|Lincoln - Davis|
Abraham Lincoln was sometimes nicknamed Honest Abe or the Great Emancipator. He was the 16th President of the United States from 1861 to 1865, and was the first President of the United States from the Republican Party. He also personally directed the war campaign, which led the Northern forces to victory over the South. |
Lincoln is most famous for his roles in preserving the Union and ending slavery in the United States with the Emancipation Proclamation. However, some abolitionists criticized him for only freeing the slaves under the Confederacy in 1863, and not slaves held in the Union territories. Some claim that the Emancipation Proclamation was merely a ploy to create trouble in the South.
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin on a farm in Kentucky. His parents were Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. After his death, many sources created the illusion that the Lincolns were dirt poor. However, his father was actucally quite wealthy for the times.
When Abe was seven years old, his family moved to Indiana. His mother died two years later and his father married Sarah Bush Johnston. Sarah Lincoln raised young Lincoln as if he were one of her own children.
Abe was self-educated, reading every book he could borrow. He was also skilled with an axe — they called him the "rail splitter" — and a good wrestler.
Lincoln began his political career at the age of 23. He served as a captain in a company of the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War, although he never saw combat.
He was admitted to the Illinois Bar in 1837, moved to Springfield, Illinois and began to practice law. Abe was one of the most highly respected and successful lawyers in the state and served four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives.
Lincoln married Mary Todd in 1842, who was from a prominent slave-owning family from Kentucky, and allowed his children to spend time there surrounded by slaves. Several of his wife's brothers became Confederate officers.
The couple had four sons: Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), Edward Baker Lincoln (1846-1850), William Wallace Lincoln (1850-1862) and Thomas "Tad" Lincoln (1853-1871). Only Robert survived into adulthood. Abraham Lincoln's bloodline ended when Robert Beckwith (Abe's great-grandson) died on December 24, 1985.
Lincoln was eventually chosen as the Republican presidential candidate in 1860 election because his views on slavery were seen as more moderate than rivals and his simple western origins appealed to the newer states.
On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected as the 16th President of the United States, even though he was not even on the ballot in most of the Southern states. Immediately after the election, the Southern states began to secede from the Union. President-elect Lincoln survived an assassination threat in Baltimore, and on February 23, 1861 arrived in disguise in Washington.
In his inaugural address, in a final attempt to prevent the coming war, Lincoln supported a proposed amendment to the constitution, which would have protected slavery in the states in which it already existed. Lincoln opposed a compromise, however, which would have permitted slavery in the western territories.
As the war drew to a close, John Wilkes Booth, a well-known actor and Southern sympathizer, heard that the president and Mrs. Lincoln would be attending Ford's Theatre. Having failed in a plot to kidnap Lincoln earlier, Booth informed his co-conspirators of his intention to kill Lincoln.
The play, Our American Cousin, was a musical comedy. As Lincoln sat in his state box in the balcony, Booth snuck into the box and aimed a single-shot, Deringer at his head, firing at point-blank range. He then jumped from the balcony to the stage below, breaking his leg. Booth managed to limp to his horse and make his escape.
The President was taken across the street from the theater to the Petersen House, where he lay in a coma for nine hours before he died at 7:22 A.M. the next morning, April 15, 1865. Upon his death, Secretary of War Edwin Stanton lamented "now he belongs to the ages."
Booth was hunted down by a military posse twelve days later and shot by Boston Corbett. Four co-conspirators were hanged, while three others were given life sentences.
Lincoln's funeral train carried his remains 1,654 miles to Illinois, even passing through Rochester, New York. He was buried in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois.
Lincoln stood 6'3 3/4" (192.4 cm) tall and thus was the tallest president in U.S. history, just edging out Lyndon Johnson at 6'3 1/2" (191.8 cm).
The last surviving witness to Lincoln's assassination was Samuel J. Seymour (1860-1956), who was five at the time.
Jefferson Davis (1808 – 1889) was an American soldier and politician, most famous for serving as the one and only President of the Confederate States of America. Before the Civil War, Davis served in the Mexican-American War as a colonel.
Jefferson Davis was born on a farm in Kentucky, less than 100 miles from where Abraham Lincoln was born. Jefferson was the last of ten children whose parents were Samuel Emory Davis and his wife Jane.
Davis had fallen in love with Colonel Zachary Taylor's 16-year-old daughter, Sarah Knox Taylor in 1833. Colonel Taylor did not approve of the match, so Jefferson resigned and married Sarah anyway. The couple both contracted malaria, and Sarah died three months after the wedding.
Jefferson Davis's first political success came in 1844 as he was elected to the United States House of Representatives. He married again in 1845, to Varina Howell.
In the Senate, Davis was chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs. He resigned in 1851 to run for governor of Mississippi, but lost by less than one thousand votes. Davis became Secretary of War under President Franklin Pierce. When Pierce was not re-elected, Davis won another term in the Senate in 1857.
In 1858, he delivered an anti-secessionist speech on board a ship near Boston and again urged the preservation of the Union on October 11 in Faneuil Hall, Boston. Although he was an opponent of secession, Davis announced the secession of Mississippi, delivered a farewell address, and resigned from the Senate in 1861.
On February 9, 1861, a constitutional convention in Alabama named him President of the Confederate States of America. Jefferson immediately appointed a Peace Commission to resolve the Confederacy's differences with the Federal Government, but this was not to be.
On June 1, 1862, he assigned General Robert E. Lee to command the Army of Northern Virginia, the main Confederate army in the East. Davis preferred to remain commander of the military himself and did not assign the job to Robert E. Lee until January 31, 1865, far too late for him to establish a grand strategy that could achieve success.
On April 3, 1865, with General Ulysses Grant ready to capture the Confederate capital of Richmond, Davis escaped for Virginia. Six days later, he proceeded to North Carolina. On April 16, he made a break for Mississippi, but was captured in Georgia on May 10th.
On May 19, 1865, Davis was imprisoned, but was not indicted for treason until a year later due to constitutional concerns. After imprisonment for two years, he was released on bail and the prosecution dropped the case in February of 1869.
That same year, Davis became president of the Carolina Life Insurance Company in Tennessee. After Robert E. Lee's death in 1870, Davis presided over the memorial service. Elected to the U.S. Senate again, he refused the office in 1875.
Over the next three years, Davis wrote The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government . He completed A Short History of the Confederate States of America in October 1889. Jefferson Davis died in New Orleans at the age of 81. He is buried in Richmond, Virginia.
The Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution barred from office anyone who had served in the Confederacy. In 1978, Congress removed the ban on Davis. They had taken similar action on behalf of Robert E. Lee in 1977.