On this day in 1865, 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, died as a result of being assassinated on 14 April, in the Petersen House which was across the street from Ford’s Theater. He died six days after General Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomatox Courthouse. Born on 12 February 1809 in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky (now LaRue County). He successfully led the country through its greatest constitutional, military and moral crisis, the American Civil War, by preserving the Union by force while ending slavery. Lincoln was the first Republican president, winning the 6 November 1860 over Democrat Stephen Douglas and two other candidates. He won reelection in 1864 in the Union states in a landslide. Lincoln married Mary Todd (1842-1865 his death). One of the great orators in American history, his Gettysburg Address is oft quoted. Lincoln delivered the speech at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, on the afternoon of Thursday 19 November 1863. In 272 words, and three minutes Lincoln summarized and defined the war:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—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.”
The Final Footprint – Lincoln is entombed in Lincoln’s Tomb in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. His wife Mary and three of their four sons are entombed in the walls opposite his tomb. Lincoln’s name and image appear in numerous places, including the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., the U.S. Lincoln $5 bill and the Lincoln cent, and Lincoln’s sculpture on Mount Rushmore. Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, who was present when Lincoln died said, “Now he belongs to the ages.” Indeed he does.
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