Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a humble log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, which is now part of present-day LaRue County. The day he was born was a Sunday, a fact often commemorated by those interested in presidential history.
Abraham Lincoln, America’s 16th President, was a figure of monumental significance who left an indelible mark on the nation’s history. Born into a poor family in rural Kentucky, Lincoln’s journey to the White House was nothing short of remarkable. Often referred to as the “Great Emancipator,” he is most renowned for his leadership during one of the most tumultuous times in American history—the Civil War—and for the emancipation of slaves. Lincoln was a self-made man in every sense. He had less than a year of formal schooling but was an avid reader and taught himself law. Before venturing into politics, he worked as a farm laborer, rail-splitter, surveyor, and lawyer.
Abraham Lincoln was born into a life of humble beginnings. His family lived in a one-room log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, in an area that is now part of LaRue County. His father, Thomas Lincoln, was a farmer and carpenter, while his mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, came from a poor family and was known for her kindness and nurturing qualities. When Lincoln was just seven years old, his family made the difficult decision to move to Indiana, seeking better economic opportunities.
Abraham Lincoln is often celebrated as a self-taught individual, embodying the essence of the “self-made man.” Though he had very little formal education—less than a year in total—Lincoln was a voracious reader and an eager learner. Lincoln’s early educational experiences were intermittent and fragmented, given the necessities of frontier life. His schooling took place in “blab schools,” so named because students learned by reciting lessons aloud, or “blabbing.” The teachers were not particularly well-educated but provided the rudimentary skills of reading, writing, and arithmetic.
Parents and Siblings
Abraham Lincoln was born to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. Thomas was a farmer and a carpenter, a man of strong physique but limited education. Nancy, on the other hand, was known for her intelligence and caring nature, although she also had very little formal schooling. The couple had three children: Sarah, Abraham, and Thomas, who died in infancy. Thomas Lincoln was a somewhat stern yet fair father. He was respected in the community but struggled financially. Nancy Lincoln was a loving mother who died when Abraham was only nine years old, a loss that deeply affected him. His sister Sarah played a significant role in his upbringing but tragically died while giving birth at a young age.
Lincoln was a complex individual with a rich inner world. He had a sense of humor but was also known to have a melancholic temperament. Friends and contemporaries described him as empathetic and introspective. Lincoln was deeply religious in a nondenominational sense, relying on faith to guide him through the darkest days of his presidency. He also loved attending the theater and enjoyed a good joke. Despite the enormous pressure he faced as President, he still found time to engage with his children, often playing games and telling stories.
Marriage(s) and Children
Lincoln married Mary Todd on November 4, 1842. Mary was a well-educated woman from a wealthy Kentucky family. The couple had four sons: Robert, Edward, William (“Willie”), and Thomas (“Tad”). Only Robert survived into adulthood, going on to serve as Secretary of War under Presidents James Garfield and Chester A. Arthur.
Hobbies and Interests
Abraham Lincoln had a range of interests that went beyond politics and law. He was an avid reader, devouring everything from Shakespeare to political treatises. He also had a strong affinity for storytelling and was known for his wit and humor. He often used anecdotes and jokes to make a point or lighten the mood, especially during tense political discussions.
Lincoln loved attending the theater and found solace in music; he was particularly fond of opera.
1832: First run for public office; lost election for Illinois State Legislature.
1834-1840: Served multiple terms in the Illinois State Legislature as a Whig.
1836: Licensed to practice law in Illinois.
1842: Marries Mary Todd.
1847-1849: Served as U.S. Congressman from Illinois.
1854: Re-enters politics, opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act.
1858: Loses U.S. Senate race to Stephen A. Douglas but gains national attention through the Lincoln-Douglas debates.
1860: Elected 16th President of the United States.
1861-1865: Lead the U.S. through the Civil War.
1863: Issues the Emancipation Proclamation.
1864: Re-elected President.
1865: Assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14; dies on April 15.
Career in Details
Lincoln’s political career began humbly, losing his first election in 1832. However, by 1834 he was elected to the Illinois State Legislature, where he aligned with the Whig Party and focused on internal improvements and banking reforms. In 1846, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he served a single term. He was an outspoken critic of the Mexican-American War, a position that was unpopular at the time and led him to step back from politics temporarily.
One of the most inspiring stories about Lincoln is his commitment to self-education. With less than a year of formal schooling, he was mostly self-taught, relying on borrowed books to educate himself. Another inspirational aspect of his life was his moral conviction and resilience. His issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War was a daring move that showcased his commitment to human rights and equality.
In today’s terms, Abraham Lincoln’s net worth is difficult to calculate precisely. However, he was by no means a wealthy man for most of his life. As a lawyer, his income was relatively modest, and he didn’t have significant real estate holdings or investments. According to some estimates, Lincoln may have been worth about $40,000 when he took office in 1860, which in today’s money would be around $1.2 million to $1.3 million when adjusted for inflation. As President, Lincoln earned a salary of $25,000 per year, a substantial sum at that time. It’s worth noting that despite the significant financial and social changes during and after his time, Lincoln passed away without significant wealth, partly due to the expenses associated with his political career and personal tragedies.
5 Surprising Facts About Abraham Lincoln
Wrestler Before Politician: Before his political career, Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler. He’s said to have lost just one match out of around 300 and was inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
No Middle Name: Unlike many U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln didn’t have a middle name. It was simply Abraham Lincoln.
Licensed Bartender: Lincoln was co-owner of a saloon in Springfield, Illinois, called “Berry and Lincoln,” making him the only U.S. President to have been a licensed bartender.
Photography Enthusiast: Lincoln was the first U.S. President to be extensively photographed. He understood the power of this new medium and used it effectively to connect with the public.
Patent Holder: Lincoln is the only U.S. President to hold a patent. He invented a device to lift boats over sandbars and obstructions in a river, although it was never produced.
Abraham Lincoln’s legacy stretches far beyond the political and military realms, entering the spheres of human rights, culture, and even innovation. From his humble beginnings to his untimely end, Lincoln shaped American history with his enduring commitment to equality and democratic principles. While his financial legacy may not have been one of significant wealth, his moral and political legacies are priceless. Lincoln remains an eternal figure not only in American history but also in the broader struggle for human dignity and freedom.
When was Abraham Lincoln born and when did he die?
Born on February 12, 1809, and died on April 15, 1865.
What party did Lincoln belong to?
He was a member of the Republican Party.
Did Lincoln have any siblings?
Yes, he had an older sister, Sarah, and a younger brother, Thomas, who died in infancy.
How many terms did Lincoln serve as President?
He was elected twice but served just over one term due to his assassination.
Did Lincoln ever lose an election?
Yes, he lost several elections including his first run for the Illinois State Legislature and a U.S. Senate race in 1858.