Compiled by D. A. Sharpe
Abraham Lincoln was born February 12, 1809 on Sinking Spring Farm near Hodgenville, Kentucky. He lived till assassinated by actor John Wilkes Booth, a Confederate sympathizer on April 14, 1865 at Ford’s Theatre in Washington, D.C. He died April 15, the following day, at the Petersen House, Washington, D.C
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States. He is my 33rd cousin, twice removed. Our ancestors in common are Eystein Glumra Ivarsson and Aseda Rognvaldsdatter. They are ninth century Vikings of Norway who are Lincoln's 30th great grandparents and my 32nd great grandparents. Viewed another way, Abraham Lincoln is the 8th cousin, six times removed of the husband of the stepdaughter of my 6th great grand uncle, Danette Abney.
President Lincoln is the thirteenth cousin, six times removed to President George Washington. Lincoln is the 19th cousin, six times removed to my son-in-law, Steven O. Westmoreland. Lincoln is a 33rd cousin, once removed, to Steve's wife (our daughter), Tiffany Lenn Sharpe Westmoreland. Tiffany and Steven are 34th cousins, four times removed to each other. I’m presuming that is not too close of family relation to be a marriage problem!
According to some sources, Lincoln's first romantic interest was Ann Rutledge, whom he met when he first moved to New Salem; these sources indicate that by 1835, they were in a relationship but not formally engage. She died at the age of 22 on August 25, 1835, most likely of typhoid fever. In the early 1830s, he met Mary Owens from Kentucky when she was visiting her sister.
Late in 1836, Lincoln agreed to a match with Mary if she returned to New Salem. Mary did return in November 1836, and Lincoln courted her for a time; however, they both had second thoughts about their relationship. On August 16, 1837, Lincoln wrote Mary a letter suggesting he would not blame her if she ended the relationship. She never replied and the courtship ended.
In 1840, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd, who was from a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington, Kentucky. They met in Springfield, Illinois, in December 1839 and were engaged the following December. A wedding set for January 1, 1841, was canceled when the two broke off their engagement at Lincoln's initiative. They later met again at a party and married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary's married sister.
In 1844, the couple bought a house in Springfield near Lincoln's law office. Mary Todd Lincoln kept house, often with the help of a relative or hired servant girl.
Lincoln was an affectionate, though often absent, husband and father of four children. Robert Todd Lincoln was born in 1843 and Edward Baker Lincoln (Eddie) in 1846. Edward died on February 1, 1850, in Springfield, probably of tuberculosis. William Wallace "Willie" Lincoln was born on December 21, 1850, and died of a fever on February 20, 1862. The Lincolns' fourth son, Thomas "Tad" Lincoln, was born on April 4, 1853, and died of heart failure at the age of 18 on July 16, 1871. Robert was the only child to live to adulthood and have children. The Lincolns' last descendant, great-grandson Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, died in 1985. Lincoln "was remarkably fond of children", and the Lincolns were not considered to be strict with their own.
The deaths of their sons had profound effects on both parents. Later in life, Mary struggled with the stresses of losing her husband and sons, and Robert Lincoln committed her temporarily to a mental health asylum in 1875. Abraham Lincoln suffered from "melancholy", a condition which now is referred to as clinical depression.
Lincoln's father-in-law and others of the Todd family were either slave owners or slave traders. Lincoln was close to the Todd’s, and he and his family occasionally visited the Todd estate in Lexington.
During his term as President of the United States of America, Mary was known to cook for Lincoln often. Since she was raised by a wealthy family, her cooking abilities were simple, but satisfied Lincoln's tastes, which included, particularly, imported oysters.
Abraham Lincoln represents the attitudes of freedom for all people and union in government. He presided over the War Between the States, the war in which more Americans lost lives than in any war in which we have been engaged. Its formal name is the War Between the States, even though most people refer to it as the Civil War.
"As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.
"Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: ‘that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain --- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom --- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.’"
Lincoln wrote, "I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both born in Virginia, of undistinguished families--second families, perhaps I should say. My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks.... My father ... removed from Kentucky to ... Indiana, in my eighth year.... It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up.... Of course, when I came of age I did not know much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher ... but that was all."
“Born in the town of Hodgenville, Harden County, Kentucky, Lincoln grew up on the western frontier in Kentucky and in Indiana. Largely self-educated, he became a lawyer in Illinois, a Whig Party leader, and a member of the Illinois House of Representatives, in which he served for twelve years.
Elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846, Lincoln promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, tariffs, and railroads. Because he had originally agreed not to run for a second term in Congress, and because his opposition to the Mexican–American War was unpopular among Illinois voters, Lincoln returned to Springfield, and resumed his successful law practice.
