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Abraham Lincoln (; February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the nation through the American Civil War, the country's greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. He succeeded in preserving the Union, abolishing slavery, bolstering the federal government, and modernizing the U.S. economy.

Lincoln was born into poverty in a log cabin and was raised on the frontier primarily in Indiana. He was self-educated and became a lawyer, Whig Party leader, Illinois state legislator, and U.S. Congressman from Illinois. In 1849, he returned to his law practice but became vexed by the opening of additional lands to slavery as a result of the Kansas–Nebraska Act. He reentered politics in 1854, becoming a leader in the new Republican Party, and he reached a national audience in the 1858 debates against Stephen Douglas. Lincoln ran for President in 1860, sweeping the North in victory. Pro-slavery elements in the South equated his success with the North's rejection of their right to practice slavery, and southern states began seceding from the union. To secure its independence, the new Confederate States fired on Fort Sumter, a U.S. fort in the South, and Lincoln called up forces to suppress the rebellion and restore the Union.

As the leader of moderate Republicans, Lincoln had to navigate a contentious array of factions with friends and opponents on both sides. War Democrats rallied a large faction of former opponents into his moderate camp, but they were countered by Radical Republicans, who demanded harsh treatment of the Southern traitors. Anti-war Democrats (called "Copperheads") despised him, and irreconcilable pro-Confederate elements plotted his assassination. Lincoln managed the factions by exploiting their mutual enmity, by carefully distributing political patronage, and by appealing to the U.S. people. His Gettysburg Address became a historic clarion call for nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy. Lincoln scrutinized the strategy and tactics in the war effort, including the selection of generals and the naval blockade of the South's trade. He suspended habeas corpus, and he averted British intervention by defusing the Trent Affair. He engineered the end to slavery with his Emancipation Proclamation and his order that the Army protect and recruit former slaves. He also encouraged border states to outlaw slavery, and promoted the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which outlawed slavery across the country.

Lincoln managed his own successful re-election campaign. He sought to heal the war-torn nation through reconciliation. On April 14, 1865, just days after the war's end at Appomattox, Lincoln was attending a play at Ford's Theatre with his wife Mary when he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth. His marriage had produced four sons, two of whom preceded him in death, with severe emotional impact upon him and Mary. Lincoln is remembered as the martyr hero of the United States and he is consistently ranked as one of the greatest presidents in American history.

Abraham Lincoln Media

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Agreement in Musick for use of Johnson v. Baughn & Jackson, [Law papers].

Agreement in Musick for use of Johnson v. Baughn & Jackson, [Law paper...

Portion of document appears to be in Lincoln's hand. Summary: Baughn sued Johnson to recover a horse, valued at $90, and filed with Sheriff Musick a $180 replevin bond, which would be void if Baughn won the cas... More

Bill of Exceptions in Unknown v. Unknown, [Law papers].

Bill of Exceptions in Unknown v. Unknown, [Law papers].

Summary: An unknown plaintiff sued an unknown defendant, who retained Lincoln. The court ruled for the plaintiff. The defendant apparently planned to appeal the case because Lincoln wrote a bill of exceptions f... More

[Original museum display card for Lincoln's method of lifting vessels over shoals patent].

[Original museum display card for Lincoln's method of lifting vessels ...

The model of the Lincoln boat which was filed with Lincoln's application was available to the public in 1849. The Patent Office produced display cards for their models. From time to time the cards wore out and ... More

Campaign song.

Campaign song.

Handwritten note across top of songsheet: First sung in the loft over Geirson & Walihaus in warehouse, by eh author, in may 1860. Handwritten note under composer credit: afterward Major General in U. S. Army.

Abraham Lincoln / lith. & published by Edw. Mendel.

Abraham Lincoln / lith. & published by Edw. Mendel.

Head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right.

Exhibition of the Philomathean Society of Danville, Ill. On Thursday evening, May 8th, 1851. Animus Imperatro Corpus.

Exhibition of the Philomathean Society of Danville, Ill. On Thursday e...

Handwritten on verso: Ira Mayfield, J. B. Lemon, Daniel Clap, Dr. Balch.

[Print of the "lost ambertype" of Lincoln.]

[Print of the "lost ambertype" of Lincoln.]

Written in pencil on back: This is the photograph from the original ambertype owned by the Latham family of Lincoln, Illinois. It was posed for by Mr. Lincoln at the time the city of Lincoln was named for him. ... More

[Abraham Lincoln while campaigning for the U.S. Senate, taken in Chicago, Illinois

[Abraham Lincoln while campaigning for the U.S. Senate, taken in Chica...

