America’s 16th president, Abraham Lincoln, was born in Hodgenville, Kentucky, on this day in history, Feb. 12, 1809.
Lincoln grew up in a poor family, the son of a Kentucky frontiersman — and struggled to become educated, according to whitehouse.gov.
Young Lincoln attended school for only one year until he left to learn independently by reading, History.com reports.
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When Lincoln was eight years old, his family moved to Indiana, which he described as a “wild region with many bears and other wild animals still in the woods.”
Lincoln’s mother passed away when he was 10 years old. Young Abe spent the remainder of his childhood with his father and siblings in the family’s Pigeon Creek log cabin, the Indiana Department of Administration reports on its website.
As an adult, Lincoln moved to Illinois, where he worked several different jobs: postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper.
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Lincoln was also a “legendary wrestler” in Illinois due to his impressive physical strength and 6’4″ stature, History.com reports.
Lincoln first entered politics in 1834 when he began serving in the Illinois legislature.
He served in that body until 1842 — the same year he married Mary Todd.
He served in Congress from 1847 to 1849 and went on to become an attorney, according to History.com.
In the 1850s, as the nation’s division over slavery grew more intense, Lincoln returned to politics as leader of the Republican Party.
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Even though he was considered politically moderate, Lincoln advocated for the restriction of slavery in states where it existed.
Lincoln reminded the nation that “a house divided against itself cannot stand.”
During his run for Senate in 1858, Lincoln reminded the nation that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” according to History.com.
Lincoln lost the Senate seat but gained national recognition for his unified political stance.
In 1860, Lincoln launched his presidential campaign, which favored abolition but prioritized saving the Union.
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Lincoln won the presidency by 400,000 popular votes about one year before the Civil War began — which was on April 12, 1861, according to Senate.gov.
In 1863, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing enslaved people in the Confederate states.
Lincoln’s efforts to abolish slavery earned him the nickname “the Great Emancipator,” despite his initial waffling on the issue at the beginning of the war.
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Lincoln was known for entertaining friends and guests with his “dry, folksy wit,” History.com reports.
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He was also a great animal lover and brought a variety of pets into the White House — including a turkey named Jack and a goat named Nanko.
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Although he was likable, Lincoln’s decision to end slavery didn’t sit well with Confederate sympathizers, reportedly leading to his assassination by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865.
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