of the United States
, was born in Hardin county, Ky.
, Feb. 12, 1809.
His ancestors were Quakers in Berks county, Pa.
His parents, born in Virginia
, emigrated to Kentucky
, and in 1816 went to Indiana
Having had about one year's schooling in the aggregate, he went as a hired hand on a flat-boat to New Orleans when he was nineteen years of age. He made himself so useful to his employer that he gave him charge as clerk of a store and mill at New Salem, Ill.
He commanded a company in the Black Hawk War
. Appointed postmaster at Salem
, he began to study law, was admitted to practice in 1836, and began his career as a lawyer at Springfield
He rose rapidly in his profession, became a leader of the Whig party in Illinois
, and was a popular though homely speaker at political
He was elected to Congress in 1847, and was there distinguished for his outspoken anti-slavery views.
In 1858 he was a candidate for United States Senator
His opponent, Judge Douglas
, won the prize from the legislature, though Mr. Lincoln
received 4,000 more votes of the people than his opponent.
In 1860 and 1864 he was elected President
of the United States
Ordinances of secession and the beginning of civil war followed his first election.
He conducted the affairs of the nation with great wisdom through the four years of the Civil War
, and just as it closed was assassinated at the national capital, dying April 15, 1865.
His journey to the capital.
left his home in Springfield, Ill.
Feb. 11, 1861, for Washington
, D. C. accompanied by a few personal and political friends.
To the crowd at the railway
station, evidently impressed with the solemn responsibility laid on him, he said: “A duty devolves on me which is, perhaps, greater than that which has devolved upon any man since the days of Washington
He never could have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, upon which he at all times relied.
I feel that I cannot succeed without the same divine aid which sustained him, and on the same Almighty Being I place my reliance for support; and I hope you, my friends, will all pray that I may receive that divine assistance without which I cannot succeed, but with which success is certain.”
The journey then undertaken was performed at about the same time that Jefferson Davis
, the elected President
of the Southern Confederacy, was on his way from his home to the capital of the Confederacy
made a long journey of hundreds of miles through Illinois
, New York, New Jersey
, and Maryland
, everywhere greeted with demonstrations of profound respect, and speaking to the crowds who came out to see him words full of cheerfulness, kindness, forbearance, and tenderness.
Common prudence counselled him to say little or nothing on the grave affairs of state, but occasionally words would drop from his lips that clearly indicated his views and intentions.
He often alluded to the condition of the country.
“It is my intention,” he said at Pittsburg
, “to give this subject all the consideration I possibly can before specially deciding in regard to it, so that when I do speak I may be as nearly right as possible.
I hope I may say nothing in opposition to the spirit of the Constitution
, contrary to the integrity of the Union
, or which will prove inimical to the liberties of the people or the peace of the whole country.”
At the Astor House
, in New York, he said to a multitude who greeted him: “When the time does come for me to speak, I shall then take the ground that I think is right—right for the North
, for the South
, for the East
, for the West
, and for the whole country.”
was received by the municipal authorities of New York City at the City Hall, where Mayor Wood
, who had recently set forth the advantages that the commercial mart would derive from its secession from all government, admonished the President-elect
that it was his duty “to so conduct public affairs as to preserve the Union
arrived in Philadelphia
Feb. 21, where he was informed of a plan in Baltimore
to assassinate him, on his way through that city
Spot where the cabin stood in which Lincoln was born.
On the following morning (Washington
's birthday) he hoisted the national flag, with his own hands, over the old State-house, in the presence of a vast multitude of citizens.
In his speech on that occasion he referred to the Declaration of Independence
, adopted and signed in that building, and said that it was the sentiment of perfect freedom to all contained in that document which had kept the Union
together so long, and promised the same blessing, in due time, to all men. “If this country,” he said, “cannot be saved by this principle, I was about to say I would rather be assas-
sinated on this spot than surrender it. I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and, if it be the pleasure of Almighty God, die by.”
His friends believed his life would be in danger if he carried out the prescribed plan of his journey to visit Harrisburg
, and thence direct through Baltimore
But he persisted in keeping his engagement, and went on to Harrisburg
Meanwhile revelations had been made that convinced his friends that he would be assassinated if the whole plan should be carried out, and he was persuaded to go back to Philadelphia
that night, and so on to Washington
, instead of waiting until the next day. He passed through Baltimore
unobserved, and arrived in Washington
early on the morning of Feb. 26.
The passage through Baltimore.
His movements at that time gave currency to many absurd and untruthful stories.
gave, orally, to the late Benson J. Lossing
, early in December, substantially the following narrative of the affair: “I arrived at Philadelphia
on the 21st.
I agreed to stop overnight, and on the following morning hoist the flag over Independence Hall.
In the evening there was a great crowd where I received my friends, at the Continental Hotel
. Mr. Judd
, a warm personal friend from Chicago
, sent for me to come to his room.
I went, and found there Mr. Pinkerton
, a skilful police detective, also from Chicago
, who had been employed for some days in Baltimore
watching or searching for suspicious persons there.
informed me that a plan had been laid for my assassination, the exact time when I expected to go through Baltimore
being publicly known.
He was well informed as to the plan, but did not know that the conspirators would have pluck enough to execute it. He urged me to go right through with him to Washington
I didn't like that.
I had made engagements to visit Harrisburg
and go from there to Baltimore
, and I resolved to do so. I
could not believe that there was a plot to murder me. I made arrangements, however, with Mr. Judd
for my return to Philadelphia
the next night, if I should be convinced that there was danger in going through Baltimore
I told him that if I should meet at Harrisburg
, as I had at other places, a delegation to go with me to the next place (then Baltimore
), I should feel safe and go on. When I was making my way back to my room, through crowds of people, I met Frederick Seward
We went together to my room, when he told me that he had been sent, at the instance of his father and