1865 May 6: Biographical Sketch of Mr. Lincoln
The following sketch of assassinated President Abraham Lincoln comes from the May 6, 1865, issue of The Polk County Press.
M I S C E L L E A N E O U S.
Biographical Sketch of Mr. Lincoln.
The following condensed sketch of the life of Abraham Lincoln, previously to his assumption of the presidency, which is compiled from the American Cyclopedia, will be read interest :
Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin county, Kentucky, on the 12th of February, 1800, and was, therefore, a little over fifty-six years old when he died. His ancestors, who were Quakers of an humble class, went from Barks county, Va. and from there his grandfather, Abraham, removed with his family to Kentucky, about 1784. Thomas Lincoln the father of Abraham, was born in Virginia, and in 1806 married Nancy Hanks, also of Virginia, both belonging to the class of “poor whites.” In 1816 he removed with his family to Spencer county, Indiana, when Abraham being large for his age, was put to work with an axe to clear away the forest, and for the next ten years was mostly occupied in hard labor on his father’s farm. He went to school at intervals, amounting in the aggregate to about a year, which was all the school education he ever received. At the age of nineteen, he made a trip to New Orleans as a hired hand upon a flat-boat. In March 1830, he removed with his father, from Indiana and settled in Macon county, Illinois, where he helped to build a log cabin for the family home, and to make enough rails to fence a ten acre lot.
In the following year he hired himself at twelve dollars a month, to assist in building a flat-boat, and afterward in taking the boat to New Orleans. On his return from the voyage his employer put him in charge as clerk of a store and mill at New Salem, then in Sangamon, now Menard county, Illinois. On the breaking out of the Black Hawk war in 1832, he joined a volunteer company, and to his surprise, was elected captain of it, a promotion which he was wont to say gave him more pleasure than any subsequent success of his life. He served for three months in the campaign, and on his return was in the same year nominated a Whig candidate for the Legislature ; but the county being democratic, he was beated [bested?] ; though his own election election [sic] precinct gave him 277 votes and only seven against him. He next opened a country store, which was not prosperous, was appointed Postmaster of New Salem and now began to study law by borrowing from a neighboring lawyer books, which he took home in the evening and returned in the morning. The surveyor of Sangamon county, offered to depute to him that portion of his work which was in his part of the county. Mr. Lincoln procured a compass and chain and treaties on surveying and did the work. In 1834 he was elected to the Legislature by a larger vote than was cast for any candidate, and was re-elected in 1836, 1838 and 1840. In 1836, he removed to Springfield, and began to study law. He rose rapidly to distinction in his profession, and was especially eminent as advocate in jury trial. He did not, however, withdraw from politics, but continued for many years a prominent leader of the Whig party of Illinois. He was several times a candidate for Presidential elector, and as such, in 1844, he canvassed the entire State, together with part of Indiana, in behalf of Henry Clay, making almost daily speeches to large audiences. In 1846 he was elected a Pepresentative [sic] in Congress from the Central District of Illinois. In Congress he voted 42 times for the Wilmot Proviso.¹ In 1849 he offered to the house a scheme for abolishing Slavery in the District of Columbia, by compensating the slaveholders from the Territory of the United States, providing a majority of the citizens of the District should ratify the proposition. He opposed the annexation of Texas, but voted to defray the expenses of the Mexican war. He voted also in favor of river and harbor improvements, in favor of a protective tariff and for selling the public lands at the lowest cash price.
He was a member of the Whig National Convention of 1843, and advocated the nomination of Gen. Taylor. In 1849 he was a candidate for the United States Senate, against Gen. Shields, who was elected. Alter the expiration of his Congressional term, Mr. Lincoln applied himself to his profession till the repeal of the Missouri Compromise called him again into the political arena. It was mainly due to his exertions that the Republicans triumphed, and that Judge Trumbull was elected U. S. Senator in place of Gen. Shields.
At the Republican National Convention in 1856, the Illinois delegation ineffectually urged Mr. Lincoln’s nomination for Vice President.
On June 2d, 1858, Mr. Lincoln received the unanimous nomination of the Republican State Convention at Springfield as U. S. Senator in opposition to Mr. Douglas [Stephen A. Douglas]. The two candidates canvassed the State together, speaking on the same day at the same place. The debate was conducted with eminent ability on both sides, and excited unusual interest. The result of the election was a Republican majority of 4,000 on the popular vote—but the latter was elected Senator by the Legislature, in which his party had a majority of eight votes.
The national reputation won by Mr. Lincoln in his triumphant tilt with the Democratic champion secured him the nomination for the Presidency by the Republican National Convention, which assembled at Chicago on May 16, 1860.
In consequence of the disruption of the Democratic party, the Southern wing of which nominated John C. Breckinridge, and the Northern Stephen A. Douglas as his competitors, he was duly elected President of the United States—and this event, which was contemplated and contrived by the Southern Democratic leaders as a pretext for secession, was at once hailed as a signal for consummating the great conspiracy of Disunion, which had been on foot for many years. And when, four months afterward, Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated—a new and vast organized power disputed his constitutional authority to execute the laws of the United States over nearly one half of the national domain.
How this plain and simple man met this prodigious peril to the life of the Republic, how he foiled this mighty public enemy, step by step, and how he finally put it under his feet—these constitute the history of his eventful administration, a brief notice of which we intended to make here, but which, as we approach it, unfolds in so many grand and impressive aspects, as to compel us to postbone [sic] a review of it to an occasion when when [sic] we have more space and time. Into these last four years of his life are crowded centuries of history. What has been accomplished, how wisely and how well the mighty work entrusted to Mr. Lincoln has been done, no one needs a verbal reminder.
1. The Wilmot Proviso, would have banned slavery in any territory to be acquired from Mexico in the Mexican War. It was one of the events—like the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, the Fugitive Slave Act—that led to the Civil War.