Photograph of President Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln (1809-65) was the 16th president of the United States. He was born on a farm in Kentucky and moved with his family to Indiana at age eight. At age 21, he moved to Illinois, where he held various jobs and began to study law. He had less than one year of formal education, but became a skilled writer by reading the King James Bible and other English classics. He practiced law in Illinois, served in the Illinois General Assembly, and was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1860, he was elected president of the United States on a platform opposing the expansion of slavery to the American West, a stance that precipitated the secession of the southern states from the Union. Refusing to accept secession, Lincoln waged war against the South to preserve the Union and ultimately to abolish slavery in the United States. He was killed by an assassin’s bullet on April 14, 1865, shortly after the South’s surrender. This photograph of Lincoln is by Mathew B. Brady (1823?-96), an early American photographer who opened a gallery in New York City in 1844. Although best known for his battlefield photographs in the Civil War, Brady first made his mark as a portrait photographer who captured many famous people on film.

Last updated: January 8, 2018