Weekend History Of

Article excerpt

Byline: Abraham Lincoln

It was on Good Friday 1865 that Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States, was assassinated - three days after he'd had a dream that he had been killed.

Born into a poor Kentucky family in 1809, Lincoln taught himself to read and write while working on the family farm. Joining the army for just three months, he fought in the Black Hawk War against Illinois Indians in 1832, but politics was always an ambition - he had long been a member of the local Whig party (then second in popularity after the Democrats) - and after leaving his army unit he became a lawyer, touring the state's court rooms as a judge. After marrying Mary Todd and having four sons, only one of whom survived beyond his teens, Lincoln finally ran for Senator in 1858. He lost, but his prowess in the election debates - particularly on the issue of slavery, which he fought to abolish - brought him to the attention of the fledgling Republican Party, which put him forward as a Presidential candidate. First elected President in 1860, his triumph sparked the American Civil War, as the pro-slavery southern US states tried to cecede from the Union in protest. Re-elected in 1864, he quickly moved to abolish slavery, horrifying those still loyal to the southern cause.

Actor and Confederate spy John Wilkes Booth began plotting to kidnap the President to exchange him for Confederate prisoners. …