Nickname: Great Emancipator

Years in office: 1861–1865

Political party: Republican

Birthday: February 12, 1809

Official presidential portrait of Abraham Lincoln

by George Peter Alexander Healy, 1869

Image from the Smithsonian Museum of American History

Abraham Lincoln bought this hat from a Washington hat maker named J.Y. Davis. If you look closely you’ll see a small black band near the brim. Lincoln added it to the hat in remembrance of his son, Willie. Lincoln wore this hat to Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865.

In 1860, the issue was slavery. Republicans wanted to stop the spread of slavery into the new territories. Democrats could not decide on a unified platform or candidate. Stephen Douglas would eventually win the Democratic nomination. Angry Southern Democrats would nominate John Breckinridge as their candidate. 

The election of 1860 is one of the most important moments in US history. Abraham Lincoln would win, only to become one of our nation’s most respected figures. But, the election win for Lincoln led to the secession of many southern states and, in turn, the Civil War.

Even in the midst of a Civil War, the American people staged an election and re-elected the incumbent, Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln lost favor with many Radical Republicans, but was still able to secure the nomination of the National Union Party, a label adopted by Republicans to include War Democrats. Today, we still refer to Lincoln as a Republican and Johnson as a Democrat, as the National Union Party ended with Lincoln.

During the war, Lincoln’s plan shifted from one of preserving the Union to one of emancipation. Only the states loyal to the Union voted, and Lincoln won re-election.


Hodgenville, KY


Springfield, IL


Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, IL


Washington, D.C.


Davis, Kenneth C., and Pedro Martin. Don’t Know Much about the Presidents. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2014.

DeGregorio, William A., and Aaron Jaffe. The Complete Book of U.S. Presidents. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books, Inc., 2017.

Kane, Joseph Nathan, and Janet Podell. Facts about the Presidents: A Compilation of Biographical and Historical Information. New York: H.W. Wilson, 2009.


Encyclopedia Britannica, britannica.com

Library of Congress, loc.gov

Miller Center, University of Virginia, millercenter.org/the-presidency

The White House, whitehouse.gov

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