Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) was the sixteenth president of the United States during one of the most consequential periods in American history, the Civil War. Before being elected president, Lincoln served in the Illinois legislature and lost an election for the U.S. Senate to Stephen A. Douglas. Nevertheless, his fierce campaign earned him a nomination for the presidency. The first Republican president ever, Lincoln led the Union to victory in the Civil War and ended slavery in America.
Despite being remembered today as "The Great Emancipator," Lincoln maintained a moderate stance on the emancipation of slaves, never vowing in his campaigns to abolish slavery, as it was vital to the southern economy. He even stated in his presidential inaugural address that he would not use his executive power to interfere with the institution in any state where it existed. Still, Lincoln vehemently opposed the expansion of slavery into new western territories and served as one of the most influential advocates of "free soil." For this reason, the president posed a significant threat to the economic and political interests of the slaveholding South. Thus, in response to his 1860 election victory, seven southern states seceded from the Union. Lincoln was determined to prevent disunion by any means necessary, but his attempts at negotiation failed miserably; within the first months of his tenure, the divided nation was engaged in a full-blown Civil War.