Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, is known for his significant role in the American Civil War and his efforts to abolish slavery. However, there are many fascinating facts about Lincoln that are not widely known. In this article, we will explore ten interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln that may surprise you.
1. Lincoln was a skilled wrestler. Despite his lanky appearance, Lincoln was an accomplished wrestler and only lost one match out of approximately 300 in his lifetime.
2. Lincoln was a licensed bartender. Before entering politics, Lincoln worked as a bartender and co-owned a general store in New Salem, Illinois.
3. Lincoln was a cat lover. Lincoln and his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, had four sons, but they also had several pet cats. Lincoln was known to be particularly fond of cats and would often feed them at the White House.
4. Lincoln created the Secret Service. In the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln established the Secret Service on April 14, 1865, the same day he was assassinated.
5. Lincoln had a connection to the famous author, Harriet Beecher Stowe. Stowe’s anti-slavery novel, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” had a profound impact on Lincoln and is said to have influenced his decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation.
6. Lincoln was the first president to have a beard. Prior to Lincoln, beards were not common among American presidents. Lincoln grew a beard at the request of an eleven-year-old girl who thought it would make him look more presidential.
7. Lincoln was a self-taught lawyer. Despite lacking formal education, Lincoln studied law on his own and passed the bar exam in 1836. He went on to have a successful legal career before entering politics.
8. Lincoln’s physical appearance was often mocked. Lincoln was known for his tall, gaunt frame and unconventional looks. His appearance was often the subject of ridicule, with one newspaper even describing him as “the leanest, lankiest, most ungainly mass of legs and arms and hatchet face ever strung upon a long rack of bones.”
9. Lincoln was a skilled storyteller. Lincoln had a knack for storytelling and would often entertain guests with humorous tales. His storytelling abilities helped him connect with people and make them feel at ease.
10. Lincoln’s last words were a joke. As Lincoln lay dying after being shot by John Wilkes Booth, a soldier asked if the President was comfortable. Lincoln’s last words were, “I suppose I am comfortable, but I should like to be more comfortable.”
These ten facts provide a glimpse into the life of Abraham Lincoln beyond his role as President. Lincoln was a complex and fascinating figure who left a lasting legacy in American history.
Early Life and Education
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was born on February 12, 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky. He was the second child of Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks Lincoln. His family moved to Indiana when he was seven years old, and later settled in Illinois.
Lincoln’s early life was marked by hardship and poverty. He grew up working on his family’s farm and did not have access to formal education. However, he was a voracious reader and taught himself through books. His love for learning led him to become a self-taught lawyer.
In 1832, Lincoln joined the Illinois Militia during the Black Hawk War. This experience helped shape his political beliefs and aspirations. He ran for the Illinois State Legislature in 1834 but was not successful. Despite this setback, he continued to pursue his passion for politics and eventually became one of the most influential figures in American history.
Lincoln’s formal education was limited, but he was well-read and educated himself in various subjects. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1836. He began practicing law in Springfield, Illinois, and quickly gained a reputation for his honesty and integrity.
Throughout his life, Lincoln emphasized the importance of education and believed that it was the key to success. He once said, “My best friend is a person who will give me a book I have not read.” His commitment to education extended beyond his own personal development, as he advocated for the establishment of public schools and universities.
As President, Lincoln played a pivotal role in shaping the future of the United States. His early life and education played a significant role in shaping his character and preparing him for the challenges he would face as a leader. Despite his humble beginnings, Lincoln’s determination and dedication to learning set him apart and made him one of the greatest presidents in American history.
Lincoln’s Birthplace and Childhood
Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin in Kentucky. His birthplace was a simple and humble structure, reflecting the modest beginnings of the future president. Growing up in a rural area, Lincoln had a childhood filled with hard work and limited resources.
Despite the challenging circumstances, Lincoln’s parents emphasized the importance of education. They instilled in him a love for learning and encouraged his intellectual development. Lincoln attended school sporadically, as his family often moved, but he was an avid reader and self-learner.
As a child, Lincoln was known for his honesty and integrity. He was deeply influenced by the values of his parents, who taught him the importance of hard work, honesty, and treating others with kindness and respect. These values would shape his character and guide his actions throughout his life.
