Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 and died April 15, 1865. He was the sixteenth president of the United States of America serving from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Largely self educated, Lincoln served as a militia captain from Illinois in the Black Hawk war and became a lawyer, Illinois state legislator, and a member of the House of Representatives before becoming President. A renowned orator and story teller, Lincoln gained a national profile during the Lincoln Douglas Debates of 1858 in which he discussed the immorality of slavery and the slave trade. The debates were part of the election campaign for United States Senator from Illinois which his opponent, Stephen A. Douglas, eventually won. However, the debates led to Lincoln's nomination for president by the Republican Party in which he won the general election in 1860. During his presidency he steered the country through the military and ethical conflicts of the American Civil War.
As commander-in-chief during the Civil War, Lincoln's main goal was to preserve the Union. His government and policies reflected his views made clear during the earlier Lincoln Douglas Debates. To consolidate authority for the presidency, he suspended habeas corpus and enacted the Confiscation Act, calling for the freeing slaves that were used in support of the Confederacy. With the Emancipation Proclamation enacted on September 22, 1862 all slaves were declared free in non Union states. These acts paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment to be passed by Congress on December 6, 1865 ensuring the abolition of slavery.
On April 14, 1865, while attending the play Our American Cousin at Ford's Theatre in Washington, DC, Lincoln was fatally shot in the back of the head by John Wilkes Booth. Booth was an actor and Confederate spy that was furious with the increased rights of slaves and freedmen. Lincoln died the next morning on April 15, 1865. Booth was later killed by Union soldiers on April 26, 1865.
Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky. He was the son of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks. The Lincolns are thought to be of English descent with many ancestors being of Puritan or Quaker beliefs. Like many other colonial families, the Lincolns were farmers.
Thomas Lincoln was born January 6, 1778 in Rockingham County, Virginia to Abraham Lincoln and Bathsheba Herring. While a young child, the Lincolns moved the part of Virginia which later became Kentucky. In 1786, Thomas witnessed his father being killed by Indians. His mother then moved the family to Washington County, Kentucky. Thomas Lincoln was a farmer who had moved to Kentucky from Virginia with his family. There he married Nancy Hanks on June 12, 1806 in Washington County, Kentucky. It is believed that Nancy Hanks was born about 1784. The Lincolns had three children: Sarah, born February 10, 1807, Elizabethtown, Kentucky; Abraham, born February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky; and Thomas, Jr., born about 1812 who died while an infant.
Due to unclear land titles and court litigation, the Lincoln family moved to Spencer County, Indiana in 1816. Nancy Hanks Lincoln died October 5, 1818 due to milk sickness. Thomas Lincoln then married Sarah Bush Johnston on December 2, 1819 in Kentucky. Sarah Bush Johnston was born December 13, 1788 in Kentucky and died April 12, 1869 in Indiana. She was formerly married to Daniel Johnston who died in 1816. Lincoln credited his stepmother with helping him continuing his education and having a positive influence in his formative years.
In 1830, Thomas Lincoln moved the family to Illinois, eventually settling in Coles County. He died there January 17, 1851.
Abraham Lincoln's sister, Sarah, married Aaron Grigsby in 1826 and later died in childbirth on February 10, 1827 in Spencer County, Indiana. The baby also died. Aaron Grigsby died in 1831.
While the lineage of Abraham Lincoln's paternal grandparents is without question, the same cannot be said of his maternal grandparents. There is a long standing controversy as to the names of the parents of Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks. There are three theories as to the correct parentage:
Both the families of Abraham and Sarah Hanks and James and Lucy (Shipping) Hanks were from the same part of Virginia and both Abraham and James Hanks died young. This would have resulted in any minor children possibly being placed in the homes of relatives. The lack of documentation from the time period, the consistent naming patterns within the Hanks families, and the probable early death of at least one parent combined make a difficult task of reconstructing these family groups. Also, some have claimed that Nancy Hanks was the illegitimate daughter of a woman named Lucy Hanks. None of these theories have been proven or disproved.
About the time that Thomas Lincoln settles in Coles County, Illinois, in 1831, Abraham Lincoln left home to continue his education and begin a career. He lived briefly in New Salem, Illinois, and pursued riverboating, a mercantile business, being postman, and a surveyor. During this time he studied law books and was admitted into the Illinois State Bar in 1836.
In 1839, while building his law practice in Springfield, Illinois, he met Mary Todd. She was the cousin of his law partner, John T. Stuart. Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd were married November 4, 1842 in Springfield, Illinois. Mary Todd was born December 13, 1818 in Lexington, Kentucky and died July 16, 1882 in Springfield, Illinois. Her parents were Robert Smith Todd and Elizabeth Parker.
Children and Descendants
Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd had four children, all born in Springfield, Sangamon County, Illinois:
Only Robert Todd Lincoln survived to adulthood and had children of his own. He became an accomplished lawyer and statesman serving as Secretary of War for Presidents James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur and as the U.S Minister to the United Kingdom under President Benjamin Harrison. He also served general and future president Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War.
Robert Todd Lincoln married Mary Eunice Harlan, daughter of Senator James Harlan and Ann Eliza Peck of Iowa, on September 24, 1868. Mary Eunice (Harlan) Lincoln was born September 25, 1846 and died March 31, 1937. They had three children: Mary, Abraham, and Jessie.
Today there are no known direct descendants of Abraham Lincoln.