Feb. 12, 1809 Hodgenville Larue County Kentucky, USA
Apr. 15, 1865 Washington District of Columbia District Of Columbia, USA
16th United States President. As newly elected Abraham Lincoln made his way by train to Washington to assume the Presidency, the Union was fast disintegrating with secession by South Carolina followed by seven other Southern States. A Confederate government was already operating in the South. After taking the oath of office with outgoing President Buchanan beside him, he assumed the responsibility for preserving the Union by reversing secession. The South demanded the Union withdraw from the forts in the South. Lincoln was firm, he denied the right of states to secede and declared that the Federal Government would hold, occupy and possess its forts and properties. Fort Sumter was attacked, the five year Civil war had begun. During the first year and a half of conflict, neither the North nor the South had the advantage. The third year of war was the turning point as the North scored a victory at Gettysburg while conquering Vicksburg. The South became weaker and weaker. When President Lincoln took the oath of office for his second term, the end of the war was in sight and within a month the surrender of the South took place at Appomattox. Abraham Lincoln was born to American pioneers: his father Thomas Lincoln had come from Virginia to live in Kentucky where he met a girl named Nancy Hanks. After their marriage, the young couple set up house keeping in a log cabin at Nolin Creek, in Hardin County where the future President was born. At the age of nine his mother died. His father quickly brought home a new wife, Sara, who was instrumental in her stepson's learning to read and continued pursuit of self education. He developed a great and lasting affection for his step mother. The Lincoln family would move four times before settling in another log cabin in Coles County, Illinois. Abe always in conflict with his father over his passion for learning and with the many Lincoln children crowded in the family cabin, moved to nearby New Salem taking a job in a frontier dry goods store. The village schoolmaster tutored him in mathematics and grammar. His political career began with election to the state Legislature which met in nearby Springfield twice a year. John Stuart, a lawyer impressed by Lincoln, invited him to read law in his Springfield office, eventually the two became partners. The opening of the Legislature was marked by a Grand Ball resulting in his meeting Mary Todd, Stuart's cousin which culminated in marriage some three years later. Abe was able to purchase a house in Springfield which remained the Lincoln's family home until the death of Mary. He was active in politics and received a nomination for Congress and was elected. After one term, he returned to Springfield and resumed his law practice. He became a member of the new Republican party and was nominated for Senator from Illinois running against a Democratic opponent Stephen A. Douglas which set up the famous Lincoln-Douglas debates. Lincoln was not elected but became well known and above all the undisputed leader of the Republican party in Illinois. A few years later, he would again face the victorious Douglas for the Presidency and immerge victorious. Lincoln was instrumental in many achievements beside preserving the Union by a bloody war during his tenure in office. He was instrumental in building the transcontinental telegraph system and authorized the construction of the transcontinental railroad to be built by private persons while giving them huge parcels of land along the right of way. He promoted a bill in Congress which set aside areas in new states where free colleges could be built (Land Grant Colleges). He pushed a bill through Congress called the Homestead Act. Any family that settled on a farm could own the land after five years of improvement. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation declaring wherever Union troops moved into the seceding states, the slaves would automatically become free forever. Then came the tragedy - While sitting in his box at Ford's theater, he was shot by a an actor resulting in death the next day. His demise triggered a funeral extravaganza, one the country had never seen before. After a service and procession down Pennsylvania Avenue, Lincoln's embalmed body, along with that of his son Willie (disinterred from a Washington Cemetery) was placed aboard a Funeral Train for the trip home to Springfield which reversed Lincoln's original inaugural train route taken when he assumed the Presidency. Sixteen days later with arrival in Springfield, the odyssey had come to a merciful end. At Oakridge Cemetery, the remains of Willie and the President were placed in a temporary vault. Son Eddie was disinterred later from a nearby grave and also placed in the temporary chamber. Epilogue: Tragedy befell the Lincoln family at every turn: Eddie died at four-1850; Willie at eleven-1862 and Thomas at eighteen-1871 and Mary, insane, followed in 1882. But Robert lived until 1926 and was alive and present in 1922 to witness the dedication of the Lincoln Memorial. The things that remain of President Lincoln, are countless memorials, namesake places, photos on money and artifacts. However the family tree is dead, killed by tragedies, untimely deaths, insanity, lawsuits, fake heirs and even a genetic disease. The last heir, his great-grandson, Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, died on Christmas Eve in 1985. Any direct descendant could have inherited Beckwith's fortune, it's worth estimated at $3 million. It has since gone to charity.