Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865)

American lawyer, orator, legislator, and sixteenth president of the United States. Born in Kentucky, Lincoln was largely self made and self-taught. In 1830 his family moved to Illinois, where Lincoln prepared himself for a career in law. In 1834 he was elected to the first of four terms in the Illinois state legislature, and in 1847, to the U.S. Congress. Elected president in 1860, Lincoln guided the Union through the Civil War while pressing for passage of the Thirteenth Amendment (1865), which outlawed slavery “everywhere and forever” in the United States. His most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address (1863), was delivered at the site of one of the Civil War’s bloodiest battles. Shortly after his reelection and with the war drawing to a close, Lincoln gave his Second Inaugural Address (1865), an eloquent appeal for reconciliation and peace. He was assassinated a little more than a month later. See also whitehouse.gov/about/presidents.