Lincoln’s childhood was also marked by tragedy. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died when he was just nine years old. This loss had a profound impact on him and contributed to his strong sense of empathy and compassion for others who had experienced loss and hardship.
Despite the hardships and challenges of his early years, Lincoln’s childhood experiences shaped him into a compassionate and resilient individual. His humble beginnings and strong moral compass would serve as the foundation for his future leadership and his commitment to justice and equality.
Self-Education and Love for Books
Abraham Lincoln was largely self-educated, as he only had one year of formal schooling. However, he had a deep love for books and was an avid reader from a young age. Despite his limited access to formal education, Lincoln was determined to educate himself and expand his knowledge.
He would borrow books whenever he could and would read late into the night, often by candlelight. Lincoln’s love for books was so strong that he once walked six miles to borrow a book, showcasing his dedication to self-education.
His favorite books included the Bible, Shakespeare’s works, and Aesop’s Fables. He believed that reading and self-education were essential for personal growth and development. Lincoln’s love for books and his self-taught knowledge played a crucial role in shaping his intellect and preparing him for a successful political career.
Lincoln’s passion for reading and self-education also influenced his leadership style. He believed in the power of knowledge and often sought advice from books when facing difficult decisions. He would often quote passages from his favorite books during speeches and conversations, demonstrating his deep understanding and appreciation for literature.
Throughout his life, Lincoln continued to prioritize self-education and intellectual growth. He believed that learning was a lifelong process and that knowledge was the key to success. His love for books and commitment to self-education made him one of the most well-read and knowledgeable presidents in American history.
Political Career and Presidency
Abraham Lincoln began his political career in 1834 when he was elected to the Illinois state legislature as a member of the Whig Party. He served four consecutive terms and gained a reputation for his eloquent speeches and strong support of infrastructure development.
In 1846, Lincoln was elected to the United States House of Representatives, where he became known for his opposition to the Mexican-American War and his advocacy for the Wilmot Proviso, which aimed to ban slavery in any territory acquired from Mexico. Despite his efforts, the Proviso did not pass.
During the 1858 Senate campaign against Stephen A. Douglas, Lincoln gained national attention for his debates with Douglas on the issue of slavery. Although he lost the Senate race, the debates elevated his profile and positioned him as a leading figure in the newly formed Republican Party.
In 1860, Lincoln ran for president as a Republican candidate and won against three other major candidates. His election caused a deep divide in the country, with several southern states seceding from the Union before his inauguration.
As president, Lincoln faced the monumental task of leading the country through the Civil War. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862, which declared that all slaves in Confederate-held territory were to be freed. This marked a significant turning point in the war and shifted the focus from preserving the Union to ending slavery.
Lincoln’s presidency was also marked by his commitment to preserving the Union and his relentless pursuit of victory in the war. He faced opposition from within his own party and dealt with numerous challenges, including military setbacks and political divisions.
Tragically, Lincoln’s presidency was cut short when he was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth on April 14, 1865, just days after the Confederate surrender. His untimely death robbed the nation of a leader who had guided it through one of its most difficult periods and left a lasting legacy as one of the greatest presidents in American history.
Lincoln’s Failed Business Ventures
Abraham Lincoln’s life was filled with both successes and failures, and his business ventures were no exception. While he is remembered as one of the greatest presidents in American history, Lincoln faced a number of setbacks in his quest for financial success.
One of Lincoln’s most notable failed business ventures was his attempt at running a general store. In 1833, Lincoln partnered with William F. Berry to open a store in New Salem, Illinois. However, the business struggled and eventually failed, leaving Lincoln with a large amount of debt.
In addition to his failed general store, Lincoln also had a failed attempt at running a surveying business. In the 1830s, Lincoln worked as a surveyor in Illinois, but his lack of experience and the poor state of the economy at the time led to limited success in this venture.
Another unsuccessful business venture for Lincoln was his law practice. Although Lincoln is now known as one of the greatest lawyers in American history, his law practice faced many challenges. He struggled to attract clients and often found himself in financial difficulties.
Despite these failures, Lincoln persevered and eventually found success in politics. His ability to learn from his mistakes and adapt to new challenges is a testament to his resilience and determination. Lincoln’s failed business ventures serve as a reminder that even great leaders face setbacks, but it is their ability to overcome adversity that sets them apart.