Abraham Lincoln as the Sixteenth President

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Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president, helped the country during the earlier stage of Reconstruction, following the secession of the Confederacy. Former President, Barack Obama described this greatness and legendary status; “We all remember Abraham Lincoln as the leader who saved our Union. Founder of the Republican Party.” Lincoln, the savior, showed the country what it meant to be sincere and loyal both as a person and to the nation. He stood by his morals even through the tough time of war. He was recognized for this and gained a great deal of fame and fortune.

While Lincoln impacted the country so much, nothing in life is permanent. On April 14, 1865, the country faced a new era, a point to no return. On this date, Lincoln was shot above his left ear by an actor and Confederate sympathizer, John Wilkes Booth. An unlikely murderer, Booth despised the Union’s policies and sought to avenge the South following the South’s surrender at the Appomattox Court House.

Confederate General, Robert E. Lee felt his group of soldiers was no match for the striving Union. Since his Confederacy surrendered, Booth was angered. Because of this, he sought to retaliate. He and his supporters created a plan to kidnap Lincoln, however, never could execute it. Instead of kidnapping, Booth managed to assassinate Lincoln: one of the most valued men in history. The assassination greatly impacted the country because people were unsure of what would happen next. At this time, the real questions were who was Lincoln and Booth, what exactly happened that night, and how will the country react?

Thomas and Nacy Lincoln had three children: Abraham, Sarah, and Thomas, otherwise known as Tommy, who died as an infant. Most people rarely mentioned Tommy because it seemed he got murdered. This death hurt the Lincoln family so they tried not to talk about it. The middle child, Abraham Lincoln, was born on February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. He and his family grew up their local farm, however, at age seven they faced a lawsuit that caused them to move to Indiana. The land dispute caused them to live off of public grounds until Thomas could afford a plot of land. In this new area, Abe helped to expand and develop another farm to support the family’s needs. The family finally settled and everything seemed all right for the moment.

In 1818, Lincoln’s mother died from milk sickness. He tragically dealt with this death and later buried her in the yard. He and his maternal mom had a particularly strong bond which proved to be a challenging element of his childhood; “All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Because of death, Lincoln isolated himself and did not have as much motivation compared to before. In a bad situation, his dad was left with two family members dead and young unhappy children. He decided to remarry to a woman named Sarah to help ease the pain. She moved to the farm with three children of her own.

Sarah helped to bring joy back into Abe’s life by creating a special bond between the two. She used this relationship to inspire his growth in education. While both of his parents were basically illiterate, Sarah strongly encouraged Lincoln’s reading habits. She used this as a mechanism for Abe to relax and work his mind. He read a few books but grasped almost all of the details. At a young age, it was obvious that he loved to expand his knowledge.

In 1830, Lincoln led his family to Illinois on a heard of oxen. Here, Lincoln had to become more independent and not rely on his family to support him. Thus, he wanted to get a job that was unrelated to farming. He worked in many different occupations such as a rail-splitter, flatboatman, postmaster, surveyor, and storekeeper. While these jobs did not particularly interest him, he learned many key communication and business skills. Since he did not want to do any of these things for a living, he took and passed the bar exam to study law.

As a lawyer, Lincoln earned a large salary but aspired to continue rising in society. He managed large cases for railroads like the Illinois Central Railroad. After twenty years of prosperity, Lincoln became a well-known lawyer due to his honesty, fairness, and common sense used in trials. Lincoln’s successful career was far from over.

In the political world, Lincoln aligned himself with the Whig party due to the ideas and beliefs of federal government encouragement issued by Whig members Henry Clay and Daniel Webster. In 1856, he changed his party to become a Republican along with many other citizens. He was not an abolitionist but believed that Congress must exclude slavery from territories. Initially, he focused on human rights and the containment of slavery, rather than the abolition of it.

Lincoln was so interested in politics that in 1858, he challenged his opponent, Stephen Douglas, for a seat in the Senate. Although he lost, Lincoln showed the beauty of his communication skills and the power of his speeches. Later, in 1860, he was nominated and won the presidential election due to the decisive victory in the electoral college.

As President, Lincoln strongly feared division. He believed that there was a split in the country: slavery versus non-slavery. He made this very clear to the country that he would not tolerate this division. He did not want to completely abolish slavery but felt like something needed to be done. Soon after being elected, many states from the Confederacy seceded. Since Lincoln’s many goals were to protect the peace of the Union without division, this left him in a tough situation of what to do next. Then, before resolving the situation, another a key issue arose at Fort Sumter. This Confederates guarded the fort and fired upon the Union soldiers. Lincoln did not show weakness and accepted that war was upon him-the Civil War had begun. This left the country split between two, with Lincoln not recognized by the South.

