Historical Figure Project

Abraham Lincoln by Arsh Kumar

Biography and Upbringing

  • Born February 12, 1809, Nolin Creek, Hardin County (now LaRue County), Kentucky, USA
  • Was largely self-educated, loved to read, learned math by tying together some papers to make a "sum book"
  • Two of his favorite books are Pilgrim's Progress and Aesop's Fables
  • Lived in a one-room log cabin
  • Family moved around a lot due to being in a lower economic class
  • As a youth, Lincoln disliked the hard labor associated with frontier life. Some of his neighbors and family members thought for a time that he was lazy for all his "reading, scribbling, writing, ciphering, writing Poetry, etc."
  • His formal schooling from several teachers was intermittent, the entirety of which amounted to less than a year; however, he was an avid reader and retained a lifelong interest in learning instilled by his first mother Nancy and his stepmother Sarah
  • As he grew into his teens, Lincoln took responsibility for the chores expected of him as one of the boys in the household. He also complied with the customary obligation of a son giving his father all earnings from work done outside the home until the age of twenty-one when he moved to Illinois.
  • Abraham became an adept as using an axe. Tall for his age, Lincoln was also strong and athletic. He attained a reputation for brawn and audacity after a very competitive wrestling match with the renowned leader of a group of ruffians known as "the Clary's Grove boys".
  • Some jobs he held early in life included working on a riverboat, running a store, and almost becoming a blacksmith before changing routes to become a lawyer.
  • He once said that being alerted the commander of his company during the Black Hawk War was the election that gave him the most satisfaction
  • Fun Fact: Patent No. 6469: Lincoln is the only president to have invented something and gotten it patented in office. It was an item that would allow a boat to be lifted over shoals without needing to make the boat lighter


  • Abraham Lincoln earliest influences were his parents. They needed his help on the farm, and as such, his time in school was very minimum. Thus, his parents encouraged him to be an avid reader. Two of his most valued books were on George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. After his mother died and his father remarried, Lincoln came to admire and respect his step mother. Both of them stressed the importance of education.
  • James Gentry: the wealthiest man in Lincoln's community in Kentucky had Abraham hired to help on a flatboat in New Orleans and while there, he witnessed a slave auction that profoundly affected him.
  • His education was sporadic as a kid. He studied under Zachariah Riney, Caleb Hazel, Andrew Crawford (who loaned him Life of Washington) and James Swaney.
  • His early experience in Kansas where he saw that law didn't protect him well from people who were poaching his land, led him to his profession as a lawyer.
  • When he was getting into politics, Henry Clay was his mentor and dear friend. Lincoln adopted many of Clay's ideologies in his campaign.
  • He met and became friends with Cyrus Edward when he served in the military. Edward later became an Illinois State Senator.
  • Fun Fact: Grace Bedell was an influence because she sent him opinionated letters and once told him to grow a beard to get more votes.

Motivation behind his Success and Actions

  • Although Abraham Lincoln felt that slavery was evil, he took a pragmatic approach to the abolition of slavery. Instead of trying to wipe out the evil institution in one fell swoop, he was willing to whittle away at it gradually.
  • When Lincoln ran for President in 1860, his platform did not call for the immediate abolition of slavery. Rather, he opposed the extension of slavery into new Western territories. In theory, that policy would eventually have led to Western territories joining the Union as free states and sending anti-slavery Senators and Representatives to Congress. As free states came to outnumber slave states, an anti-slavery majority in Congress could have passed laws that led sooner or later to the abolition of slavery.
  • Lincoln was against slavery, but he did not believe that he had the power as President to eliminate slavery. He wrote, "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling." At the start of the Civil War, he was not fighting to abolish slavery. His aim was to preserve the Union, to prevent the slave-holding Southern states from seceding. The Southern states were fighting to preserve the institution of slavery, but the North was not fighting to end slavery.
  • When Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation midway through the war, he believed that he was using his powers as a wartime Commander-in-Chief. The Proclamation did not free all slaves in the United States, since Lincoln did not believe that he had the power to do that. It freed slaves only in those in areas of the country that were still in rebellion, still waging war against the national government.
  • Slavery was not finally abolished everywhere in the United States until the 13th Amendment became part of the Constitution in December of 1865, many months after Lincoln's assassination.

Defining Quote

"You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today"

Comparison to Revolutionary Time Period

Lincoln was the kind of man who would transcend eras. Most of his presidency, however, came during a war. So on that note, he might he might not have success in that form because there is no President during this time period, but his cool demeanor and strong beliefs lead me to believe he could have made just as much of an impact now as he did then. He could use his great speech-giving skills to motivate people much like the writer of the Common Sense. His main goal of preserving the union would most likely still be his goal, and for that reason would push full effort after the revolution to band the thirteen colonies into a single, unified country. He was a self-made man and could therefore relate to the average man in the colonies much like he related to the common man in the United States. I have no doubt he could replicate his production albeit in a different format than he did while he was alive.

If I had Lincoln's Talents

If I had the same skills as Lincoln, I wouldn't run for president, because now you need a lot of money to do that, but I would sure pick up his fight for education because he never really received a proper education. I would participate in marches and speeches in an attempt to make people more aware of my beliefs, and I would definitely advocate the power of sticking together as a nation and not becoming sectionalized.


Born into an era of tension about slavery and union/confederacy, as well as having grown up a hard working man without a ton of education, fostered his own personal interest in gaining knowledge even if he wasn't the most motivated person. He ended up becoming a highly deliberate and intelligent foreseer of issues, and saw the big picture of helping the union - not necessarily stopping slavery. He was the perfect blend of understanding and innovation that was necessary of time period. The most obvious parallel is that he was a born into a time period where political factions where at their peak and previous Supreme Court rulings had pitted the north against the south in a battle for control of the Senate and House of Representatives. The moment he was elected, the entire situation escalated and he had to become the catalyst for change even while people didn't agree with emancipation the slaves at that time. He thought of slavery as a cancer and believed that while the founding fathers didn't free the slaves because doing so would be like immediately removing cancer which could result in death, they most definitely believed that all men are created equally and his interpretation of his time period led him to believe that enough time had passed that the "cancer" could now be removed.

Campaign Slogan

Believe in the Beard, James Harden does!

Abe is top-hat, and he wears one too!

He's got a hat-trick of solutions just for you!

Gettysburg Address

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Political Cartoon

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Works Cited

"Abraham Lincoln." History.com. A&E Television Networks. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.history.com/topics/us-presidents/abraham-lincoln>.

"Abraham Lincoln's Patent." Abraham Lincoln's Patent. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.abrahamlincolnonline.org/lin

"Gettysburg Address." - Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 21 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gettysburg_Address>.

McPherson, James M. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford UP, 1988. Print.

"Miller Center." American President: Abraham Lincoln: Life Before the Presidency. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://millercenter.org/president/lincoln/essays/biography/2>.

United States. National Park Service. "Lincoln Boyhood National Memorial --Reading 1." National Parks Service. U.S. Department of the Interior. Web. 22 Apr. 2015. <http://www.nps.gov/nr/twhp/wwwlps/lessons/126libo/126facts1.htm>.