Abraham Lincoln's Biography and Politics
Abraham Lincoln's Biography, essentials: Honest Abe was the 16th President of the United States (1861 to 1865). He avidly pursued plans for the abolition of slavery, and led the Union to victory during the American Civil War. He rallied public opinion through the Gettysburg Address and other speeches. He was assassinated as the war ended.
Abraham Lincoln's Biography, details: Lincoln was a self-made, self-taught man from the Wild West. He became a lawyer in Illinois, and formed the new Republican Party there in 1854. His main platform was opposition to the expansion of slavery into the Northern states. His election to president in 1860 was the final straw in the Deep South, where seven states seceded and formed the Confederate States of America. They took control of military properties, setting the stage for the American Civil War.
Lincoln was a great wartime leader and speech maker. The Gettysburg Address defined the war and America's self image. He was quick to replace mediocre generals, eventually finding a winner in Ulysses S. Grant. Between 1864 and 1865 he personally directed the war effort, in close cooperation with General Grant, who in April 1865 accepted the surrender of Robert E. Lee's main army.
He refused to compromise on the slavery issue, declaring martial law, and suspending habeas corpus. His reforms did not come easy. They involved the arrest of 18,000 public opponents and newspaper men. Hundreds of thousands of men died in the civil war. Even so, radical Republicans criticized him for not being ruthless enough.
By preserving the Union and ending slavery in the United States Lincoln ensured his legacy. It is ensconced with the Emancipation Proclamation and the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Lincoln had a lasting influence on U.S. political and social institutions. His reforms led to centralization of power in the federal government and the weakening of individual state governments.
Lincoln's administration established the current system of national banks and increased taxes to encourage factories. He imposed the first income tax, and encouraged European immigration. The transcontinental railroad cam into being under his jurisdiction, as did the Department of Agriculture. Farm ownership was encouraged with the Homestead Act of 1862. The modern system of state universities was created.
Surely one of the two or three greatest presidents, Abraham Lincoln's importance comes from an unequalled legacy. He organized and won a defining civil war, making him the equal of a Cromwell or Lenin. By destroying slavery he stands in a glorious line stretching from William Wilberforce to Martin Luther King Jr. As with J.F. Kennedy and John Lennon his assassination made him a martyr to millions of people around the world. He will never be forgotten.