Norton, 1998) and this connection may account for Abraham Lincoln's belief of anti-slavery (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006).

In December 1816, the Lincolns moved about 100 miles to southwestern Indiana (Fehrenbacher, 2006) because of slavery issues and difficulty in land titles in Kentucky. Land ownership was more secure in Indiana because the Land Ordinance of 1785 provided for surveys by the federal government; furthermore, the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 forbade slavery in the area (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006).

Indiana was described as a wild region with many bears and other wild animals in the woods. Living in Indiana the Lincoln's life was not easy. Lincoln was raised to farm work with trees, logs and grubs (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). They spent winter in a rough shelter with an open side. In the spring, Lincoln began to help his father in the hard daily labor of pioneering. Pioneering entailed clearing the land of trees, planting crops, building a permanent cabin, and splitting rails for fences. This hard work put Lincoln skillful in the use of the ax but never cared much for hunting and fishing. However, after days of manual work he acquired no love for the life of a farmer. For Lincoln the life of a farmer seemed to be all heavy toil and no reward (Fehrenbacher, 2006).

Lincoln had gone to school briefly in Kentucky and did so again in Indiana (Norton, 1998). Life is so poor that he rarely attended school, largely self-educated. Lincoln had an older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas, who died in infancy (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died when Lincoln was only nine years old (Abraham Lincoln, 2005). She died from milk sickness, a disease obtained from drinking the milk of cows, which had grazed on poisonous white snakeroot (Norton, 1998).

The year after his father, Thomas Lincoln, married a Kentucky widow, Sarah Bush Johnston. Sarah made a good influence on the boy (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). She is described a bright woman, who believed in Lincoln's education, and defended in the frequent arguments the Lincoln had with his father (Abraham Lincoln, 2005). Though he has a scant education to a few months in a 1-teacher school, Lincoln does not stop from learning he passionately read books such as the Bible, Pilgrim's Progress and Weemss Life of Washington (Abraham Lincoln, 2006a). In the process, Lincoln not only educated himself but became a master of English language (Fehrenbacher, 2006). As Lincoln mature, he preferred learning than working in the fields. This led to a complicated relationship with his father who does not believe in education (Norton, 1998).

During the early 1800s, life was difficult for Lincoln. Poverty, farm chores, hard work, and reading by the light of the fireplace dominated young Lincoln's life until he was seventeen, when he found work on a ferryboat. Two years later, enjoying the river he built a flatboat and ran a load of farm produce down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. Selling the boat for its timber, he then walked home via the Natchez Trace. As a dutiful son, but resentfully gave his full earnings to his father (Abraham Lincoln, 2005).

When Abraham turned twenty-one in 1830, the family moved again to Illinois just west of Decatur. The father and son built another log cabin not much bigger than the one they had lived in before. Following this move, Lincoln built a second flatboat and made another run down river, but this time he is alone. After that haul, he lived on his own, moving to the town of New Salem, Illinois in 1831 where he lived until 1837 (Abraham Lincoln, 2005). This separation from his father have been made easier by Lincoln's estrangement from his father of whom he spoke little in his adulthood life (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006).

Abraham Lincoln at the age of 22 years stood 6 feet 4 inches or 163 centimeters tall, thin but physically strong (Fehrenbacher, 2006). As a young man, Lincoln opened a general store but failed. He was also a surveyor, a postmaster and did various jobs to earn money for a living (Abraham Lincoln, 2006b). Subsequently, Lincoln started to make a name for him, successfully wrestled the town bully and earned the nickname "Honest Abe." Most of his neighbors loved him for his strength and ability to split rails and fell trees, a survival skill that he developed as a child of the American frontier.

He pleased people with his wit, intelligence, and integrity. His qualities made him popular member of the town, engaging himself to the locals as a good-natured and learned young man (Abraham Lincoln, 2005).

Moreover, Lincoln served for a time as a soldier in the Black Hawk War (Norton, 1998). This military interlude was uneventful but was elected captain of his volunteer company, a distinction that gave him much satisfaction and opened new avenues for his life (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). He decided to enter politics, and in March 1832 announced his candidacy for the state legislature (Fehrenbacher, 2006).


Lincoln ran unsuccessfully for the Illinois legislature in 1832 (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). In 1834, this 24-year-old man ran once again for the state legislature and this time he was able to make the position, and Illinois voters re-elected him for three more terms in 1834, 1836, 1838, and 1840, and won all 4 times (Fehrenbacher, 2006).

Lincoln was a member of the Whig Party and remained a Whig until 1856 when he became a Republican (Norton, 1998). As a Whig, Lincoln supported the Second Bank of the United States, the Illinois State Bank. This bank is government-sponsored where internal improvements such as roads, canals, railroads, harbors and protective tariffs implemented (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006).

It was also in 1834 that Lincoln began to study law. This time again he educated himself by reading and studying borrowed law books in his spare time, and earned his law license in 1836 (Norton, 1998). There were stories running that Lincoln had a romance with a pretty girl named

Ann Rutledge however she died young in 1835 (Norton, 1998).


Whig legislator, John Todd Stuart, encouraged Lincoln to study law where it earned his license in 1836, and in 1837 moved to Springfield, as he became Stuart's law partner. Following Stuart he also had partners with Stephen T. Logan and William H. Herndon where Lincoln built a successful practice (Stewart-Zimmerman, 2006). In Springfield in 1839 Lincoln met

Mary Todd, got married on Nov. 4, 1842 and over the next 11 years had 4 sons namely

Robert (1843-1926),

Edward ("Eddie") 1846-1850,

William ("Willie") 1850-1862, and Thomas ("Tad") 1853-1871. In 1844, Lincoln became a successful attorney, and the family bought a home at the corner of Eighth and Jackson (Norton, 1998). Lincoln was described as a loving and indulgent parent, but his frequent absences from home due to his law practice placed the upbringing of the boys largely in Mary's… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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