The College of New Rochelle Mother Irene Gill Library January 2009
exhibit created by Sr. Martha Counihan, O.S.U.
online adaptation by Susan Acampora
Feb. 9, 1809 - April 15, 1865
See also: New
Rochelle’s Simeon Leland and the Civil War
Born in Kentucky to a poor farming family, Abraham
Lincoln had an ambition to learn which led him from
farm work, to clerking in a country store, to law,
and then to politics. In all, he stated, he had had
a total of one year of schooling. In 1834, Lincoln
was elected to the Illinois state legislature and
began to study law. The tall, awkward, shy, and
“countrified” young man became respected for his
knowledge and eloquence. In 1842, he married a
Southerner, Mary Todd in Springfield, IL. Eventually
the Lincolns had four sons; sadly, only Robert, the
eldest, lived into adulthood.
the Lincoln Historical Digitization Project of
Northern Illinois University.
In 1847, Lincoln was elected to the US House of
Representatives and served for two years in
Washington. As a junior member of Congress, Lincoln
learned and observed a lot. Back in the Illinois,
Lincoln was swept deeply into the slave controversy
which was dividing the country. In 1854, he
re-entered politics in reaction to the repeal on the
anti-slavery Missouri Compromise; four years later,
his published debates with the Democrat Senator
Stephen Douglas, brought Abraham Lincoln to the
attention of the American public.
Read the Debates at the Lincoln Historical
From CNR’s Special Collections:
Political Debates Between Hon.
Abraham Lincoln and Hon. Stephen
A. Douglas. Columbus:
Follett, Foster and Company, 1860.
Lincoln’s fame was spread by the
publication of the seven three hour
debates to which he challenged his
political rival, Democrat Stephen A.
Douglas in the summer of 1858. The
issue was slavery and its spread
into the new territories.
Lincoln: Slavery is an
unqualified evil to the Negro, to
the white man, to the soil, and to
Douglas: “I believe this
government was made by the white man
for the white man to be administered
by the white man.”
The Lincoln and
Douglas meetin... Digital ID: 809288. New
York Public Library
Abraham Lincoln, a foot taller,
rumpled and with a higher pitched
voice lost the debates in racially
divided Illinois, but the
publication of the debates convinced
the voting public that “the Giant
Killer” was the best candidate for
Stephen Douglas, the “Little Giant”
at five feet four inches was dapper,
with a booming voice, audible to the
crowds of thousands who came to the
debates in August, 1858.
In 1860, Lincoln was the nominee of the newly formed Republican Party and
was elected 16th president of the United
States in November, 1860.
Mayor Fernando Wood: NYPL Image 809513
By the time of his inauguration on March 4, 1861, eleven
southern states had seceded from the Union to form the
Confederate States of America. On April 12, the War of
Secession began. On January 1, 1863, the Emancipation
Proclamation freed all the slaves in the states of the
Appeal to join army: NYPL
The bloody Civil War raged through the beginning of
Lincoln’s second term and ended with General Robert E.
Lee’s surrender on April 9, 1865.
Lincoln entering Richmond:
NYPL Image 813678
Six days later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated.
The outpouring of public grief in the North was enormous
as the train carrying Lincoln’s body traveled through
New York and west to Springfield, IL where he was
The Obsequies of Abraham Lincoln
Mourning Ribbon (CNR Archives)
(left) David Thomas
Valentine. Obsequies of Abraham Lincoln in
the City of New York. New York: Jones & Co.,
1866. Frontispiece of above title. ( CNR
Abraham Lincoln became an icon of moral fortitude and he
continues to be the most admired of American leaders.
the writing of history, is of particular importance in
Lincoln studies. The “apotheosis” of Lincoln continued
throughout the 19th Century. After
“caressing” reminiscences clouded the Lincoln story,
Robert Lincoln requested his father’s former secretaries
to compile their recollections and memories of the slain
President. Lincoln’s former partners published popular
Probably, the first well documented biography of Abraham
Lincoln was written by
Ida M. Tarbell (The Early Life
of Abraham Lincoln, McClure, Ltd.: 1896)
a well educated professional woman historian who hired
photographers and artists to capture the images of
persons and places fast-disappearing, and included
Lincoln’s own writings (Abraham Lincoln. Collected
Works. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University press,
1953-55. 9 volumes)
Gabor S. Boritt, ed.
The Historian’s Lincoln.
Urbana, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1988.
Lincoln was not an icon when he appeared on the national
scene after his 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas nor
afterwards. Like any other public figure, he was
lambasted for his policies and decisions during his
presidency and afterwards. This volume presents a
variety of (and some conflicting) opinions about Lincoln
of a group of historians.
Merrill D. Peterson. Lincoln in American Memory.
New York: Oxford University Press, 1994.
The collective memory of Lincoln includes folklore
and biography, myth and history. By the early 20th
Century only books about Jesus Christ outnumbered
those about Abraham Lincoln. Peterson traces
patterns of thinking relative to Lincoln through
World War II, the Nixon-Kennedy debates, into the
Civil Rights movement focusing on Martin Luther
King’s 1963 March on Washington and his moving “I
Have a Dream” speech at the feet of the Lincoln
Stephen B. Oates. With Malice Towards None: the
Life of Abraham Lincoln.. New York: Harper &
Stephen B. Oates. Abraham Lincoln: The Man
Behind the Myths. New York: Harper & Row, 1984.
Oates, a former history professor at the University
of Massachusetts, has been one of the most respected
Lincoln scholars of the 20th Century. His
1984 title explores the many myths surrounding
“Father Abraham” with comparisons between reality
and myth and the real-life Lincoln.
Garry Wills. Lincoln at Gettysburg: the Words
that Remade America. New York: Simon &
Wills, a professor of culture and public policy,
explores the power of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
(only 272 words) and its effect in changing the way
Americans thought about the Constitution.
T. Forged in Battle: The civil war
alliance of black soldiers and white officers.
Baton Rouge : Louisiana State University Press, 2000
The Gettysburg Address,
delivered by President Abraham Lincoln on November
19, 1863 at Gettysburg, PA dedicating a national
cemetery on the battlefield where over 7,000 Union
and Confederate soldiers were killed the previous
Lincoln's Gettysburg Address page 1 and 2
The main speech lasted two hours, Lincoln’s, a few
Gettysburg.com for more information.
On his way to his inauguration in 1861, Abraham
Lincoln stopped in New York City where he was
greeted by throngs of well wishers and received by
the Mayor, Fernando Wood.
Reception of A. Lincoln
on Inaugural trip: NYPL Image 809511
Lincoln’s assassination of April 15, 1865, a few
days after Lee’s surrender shattered the nation. His
funeral cortege followed that of his inauguration
trip by railroad. In New York, a solemn parade of
mourners by the thousands accompanied the bier.
David Thomas Valentine.
Obsequies of Abraham Lincoln in the City
of New York. New York: Jones & Co.,
1866. Un-numbered plate entitled
“Cortege Passing Fifth Avenue Hotel” (
CNR Special Collections)