Many Southerners despised Lincoln’s beliefs because he was part of the Union. The Northerners tended to favor a viewpoint called abolitionism. The followers of this perspective wanted to emancipate the slaves. Lincoln himself did not identify as an abolitionist but shared many of the same equality morals. As time went on, he made it obvious that he did not agree with slavery and agreed more with the abolitionists. To support the Union, he passed the Emancipation Proclamation which freed all slaves in states that were still rebellious. While this did not do too much, it still showed Lincoln’s key beliefs. Although the Union supported Lincoln, the Confederacy did not. They acknowledged Jefferson Davis as their leader. The division caused the rise of many Confederate sympathizers like John Wilkes Booth.

Booth was born on May 10, 1838, in Maryland. Being the ninth out of ten children, John sometimes felt excluded and neglected. As a child, he was known for his emotional instability and self-centered attitude. Later in life, after dropping out of school, John, like his brother Edwin, sought to become an actor. Originally, John was denied from roles and could not find his place in the acting world. Eventually, he played many minor roles in Philadelphia until one day his career skyrocketed. In 1859, he joined a Shakespearean stock company in Virginia where he played in more major acting roles. He became a very famous actor and even performed in front of Abe Lincoln.

While Booth seemed normal, he was quite the opposite. He was a strong supporter of the Confederacy and its ideals. The news of John Brown’s raid mixed with Lincoln not allowing Maryland to secede fueled Booth’s anger towards Lincoln. At this point, he began to develop a plan to kidnap the President. This plan did not go through but on the morning of April 14, 1865, Booth learned that Lincoln was planning to attend a play.

For Lincoln, this day was completely normal because he started off with a nice breakfast with his son Robert. They discussed how the war was getting close to being over which relieved them both. At eleven, General Grant came to the White House for a Friday Cabinet meeting. They primarily talked about fixing the law and order in the Southern states. While this was a lot to deal with, Lincoln stayed relatively calm. After the meeting, War Secretary Stanton and Attorney General James Speed walked down the stairs together and talked about Lincoln’s success. They both praised his efforts throughout the tough time in the war.

Later, Lincoln and his wife, Mary, drove around with an open carriage. They were both strangely happy and joyful about the day. At the end of the ride, Lincoln saw some friends who wanted to go to dinner with him. He felt obligated and decided to go with them before the play he was attending. After dinner, Lincoln invited the Stanton’s, Grant’s, and Speaker Colfax to join him and Mary at the play. They all declined this invitation. Lincoln said himself that he did not really want to go to play but felt like he could not disappoint the people. This play would forever change the life of Lincoln and all people.

Little did Lincoln known, Booth and three other men were close to the theater at the Herndon House. They had a plan to murder William Henry Seward, Vice-President Andrew Johnson, and Lincoln. The plan was for Lewis Powell to kill Seward at his house, George Atzerodt to shoot Johnson, and Booth to kill Lincoln. This scheme was set to take place at 10:15 p.m. Unlike the plan, Powell failed in his attack on Seward because everyone he attempted to kill survived. Also, George decided not to go through with the attack, however, Booth still tried to go through with the mission.

At Ford’s Theatre, Lincoln was planning to see “Our American Cousin” with his wife, Clara Harris, and Henry Rathbone. Since Lincoln’s security guard, John Parker was taking the night off, Booth saw this as the perfect opportunity. Ironically enough, there was no Secret Service but Lincoln had signed a bill creating it the day before. To seize the opportunity, Booth entered the box and jammed the door shut from the inside.

When the crowd was expected to laugh, Booth went through another inner door and shot Lincoln near the ear with a .44 caliber derringer, used the knife against Rathbone in the shoulder, and jumped to the stage. Upon impact, Booth broke his left leg and yelled “sic semper tyrannis” or basically “the South is avenged.” This accuracy and timing of the quote are heavily disputed. He then ran through a door to the outside where a horse was waiting for him. He escaped out of Washington and left the country in a state of shock.

Several doctors immediately rushed to Lincoln to check his status. They carefully moved him to William Peterson’s house across the street from the theater. Since Lincoln was unconscious, most people believed this was the end of his life. The next day at 7:22 a.m. Lincoln was pronounced dead. The country, especially African-Americans, mourned the loss of the great President. Even people who disliked Lincoln grieved the tragic death. To get justice, the hunt to catch Booth had just begun.

