The Rise of Abraham Lincoln - From Humble Beginnings to Leading a Nation - Seeker's Thoughts

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The Rise of Abraham Lincoln - From Humble Beginnings to Leading a Nation

Abraham Lincoln was instrumental in leading America through one of its bloodiest wars. His belief was based upon rights guaranteed in the Declaration of Independence: no man should be born poor and education can empower all.

He represented a new generation of Americans who united behind an antislavery national party: the Republican Party. His incredible intelligence and ability to represent--indeed embody--the Union made him one of history's most charismatic leaders.

Born in Hardin County, Kentucky

Abraham Lincoln made his entrance into this world on February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin on Thomas and Nancy Hanks Lincoln's Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County, Kentucky. He was their second child.

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At the time of Lincoln's birth, America had recently commemorated 22 years since becoming a nation governed by written constitution rather than an ancient system of kings, queens, and aristocrats. For many Americans this concept represented something worth saving for future generations.

As a young man, Lincoln held various manual jobs - working as a rail fencer, surveyor and shopkeeper as well as splitting firewood for his father on their farm and helping with farmwork duties. It was during these experiences that Lincoln developed essential social skills and an enviable storytelling talent which would later define him as an admired leader.

Lincoln overcame his difficult childhood to thrive in life and achieve greatness in society. His deep curiosity for knowledge led to him reading such works as the Bible, Aesop's Fables and Parson Weems' Life of George Washington among others to develop a solid education.

As Lincoln aged, he became increasingly vocal in his support of freedom for African-Americans. This made his views regarding slavery less popular with others in America - particularly in the South. As such, in 1860 he ran as part of the Republican Party which at that time opposed secession by southern states and slavery expansion to new territories; Lincoln's ability to adapt with his surroundings proved key in his eventual presidential win.

Educated in Illinois

Lincoln's story is one of humility and perseverance, self-education through hard work, keen intelligence combined with acute emotional awareness and an emerging moral seriousness as he rose in power. He had an uncanny ability for quickly assessing situations and responding decisively, marshalling all available resources against an existential challenge that faced their nation.

Learned the value of self-reliance, insistence on paying his own way whenever possible and believed America was a land where any individual could find better fortune for themselves. His axe skills became legendary: He once split 400 rails in one day for just 25 cents!

As an attorney in Illinois, Lincoln opposed slavery's expansion (while accepting its legality where it already existed) and became a prominent Republican spokesperson on this matter. In 1858 he challenged Stephen Douglas, then Illinois Democratic senator from Chicago, in a race which captured national attention; although he ultimately lost, debating with Douglas enabled Lincoln to become one of the premier national figures and leaders within his Party.

As president, Lincoln helped establish the Republican Party as a powerful nationwide organization and convinced many Democrats in the North to rally behind his Union cause. Responding to the carnage of Civil War, Lincoln took up slavery's cause by issuing Emancipation Proclamation early January 1863; although some critics noted suspension of habeas corpus rights with this measure. Lincoln justified these measures on grounds that civil warfare required "bending" of Constitution, citing this provision giving him authority for such actions which Congress then quickly approved shortly afterwards.

Nominated for President by the Whig Party

Lincoln faced immense obstacles. Steve Scafidi once described them as being likened to brain surgery performed while an unscrupulous dog chews at your leg." He had to oversee what was essentially an industrial war which employed all available resources and was waged by an army that wasn't always up to task; while also balancing competing factions and interests while contending with evolving meaning of war itself.

Lincoln was known as a self-described "prairie lawyer." After practicing law and serving on the Illinois state legislature for nearly twenty years before running for Congress and winning one term in 1845, he joined the new Republican Party with its anti-slavery platform that he championed; during heated debates over slavery with Senator Stephen Douglas (of Illinois) over this bill (Kansas-Nebraska Act) they both became nationally renowned figures.

In 1860, America stood on the brink of profound change. A victory for Republicans would end southern dominance of the Union; Lincoln and Douglas squared off against each other fiercely for Republican nomination, while Breckinridge and John Bell also vied to be Democratic presidential nominee.

Lincoln's presidency was one of the greatest challenges and difficulties of his life. While fighting to keep the Union together, one of his major accomplishments was issuing the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 which effectively changed its cause from saving to ending slavery. Along this personal and ethical journey of self-discovery he found himself increasingly isolated from friends, family, and colleagues who could not fully comprehend his struggle or aspirations.

Defeated by the Confederacy

Lincoln achieved one of his great accomplishments through maintaining the Union while opposing secession and slavery. To do this, he created a citizen army under Generals to lead it; raised millions in funds; navigated partisan politics; as well as international conflict; while managing a devastating civil war that cost millions their lives.

Lincoln made history when he ran for president as a member of the newly formed Republican Party, which fiercely opposed any attempt by Southern states to leave and form their own slave-based Confederacy. Lincoln pledged to preserve the Union and prevent slavery's spread into new areas - something many Democrats, such as his own state senator Stephen Douglas who supported slavery's growth, opposed. This put him at odds with them all.

As president, Lincoln pledged to keep the Union together through whatever means necessary, even if that meant civil war. He criticised Whigs for failing to oppose slavery and sought to unify former Whigs, Free-Soilers, and antislavery Republicans into one national party. During one speech Lincoln promised: 'the mystic chords of memory will yet resonate as songs of remembrance and praise resound around every battlefield and patriot grave."

As the Civil War commenced, Lincoln prioritized stricter border controls, promoted internal improvements like railroads, and took firm actions against secession, treason and terrorism. To win over Congress for his war efforts he made various compromises; some primary rivals for Republican nomination in 1860 were appointed cabinet positions while he gave his opponents in Congress the benefit of doubt when enforcing domestic laws.

Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth

Historians have identified Lincoln's perseverance as one of his great strengths. His commitment to important decisions did not stem from arrogance or self-righteousness; rather, it resulted from careful deliberation and his deepening moral leadership capacity.

Abraham Lincoln rose from humble roots to become one of America's greatest leaders and liberators of its slave population. A master strategist, powerful orator and tireless worker - Lincoln had an impactful appeal that transcended political differences and captured both Americans as well as citizens of other lands alike.

Lincoln achieved his greatest triumph through a bloody civil war. But this only marked the beginning. As President he oversaw development of railroads; establishment of Department of Agriculture; Homestead Act passed into law; and finally the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery - just to name a few of his achievements.

Lincoln established himself nationally during the election campaign of 1858 through his skillful debates with Stephen Douglas, which helped secure him the Republican presidential nomination and earn national fame. For four years following this win, he built up the Republican Party into an effective national organization while helping win the Civil War and leading to civil and constitutional rights for all of its citizens.

Lincoln left an immense legacy behind him despite his tragic assassination; one that will endure is his firm belief in democracy, as expressed in his Gettysburg Address. Lincoln encouraged Northerners to ensure the lives lost fighting to protect the Union would not have been in vain; through their work and freedom for slaves alike they ensured "this nation under God shall experience a new birth of freedom", with governance by, for and of the people never completely disappearing from earthly politics.

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