I’ve been struggling to figure out how I could possibly encapsulate all that is necessary to say about Abraham Lincoln without just writing a whole book. What sets Lincoln apart is not only his political genius, but the deeply empathetic and magnanimous aspect of his human identity that makes him a compelling study beyond the aspect of U.S. History, but in World History. So in order to condense this appropriately without the sacrifice of valuable context, I’m breaking up this post into three sections: Lincoln’s Personality, Career, and The Fight Against Slavery. This research comes primarily from two of the most authoritative biographies of Lincoln of the past 50 or so years: Pulitzer winner, Doris Kearns Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals” (the book that the Oscar winning movie “Lincoln” was based on), and master historian and Pulitzer winner, David Herbert Donald’s “Lincoln.” I followed up with other articles and online resources to fill in finer details of certain events as well. Since there will be some chronological overlap in doing this, I will give a generalized overview here now so you can see the chronological narrative of Lincoln and then we will dive deep into the makings of Lincoln’s character and examples of how that demonstrated profound impact in critical points in history that possibly only Lincoln could have properly executed. Then we’ll come back around and focus on these outputs and observe all the external accomplishments of Lincoln’s career as a lawyer and as U.S. President. Then finally, once we’ve observed the inner workings of Lincoln’s character and his career highlights, we focus on one of the most misunderstood and most important issue involving Lincoln’s story: slavery. We will see how his perspective evolved over the years and how he balanced multiple critical factors to correct the greatest error of America that remained unresolved since before the existence of the country.

Biographical summary:


* Abraham Lincoln was born in Hardin County, Kentucky on April 12th 1809.
* The Lincolns moved about Kentucky & Indiana (due to some land title disputes) until 1830 when Thomas Lincoln (Abraham’s father) moved the family into Illinois. Shortly after, Abraham set out on his own and moved to New Salem, Illinois.
* After working a few odd jobs, Lincoln set about to enter politics which at the age of 23, he entered the General Assembly election for the 1832 Illinois House of Representatives, but finished 8th of 13.
* He was elected the following election in 1834 to the Illinois House of Representatives .
* Lincoln entered an informal courtship with Ann Rutledge, but she died shortly after in the summer of 1835; catapulting Lincoln into his deepest bout of depression that his friends kept watch over to make sure he didn’t become suicidal.
* Lincoln was admitted to the Illinois bar to practice law in 1836, which the following year he moved to Springfield and met Joshua Speed, who became a lifelong friend of Lincoln.
* In 1842 Abraham Lincoln married Mary Todd.
* In 1844, after serving four terms in the Illinois House of Representatives , Lincoln was tried to enter the national stage, but lost the nomination to the U.S. House of Representatives.
* He then was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846 for a two-year term, but after his unpopular criticisms of President Polk’s war against Mexico as land-grabbing manipulation, he decided not run for re-election and returned back to practicing law.


* He decided to come back to politics and ran for U.S. Senate in 1854 under the Whig party to fight against the Kansas-Nebraska Act. This was an opportune time for Lincoln since some of Whigs (predecessors to the Republican Party) and Democrats were united to fight this bill. In the first vote, he was the front-runner with 45 votes (51 for majority), but after a stubborn minority of 5 Anti-Nebraska Democrats couldn’t accept voting against party lines remained with Lyman Trumbull, thus preventing Lincoln to gaining the majority. In a startling move, Lincoln withdrew from the election and said that electing an Anti-Nebraska Senator was more important than his personal election, thus all of Lincoln’s supporters went to Trumbull.
* Lincoln lost election again in the next election in 1858 to Stephen Douglas after a famous series of campaign speeches and debates which Lincoln first used the Bible verse Mark 3:25 “If a is House divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”


* After a disastrous Buchanan Presidential Administration, the newly found Republican Party gained momentum and Lincoln was nominated as the Republican Candidate to go against his Senate rival Stephen Douglas in 1860. Lincoln got his revenge with a landslide victory of 180 electoral votes (152 to win).
* The south promptly seceded from the Union after Lincoln’s election, and rebels attacked Fort Sumter in April 1861; one month into Lincoln’s presidency, America was in a Civil War.
* Lincoln appoints George McClellan as commanding general of the Union army to replace the aging General Winfield Scott in November 1861.
* Lincoln then presents his draft of the Emancipation Proclamation to his cabinet in July 1862, a month before writing his public response to Horace Greeley where he famously wrote the deceptive line “If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it.”
* Towards the end of 1862, with multiple humiliating losses and missed opportunities, Lincoln replaces the overly cautious McClellan for the brash Ambrose Burnside to lead the Army of the Potomac, but even further losses incur and replaces him a couple months later with Joseph Hooker.
* Secretary of the Treasury, Salmon P. Chase instigates Congress to believing that the Secretary of State, William Seward has too much control over Lincoln, but when the anger gained too much heat, both Chase and Seward issued their resignations to Lincoln. Lincoln then cleverly uses the balancing influence of the two men to decline admitting the resignations that establishes his own authority in the cabinet and thus calming the debacle.


* On New Year’s Day 1863, Lincoln announces his Emancipation Proclamation, his war-time official decree that any slaves within the 10 seceded states would be recognized as free under the Union. It would be two more years before the passing of the 13th amendment that would abolish slavery from not just seceding states but permanently from the whole country.
* Lincoln then makes another change in the army of the Potomac by replacing Hooker with George Meade in June 1863.
* Shortly after begins the Battle of Gettysburg in July.
* A couple weeks later, Lincoln issued the first military draft and NYC riots erupt into a violent protest that results in over 100 people murdered before the military could contain the issue.
* In November of 1863, Lincoln delivers his famous Gettysburg Address that was completely unconventional in that it lasted only 3 minutes long, (the speaker before him spoke for 2 hours straight).


* Lincoln promoted General Ulysses S Grant to Lieutenant General in March 1864, and then to General of the Army, which was the first time that title had been used in American history, he stationed himself with the Army of the Potomac, but Meade was still technically the direct General of the Potomac.

* In June, Lincoln accepts Chase’s resignation from his position as Secretary of the Treasury; Chase wasn’t expecting Lincoln to accept his resignation since he was just making a power move to influence Lincoln.
* Lincoln wins a landslide re-election over George McClellan in November, who became the Democratic nominee to push for peaceful resolution with the Confederates.
* Lincoln then goes against personal preference to appoint Chase for the position of Supreme Court Chief Justice.


* The Thirteenth Amendment passes the House of Representatives on January 31st, which abolishes slavery permanently within all of America. Lincoln had deceptively stated that, “there are no peace Commissioners in the City or likely to be in it.” meanwhile he was aware that there were in fact peace commissioners who were on their way to meet with him, but where not there yet.
* A couple days later, Lincoln met with the peace commissioners and stated that accepting the 13th amendment was non-negotiable.
* Lincoln gives his second Inaugural Address in March, where said the famous words “With malice towards none, with charity for all.”
* General Lee of the Confederate Army surrenders to General Grant on April 9th
* Five days later, Lincoln is shot by John Wilkes Booth on April 14th and died the following morning.