Title devised by Library staff. Original photograph: The original daguerreotype is at the Chicago Historical Society. Ostendorf, no. 6 Meserve, no. 3 Published in: Lincoln's photographs: a complete album / by L... More

Lincoln's invitation to Peoria. [Facsimile.]

Lincoln's invitation to Peoria. [Facsimile.]

Facsimile of letter sent by Peorians in 1854 asking Lincoln to come here to reply to Douglas's speech.

[Abraham Lincoln: Immediately prior to Senate nomination, Chicago, Illinois]

[Abraham Lincoln: Immediately prior to Senate nomination, Chicago, Ill...

Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right. Ostendorf, no. 2 Meserve, no. 6 Published in: Lincoln's photographs: a complete album / by Lloyd Ostendorf. Dayton, OH: Rockywood Press, 1998, p. 6-7.

[Abraham Lincoln, immediately prior to Senate nomination, Chicago, Illinois]

[Abraham Lincoln, immediately prior to Senate nomination, Chicago, Ill...

Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right. According to Ostendorf, this portrait by Hessler was copied during Lincoln's campaign and further distributed. Ostendorf, no. 2 (variation) Meserve, n... More

[Abraham Lincoln while a traveling lawyer, taken in Danville, Illinois

[Abraham Lincoln while a traveling lawyer, taken in Danville, Illinois

Illus. in: The Photographs of Abraham Lincoln / Frederick Hill Meserve. New York, Privately printed, 1911, p. 43. Original photograph: The original ambrotype is at the Illinois State Historical Library. Ostendo... More

[Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left. Reversed and retouched copy of photo by Alexander Hessler]

[Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left. Reversed a...

"On February 28, 1857, Alexander Hesler took the famous photograph of Lincoln in Chicago. About seven months earlier, so the story went, Lincoln had posed for William H. Masters of Princeton, Illinois. No photo... More

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing left]

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing left]

Photo shows Abraham Lincoln in an image that was widely reproduced on presidential campaign ribbins in 1860. Lincoln reportedly liked the photograph and often signed prints for admirers. (Source: Ostendorf, p. ... More

[Photograph of sculpture by Crunelle located in Freeport, Illinois.]

[Photograph of sculpture by Crunelle located in Freeport, Illinois.]

The northern Illinois town of Freeport hosted the second and most famous of the seven Lincoln-Douglas political debates on August 27, 1858. Statue at Freeport, Ill., dedicated August 29, 1929.

Letter to Henry Clay Whitney, Esq. from Abraham Lincoln, November 30, 1858.

Letter to Henry Clay Whitney, Esq. from Abraham Lincoln, November 30, ...

Requests copies of the Lincoln-Douglas debates as they were reported in the Tribune.

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

Photo shows Abraham Lincoln in an image that was widely reproduced on presidential campaign ribbins in 1860. Lincoln reportedly liked the photograph and often signed prints for admirers. (Source: Ostendorf, p. ... More

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

Photo shows Abraham Lincoln in an image that was widely reproduced on presidential campaign ribbons in 1860. Lincoln reportedly liked the photograph and often signed prints for admirers. (Source: Ostendorf, p. ... More

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, facing right]

Photo shows Abraham Lincoln in an image that was widely reproduced on presidential campaign ribbons in 1860. Lincoln reportedly liked the photograph and often signed prints for admirers. (Source: Ostendorf, p. ... More

Letter to Hon. Henry A. Wise from S. A. Douglas, November 7, 1858.

Letter to Hon. Henry A. Wise from S. A. Douglas, November 7, 1858.

Refers to success of the Democratic Party in recent State elections in Illinois.

[Abraham Lincoln, bust-length portrait, facing right]

[Abraham Lincoln, bust-length portrait, facing right]

Ostendorf, no. 12 Meserve, no. 4 Original photograph: The original tintype is at the National Lincoln Museum (Old Ford's Theatre), according to Ostendorf. Published in: Lincoln's photographs: a complete album /... More

Warrant of Attorney in Blong v. W. C. Taylor & Co., [Law papers].

Warrant of Attorney in Blong v. W. C. Taylor & Co., [Law papers].

Summary: W. C. Taylor and Company gave Blong an $8,428.72 promissory note but failed to pay. W. C. Taylor and Co. signed a warrant of attorney that authorized Lincoln or any other attorney to confess judgment a... More

The Republican Standard.

The Republican Standard.

Partly colored broadside in five columns within a colored border of a rail fence. Heading in a large type. No 1745, Vol. 3. T. W. Streeter Collection sale, 1967.

