• If you are citizen of an European Union member nation, you may not use this service unless you are at least 16 years old.

  • Browse and search Google Drive and Gmail attachments (plus Dropbox and Slack files) with a unified tool for working with your cloud files. Try Dokkio (from the makers of PBworks) for free. Now available on the web, Mac, Windows, and as a Chrome extension!


Abraham Lincoln's Presidency

Page history last edited by Robert W. Maloy 1 year, 4 months ago



President Abraham Lincoln, November 1863 

Topics on this page


A. Background and Presidency



  • The Election of 1860


  • The Gettysburg Address


B. Views on Slavery


C. Emancipation Proclamation


  • Juneteenth or Freedom Day
  • Emancipation Day


D. Political Obstacles to Preserving the Union


Teaching about Lincoln (Why Lincoln Matters)

  • Mary Todd Lincoln






Focus Question: What were the major events in Abraham Lincoln’s presidency?


Early Life/Beginnings 


  • He was born February 12, 1809 in Hodgenville, Kentucky, and later moved to Illinois when he was 7 years old 
  • He grew up in a very poor family and lived in a one-room cabin 
  • His father was a devout Baptist and refused to own slaves 
  • He had about only a year of formal education, but that was enough for him
  • He began work as a lawyer in 1837 in Springfield, Illinois
  • In 1846 he joined the Whig Party and was elected to the House of Representatives
  • In reaction to the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, he joined the Republican Party  




This is a photo of Abraham Lincoln's one-room cabin growing up.


Timeline of Lincoln's Life


Click Here for a fun and interactive game about Abraham Lincoln on BrainPOP.


Overview of Lincoln's Presidency from the Miller Center, University of Virginia

Here is a link to the Presidency project that has many primary documents associated with Lincoln


Concepts and Principles of Lincoln:



Video describing Lincoln's presidency and life:



A Word Fitly Spoken: An Interactive Timeline of Lincoln's Most Famous Speeches on Union from TeachingAmericanHistory.org and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Page from Great Americans and Their Noble Deeds, 1901


Page from Great Americans and Their Noble Deeds, 1901



  • Looking for Lincoln from PBS includes video resources about the 16th President presented by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. and Doris Kearns Goodwin.


  • See also Lincoln Learning Hub, a website companion to the 2012 film by Steven Spielberg.
    • Click here to view the trailer and here for a 20 minute featurette ((interviews with Doris Kearns Goodwin, Steven Speilberg, Daniel Day-Lewis, and Kathleen Kennedy) along with film footage for the movie Lincoln.
    • Click here for whole Lincoln movie (2 hours 11 minutes).



external image 200px-Quill_and_ink.svg.png Abraham Lincoln was the president of the United States between March 4, 1861 and April 15, 1865.

  • He presided over the country during the American Civil War.


  • Prior to Lincoln’s presidency, the U.S. had acquired a lot of new territory in the west. Tension erupted between northern and southern states over whether or not the new territory should be turned into slave states or free states.


  • The election of President Lincoln motivated the southern states to break with the union, because Lincoln opposed the expansion of slavery into the new territories.


See also, Lincoln: Man, Martyr, Myth

  • William Safire, writing in The New York Times Book Review (February 8, 2009), contends that Lincoln's overriding goal as President was to maintain the Union, and in so doing, "to establish the principle of majority rule in the world's most daring experiment in self-government by insisting that the whole country abide by the results of its national election" (p. 10).


See Abraham Lincoln, a new 79 page biography by historian James M. McPherson.


Lincoln is the only President to also hold a patent. See Abraham Lincoln, Inventor.


The election of 1860


  • Here is a video from Crash Corse that covers The Election and how it is Connected to the Civil War


  • Click here for a video detailing the years prior to the election of 1860 that set the stage for the election


  • Here is a break down of the 1980 election from the Presidency Project


  • Here is a link from History.com about the famous election of 1860.  It includes topics of the election that range from Lincoln's political history before the election, to the Southern reaction to the 1860 election results.  


Mural, Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress
Mural, Lobby to Main Reading Room, Library of Congress 







The Gettysburg Address

The Address Mashup

Learn the Address organized by Ken Burns has readings of the speech by famous and everyday


  • To watch an animated depiction of the Gettysburg Address, click here.


Historian Shelby Foote and former Congressman James Symington analyze the Gettysburg Address in this excerpt from Ken Burns' famed documentary "The Civil War."

A reading of Lincoln's famous "A House Divided" speech.


Click Here to listen to President Obama recite the Gettysburg Address

See Lesson Plan Based on Word Mover on the Gettysburg Address using SOAPSTone that ask students to identify:

  • Speaker of the text
  • Occasion of the speech
  • Audience (both present and after it was distributed)
  • Purpose that Lincoln had in delivering it
  • Subject matter discussed
  • Tone of the piece


Focus Question: What were Lincoln’s views on slavery?

