Learning Lincoln On-line



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This web activity is centered on Abraham Lincoln's political career, please read our short page on Decisions based upon "Higher Moral Ground."

  • Read about Lincoln's first political experiences and make a time line, starting with stump speeches when as a boy.   

    ·         Go to New Salem with the 21 year old Abe, and see how he was finding his life's ambition. 

    ·         Go to Washington with Abe and Mary, and learn of his problems in national office. 

    ·         Travel with him and Stephen Douglas in the great Debates of 1858.  

    ·         Read about his great "House Divided Speech" given before the Debates.  

    ·         Visit with the President in the White House, to see how he ran the country during the Civil War.     

    ·         Read about the Lincoln family tragedies during the terrible Civil War years, and how he held the country together, finally Emancipating the South's slaves, and starting a national movement toward total freedom for all men.

    ·         Read about the criticism, the ridicule, political battles within the ranks of the Union Army itself, and finally with an assassination at Ford Theatre.  

 Political Leadership to keep his program alive (Congress)

Using Internet links, your job will be to research how Abraham Lincoln solved the problems listed above.  You will complete tables, and write short responses to questions and problems.

Also, it is suggested you Visit the website "SLAVERY IN AMERICA"
to learn about one of the reasons that the United States suffered the Civil War.

The Lincoln Home Parlor Springfield, Illinois

Home to four boys, parents and Fido, the family dog  Mother Mary Todd, made this parlor "off limits" to the boys' playing and especially Fido's presence.  Father Abraham was more lenient.


To read facts about Abraham Lincoln and his Family from his years in the Springfield, visit the NPS website for the Lincoln Home at  http://www.nps.gov/liho/historyculture/springfield1.htm

Rocking chair         Left window         Stair Railing      

Right window         Large mirror       

      Mantle          Corner shelf       Wallpaper      

Lincoln Head on right shelf     

Rug in front of fireplace     

Photo from the National Park Service Lincoln Home Memorial, Springfield



Visit National Park Service for a Listing of 1860's Politicians

Click Here to view all the sculptures within Lincoln's Tomb at Springfield

Click Here to read Ch. 9 of the Life of Abraham Lincoln-- Start in Politics by Henry Ketcham

Check the PBS Time of the Lincolns for a detailed narrative Timeline for More Details

Events are classified as Personal, Professional, and Political



1830-1836- Political beginnings while living at New Salem, including the first "important" stump speech in bare feet; runs for the Illinois General Assembly including wins and losses; his earliest platform and membership in the Whig Party

1837 - Politics: helped to get the Illinois state capital moved from Vandalia to Springfield. April 15; Personal:  leaves New Salem and settles in Springfield; Professional:  Becomes a law partner of John T. Stuart.   In Summer, proposes marriage to Mary Owens, is turned down and the courtship ends.

1838 - Professional: Helps to successfully defend Henry Truett in a famous murder case;  Political: August 6, re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly, becoming Whig floor leader.

1839 - Professional: Travels through nine counties in central and eastern Illinois as a lawyer on the 8th Judicial Circuit. December 3, admitted to practice in United States Circuit Court; Personal: Meets Mary Todd, 21, at a dance.


Early and Mid 1840's

1840 - Professional: In June, Lincoln argues his first case before the Illinois Supreme Court; Political: August 3, re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly; Personal:  In Fall, becomes engaged to Mary Todd.

1841 - Personal: January 1, breaks off engagement with Mary Todd. Has episode of depression; Professional: March 1, forms new law partnership with Stephen T. Logan. In August; Personal: makes a trip by steamboat to Kentucky and sees twelve slaves chained together.

1842 - Political: Does not seek re-election to the legislature; Personal: In Summer, resumes courtship with Mary Todd; Political: In September, accepts a challenge to a duel by Democratic state auditor James Shields over published letters making fun of Shields; Personal: September 22, duel with swords is averted by an explanation of letters; Personal: November 4, marries Mary Todd in Springfield.

1843 - Political: Lincoln is unsuccessful in try for the Whig nomination for U.S. Congress; Personal: August 1, first child, Robert Todd Lincoln, is born.

1844 - Personal: May, the Lincoln family moves into a house in Springfield, bought for $1500; Political: Campaigns for Henry Clay in the presidential election. In December, dissolves law partnership with Logan, then sets up his own practice.

1846 - Personal: March 10, a son, Edward Baker Lincoln is born. May 1, nominated to be the Whig candidate for U.S. Congress. August 3, elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.


Later 1840's

1847 - Personal: Moves into a boarding house in Washington, D.C. with his wife and sons; Political: December 6, takes his seat when Thirtieth Congress convenes. December 22, presents resolutions questioning President Polk about U.S. hostilities with Mexico.

1848 - Political: January 22, gives a speech on floor of the House against President Polk's war policy regarding Mexico. In June, attends the national Whig convention supporting General Zachary Taylor as the nominee for president. Campaigns for Taylor in Maryland and in Boston, Mass., then in Illinois.

