Abraham Lincoln was the son of a frontiersman from Kentucky. He struggled for a living and for education. Although he had no formal education and never went to college, he loved to read and was self-taught.
Five months before receiving his party’s nomination for President, Lincoln described his own life this way: “I was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families – second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks … My father…removed from Kentucky to … Indiana, in my eighth year … It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up … Of course when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher … but that was all.”
Lincoln worked on expanding his knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and keeping store at New Salem, Illinois. He spent eight years in the Illinois Legislature, and rode the circuit of courts for many years. His law partner said of him, “His ambition was a little engine that knew no rest.”
He married Mary Todd. They had four boys but only one of them lived to maturity. Lincoln ran against Stephen A. Douglas for Senator in 1858. He lost the election. The debate with Douglas gained him a national reputation that eventually won him the Republican nomination for President in 1860.
As our 16th President, he was able to build the Republican Party into a strong national organization. In 1863, he freed the slaves through the Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln won re-election in 1864.
On April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth.
You can read more about the great presidency of Abraham Lincoln, our 16th President, on the WhiteHouse.gov website.