American Government I – 2301
Throughout the long history of the United States there have been many hardworking, dedicated politicians that made our country strong and resilient. During the time of the greatest peril to our country one stood out more than any other. This man was Abraham Lincoln, one of the most resilient and pivotal leaders we have known.
Abraham Lincoln came from humble origins in the backwoods of Kentucky. He was born on February 12, 1809 in a one room log cabin on Sinking Spring Farm, in southeast Hardin county Kentucky. His father (Thomas Lincoln) was a poverty stricken frontiersman after losing his farm, which along with his wife (Nancy Hanks Lincoln) and other children had to work hard everyday for the necessities of life. Lincoln was no stranger to hard work; he split logs plowed his families land and used his carpentry skills around the farm. He did prefer reading and learning to the hard work which caused a strained relationship between he and his father. He only received 18 months of formal education and was largely self educated. In 1816 Lincoln’s father lost his farm and was forced to move to Perry County, Indiana. This area of the country near the Ohio River was very remote and rugged. Their first winter at the new homestead was very harsh but they were able to survive. Unfortunately that summer Lincoln’s mother died from a deadly disease known as “milk sickness” and left his father with the children to raise alone(Lincoln research project). After the death of his mother the family fell apart and the most of the day to day work was left to Lincoln and his sister. In the winter of 1819 Lincoln’s father went back to Kentucky and found a new wife Sarah Bush Johnson who was a widow with three children (notable biographies.com). His new mother was a very positive light placed in his life. She was very affectionate and treated both sets of children the same as if she borne them all. She was especially fond of Abraham and he referred to her as his “Angel Mother” (biography.com). In 1830, after further financial misfortune, Lincoln’s father moved his family to Coles County Illinois, but Lincoln did not go with them deciding to head out on his own to New Salem. (Notablebiographies.com).
At New Salem Lincoln was placed in charge of a mill and a store where he became very popular through his unique story telling. Shortly thereafter the New Salem debating society asked him to join where he became a very passionate and persuasive speaker (notable biographies.com). At this time the “black hawk war” which was a Native American uprising occurred. Lincoln decided to volunteer in New Salem and was elected Captain of his company. He saw little action during the short war and afterwards he stated that “he had seen no live, fighting Indians during the war but had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes” (biography.com). During this time Lincoln’s store eventually folded leaving him deeply in debt. He then worked as a rail splitter, land surveyor, and a postmaster all of which fell through increasing his dept even more. He did eventually pay them off thus earning the nickname “Honest Abe”.
After Lincoln’s service in Black Hawk war ended, he decided to run as a candidate for the Illinois legislature. Despite his speaking talents he was not elected but did receive 277 of 300 votes cast in his home precinct in New Salem (notablebiographies.com). Lincoln was not deterred from his goal of becoming a member of the Illinois legislature, and in 1834 was elected. At this time John Todd Stuart, the leader of the Whig party, noticed Lincoln’s skill during his campaign. Stuart became Lincoln’s mentor in the state legislature taking him under his wing and pushed him to begin his law studies. Lincoln started practicing law in 1836 and served 4 terms in the state legislature where he became a Whig leader....