In 1861 Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) became the 16th -- and first Republican -- president of the United States, in the middle of wrenching political, social, economic and technological change. In 1846, the U.S. went to war with Mexico, winning Texas and expanding the nation westward. With that expansion, Congress debated whether the new territory would prohibit or approve slavery. A new invention, the telegraph, delivered news at lightening speed. And the Democratic Party of 1860 opposed an expansive federal government.
The Obama campaign has made the hay out of the Lincoln legacy, from making his announcement speech on the steps of the Old Illinois State Capitol in Springfield (the site of Abraham Lincoln's famous "house divided" speech) to deflecting questions about his lack of national experience (also a criticism of Lincoln). How are the two men alike and how are they different?
After Lincoln was elected in November 1860, southern states began seceding from the Union. As he sought to keep the country from being torn apart, he quoted from speeches he had made in the run-up to the election, such as this:
I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so.
The Emancipation Proclamation consists of two executive orders issued by U.S. President Abraham Lincoln during the Civil War. These orders did not end slavery; that happened on 18 December 1865 with the passage of the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.
The Emancipation Proclamation became a campaign issue in the 1862 elections; in that election, Democrats gained 28 seats in the House of Representatives as well as the governorship of the state of New York.
In 1858, Abraham Lincoln ran as a Republican for the U.S. Senate against incumbent Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln challenged Douglas to a series of seven debates across Illinois. Thanks to the telegraph, the debates became national news; newspapers across the U.S. reprinted the text for their readers. Unlike the typical debates of today's candidates, the format of these debates allowed for one candidate to speak for 60 minutes, the other for 90, and then the first candidate to respond for an additional 30 minutes.
We know the debates today because of slavery, although that was not the only topic. And although Lincoln lost this election (determined by the legislature) to Douglas, the publicity launched his national career.
The Lincoln Memorial occupies a prominent space on the National Mall in Washington, DC and is a tribute to President Abraham Lincoln, who fought to preserve our nation during the Civil War, from 1861-1865. The Lincoln Memorial has been the site of many famous speeches and events since its dedication in 1922.
The U.S. Lincoln Cent, designed by Victor David Brenner, first entered circulation in 1909. It has endured with the same obverse ("heads" side) design ever since, making it the longest running coin type in U.S. history.
In honor of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday on February 12, 2009, the United States Postal Service issued a series of four stamps featuring the four key roles of his life: rail-splitter, politician, lawyer, and president. You can see all four in this gallery. The artist is Mark Summers.