Today we celebrate the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth.
Lincoln warned the South in his Inaugural Address: "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The government will not assail you.... You have no oath registered in Heaven to destroy the government, while I shall have the most solemn one to preserve, protect and defend it." - http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/abrahamlincoln/
Born on February 12, 1809 in Hardin County, Kentucky, Lincoln had to struggle with both making a living and learning before he became our country's 16th president. He married Maria Todd and had four sons, but only one lived to maturity.
As President, he built the Republican Party into a strong national organization. Further, he rallied most of the northern Democrats to the Union cause. On January 1, 1863, he issued the Emancipation Proclamation that declared forever free those slaves within the Confederacy.
Lincoln never let the world forget that the Civil War involved an even larger issue. This he stated most movingly in dedicating the military cemetery at Gettysburg: "that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
On Good Friday, April 14, 1865, Lincoln was assassinated at Ford's Theatre in Washington by John Wilkes Booth, an actor, who somehow thought he was helping the South. The opposite was the result, for with Lincoln's death, the possibility of peace with magnanimity died.
Want to learn more about this great president? Come on into the library! We have dozens of books on Lincoln, including many that just came out in the last year.