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Home > History > Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 1

Abraham Lincoln Biography in Seven Pages - the Presidential Years Part 1

This page describes the beginning of Abraham Lincoln's presidency.

 Lincoln Political Cartoon

Lincoln Political Cartoon

Abe Lincoln Emerges

Though Abe had a national reputation, the Republican nomination for president in the Election of 1860 seemed elusive. Powerful Republicans William Seward from New York, Salmon P. Chase from Ohio and Edward Bates from Missouri seemed to be the frontrunners. On February 27, 1860, however, Abe was invited to speak before a crowd of powerful republicans at Cooper Union (a university) in New York City. Abe’s anti-slavery speech, in which he claimed the Founding Fathers and authors of the Declaration of independence would have prohibited the extension of slavery into new territories, left a lasting impression on the members of the audience and propelled him to legitimacy among the Republican candidates running for presidency. The powerful publisher Horace Greeley called it "one of the most happiest and most convincing political arguments ever made in this City ... No man ever made such an impression on his first appeal to a New-York audience" . After the speech, Abe decided that he would at least make an attempt for the Republican nomination to the presidency. He assembled a team of devoted campaigners who called Lincoln "The Rail Candidate".

The Republican National Convention

On May 9-10 Abe and his team traveled to the Republican National Convention in Decatur, Illinois, where his savvy team of supporters worked the convention for endorsements. Seward and Chase, though powerful and well-known politicians, had created enough enemies over the years to prove vulnerable and had alienated parts of the Republican Party. Though Abe believed slavery was evil, his moderate (rather than radical) stance appealed to many, as did his support for the nation's internal improvements and protective tariff. Furthermore, Abe was extremely popular in the western states, and because the convention was in his home state, thousands of his supporters descended upon Decatur. While Seward led on the first and second ballots (though he didn’t get enough votes to win), Lincoln won the nomination on the third ballot when the chairman of the Ohio Republican Delegation was convinced to shift his votes to Lincoln. Seward, who thought his nomination was assured was crushed, and Chase couldn’t even manage to draw full support from his home state of Ohio. Now that Abe had secured the Republican nomination for President, he had a chance to win the Presidential election.

Abe is elected the 16th President

In 1860, the future of the United States was much in doubt. The issue of slavery, which had bitterly divided the nation, had also begun to divide political parties, making the presidential election very complicated. The Democratic Party had been divided into the Northern Democratic Party and Southern Democratic Party. The Northern Democratic Party nominated Stephen Douglas for the presidency, while the Southern Democratic Party nominated John C. Breckenridge. The Constitutional Union Party nominated the former Tennessee Governor John Bell.

On November 6, 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected president in 33 states. Of the eleven southern states that would eventually secede, only Virginia allowed Abe's named to be on their ballots. In Virginia, Abe receive slightly over one percent of the popular vote. In the four slave states that would become Border States, Abe finished third or fourth. In New England, however, Abe won the popular vote in every county. The 81.8 percent voter turnout for the Election of 1860 is the second highest turnout in presidential election history. Now that Abe had been elected President, he had to appoint the members of his cabinet.

Choosing Advisors

In thinking about his advisors, Abe wanted the brightest and most influential politicians available. For the two most important posts in his cabinet, he chose the two candidates that ran against him for the Republican nomination for president. He appointed William Seward as his Secretary of State and Salmon P. Chase as his Secretary of Treasury. Both men would prove indispensable to the President in his dealings with the Civil War.


Next: Presidential Years Part 2


Abraham Lincoln Articles

Abraham Lincoln Reading Comprehension (Grades 5 and up). These Include Between 7-10 Critical-Thought, Multiple Choice Qustions. Online Versions Give Immediate Feedback and Score Reports

