Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809. Lincoln was born in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky. When Abe was eight his family moved to Spencer County, Indiana. The next year his mother died. In 1831 Lincolns family moved to Springfield, Illinois. Lincoln worked splitting rails and also as a clerk in store. In 1833 he became a postmaster but also made money as a surveyor. At this time he also began to study law. Lincoln served in the state house from 1834 to 1841. He became a lawyer in 1836 and was a very successful attorney. In 1842 Abe Lincoln married Mary Todd. They had 4 children but only one lived to be an adult. Abraham Lincoln ran for state senator and won in Illinois. In 1858 Lincoln ran against Stephan Douglas for U.S. Senator. During the campaign Lincoln and Douglas had many debates. Lincoln lost the election but gained a reputation as a great speaker. In 1860, Lincoln ran for President and won.
On March 4, 1861 Lincoln took the oath of office in front of the unfinished U.S. Capitol building. On April 12, 1861 rebel cannons opened fire on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. The Civil War had begun. Lincoln had trouble finding good generals to lead the Union Army. Finally, in 1864 Lincoln made Ulysses S. Grant the commanding General of all Union forces. In 1863 Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves. Four months after the bloody Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln went to Gettysburg to dedicate a national cemetery for the soldiers who died during the Battle of Gettysburg. He only spoke for 2 minutes and his speech was only about 270 words, but the Gettysburg Address is still one of the most famous speeches ever made. On April 9, 1865 the Civil War was finally over when General Lee surrendered to General Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in Virginia. The war lasted almost 4 years and cost the U.S. more than 600,000 lives, more than all other wars combined.
On April 14, 1865 Abe and Mary Lincoln went to Fords Theater in Washington, DC to
see a play called "Our American Cousin." They sat in the Presidential box with
Abe sitting in a rocking chair next to Mary. In the third act, during the funniest part of
the play when the audience was laughing, a man burst into the box and shot Lincoln in the
back of the head. The man was an actor named John Wilkes Booth. As he jumped out of the
box onto the stage. Booths leg got caught in a flag and he broke his leg.
Booth ran out of the theater to a waiting horse and rode off. Two doctors rushed to
the Presidents box but he was already unconscious. The bullet had entered his skull
above his left ear, cut through his brain and lodged behind his right eye. At 7:22 am on
April 15, Lincoln died at the age of 56. On April 21, a funeral train set out on a 1,600
mile journey to Illinois, carrying Lincoln to Springfield, Illinois to be buried. The
train stopped in major cities along the way so mourners could file past the coffin.