The History Place presents Abraham Lincoln

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Jump To: Lincoln becomes President - Emancipation Proclamation - Battle of Gettysburg - Kansas-Nebraska Act - Dred Scott Decision

1637 - Samuel Lincoln from Hingham, England settles in Hingham, Massachusetts.

1778 - Thomas Lincoln (Abraham's father), descendant of Samuel, is born in Virginia.

1782 - Thomas and family move to Kentucky.

1786 - Thomas' father is killed by Native Americans.

1806 - Thomas marries Nancy Hanks. A daughter, Sarah is born eight months later.

1808 - Thomas buys a farm called Sinking Spring near Hodgenville, Kentucky.

Feb. 12, 1809 - Abraham Lincoln is born in a one room log cabin on Nolin Creek in Kentucky.

1811 - In Spring, the Lincoln family moves to a 230 acre farm on Knob Creek ten miles from Sinking Spring.

1812 - A brother, Thomas, is born but dies in infancy.

1815 - Young Abraham attends a log school house.

1816 - Briefly attends school. In December, the Lincoln family crosses the Ohio River and settles in the backwoods of Indiana.

1817 - In February, Abraham, age 7, shoots a wild turkey but suffers great remorse and never hunts game again.

1818 - Young Abraham is kicked in the head by a horse and for a brief time is thought to be dead. Oct. 5, Nancy Hanks Lincoln (his mother) dies of "milk sickness."

1819 - On Dec. 2, Abraham's father, Thomas, marries a widow, Sarah Bush Johnston, and becomes stepfather to her three children. Abraham develops much affection for his stepmother.

1820 - Briefly attends school.

1822 - Attends school for a few months.

1824 - Does plowing and planting and work for hire for neighbors. Attends school in the fall and winter. Borrows books and reads whenever possible.

1828 - On Jan. 20, his married sister Sarah dies while giving birth. In April, Abraham, now 19, and Allen Gentry take a flatboat of cargo of farm produce to New Orleans. During the trip they fight off an robbery attack by seven black men. At New Orleans Abe observes a slave auction.

1830 - In March, Abe and his family begin a 200 mile journey to move to Illinois where they settle on uncleared land along the Sangamon River, near Decatur. Abe makes his first political speech in favor of improving navigation on the Sangamon River.

1831 - Abe makes a second flatboat trip to New Orleans. His father moves again, but Abe doesn't go and instead settles in New Salem, Illinois, where he works as a clerk in the village store and sleeps in the back. Wrestles a man named Jack Armstrong to a draw. Learns basic math, reads Shakespeare and Robert Burns and participates in a local debating society.

1832 - In March, becomes a candidate for Illinois General Assembly. The Black Hawk War breaks out. In April, Abe enlists and is elected Captain of his rifle company. Re-enlists as a private after company is disbanded. He serves a total of three months but does not fight in a battle. August 6, loses the election. The village store he worked in goes out of business. Lincoln and partner, William Berry, purchase another village store in New Salem.

1833 - The store fails, leaving him badly in debt. Lincoln is appointed Postmaster of New Salem. In Autumn, Lincoln is appointed Deputy County Surveyor.

1834 - On August 4, Lincoln, age 24, is elected to the Illinois General Assembly as a member of the Whig party. Begins to study law. In December, meets Stephen A. Douglas, 21, a Democrat.

1835 - In January, former store partner William Berry dies, increasing Lincoln's debt to $1000. On August 25, Ann Rutledge, Lincoln's love interest, dies from fever at age 22.

1836 - August 1, re-elected to the Illinois Gen. Assembly and by now is a leader of the Whig party. September 9, Lincoln receives his law license. Begins courtship of Mary Owens, 28. Has an episode of severe depression in December.

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

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

1839 - 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. Meets Mary Todd, 21, at a dance.

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

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

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

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

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

1846 - 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.

First known photograph of Lincoln, about 1846

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

1848 - 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 - March 7 and 8, makes an appeal before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the Illinois statute of limitations, but is unsuccessful. March 31, returns to Springfield and leaves politics to practice law. On May 22, Abraham Lincoln is granted U.S. Patent No. 6,469 (the only president ever granted a patent).

1850 - February 1, his son Edward dies after a two month illness. 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. December 21, his third son, William Wallace Lincoln (Willie) is born.

1851 - January 17, Lincoln's father dies.

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

1854 - 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 - Does not get chosen by the Illinois legislature to be U.S. Senator.

1856 - 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 - June 26, in Springfield, Lincoln speaks against the Dred Scott decision.

1858 - In May, wins acquittal in a murder trial by using an almanac regarding the height of the moon to discredit a witness. 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 - Illinois legislature chooses Douglas for the U.S. Senate over Lincoln by a vote of 54 to 46. In the Fall, Lincoln makes his last trip through the 8th Judicial Circuit. December 20, writes a short autobiography.