1849 - Political: March 7 and 8, makes an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Illinois statute of limitations, but is unsuccessful; Professional: March 31, returns to Springfield and leaves politics to practice law; Personal: On May 22, Abraham Lincoln is granted U.S. Patent No. 6,469 (the only president ever granted a patent).




1850 - Personal: February 1, his son Edward dies after a two month illness; Professional: Lincoln resumes his travels in the 8th Judicial Circuit covering over 400 miles in 14 counties in Illinois. 'Honest Abe' gains a reputation as an outstanding lawyer; Personal: December 21, his third son, William Wallace Lincoln (Willie) is born.

1851 - Personal: January 17, Lincoln's father dies.

1853 - Personal: April 4, his fourth son, Thomas (Tad) is born.

1854 - Political: Re-enters politics opposing the Kansas-Nebraska Act. Elected to Illinois legislature but declines the seat in order to try to become U.S. Senator.

1855 - Political: Does not get chosen by the Illinois legislature to be U.S. Senator.

1856 - Political: May 29, helps organize the new Republican party of Illinois. At the first Republican convention Lincoln gets 110 votes for the vice-presidential nomination, bringing him national attention. Campaigns in Illinois for Republican presidential candidate, John C. Frémont.

1857 - Political: June 26, in Springfield, Lincoln speaks against the Dred Scott decision.

1858 - Professional: In May, wins acquittal in a murder trial by using an almanac regarding the height of the moon to discredit a witness; Political: June 16, nominated to be the Republican senator from Illinois, opposing Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Gives "House Divided" speech at the state convention in Springfield. Also engages Douglas in a series of seven debates with big audiences.

1859 -Political: Illinois legislature chooses Douglas for the U.S. Senate over Lincoln by a vote of 54 to 46; Professional: In the Fall, Lincoln makes his last trip through the 8th Judicial Circuit. December 20, writes a short autobiography.




















































































































1860 - Political: March 6, delivers an impassioned political speech on slavery in New Haven, Connecticut. Also in March, the 'Lincoln-Douglas Debates' published.

May 18, 1860 - Political: Nominated to be the Republican candidate for President of the United States. Opposes Northern Democrat Stephen A. Douglas and Southern Democrat John C. Breckinridge; Personal:  In June, writes a longer autobiography.

November 6, 1860 - Political: Abraham Licoln is elected as 16th U.S. president and the first Republican. Receives 180 of 303 possible electoral votes and 40 percent of the popular vote.

Dec 20, 1860 - South Carolina secedes from the Union. Followed within two months by Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas.

Feb 11, 1861 - Personal & Professional: Lincoln gives a brief farewell to friends and supporters at Springfield and leaves by train for Washington. Receives a warning during the trip about a possible assassination attempt.

March 4, 1861 - Inauguration ceremonies are held in Washington, D.C. President Lincoln delivers his First Inaugural Address.

April 12, 1861 - At 4:30 a.m., Confederate artillery opens fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. The Civil War begins.

April 15, 1861 - President Lincoln issues a Proclamation Calling Militia and Convening Congress.

April 17, 1861 - Virginia secedes from the Union – followed within five weeks by North Carolina, Tennessee and Arkansas, thus forming an eleven-state Confederacy.

April 19, 1861 - The President issues a Proclamation of Blockade against Southern ports.

April 27, 1861 - The President authorizes the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.

June 3, 1861 - Political rival Stephen A. Douglas dies unexpectedly of acute rheumatism.

July 21, 1861 - The Union suffers a defeat at Bull Run in northern Virginia. Union troops fall back to Washington. The President now realizes the war will be long.

July 27, 1861 - Lincoln appoints George B. McClellan as Commander of the Department of the Potomac.

August 6, 1861 - Signs a law freeing slaves being used by the Confederates in their war effort.

August 12, 1861 - The President issues a Proclamation of a National Day of Fasting.

September 11, 1861 - Revokes General John C. Frémont's unauthorized military proclamation of emancipation in Missouri.

October 24, 1861 - Relieves General Frémont of his command and replaces him with General David Hunter.

November 1, 1861 - Appoints General McClellan as Commander of the Union Army after the resignation of Winfield Scott.

January 27, 1862 - Issues General War Order No. 1 calling for a Union advance to begin February 22nd.

February 3, 1862 - Writes a message to McClellan on a difference of opinion regarding military plans.

February 20, 1862 - The President's son Willie dies at age 11. The President's wife is emotionally devastated and never fully recovers.

March 11, 1862 - President Lincoln relieves McClellan as General-in-Chief and takes direct command of the Union armies.

April 6, 1862 - A Confederate surprise attack on General Ulysses S. Grant's troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River results in a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union men killed and wounded and 10,000 Confederates. The President is then pressured to relieve Grant but resists.

April 9, 1862 - Writes a message to McClellan urging him to attack.

