Gettysburg Address

(1863)

About the Author

Abraham Lincoln, born on February 12, 1809, in a one-room log cabin in southeastern Kentucky, grew up in a frontier environment. He had little formal education but was a prodigious reader, favoring the Bible, Shakespeare, and biographies. As a young man he studied law. At age twenty-three, he ran unsuccessfully for a seat in the General Assembly of Illinois, to which state his family had moved when he was nine. He served briefly in the Black Hawk War (1832) before being elected to the state legislature in 1834. Lincoln was admitted to the bar in 1837 and proved to be a successful attorney, admired for his ability to argue on his feet in court cases.

In 1842 Lincoln married Mary Todd, the daughter of a prominent southern family. The couple had four children, but only one, Robert, survived into adulthood. Mary, quarrelsome but proud of her husband, supported Lincoln's political ambitions. He was elected for one term in the U.S. House of Representatives and made...

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Gettysburg Address (National Archives and Records Administration)

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