Depiction, 1864 cabinet meeting, presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1921)
Depiction, 1864 cabinet meeting, presidency of Abraham Lincoln (1921)



Eric Foner, a Leading expert and historian of the civil war, explains Lincoln's stance in this video here


Abraham Lincoln thought that slavery was morally repugnant.


  • Yet he did not believe it was within his power to completely abolish the institution of slavery.
  • This is because Lincoln believed that the United States constitution protected slavery in states where it already existed.
  • However, he also believed that he did have the power to stop the expansion of slavery and refused to allow it to spread west.
  • He did know; however, that the country would split either way eventually: completely free or completely enslaved.

Lincoln-Douglas Debates


    • Lincoln debated the issue of slavery in his Senate campaign versus Democratic U.S. Senator Stephen Douglas.
    • Douglas was considered the front-runner for the Democratic nomination for president in 1860, but needed to hold on to his senate seat in order to move forward politically.


Click here for podcasts of the seven “Lincoln-Douglas Debates” held in seven different Illinois towns over six months starting in August 1858. Douglas won that senate election, but the debates served to not only solidify the Republican anti-slavery stance in people’s minds, but also to increase Lincoln’s profile, and make him a contender for President in 1860.

Abraham Lincoln on Slavery and Race from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.

Click here for a long list of noteworthy quotes delivered by Abraham Lincoln.

Focus Question: Why Did Lincoln Issue the Emancipation Proclamation?


Cartoon, Lincoln's provisional emancipation proclamation, Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862

Cartoon, Lincoln's provisional emancipation proclamation, Harper's Weekly, October 11, 1862


1) Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, freeing slaves in the confederate states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. The Emancipation Proclamation did not free slaves in states that were still part of the union.

2) He stated "decisive and extreme measures must be adopted." Emancipation was "a military necessity absolutely necessary to the preservation of the Union. We must free the slaves or be ourselves subdued."

3) Lincoln hoped to activate newly freed Blacks to fight against the South, a move that provoked great opposition among Northern Democrats and border state Unionists.

Source: "Commander in Chief," James M. McPherson, Smithsonian, January 2009, pp. 38-45.

  • Five things you need to know about the Emancipation Proclamation by History in 5, here

For kid-friendly information on the Emancipation Proclamation followed by a short quiz on the information, see Civil War for Kids: Emancipation Proclamation.

Emancipation Proclamation. Lincoln, Abraham (January 1, 1863). Retrieved April 19, 2007, from The Avalon Project Web site.

  • The decisive Union victory at the Battle of Antietam was essential for Lincoln's issuance of the preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. 
    • Learn more about Antietam here

An informative 6 minute video detailing the battle of Antietam and the issue of the Emancipation Proclamation.

A long list of different lesson plans centered around the Emancipation Proclamation.



Juneteenth or Freedom Day for African Americans


Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, June 19, 1900
Juneteenth day celebration in Texas, June 19, 1900

June 19 is celebrated as the date that slavery was abolished in Texas in 1865.

For more, go to the Juneteenth website from the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. The date was first celebrated in the Texas capitol in 1867 under the direction of the Freedman's Bureau and became part of the public calendar of events in 1872.

The Emancipation Proclamation Story That Should be Taught in Schools focuses on the efforts of African Americans to resist slavery and fight for freedom.


Click Here for a video on how Juneteenth Day was started and what it means to people



Emancipation Day, April 16, 1862


District of Columbia Emancipation Act freed more than 3000 slaves living in the District of Columbia.

  • Emancipation is celebrated in Florida (May 20), Puerto Rico (March 22), Texas (June 19), and in many nations in the Caribbean on August 1 when slavery was abolished in the British Empire in 1834.


Click Here for a video about Emancipation Day in Washington D.C. 


Focus Question: What political obstacles did Lincoln encounter?

Lincoln’s major political obstacle was preserving the union.


  • Lincoln made clear in his first inaugural address that he did not want the southern states to secede. 


  • Once the southern states did secede Lincoln was forced to go to war and win the war in order to save the union. 


  • Winning the war was a difficult task. 
    • Lincoln struggled to find competent Union generals who could pave the way to victory. The confederate states had very talented military leadership.
    • The North had a series of largely incompetent military leaders before Lincoln appointed General Ulysses Grant who helped lead the country to victory.
      • Lincoln had to deal with the incompetence of several Union Army Commanding Generals. Among the most notable of these leaders is George McClellan, whose unnecessary caution forced Lincoln to replace him with Ambrose E. Burnside. Eventually, the position fell to the future president Ulysses S. Grant.


Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 onward



Ulysses S. Grant, Commanding General of the Union Army from 1864 onwardGeorge McClellan, Commanding General of the Union Army (1861-62)

George McClellan, Commanding General of the Union Army (1861-62)

Click here for a sample of an APUSH DBQ question on Lincoln's Presidency.