Union / painted by T.H. Matteson ; engraved by H.S. Sadd.

Union / painted by T.H. Matteson ; engraved by H.S. Sadd.

Print showing original image from 1852 with Henry Clay, sitting to the left of center, John Calhoun, and Daniel Webster standing at center, except that the plate has been reworked so that Abraham Lincoln (with ... More

[Printed] Letter from Col. John H. George.

[Printed] Letter from Col. John H. George.

From the Oliver R. Barrett Collection.

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, looking right]

[Abraham Lincoln, half-length portrait, looking right]

Title devised by Library staff. Date from: Looking for Lincoln: the making of an American icon / Philip B. Kunhardt, III. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2008, p. 465. Ostendorf, no. 18 Meserve, no. 110 Published in... More

Abraham Lincoln / Fabronius ; lith. & published by Edw. Mendel.

Abraham Lincoln / Fabronius ; lith. & published by Edw. Mendel.

An early campaign portrait of Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln. The bust portrait is based on Samuel M. Fassett's October 1859 photograph of the Illinois Republican. Below it is a small allegor... More

To the citizens of Philadelphia.

To the citizens of Philadelphia.

Presidential campaign document issued "by order of the People's City Committee of Superintendence" and dated Nov. 6, 1860.

[Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait. Copy of photo by Joseph Hill]

[Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait. Copy of photo by Joseph...

Copy of a daguerreotype? "Because it was discarded in a woodshed, this faded photograph by Joseph Hill, Springfield, June 1860, escaped a blaze which destroyed all the photographs and negatives in Hill's galler... More

[Abraham Lincoln, full-length portrait, standing]

[Abraham Lincoln, full-length portrait, standing]

The Library's photo was found in the collection of sculptor Henry Kirke Brown. (Source: Ostendorf, p. 17.) Title devised by Library staff. Date from: Looking for Lincoln: the making of an American icon / Philip... More

[Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president, half-length portrait, looking right, May 20,1860]

[Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president, half-length portrait, ...

Photo shows presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, two days after he won his party's nomination. (Source: Ostendorf, p. 42-3.) Title devised by Library staff Previously attributed to W... More

[A. Lincoln]

[A. Lincoln]

Silhouette drawing is full-length side-view of United States president Abraham Lincoln facing left. Gift; Mrs. John Lightfoot, Jr.; 1921; (DLC/PP-1921:46345).

[Abraham Lincoln, bust portrait, facing left; first photo to show his beard]

[Abraham Lincoln, bust portrait, facing left; first photo to show his ...

This record contains unverified, old data from caption card. Ostendorf, no. 40 Meserve, no. 33 Published in: Lincoln's photographs: a complete album / by Lloyd Ostendorf. Dayton, OH: Rockywood Press, 1998, p. 67.

Hon. Abraham Lincoln,

Hon. Abraham Lincoln,

Print showing Abraham Lincoln, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing right.

Abraham Lincoln / Herline & Hensel, lith. 632 Chestnut St., Phila.

Abraham Lincoln / Herline & Hensel, lith. 632 Chestnut St., Phila.

Print showing Abraham Lincoln, full-length portrait, standing, facing front. Title from item.

[Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president, before delivering his Cooper Union address, New York, N.Y., on Feb. 27, 1860]

[Abraham Lincoln, candidate for U.S. president, before delivering his ...

Title devised by Library staff. Ostendorf, no. 17 (variant) Meserve, no. 19 or no. 20 (detail) Published in: Lincoln's photographs: a complete album / by Lloyd Ostendorf. Dayton, OH: Rockywood Press, 1998, p. 385.

Lincoln quick step

Lincoln quick step

Campaign sheet music for the Lincoln candidacy. The cover illustration features an oval bust portrait of Republican nominee Abraham Lincoln, surrounded by vignettes and motifs recalling his early backwoods car... More

Democratic ticket. [Illinois campaign ticket]

Democratic ticket. [Illinois campaign ticket]

Illinois democratic party ticket.

The Coles County Court House in Charleston, Ills., in which Lincoln often practiced law and before which he made a short speech in the evening after his fourth joint debate with Douglas, Sept. 18, 1858

The Coles County Court House in Charleston, Ills., in which Lincoln of...

Photograph showing courthouse with people and horse-drawn wagons in front. Title from item. Accession box no. DLC/PP-1972:140

Gettysburg song.

Gettysburg song.

Illustrated with the "Proposed design for the National Homestead of Gettysburg for soldier's orphans".