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

Nominee for president - 1860

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

The first by Mathew Brady - February, 1860

November 6, 1860 - Abraham Lincoln 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 - 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.

President-elect Lincoln - Feb 23, 1861

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

April 12, 1861 - At 4:30 a.m. Confederates open fire on Fort Sumter in Charleston. The Civil War begins.

See also: A Nation Divided - U.S. Civil War Timeline and Photos

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 Proclaimation 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 realizes the war will be long.

July 27, 1861 - Appoints George B. McClellan as commander of the Department of the Potomac.

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

Aug 12, 1861 - The president issues a Proclamation of a National Day of Fasting.

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

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

Nov 1, 1861 - Appoints McClellan as commander of the Union army after the resignation of Winfield Scott.

Jan 27, 1862 - Issues General War Order No. 1 calling for a Union advance to begin Feb 22.

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

Feb 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 - Confederate surprise attack on Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's troops at Shiloh on the Tennessee River results in a bitter struggle with 13,000 Union 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.

Aug 29/30, 1862 - Union defeat at the second Battle of Bull Run in northern Virginia. The Union Army retreats to Washington. The president then relieves Union commander Gen. John Pope.

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

Sept 22, 1862 - The president issues a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation freeing the slaves.

Visiting Gen. George McClellan, Antietam, Maryland - 1862

In Gen. McClellan's tent - Oct 3, 1862

With Allan Pinkerton and Maj. Gen. McClernand - Oct 1862

Nov 5, 1862 - The president names Ambrose E. Burnside as commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing McClellan.

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

Dec 22, 1862 - The president writes a brief message to the Army of the Potomac.

Dec 31, 1862 - The president signs a bill admitting West Virginia to the Union.

Jan 1, 1863 - President Lincoln issues the final Emancipation Proclamation freeing all slaves in territories held by Confederates. Page one of the Document

Jan 25, 1863 - The president appoints Joseph (Fighting Joe) Hooker as commander of the Army of the Potomac, replacing Burnside.

Jan 26, 1863 - Writes a message to Hooker.

Jan 29, 1863 - Gen. Grant is placed in command of the Army of the West, with orders to capture Vicksburg.

Feb 25, 1863 - Signs a Bill creating a national banking system.

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

May 1-4, 1863 - A Union defeat at the Battle of Chancellorsville in Virginia. Confederate Gen. Stonewall Jackson is mortally wounded. Hooker retreats. Union losses are 17,000 killed, wounded and missing. The Confederates, 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 at the Battle of Gettysburg.

See photographs taken just after the Battle

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

July 13, 1863 - 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.

1863 portrait by Brady

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

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

Sept 19/20, 1863 - Union defeat at Chickamauga in Georgia leaves Chattanooga in Tennessee under Confederate siege. The president appoints Gen. Grant to command all operations in the western theater.

Oct 3, 1863 - Issues a Proclamation of Thanksgiving.

Nov 19, 1863 - President Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at a ceremony dedicating the Battlefield as a national cemetery.

Lincoln among the crowd at Gettysburg - Nov 19, 1863

Page one of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's Handwriting
Page two of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln's Handwriting

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

 A Brady portrait - Jan, 1864

 Feb, 1864 - Portrait used as basis for the Five Dollar Bill

 The President and son Thomas (Tad) - Feb, 1864

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 Rebels at Cold Harbor, Virginia.

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

July 18, 1864 - Issues a call for 500,000 Volunteers for military service.

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

Sept 2, 1864 - Atlanta is captured by Sherman's army. Later, the president on advice from Grant approves Sherman's march to the sea.

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

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

Dec 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. President Lincoln delivers his second Inaugural Address.

Lincoln speaking at his second inauguration - March 4, 1865

March 17, 1865 - A kidnap plot by John Wilkes Booth fails when Lincoln fails to arrive as expected at the Soldiers' Home.

April 9, 1865 - Gen. Robert E. Lee surrenders his Confederate army to Gen. Ulysses S. Grant at the village of Appomattox Court House in Virginia.

Federal soldiers pose outside the court house - April 9, 1865

April 10, 1865 - Celebrations break out in Washington.

The President's son Tad poses - April 10, 1865

Taken by Gardner - The last portrait - April 10, 1865

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.

The house in which President Lincoln died

Ford's Theater draped in black with guards posted - 1865

The president's box at Ford's Theater - 1865

Funeral Procession on Pennsylvania Ave. - April 19, 1865

April 26, 1865 - John Wilkes Booth is shot and killed in a tobacco barn in Virginia.

May 4, 1865 - Abraham Lincoln is laid to rest in Oak Ridge Cemetery, outside Springfield, Illinois.

A victory parade is held in Washington along Pennsylvania Ave. to help boost the Nation's morale - May 23-24, 1865.

Dec 6, 1865 - The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, passed by Congress on January 31, 1865, is finally ratified. Slavery is abolished.

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