Click here to view a letter from Lincoln's wife, Mary Todd, urging McClellan's replacement.

Mary Todd Lincoln

Here is a biography on Mary Tod Lincoln


Here is a link to a mini-biographical video on Mary Todd Lincoln



external image Red_apple.jpg PBS lesson plan on Reconstruction & Lincoln's role (goes along with the Ken Burns Civil War Documentary)

Many people don't know about Lincoln's service in the Black Hawk War. During this war, groups of Native Americans were attempting to move back onto their ancestor's homelands. Lincoln served as a captain and learned a lot of military tactics during his time serving. Click here for more details on his service.

Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address

 Lincoln's Constitutional Dilemma: Emancipation and Black Suffrage For a new take on Lincoln's struggles and how he was perceived.

Ford's Theatre: Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address. Ford Theatre Society historian Sarah Jencks discusses Lincoln's speech with teachers.


Teaching About Lincoln

Overseas, Lincoln worked to gain support for the Union and to keep countries like France and Great Britain from recognizing and aiding the Confederacy.

  • Learn more about Lincoln's foreign affairs here.


A. Lincoln, 1863
A. Lincoln, 1863

In “Why Lincoln Matters,” (USA Weekend, January 30-February 1, 2009), presidential historian Michael Beschloss presents seven themes for teaching about Abraham Lincoln, 200 years after his birth.

1) Scholars and the public recognize Lincoln as our best president. Teachers can discuss what makes a president great, both in that person’s own time and in our historical memory.

2) Lincoln’s story embodies the American Dream, rising from poverty and illiteracy to become President. Teachers can explore how people can overcome challenges to achieve success.

3) Lincoln was a man of high moral character and purpose, known as “Honest Abe.” Teachers can explore his character and his actions as a study in moral leadership.

4) Lincoln made significant contributions to race relations in America. He issued the Emancipation Proclamation, a seminal document in the quest to end slavery and, yet many felt he did not go far enough in promoting freedom and legal equality for African Americans. Teachers can discuss Lincoln in the context of the struggles of African Americans in this country.

5) Lincoln is a popular culture figure whose name is found in many parts of our culture—automobiles, Lincoln logs, pennies, land of Lincoln. Teachers can explore Lincoln’s enduring place in the popular culture.

6) Lincoln’s life contains many mysteries. Teachers can explore how he rose to the presidency and what might have been different if he had lived.

7) Lincoln understood the power of words. His speeches contain phrases and language that influenced people during his lifetime and remain relevant today. Teachers can study how Lincoln used language to convey his messages.

external image Test_hq3x.pngSample MCAS Test Question (2008)

President Abraham Lincoln temporarily suspended the writ of habeas corpus during the Civil War. When he did this, which of the following rights of citizens did he temporarily revoke?
A. the right to bear arms
B. the right to own property
C. the right to vote in Congressional elections
D. the right to be formally charged when arrested
Correct Answer: D

external image Test_hq3x.pngTest Question
What was the source of the following phrase: "Government of the people, by the people, for the people?"

  • "I Have a Dream" speech
  • Declaration of Independence
  • United States Constitution
  • Gettsburg Address

ANSWER: D (Center for Individual Freedom, History & Civics Quiz, 2000).

Additional Resources:

external image Red_apple.jpgThe Multiple Dilemmas of Abraham Lincoln presents students with five difficult decisions Abraham Lincoln made between his election in November 1860 and the battle of Fort Sumter in April 1861 and asks the students to investigate primary sources to compare what they would do with what Lincoln himself chose to do.

Smithsonian's Timeline of the Civil War


For More Information on Abraham Lincoln


(2007). Education Links. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Abraham Lincoln Online Web site: http://showcase.netins.net/web/creative/lincoln/education/educate.htm

VandeCreek, Drew (2000). Lincoln's Biography. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Lincoln/Net Web site: http://lincoln.lib.niu.edu/abio.html

Abraham Lincoln Papers. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from Library of Congress Web site: http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html

Abraham Lincoln. Retrieved April 19, 2007, from The White House Web site: http://www.whitehouse.gov/history/presidents/al16.html

The Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College

Podcasts of the Lincoln-Douglas debates, as interpreted by two Lincoln scholars; this link also gives good summaries of the debates in podcast list

Picture of President Lincoln from http://www.americanpresidents.org/classroom/overview.asp
Also includes lesson plan for unit on President Lincoln

Other Sources: 
Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, Eric Foner (ed.) W.W.Norton, 2008
Out of Many: A History of the American People. Armitage, Susan H.; Mari Jo Buhle; Daniel Czitrom; John Mack Faragher; Fourth Edition; Prentice Hall, N.J.; 2003.

Comments (0)

You don't have permission to comment on this page.