April 16, 1862 - Signs an Act abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia.

May 20, 1862 - Approves the Federal Homestead Law giving 160 acres of publicly owned land to anyone who will claim and then work the property for 5 years. Thousands then cross the Mississippi to tame the 'Wild West.'

June 19, 1862 - Approves a Law prohibiting slavery in the Territories.

August 29/30, 1862 - The Union suffers a defeat at the second Battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia. The Union Army retreats to Washington, D.C. The President then relieves Union Commander, General John Pope.

September 17, 1862 - General Robert E. Lee and the Confederate armies are stopped at Antietam in Maryland by McClellan and his numerically superior Union forces. By nightfall, 26,000 men are dead, wounded or missing - the bloodiest day in U.S. military history.

September 22, 1862 - The President issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves.

November 5, 1862 - The President names Ambrose E. Burnside as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing McClellan.

December 13, 1862 - The Army of the Potomac suffers a costly defeat at Fredericksburg in Virginia with a loss of 12,653 men. Confederate losses are 5,309.

December 22, 1862 - The President writes a brief message to the Army of the Potomac.

December 31, 1862 - The President signs a bill admitting West Virginia to the Union.

January 1, 1863 - President Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates.

January 25, 1863 - The President appoints Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Burnside.

January 26, 1863 - Writes a message to Hooker.

January 29, 1863 - General Ulysses S. Grant is placed in command of the Army of the West, with orders to capture Vicksburg.

February 25, 1863 - Signs a Bill creating a National banking system.

March 3, 1863 - Signs an Act introducing military conscription.

May 1-4, 1863 - The Union suffers a defeat in the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. Famed Confederate General Stonewall Jackson is mortally wounded. Hooker retreats. Union losses are 17,000 killed, wounded and missing. Confederate losses are 13,000.

June 28, 1863 - The President appoints George G. Meade as Commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Hooker.

July 3, 1863 - Confederate defeat in the Battle of Gettysburg marks the turning point of the war.

July 4, 1863 - Vicksburg, the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi, is captured by the General Grant and the Army of the West.

July 13, 1863 - The President writes a message to Grant.

July 14, 1863 - Writes an undelivered letter to Meade complaining about his failure to capture Lee.

July 30, 1863 - Issues an Order of Retaliation.

August 8, 1863 - Writes a letter to his wife regarding their son Tad's lost goat.

August 10, 1863 - The President meets with abolitionist Frederick Douglass who pushes for full equality for Union 'Negro troops.'

September 19/20, 1863 - A Union defeat at Chickamauga in Georgia leaves Chattanooga in Tennessee under Confederate siege. The President appoints General Grant to command all operations in the Western Theater.

October 3, 1863 - Issues a Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

November 19, 1863 - President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at a ceremony dedicating the Battlefield as a National Cemetery.

December 8, 1863 - The President issues a Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction for restoration of the Union.

March 12, 1864 - President Lincoln appoints Grant as General-in-Chief of all the Federal armies. William T. Sherman succeeds Grant as Commander in the West.

June 3, 1864 - A costly mistake by Grant results in 7,000 Union casualties in twenty minutes during an offensive against entrenched Confederates at Cold Harbor, Virginia.

June 8, 1864 - Abraham Lincoln is nominated for a second term as president by a coalition of Republicans and War Democrats.

July 18, 1864 - The President issues a call for 500,000 volunteers for military service.

August 31, 1864 - Makes a speech to the 148th Ohio Regiment.

September 2, 1864 - Atlanta is captured by Sherman's army. Later, the President on advice from Grant, approves Sherman's 'March to the Sea.'

October 19, 1864 - A decisive Union victory by General Philip H. Sheridan in the Shenandoah Valley.

November 8, 1864 - Abraham Lincoln is re-elected as President, defeating Democrat George B. McClellan. Lincoln gets 212 of 233 electoral votes and 55 percent of the popular vote.

December 20, 1864 - Sherman reaches Savannah in Georgia leaving behind a path of destruction 60 miles wide all the way from Atlanta.

March 4, 1865 - Inauguration ceremonies in Washington, D.C. with President Lincoln delivering his Second Inaugural Address.

March 17, 1865 - A kidnap plot by John Wilkes Booth fails when Lincoln doesn't arrive for a visit to the Soldiers' Home.

April 9, 1865 - The Civil War concludes as General Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate Army to General Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

April 10, 1865 - Celebrations break out in Washington.

April 11, 1865 - President Lincoln makes his last public speech which focuses on the problems of reconstruction. The United States flag 'Stars and Stripes' is raised over Fort Sumter.

April 14, 1865 - Lincoln and his wife Mary see the play "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theater. About 10:13 p.m., during the third act of the play, John Wilkes Booth shoots the President in the head. Doctors attend to the President in the theater then move him to a house across the street. He never regains consciousness.

April 15, 1865 - President Abraham Lincoln dies at 7:22 in the morning.




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