Abraham Lincoln: 12 February 1809 - 15 April 1865

By McPherson, James M. | Humanities, January/February 1999 | Go to article overview

Abraham Lincoln: 12 February 1809 - 15 April 1865


McPherson, James M., Humanities


Abraham Lincoln

12 February 1809 - 15 April 1865

Sixteenth president of the United States

Sherman marched through Georgia and South Carolina, Union armies advanced on other fronts, and Grant tightened the vise near Richmond. The end of the war seemed only a matter of time. In his second inaugural address, on 4 March 1865, Lincoln looked forward to a peace "with malice toward none; with charity for all. ...." . . . After Lee's surrender at Appomattox, Lincoln spoke to a large crowd of celebrants at the White House on I I April. He hinted that his Reconstruction policy would enfranchise literate blacks and black army veterans. "That means nigger citizenship," muttered a member of the crowd, the actor John Wilkes Booth. "Now, by God, I'll put him through. That is the last speech he will ever make...."

A native of Maryland and an unstable egotist who supported the Confederacy and hated Lincoln, Booth headed a shadowy conspiracy with links to the Confederate secret service, which had intended to kidnap Lincoln and hold him hostage in Richmond. The fall of Richmond had ruined that plot, so Booth decided to kill the president. …

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