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Rapid-Fire History: Abraham Lincoln Elected President


On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, winning one of the most fateful elections in American history and becoming the first Republican to win the presidency. As Lincoln stood on the steps of the U.S. Capitol during his inauguration on March 4, 1861, seven states from the Deep South had already seceded and Jefferson Davis had been elected president of the Confederate States of America. One month later, Confederate guns opened fire on Fort Sumter, marking the beginning of the bloodiest four years in American history. The leader of a broken nation, Lincoln “was the only president in American history whose entire administration was bounded by war,” writes historian James M. McPherson. Although largely inexperienced in military matters, Lincoln tirelessly dedicated himself to the study of military strategy as commander in chief and visited the Army of the Potomac at the front 11 times for a total of 42 days during the Civil War. After winning re-election in November 1864, Union soldiers in the field helped their commander in chief carry the war to a victorious conclusion. On April 9, 1865, General Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House and five days later, President Lincoln was tragically assassinated. Through his wisdom, moral courage, and unwavering leadership, Lincoln saved the Union, sparking “a new birth of freedom” for the nation and ensuring “that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”


Abraham Lincoln by James M. McPherson.

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