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.
With firm conviction, Lincoln declared South Carolina's secession illegal and pledged to go to war to protect the federal union in 1861. During the four years of the American Civil War, the president steered the North to victory and authored the Emancipation Proclamation, which dealt a severe blow to the institution of slavery in the U.S. Lincoln was a thoughtful and soft-spoken man who used words sparingly but to great effect. His brilliance was captured in the Gettysburg Address, in which he movingly related the ongoing Civil War to the founding principles of America, all in less than two minutes. Lincoln's assassination on 14 April 1865 removed his politically moderate influence from the national stage, giving way to a more radical form of Reconstruction.