A picture of Abraham Lincoln by Alexander Gardner. Source : Public Domain

Abraham Lincoln was an American lawyer and a statesman who served as the 16th United States President from 1861 to 1865. He was a member of the Republican Party under whose plartform he became the president.

Abraham Lincoln was always regarded as one of the greatest Americans of all time. He earned this reputation by being a good politician and a leader who led the United States against the secessionist during the American Civil War between 1860 to 1865. During the Civil War, he proved to be a good leader and a nationalist who did his uniting the United States as a one nation. That was why, his name and picture became a national symbol. For example, his picture was on Five Dollar bill or note.

Early Life of Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was born on 12 February, 1809, near the town of Hodgenville, Kentucky State. His father Thomas Lincoln and a mother Nancy Hanks were both poor lived in their farm at Sinking Spring. Nancy Hanks died while Lincoln was nine, and therefore he lived with his father in a poor condition. He was always obliged to do hard work with his father in the farm, in order to grow the food they eat. Due to that, he was unable to received a formal education. But, as a result of his brilliance, Lincoln taught himself how to write and read.

Early Career of Abraham Lincoln

At an early age of 19 in 1828, Abraham Lincoln was employed for a of transporting goods to New Orleans by boat through the Mississippi River. The journey and the work widened Lincoln’s perception about life. Later, Abraham Lincoln settled and became a shopkeeper in their village for about 2 years.

In 1831, Abraham Lincoln left his retailing business and volunteered to serve in the Illinois Militia who were fighting the red Indians in the famous Black Hawk War. Lincoln served in the War as a Captain. After the War, he eyed for a law career and therefore began studying law books.

Early Political and Law Career of Abraham Lincoln

Before Abraham Lincoln joined the Illinois Militia, he already entered into politics. In 1932, he contested for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly, but lost. However, in 1934, Lincoln was elected under the platform of Whig Party as a member representing Sagmon County in the Illinois House of Representatives. He remained in the position until 1842.


In the process of becoming a lawyer, Abraham Lincoln studied many law books. By 1836, he was admitted to the bar through the help of John T. Stuart. Eventually, Lincoln passed the bar examination and was certified as a lawyer. Later, Lincoln joined John T. Stuart as a junior partner and began practicing law in Springfield.

During his career as lawyer, Abraham Lincoln proved very intelligent and reliable to his clients. He won many cases as far as in the Illinois Supreme Court.

Rose to National Political Prominence

By 1850, United States was in disagreement over the slavery. The country divided into those who wanted the spread of slavery who were mostly southerners, and those who did not want the who were mostly northerners. While the country was in this situation, Lincoln became much interested in participating in the national politics. On the other hand, he was a northerner and an anti-slavery.

In 1854, the United States Congress passed an act called the ‘Kansas-Nebraska Act’. After the passage of of the Act, the then President Franklin Pierce signed it into law. Under the, slavery was allowed to spread beyond the Missouri southern border, which was against the Missouri Compromise that disallowed the spread of the slavery beyond the Missouri southern border. On the other hand, the Kansas-Nebraska Act annoyed the abolitionists and politicians more especially anti-slavery politicians. Thus, in March 1854, some frustrated politicians founded an anti-slavery political party called the Republican. In 1856, Abraham Lincoln joined the Republican.


After Abraham Lincoln became a Republican member, he also wanted to become a senator. In 1858, he aspired to a senator representing Illinois. As part of the process or campaign, Lincoln engaged in a series of debate between the incumbent Senator Stephen Douglas over the controversial issue of slavery. Abraham Lincoln held a belief that the spread of slavery should be stopped, while Douglass maintained that every state should be allowed to decide was best for them. The Debate was held in seven towns in the Illinois State between 21 August to 15 October, 1858. Though, Lincoln lost the election, but the debate helped his rising into a national political scene.

Presidency and the American Civil War

After Abraham Lincoln lost the election for a to senate, he continued his political activities and in which he concentrated on popularizing the Republican Party. On the other hand, he aspired to be the Republican Presidential candidate. Gradually, he acquired support from some of the top Republican politicians, especially politicians from his home state of Illinois. At last, he Lincoln won the Presidential ticket in Party’s national convention held in Chicago on 18 May, 1860.

After the Convention, Abraham Lincoln began a nationwide campaign asking for vote. During the campaigns, he proved very efficient to won the election, especially in the Northern States. On 6 November, 1860, the Presidential was contested between 4 contenders that included :

  1. Abraham Lincoln from the State of Illinois as a Republican candidate.
  2. Stephen Douglas from the State of Illinois as Northern Democrat candidate
  3. John Breckenridge from the State of Kentucky as the Southern Democrat candidate
  4. John Bell from the State of Tennessee as the Constitutional Union candidate.

At the end of the election, Abraham Lincoln emerged winner after winning 17 states and scored 1,865,908, popular votes.


Before the 1860 Presidential election, some Southern States threatened to secede from the Union of the United States if Abraham Lincoln won the election. Unfortunately to them, Lincoln won the election. In December 1860, South Carolina became the first Southern state to seceded. Later, other Southern states followed the lead and declared themselves an independent nation called the Confederates States of America.

On his part, during his inaugural speech in March 1861, Abraham Lincoln stated that he has no intention of abolishing or stopping slavery where it already existed. But, he warned the secessionist states that he would do whatever possible to keep the United States one and intact. The following month of April the American Civil War began, when the Confederates army began seizing federal properties within their territory. Gradually, the Civil War became large scale war between the Union army who wanted to keep the Union, and the Confederates army who wanted to maintained their secession. After almost 2 years of fighting, in January 1863, Lincoln announced the emancipation of slaves living in the Southern states in a famous declaration called the ‘Emancipation Declaration’.

Towards the end of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln was re-elected in November 1864 for a second term. After his re-election, Lincoln ordered all his army commanders under General Ulysses S. Grants to brought an end to the Civil War. After the order, the Union army fought strategically until at the end, the Confederates army General Robert E. Lee surrendered his which marked the end of the American Civil War.


After five days of the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln who was in celebration over victory, he went to the Ford Theater in Washington D.C. on14 April, 1865, in order to have more fun. While in the Theater, an actor who was a slavery supporter called John Wilkes Booth used a pistol gun and shot Abraham Lincoln. He was taken for an emergency support, but he died the following day on 15 April, 1865. He was laid to rest in the Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois State.

Ahmad Abdullahi, BA History

My name is Ahmad Abdullahi, I was born on 10th March, 1994 in Garun-Danga Town, Gabasawa L.G., Kano State. I attended FCE Demonstration Primary School from 2002 to 2007, FCE Staff Secondary School from 2007 to 2013, and Northwest University, Kano from 2013 to 2017, where I obtained bachelor degree in History.

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