Abraham Lincoln Activities

  • Important Places in the Life of Abraham Lincoln Interactive Map - This interactive map allows students to explore the important places in Abraham Lincoln's life such as New Salem, Springfield, New York City, and many others.
  • Mr. Polk's War - This captivating printable requires students to understand the concept of manifest destiny and to conduct a mock interview in which they answer tough questions in the role of Abraham Lincoln (against the Mexican-American War) and in the role of President James K. Polk (in support of the war).
  • Futility Versus Immortality - This activity requires students to analyze the qualities of poor leaders such as Franklin Pierce and James Buchanan and contrast them with a leader such as Abraham Lincoln.
  • I'll Always Remember Where I Was - This historical prompts requires students to imagine the earth-shaking effect the news of the Emancipation Proclamation had on Americans in 1862. In the spirit of the Emancipation Proclamation, students must write about the biggest news event of their lives and describe its impact.
  • The Power of Dreams - This printout describes Abraham Lincoln's famous dream about his own assassination and then requires students to describe and draw a scene from a powerful dream they've had.
  • Oh Captain! My Captain! - This printout describes Walt Whitman's famous Oh Captain! My Captain! elegy to President Lincoln and then asks students to think of their own hero and to write a similar poem.
  • Primary Source Analysis - Lincoln's Letter to Fanny McCollough This printable activity requires students to analyze a famous condolence letter written by Abraham Lincoln to a teenage girl after her father was killed in the Civil War.
  • With Malice for None, With Charity for All Decoding Puzzle - This activity requires students to decode and interpret the famous presidential quote uttered by Abraham Lincoln.
  • Dr. Samuel Mudd - Critical Thought Questions The printable narrative that describes the role Dr. Mudd played after Lincoln's assassination. It includes three short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • Ms. Laura Keene - Critical Thought Questions This printable narrative that describes the role Ms. Laura Keene played after Lincoln's assassination. It includes three short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • The Execution of Mary Surratt - Critical Thought Questions - This printable narrative describes the circumstances in the Mary Surratt execution . It includes four short-answer questions regarding the main ideas of the article content, critical thought about the content, and vocabulary from the passage.
  • Abraham Lincoln Paragraph Paramedics - Find and correct the spelling, punctuation, and usage errors in the paragraph. Click on the error and then type in the correction. Immediate feedback is given.
  • Presidential Quotes - This activity first requires students to match the famous quote with the president. Next, students must choose their favorite quote and attempt to explain it in detail.
  • Presidential Heights - Did you know James Madison was the shortest president? Did you know Abraham Lincoln was the tallest president? This fun math activity requires students to answer questions about the heights of presidents by viewing the bar graph and making conversions from feet to inches and inches to feet.
  • Printable Presidents Word Search
  • - All 45 are in there!
  • Illinois State Quarter (Featuring Lincoln) Coloring
  • Lincoln Memorial Coloring
  • Lincoln Home National Historic Site Video

Online Games Involving Lincoln

  • Presidential Mismatch - Students must rearrange the presidential chart so that the presidents are in the correct order in which they served. The number of presidents used in the game is customizable. The timer allows for friendly competitions. Students who enjoy history will love this game!
  • Currency Mismatch - This is a wildly fun game that requires students to drag and drop the correct presidential faces to their correct dollar bills. The game is timed and makes for awesome friendly competitions within a classroom.
  • Glamour Legends - This fun game allows students to dress up George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, Harriet Tubman, or Christopher Columbus in more modern, or more primitive clothes.
  • Presidents Word Search - This is an online word search with the 45 presidents. Choose with or without a timer.

United States Presidents

 1. George Washington  16. Abraham Lincoln  32. Franklin D. Roosevelt
 2. John Adams  17. Andrew Johnson  33. Harry S. Truman
 3. Thomas Jefferson  18. Ulysses S. Grant  34. Dwight D. Eisenhower 
 4. James Madison  19. Rutherford B. Hayes  35. John F. Kennedy
 5. James Monroe  20. James A. Garfield  36. Lyndon B. Johnson
 6. John Quincy Adams  21. Chester A. Arthur  37. Richard Nixon
 7. Andrew Jackson  22/24. Grover Cleveland  38. Gerald R. Ford
 8. Martin Van Buren  23. Benjamin Harrison  39. Jimmy Carter
 9. William Henry Harrison  25. William McKinley  40. Ronald Reagan
10. John Tyler  26. Theodore Roosevelt  41. George H.W. Bush
11. James K. Polk  27. William Howard Taft  42. Bill Clinton
12. Zachary Taylor  28. Woodrow Wilson  43. George W. Bush
13. Millard Fillmore  29. Warren G. Harding  44. Barack Obama
14. Franklin Pierce  30. Calvin Coolidge  45. Donald J. Trump
15. James Buchanan  31. Herbert Hoover  



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