Often ranked top among America’s great Presidents, Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809-April 15, 1865) served as the 16th President from 1861-1865, during the American Civil War.
Lincoln was the first President to be born outside the original 13 states, the first to grow a beard, at the request of an 11-year old girl and the first to be assassinated.
He was the first President to give the idea that women should be allowed to vote, but that would not happen until 1933.
He was the first President to be in a battle-field as President during the Civil War and to be shot at. Legend has it that as the Union forces were battling the Confederates, the President who was a tall and lanky man and had no experience in battle was nearly shot as cannons were booming everywhere. A soldier, Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., who later became a Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, barked at him, “Get down, you fool.” Lincoln ducked and left the battle-field unharmed.
During the war, Lincoln personally tested rifles on the White House lawn. Though, it was against the law in Washington D.C.
Lincoln’s second inauguration in 1865 was the first to be photographed. Standing behind him in that photograph was his killer, John Wilkes Booth.
Charles Darwin, the father of evolution, and Abraham Lincoln were both born on the same day; February 12, 1809.
Lincoln was a fan of his killer, who was an actor.
Lincoln was a wrestler and an accomplished one. He lost just one fight out of the 300 he fought. He is in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
He once dreamt of his assassination.
He was shot in the head on a Good Friday.
On the day of his assassination, few hours before he was shot, he created the Secret Service.
Secret Service eventually came to his rescue, but in death. In 1876, some grave robbers wanted to steal his body (which was guarded by just a padlock) and demand a ransom of $200,000, but were caught by Secret Service.
Lincoln’s coffin has been moved 17 times and opened 5 times.
Presently, his coffin is under a 10-feet concrete tomb.
Lincoln loved animals, especially cats. He wouldn’t harm nor kill them.\
His favourite cat, Tabby, do eat on the dining table with him in the White House.
A year after his death, Lincoln’s dog, Fido, was also assassinated.
“With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in; to bind up the nation’s wounds; to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow, and his orphan—to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace, among ourselves, and with all nations.”- Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), 16th President of the United States (March 4, 1861-April 15, 1865), 2nd Inaugural Address, March 4, 1865.
In 1842, the 33-year old, Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd Lincoln who bore him four sons, but only one, Robert Todd Lincoln (1843-1926), reached maturity. His favourite son, Tad, whom he wrote about in his “Letter to My Son’s Teacher“, died at the age of 18. His son, Wallace, died in the White House.
The brother of his assassin once saved Lincoln’s son, Robert, from a train accident.
Robert Todd Lincoln would go on to be present or nearby the assassinations of his father in 1865, President James Abram Garfield in 1881 and President William McKinley in 1901. After McKinley’s death, Robert swore never to be near a president again.
Lincoln remains the tallest President at 6ft 4in. He wore size 14 shoes and kept important documents in his hat.
He suffered hair loss and depression that he feared to use a knife with the thought that he would kill himself.
He did not like to be called by his nickname, Abe. But preferred to be called by his surname, Lincoln.
Lincoln is the only president to have obtained a patent-Patent No. 6,469 in 1849. Lincoln was awarded the patent for inventing a method to keep ships afloat on shallow water while near the shore.
Of his 56 years on earth, Lincoln had only one year of formal schooling. A school where the teacher was barely as educated as the pupils.
Abraham Lincoln trained himself to become a lawyer and was an outstanding one.
His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died after drinking poisoned milk when he was nine years old.
Although the first six U.S Presidents belonged to the Democratic-Republican Party (from which both the modern Republicans and modern Democrats evolved), Abraham Lincoln was the first President to have come from the then new Republican Party, which was officially formed in 1864; 6 years before his first presidential election win. Lincoln helped build the reputation of the party and greatly contributed to its domination on the national political scene that lasted practically all the way to the 1930s.
The Bible Lincoln used for his swearing-in in 1861 (known as Lincoln Bible) is still used till today. President Barack Obama used it in 2013 for his swearing-in.
Following his election to the presidency in 1860, Abraham Lincoln selected a strong cabinet composed of many of his political rivals, including William Seward, Salmon P. Chase, Edward Bates and Edwin Stanton. Formed out the adage “Hold your friends close and your enemies closer,” Lincoln’s Cabinet became one of his strongest assets in his first term in office… and he would need them with the start of the Civil War the following year.
Lincoln did not use the Lincoln Bedroom in the White House as a bedroom but as an office and a meeting place with his Cabinet. The January 1, 1863 Emancipation Proclamation document that freed black slaves in America was signed in the Lincoln Bedroom.
Lincoln always dress shabbily. He once remarked, “The Lord loves common people, that is why he made many of them.”
Lincoln was not from Illinois, as many people believed, he was from Kentucky. He did not move to Illinois until he was 21.
Lincoln is remembered for inaugurating Thanksgiving Day, every third Thursday in November, which still runs till today.
There are more books written about Lincoln than any other American.
Ayomide Akinbode holds a degree in Chemistry but has a passion for History and Classics. When he is not writing, he’s either sleeping or playing Scrabble.