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This Is Why We Stand: Moment In History - Abraham Lincoln Elected President


On Tuesday, 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 seceded and Jefferson Davis had been named the provisional 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,” as noted by Pulitzer Prize-winning 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 to Lincoln’s trusted military champion, Ulysses S. Grant, at Appomattox Court House, a pivotal event that helped spark the subsequent surrender of other Confederate forces across the South, bringing the bloody Civil War to a close. Five days after Lee’s capitulation, an assassin’s bullet tragically robbed the Union of its hero, Abraham Lincoln.

Although the pain of Lincoln’s loss left many with broken hearts, nothing could erase his legacy. Facing the greatest challenges of any president in American history, he never wavered in his efforts to safeguard the nation “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Guided by the lessons set forth by America’s Founding Fathers, and aided by his own wisdom and moral courage, Lincoln saved the Union, sparking “a new birth of freedom” for the United States 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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