Booth escaped after the killing and hid out for the night. The next day, Booth and a man named David Herold went across the Anacostia River on their way to Maryland. To help Booth, they stopped at Doctor Samuel Mudd’s house. He could not do much but did his best. He let the two men sleep in his house for the night. The next morning, Booth shaved off his mustache as somewhat of a disguise. After Mudd’s house, they hired a man to take them to Samuel Cox’s house. Instead of helping them, Samuel gave them to another man who hid them in Zekiah Swamp. They stayed in this area for around five days so that they would not be seen. At this time, there was a national manhunt for the men and even a collective one-hundred thousand dollar reward. The real world was dangerous for them and they had to be very careful.

On the seventh day, after hiding out, they walked a little over three miles to the Potomac River and eventually arrived at Dent’s Meadow. Here, the men tried to get help and even offered a man their leftover money. The man refused so they continued and aimed for Virginia. On the way, they got lost again and ended up in Nanjemoy Creek, Maryland. They stayed the night hiding in the marshlands without a shelter.

On day nine, they waited again until nightfall and kept moving. Luckily for them, a Union gunboat was near them but did not spot them. The next day they finally made it to Virginia but their mission was not completed. They were trying to get to Machodoc Creek and Mrs. Queenberry’s Place. Mrs. Queenberry was expecting and waiting for the men to come but since it took so long she sent someone to get them.

After getting them, she helped them get to Stuart’s house. Unfortunately for them, Stuart did not let the men stay in his home. Instead, he directed them to stay with African-Americans: William Lucas and his wife. At the house, they held a knife to the couple and forced them to leave. They did this because they were both disappointed that they received little on their treacherous journey.

On day eleven, Lucas’ son, Charlie took them to meet William Jett, a Confederate soldier. They could not get a place to sleep there so the ventured until they made it to Richard Garrett’s farm. Here, they somehow used a fake story to get a place to sleep for the night. They kept quiet in the house but the next day the family made them sleep in the tobacco barn.

Around the thirteenth and final day, at 2:30 a.m. the Sixteenth New York Cavalry surrounded the barn. Immediately, Herold surrendered to the group but Booth decided to put up a fight. The Cavalry set the barn on fire which caused Booth to flee. He ran away but got shot in the neck and he was captured. About five hours later, at 7:15 a.m., “The stage grew dark. His body shuddered. Then, no more. John Wilkes Booth was dead.”

Why did Booth do it? This key question is often answered in such a simple manner; he was a Confederate supporter. He was in favor of slavery and its policies. Many people said they could hold a conversation with him about the Civil War but not Lincoln. He rebelled against all of Lincoln’s views and actions against his people. Booth felt so strongly about preserving the Confederacy that he risked his own life for the cause. While this may have not been the smartest, Booth showed his true beliefs in front of the entire nation.

This action greatly impacted the country and the period of Reconstruction. Then, the immediate impact was everyone felt worried. The Union citizens did not know if they would still have a leader to protect them. Also, they were unsure if this would cause the war to continue on and create chaos. Over time, others began to stay positive. Their key argument was that the country went so far to get to the place it was at and one death could not change it; “the peculiar nature of our institutions makes it impossible that any one man should be absolutely indispensable to their preservation and successful working. Our government is of the people.” This shows how our democracy ensures equality among all citizens despite status. Instead of focusing on the bad, people felt like they could use this to grow united.

Overall, in Lincoln’s fifty-six-year life he showed the country what it meant to be a leader. A leader must be courageous, honest, and powerful. Lincoln showed these characteristics through his numerous actions relating to slavery and the Civil War like the Emancipation Proclamation and victory against the Confederacy. Although his life was cut short, Lincoln inspired the nation and made a positive legacy for himself.

Cite this paper

Abraham Lincoln as the Sixteenth President. (2021, Feb 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/abraham-lincoln-as-the-sixteenth-president/



How was Abraham Lincoln the best president?
Lincoln was seemingly a natural born leader. With his ability to command a room, give a powerful speech and negotiate , he is regarded as one of the best presidents in American history. As a leader, Lincoln was determined to hold together a nation that was falling apart at the seams.
What did Abraham Lincoln do as president?
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States and is best known for leading the country through the Civil War.
What is Abraham Lincoln's best known for?
Abraham Lincoln is best known for being the 16th President of the United States and for his role in the emancipation of slaves.
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