FActs about Abraham Lincoln

A brief review of the Lincoln Presidency

The facts about Abraham Lincoln is a great study even for someone who isn't much of a historian. A self-made man, he is considered by many historians as America's greatest President. 


Of all our presidents he is the one studied most often, even by students studying at universities in foreign countries.


  • Born: February 12, 1809, Hodgenville, Kentucky
  • Died: April 15, 1865, Washington, D.C.
  • Parents: Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln; Sarah Bush Johnsons (step-mother)
  • Spouse: Mary Todd (1818-1882); m. 1842
  • Children: Robert Todd (1843- 1926); Edward Baker (1846 - 1850); William Wallace (1850 - 1862; Thomas "Tadd" (1853 - 1871)
  • Religion: No formal Affiliation
  • Education: No formal Education
  • Occupation: Lawyer
  • Government Positions: Illinois state legislator; U.S. representative from Illinois
  • Political Party: Republican
  • Dates as President: March 4, 1861 - March 4, 1865 (first term); March 4 1865 - April 15, 1865 (second term)

Life Before Politics

Many have come to believe from the facts about Abraham Lincoln that he was born and raised in Illinois. There are many references to him as a "son of Illinois" and to the state as the "land of Lincoln" that would support this claim. However, Lincoln was born in Kentucky. He was a man of very humble beginnings.

The famous log cabin he grew up was built by his father. However, when the family moved to Indiana another log cabin was constructed in a heavily forested area in southern Indiana. His mother died when he was just none years old. The following year his father remarried to a young widow named Sarah Bush Johnston who had three children of her own.

The facts a out Abraham Lincoln reveal that he never received much formal education and it was due to his step-mothers encouragement that he learned to read, write and do arithmetic. 

He ended up working on his own and completed only one years worth of formal schooling his entire life.

He quickly developed a love for reading and learned to appreciate the great writers such as Shakespeare, Poe, Holmes, Burns and Byron. 

He developed a reputation for being able to recite passages with the skill of a trained actor. This endured him to many of the locals.

During his youth he spent a great deal of time chopping down trees, plowing, planting  and harvesting just like every other young man his age at the time. He of his first jobs was piloting a ferryboat of passengers and their baggage down the Ohio River.

At one point he was hired by a local merchant to run a flatboat down the Ohio River to the Mississippi and eventually to New Orleans. On his second trip to New Orleans in 1831 he witnessed a salve auction for the first time. It has been reported that he was disgusted by it and said, "If I ever get a chance to hit that thing, I'll hit it hard".

After he returned to Illinois he took a job as a clerk in a local general store. It was while working there that he became popular with the locals who eventually encouraged him to run for a seal in the Illinois House of Representatives. However, he decided to open a store with a friend which failed miserable since neither had a head for business.

Lincoln eventually moved on to a salaried job as a postmaster.

Lincoln Enters Politics

His official entry onto the political scene occurred in 1834 when he was elected to the Illinois legislature. Oddly enough the Democrats dominated the political landscape and favored a limited federal government (quite different then what we're seeing now).

As he entered politics he continued to study Law and he became a licensed attorney and then joined a law firm in Springfield, Illinois.

Here were some of Lincoln's positions on key issues at the time:

  • Lincoln happened to support a strong federal government and business-friendly legislation
  • supported the extension of voting rights to female taxpayers
  • was against the expansion of slavery into new U.S. territories but didn't support the immediate abolishing of slavery because he thought it was illegal

The early part of his political career did not bring about much success as we deem success today. When he first arrived in Springfield he was so poor everything he owned fit into two saddlebags. He even borrowed money to get a horse to travel to Springfield.

As he served in the Congress he pondered the idea of getting married. In 1840 he met Mary Todd, a well-educated woman, and the woman he would eventually marry.Two years after he and Mary married Abraham Lincoln began to devote more of his time to his law practice. He would attend court in Springfield and the spend about six months on a circuit court serving fifteen Illinois counties.

It was while serving time on the circuit court that people learned of his speaking abilities and out of this grew his reputation as a dynamic speaker. Most of the national politicians of that time developed their careers this same way.

As a member of the Whig Party Lincoln finally won their nomination in 1846 for a U.S. Congressional seat. With their support he eventually did extremely well in the general election.

As a newcomer he had a hard time getting any recognition and therefore it proved quite frustrating getting an opportunity to present issues he regarded as important. He eventually did get the recognition he needed and this gave him a chance to make his mark in two areas:

  • After war broke out between the U.S. and Mexico Lincoln declared that the war was unconstitutional, however, even though the war was generally unpopular, in Illinois, his opposition was not looked upon favorably
  • Once victory for the U.S. was in sight the expansion of slavery became a hot topic. Lincoln supported the Wilmot Proviso, which barred slavery in all states acquired through the war, but it was defeated twice in the Senate

So, in these first two forays he struck out badly. His term in Congress ended in 1849. Even though he supported Zachary Taylor during his run for President he was never offered a worthwhile a government from the Taylor administration and so decided to give up politics.

more FActs about Abraham Lincoln and the Comeback Trail to the White House

The facts about Abraham Lincoln tell us that once he returned to Illinois he picked up his law practice right where he left off. His popularity quickly surged as he argued cases in Chicago's federal court and the Supreme Court at Springfield.

Major Events of Lincoln Presidency

During his time on the circuit he kept up his reading and further developed new ideas about government while telling everyone that he had no intention of returning to politics.

When the Kansas-Nebraska bill became law in 1854 it turned into the spark that would reignite  Lincoln's interest in politics. The bill allowed voters in the territory to decide for themselves whether to permit slavery. This worried Lincoln. He believed that the line separating slave states from free states would now be blurred and that slavery would expand.

He used the speech given by Illinois Senator Stephen Douglas defending the Kansas-Nebraska bill to rebuke slavery as an institution and made it a moral issue rather then a political one. He wanted to turn this into a national issue rather then keeping it a regional matter. What launched him onto the national scene was his speech in Peoria, Illinois denouncing slavery.

The facts about Abraham Lincoln reveal as a result of his new-found popularity decided to run for the U.S. Senate in 1855 but eventually lost. After failing to convince enough of his colleagues to give him sufficient votes to win he left the Whig Party and joined the newly established Republican Party which consisted of former Whigs like himself.


Facts about Abraham Lincoln show us that he exerted more power than any president before him. He certainly made full use of the Constitutional authority given to the president in case of a national uprising. He is the American most written about and studied.

He proved to be a clever politician and skilled speaker. An example of this skill was seen in how he knew when to be forceful and when to wait for a better opportunity. Case in point, he moved more cautiously than most abolitionists who were demanding full freedom for slaves.

The facts about Abraham Lincoln show that he crafted his policies to make sure that they would serve to preserve the union. He established lenient terms of surrender when the American Civil War ended, and then he called for the restoration of friendship and harmony among all the states.

What is most notable about this President is how he endured the Presidency without forcing unto the nation a personal agenda to "transform" the nation. His entire focus was on "preserving"the union as it was.

Much can be learned by men/women who desire to take on this responsibility. Most facts about Abraham Lincoln show that he understood more then most men since that the President must fulfill the role of caretaker of what the founders have passed on to us.

Related Topics

List of Presidents

Government of Man

Government Shutdown

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