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Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, was very important to the past history of our country. He helped to abolish slavery in this country and kept the American Union from splitting apart during the Civil War.
At 22, he moved to New Salem, Illinois. With his gift for swapping stories and making friends, he became quite popular and was elected to the Illinois legislature in 1834. In his spare time, he taught himself law and became a lawyer. In 1847, he was elected to the U.S. Congress, but returned to his law practice until 1858, when his concern about the spread of slavery prompted him to return to national politics and run for the U.S. Senate.
Lincoln rose to greatness from a humble beginning. Born in 1809 in a log cabin in Kentucky, Lincoln spent most of his childhood working on the family farm. He had less than a year of school but managed to educate himself by studying and reading books on his own.
He believed that slavery and democracy were fundamentally incompatible. In an 1858 speech, he said:
What constitutes the bulwark of our own liberty and independance? It is not our frowning battlements, our bristling sea coats, our army and our navy . . . Our defense is in the spirit which prized liberty as the heritage of all men, in all lands everywhere. Destroy this spirit and you have planted the seeds of despotism at your own doors. Familiarize yours
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Abraham Lincoln, American Civil War
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