Saturday, January 19

We Were There with Lincoln in the White House

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He grew up in poverty, helping his father farm and educating himself by the candlelight of a tiny home, but Abraham Lincoln went on to be one of the biggest names in American history! After serving one term in the US Senate, he surprised the nation by winning the Presidency in 1860. He was sworn in as the 16th President in March 1861.

The nation was divided over slavery at the time. The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act had just repealed the Missouri Compromise, and Lincoln had been an active part of that debate in Congress. Early in his first term, he sent troops and supplies to Fort Sumter, in Charleston, SC, to try and maintain a united nation. Civil War broke out at Fort Sumter in 1861.

The Civil War is what defined Lincoln’s Presidency. He was also a great orator. His Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 (took effect in 1863) and Gettysburg Address were two speeches that won the hearts of Unionists and led to his re-election. Early in 1865, Grant and Lee met at Appomattox Courthouse to end the war. (We will visit this in another book.) It was Lincoln’s greatest wish to reunite the nation.

On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln as he was watching a play at Ford’s Theater. Lincoln died the next morning, and Andrew Johnson became the 17th president. Booth was killed a week later. Lincoln’s legacy lives on through his icons – he appeared on the penny as of 1909, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated to him, and his face was sculpted into Mount Rushmore.

Lincoln’s legacy includes...

  • Guiding the United States through the Civil War.
  • Creating the first income tax in America.
  • Signing the Homestead Act.
  • Signing the Pacific Railroad Act.
  • Helping to institute the Thanksgiving holiday.
  • Helping Congress to pass the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery.
  • Setting new precedents for the president’s role as the chief executive. 

Make / Do
Watch / Listen
Define / Identify
  • abolitionist 
  • equality 
  • antagonism 
  • freedom 
  • deliberation 
  • slavery 
  • democracy 
  • sovereignty 
  • endure 
  • Kansas Nebraska act 
  • Missouri compromise 
  • Homestead act 
  • Pacific railroad act 
  • proposition
  • devotion 
  • Research the amazing connections between Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy.  What fascinates you the most?
  • Read the primary source letter from Lincoln to a friend, regarding slavery (below).  How does he approach their difference of opinion?  What can you learn and apply to your daily communications from his approach?

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