The life of Abraham Lincoln began on February 12, 1809, at Sinking Springs farm in Hodgenville, KY, inside a log cabin.
Abraham Lincoln’s Family
Abraham Lincoln’s father was Thomas Lincoln. He was born January 6, 1778, and died January 17, 1851. He was a carpenter, farmer and manual laborer of meager means.
Abe’s mother was Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln. She was born February 5, 1784, and died October 5, 1818. Lincoln was 9 years old when his mother died due to an illness.
Abraham Lincoln Siblings
Abraham Lincoln’s family tree includes an older sister and a younger brother. His sister Sarah (Lincoln) Grigsby was born February 10, 1807. She married Aaron Grigsby on August 2, 1826. She was 20 years old when she died January 20, 1828, during childbirth. The two were very close, sharing a deep affection for each another. A friend and brother-in-law to Abe, Nathaniel Grigsby, stated the following about his sister-in-law Sarah:
“She could, like her brother, meet and greet a person with the kindest greeting in the world, make you easy at the touch of a word, an intellectual and intelligent woman.”
Abe’s brother Thomas Lincoln Jr. was born in 1812 and only lived three days before he died.
Thomas Lincoln remarried on December 2, 1819 to Sarah Bush. She was born December 13, 1788, and died April 12, 1869. Her previous husband, Daniel Johnston, died a couple of years before Nancy (Hanks) Lincoln’s death.
After marrying Thomas, Sarah took care of his children Sarah and Abe. It is said that she was a good mother and treated Sarah and Abe as her own children. She and Abe were reportedly close.
Sarah also brought along three children from her previous marriage to Daniel, and they became Abe’s new stepsiblings: Elizabeth Johnston (13 years old), Matilda Johnston (10), and John Johnston (9). Since Abe and John were close in age they became playmates.
At the age of 33 Abe married Mary Todd, a bright belle from a wealthy family, on November 4, 1842. It was the first and only marriage for both Mary and Abe. The couple remained married 22 years until Lincoln’s death.
The couple had four sons. The first son was Robert Todd Lincoln. He was born August 1, 1843, and died July 26, 1926, at the ripe old age of 82. He was an American lawyer and served as Secretary of the War Department.
Their second son, Edward Baker Lincoln, was born March 10, 1846, and died February 1, 1850, at the age of 3. A week after Eddie’s death, Mary and Abraham wrote a poem (though authorship is sometimes questioned) entitled “Little Eddie.” It was printed in the Illinois State Journal newspaper.
Their third child, William Wallace Lincoln, was born December 21, 1850. He died February 20, 1862, at the age of 11 due to illness. Abe was deeply affected by his death and did not return to work for three weeks.
Thomas Lincoln was Abe and Mary’s youngest son. He was born April 4, 1853, and died July 15, 1871, at the age of 18. He was nicknamed “Tad” by Abe who found Thomas “as wriggly as a tadpole” when he was a baby.
From 1809-1816 Lincoln lived in Kentucky on two farms. He first resided on Sinking Spring farm where he was born, and later moved a few miles away to Knob Creek.
Because of disputed titles to Thomas Lincoln’s Kentucky land, the Lincolns headed north to settle in the wilderness of southern Indiana in December of 1816. Lincoln was 7 upon his arrival in Indiana and would remain there until 1830, well into his early adulthood.
In 1831 the Lincolns headed west by ox-cart teams to Illinois. This would be Lincoln’s home for the next 30 years, until 1861. However, he did take an extended leave from 1847-1849, renting out his home in Springfield, IL, while staying in Washington, D.C., to serve his term in Congress.
Washington, D.C. 1847-1849, 1861-1865
In February of 1861, after Lincoln was elected president, he and his family moved into the White House in Washington, D.C.
During Abraham Lincoln’s life he held many jobs. As a young man he ferried people and cargo down rivers on flatboats and steamboats. Later Abe worked as a clerk in general stores, and operated two stores he co-owned with William Franklin Berry. He was also employed as a postmaster and worked many odd jobs, including chopping wood, splitting rails, surveying, and mill working. In 1837 he began his law practice, which he continued for over 20 years.
His career in politics began in 1834 when he was elected to the Illinois state legislature. After his initial term he was elected again in 1836, 1838, and 1840. In 1846 he was elected to the U.S. Congress as a Whig and served one term, from 1847 to 1849. On November 6th, 1860, Lincoln was elected as the 16th United States president as a Republican.
Lincoln had a soft spot for animals of all types, especially cats. When his wife Mary was asked if Abe had a hobby, she replied: “cats.” The Lincolns’ pets included a dog, cats, rabbits and two goats.
Lincoln loved to make people laugh and he was an excellent storyteller. Anyone who met him commented on his steady supply of anecdotes and jokes. His ability to charm and disarm was a key ingredient to his success in politics.
Lincoln had very limited formal education but he was self-taught and a voracious reader. He was known to walk for miles to borrow books from neighbors. Lincoln’s favorite reads as a boy included Life and Memorable Actions of George Washington, Robinson Crusoe, Pilgrim’s Progress, and Aesop’s Fables.
“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who’ll get me a book I ain’t read.” —Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln is the only U.S. president to hold a patent for an invention. It is filed as No. 6,469. He invented a floatation system to lift riverboats that were stuck on sandbars.
The dates below mark some of the most notable milestones during Lincoln’s presidency.
April 12, 1861: Civil War Begins
After the first Confederate shots were fired on Union forces at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, Lincoln declared war on the rebellious states. The bloody conflict between the North and the South lasted until June 2, 1865.
January 1, 1863: Emancipation Proclamation
The Emancipation Proclamation marked an important turning point in the Civil War, transforming the Union’s goal from one of preserving the nation’s unity into a fight for human freedom. The proclamation declared that as of January 1, 1863, all slaves in the rebellious states “shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”
November 19, 1863: Gettysburg Address Delivered
On November 19, 1863, just four months after the Union victory at the Battle of Gettysburg, Lincoln delivered his famous Gettysburg Address speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Newspapers throughout the country carried accounts of the Gettysburg Address and it was widely praised in the North. The speech remains one of the most famous and oft-recited in American history.
November 8, 1864: Re-elected as President
On November 8, 1864, Lincoln won the presidential election by over 400,000 popular votes. He was the first U.S. president to be re-elected since Andrew Jackson in 1832.
April 14, 1865: Assassinated at Ford’s Theatre
Lincoln was assassinated at Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. He was shot in the back of the head while watching the popular comedy Our American Cousin. The assassin was well-known stage actor John Wilkes Booth. Lincoln was the first U.S. president to be assassinated.
Lincoln died at the age of 56 on April 15, 1865, in the Peterson House at 453 10th Street, NW, Washington, D.C., from Booth’s gunshot to the back of his head.
There are so many facts about Abraham Lincoln’s legendary life. Discover the details of Lincoln’s life and his ancestors in over 2 billion historical records.
BerryLincolnStore.jpg by Amos Oliver Doyle / CC BY-SA 3.0
Abraham Lincoln’s U.S. Patent.jpg by David and Jessie / CC BY 2.0