Re-entering politics in 1854, he became a leader in building what became the new Republican Party, which had a statewide majority in Illinois. In 1858, while taking part in a series of highly publicized debates with his opponent and rival, Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln spoke against the expansion of slavery, but lost the U.S. Senate race to Douglas.
“In 1860, Lincoln secured the Republican Party presidential nomination as a moderate from a swing state. Though he gained very little support in the slaveholding states of the South, he swept the North, and was elected president in 1860. Lincoln's victory prompted seven southern slave states to form the Confederate States of America before he moved into the White House.
No compromise or reconciliation was found regarding slavery and secession. Subsequently, on April 12, 1861, an attack on Fort Sumter by the Confederates inspired the North enthusiastically to rally behind the Union in a declaration of war. As the leader of the moderate faction of the Republican Party, Lincoln confronted Radical Republicans, who demanded harsher treatment of the South, War Democrats, who called for more compromise, anti-war Democrats (called Copperheads), who despised him, and irreconcilable secessionists, who plotted his assassination. Politically, Lincoln fought back by pitting his opponents against each other, by carefully planned political patronage, and by appealing to the American people with his powers of oratory.
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address became an iconic endorsement of the principles of nationalism, republicanism, equal rights, liberty, and democracy.”
Looking back on June 16, 1858, in Springfield, Illinois, upon accepting the State's nomination for its U. S. Senate position, Lincoln delivered perhaps his most remembered address, the "House Divided" speech. "The speech contains the quotation, 'A house divided against itself cannot stand,' which is paraphrased from the Biblical passage, Matthew 12:25. This useful illustration of a house divided was used earlier by United States Senator Sam Houston from Texas in 1850 when he said in an emotional address that 'A nation divided against itself cannot stand.'"
It was on Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln attended the play, "Our American Cousin, “a play in three acts by Tom Taylor. The play is a farcical comedy whose plot is based on the introduction of an awkward, boorish American to his aristocratic English relatives.
It premiered at Laura Keene's Theatre in New York City on October 15, 1858. The play's most famous performance came seven years later, however, at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. on April 14, 1865. Halfway through Act III, Scene 2, the character, Asa Trenchard (the title role), played that night by Harry Hawk, utters a line that, while considered one of the play's funniest, makes little sense out of context: "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal, you sockdologizing old man-trap!"
During the raucous laughter that followed this line, John Wilkes Booth, an actor who received his mail at Ford's Theatre, but who was not in the cast of "Our American Cousin," shot President Abraham Lincoln with a small handgun. He chose the timing in hopes that the sound of the laughter would mask the sound of the gunshot. Immediately he leapt from Lincoln's box to the stage, and ran outside to his awaiting horse. As he leapt, Booth shouted "Sic semper tyrannis!" the state motto of Virginia. Others in the audience heard it as: "The South is avenged!"
Following the shooting, Booth fled by horseback to southern Maryland and eventually to a farm in rural northern Virginia. He was tracked down and killed by Union soldiers twelve days later. Four people were hanged in Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1865 after being convicted of conspiring with John Wilkes Booth to assassinate President Abraham Lincoln. This carrying out of the sentence is slightly under three months following the incident. It seems that capital punishment time schedules were more time-efficient back in those days!
Abraham Lincoln was a man of Christian faith. To reflect that, here is a quote from him about the Bible:
“The Bible is the best gift God has given to men. All the good the Savior gave to the world was communicated through this book. But for it, we could not know right from wrong.”
Source: Abraham Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln Complete Works, ed. John G. Nicolay and John Hay (New York: “The Century Co., 1894), Vol II, P. 574, “Reply to Committee of Colored People of Baltimore Who Presented Him With a Bible,” September 7, 1864.
One of the most enduring symbols preserved of Abraham Lincoln was the inclusion of him among the four U.S. Presidents who adorned in giant sculpture on the face of Mount Rushmore.
George Washington signifies the struggle for independence and the birth of the Republic; Thomas Jefferson represents the territorial expansion of the country; Abraham Lincoln stand for the permanent union of the States and equality for all citizens and Theodore Roosevelt exemplifies the 20th century role of the United States in world affairs and the industrial growth of the nation.
Trivia about Abraham Lincoln:
Source for Trivia:
One little-known fact of Lincoln’s experience is that he earned a role in the Wrestling Hall of Fame, from his youthful physical pursuits.
When Lincoln was asked how he liked being President, he referred to the story of the man who was carried out of town on a pole, tarred and feathered. Someone asked how he liked the ride, to which the man replied, "If it were not for the honor of the thing, he'd rather walk!"
Source: Bill Adler, "Presidential Wit," New York: Trident Press, 1966, pages 62-63.
Dwight Albert (D. A.) Sharpe
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