Not many people know about the dark history of the United States, a period filled with issues of slavery and racial discrimination against immigrants and Native Americans. During this tumultuous era, a movement emerged, proclaimed by Abraham Lincoln, who would later become one of the most revered presidents in the U.S. Lincoln successfully eradicated slavery and guided the nation through a devastating civil war.
Early Life of Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Hardin County, Kentucky, USA, to Nancy and Thomas Lincoln. Abraham Lincoln did not enjoy a privileged upbringing as he hailed from a non-aristocratic family. Nonetheless, he grew up in an environment where slavery was rampant, and his parents held strong religious beliefs opposing the institution of slavery.
The Birth of a Vision
Abraham Lincoln, often referred to as “Abe,” faced limited formal education, with only three short periods of schooling. He had to work continuously to support his family. During his youth, Lincoln moved to New Salem, Illinois, where he took on various jobs, including a store clerk, postmaster, and shop owner.
It was during this time that he became well-known in the local community. In 1832, during the Black Hawk War, a conflict between American settlers and Native Americans, local volunteers selected Lincoln as their captain. This marked the beginning of his political journey as he was subsequently elected to the Illinois State Legislature and began voicing his opposition to slavery in various U.S. territories.
Political Career and Opposition to Slavery
As Lincoln’s political career gained momentum, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives and later became the President of the United States in 1861. However, his presidency was marked by escalating tensions as many southern states, opposed to Lincoln’s stance on slavery, seceded from the Union, leading to the outbreak of the Civil War.
Lincoln’s leadership faced significant challenges as he contended with Confederate states that were determined to preserve the institution of slavery. Despite this, he remained steadfast in his commitment to upholding the Union.
The Emancipation Proclamation
Following the pivotal Battle of Antietam, Lincoln issued the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, declaring the freedom of all enslaved people in rebellious states. Lincoln once said, “The main object of the war is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery.” Although this proclamation did not completely eliminate slavery in the United States, it laid the foundation for the 13th Amendment, which legally abolished slavery.
The Gettysburg Address
One of Lincoln’s most renowned speeches, the “Gettysburg Address,” was delivered at the dedication of the national cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In his address, he famously stated, “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
These words encapsulated the essence of democracy and emphasized the importance of self-governance. The Gettysburg Address is celebrated as a testament to Lincoln’s commitment to preserving the Union and ensuring equality for all citizens.
Abraham Lincoln’s tenacity and unwavering dedication to goodness, freedom, and justice serve as an enduring source of inspiration. His remarkable political acumen and leadership skills not only brought an end to the Civil War but also ushered in an era of peace and healing in the United States.