Abraham Lincoln
Burial Location Visited President Grave #
Springfield, Illinois
August 20, 2004 16th Visited

Abraham Lincoln steered the
Union to victory in the Civil War,
but was assassinated by John
Wilkes Booth
before he could see
the fractured nation reunited. A
thirteen-day train trip took the late
president from Washington, D.C.,
to his resting place at Oak Ridge
Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois,
where he lived from 1837 to 1861.

The president's interment spot within the
burial chamber is denoted with a red granite
monument, but he is not entombed within
the sarcophagus. To ensure grave robbers
could not steal his body, like some nearly
did in 1876, Lincoln's coffin was lowered
beneath the floor into a steel cage, which
was then covered with ten feet of cement.

Lincoln's intricate tomb towers
117 feet in the air. Much of the
exterior statuary was created
from melted-down bronze Civil
War cannons. This larger than
life figure depicts the president
after he signed the Emancipation
Proclamation that freed enslaved
African Americans in rebellious
southern states.

This golden phrase that graces the burial
chamber's back wall was uttered after
Lincoln's passing by War Secretary Edwin
. Some historians contest that
Stanton likely said the president belonged
"to the angels" rather than "ages," but
the version inscribed at Lincoln's tomb
has been more widely accepted.

Fast Facts *

- First Lady: Mary Ann Todd Lincoln
- Spouse: Mary Ann Todd Lincoln (m. 1842-1865)

- Political Party: Republican Party (1861-1864)
   National Union Party (1864-1865)

- Term: 1861-1865
- Vice President: Hannibal Hamlin (1861-1865)
   Andrew Johnson (1865)

- Born: February 12, 1809

- Died: April 15, 1865

- Age:

- Cause of Death: Gunshot Wound

- Last Words: "She won't think anything about it."

Cemetery: Oak Ridge Cemetery, Springfield, Illinois
- GPS Coordinates: 39°49'23.5"N 89°39'20.6"W

* * * Background on Abraham Lincoln * * *

* Sectional tension within the United States was high as the country approached the 1860 national election. The Democratic Party splintered and its northern faction chose Senator Stephen Douglas as its nominee, while southerners put forth Vice President John C. Breckinridge. The conservative Constitutional Union Party, which aimed to avoid the inescapable slavery debate, nominated former Senator John Bell of Tennessee. The Republican Party seemed likely to select William Seward, an abolitionist and senator from New York. Yet on May 18th, delegates in Chicago nominated "Honest Abe" Lincoln. He was a self-taught lawyer who had spent eight years as a state legislator in Illinois, but just two years as a Congressman in Washington, D.C. Yet Lincoln had earned some acclaim as a speaker. Though he was unsuccessful in his 1858 bid to oust Stephen Douglas from the Senate, Lincoln's seven debates with the Democrat endeared him nationally to people who opposed slavery's expansion into the western territories. He further impressed them in February 1860 with his address at the Cooper Union school in Manhattan, in which he argued that the framers of the Constitution did not forbid the legislative branch from prohibiting slavery's expansion into newly acquired lands. Lincoln continued to burnish his reputation with a New England speaking tour, two months after which he secured the Republican nomination. The New York Herald criticized Republicans for passing over "statesmen and able men" for Lincoln, whom it described as "a fourth rate lecturer, who cannot speak good grammar." Lincoln had many critics in all parts of the country, especially the South; he carried no southern states in the November election. Yet he emerged victorious with 180 electoral votes and 39.8% of the popular vote. The Republican Party achieved its first presidential win and simultaneously secured a majority in both houses of Congress.

* A month after the 1860 election, while James Buchanan was still president, South Carolina issued a declaration of secession from the United States. Within the document, South Carolinians asserted that, once the anti-slavery Republicans took control, "slaveholding States will no longer have the power of self-government, or self-protection, and the Federal Government will have become their enemy." Before the transfer of power in March, six more states seceded and formed the independent nation of the Confederate States of America. Once in office, Lincoln refused to recognize the legitimacy of the Confederacy. The situation stewed until April when, under the orders of CSA President Jefferson Davis, Confederate forces fired upon Union-occupied Fort Sumter off the shores of Charleston, South Carolina. Shortly after the fort was surrendered, four more states seceded and joined the Confederacy. With Congress in recess, Lincoln assumed unprecedented power and mobilized 75,000 militia members, in addition to calling for an additional 42,000 volunteers. He read books about military strategy and administration, and ordered a blockade of Confederate ports. A hands-on commander-in-chief, he made battlefront visits, routinely fired generals he viewed as ineffective, and spent nights at the War Department’s telegraph office reading and sending dispatches. Lincoln also shut down anti-war newspapers and suspended habeas corpus (a writ used to bring prisoners before a court to determine if their detention is valid), and was criticized by some as tyrannical. Lincoln argued that measures such as these were necessary and constitutional, but in some cases Congress passed retroactive resolutions to ensure the legitimacy of the president's actions. Lincoln's use of centralized authority helped keep the Union aloft during what turned out to be a costly four year conflict.

* Lincoln had been repulsed by slavery since he first witnessed it in New Orleans in 1828, and though as president-elect he affirmed his commitment to thwart the expansion of slavery into western territories, his aim at the start of the Civil War was not to eradicate the institution. Lincoln's intention was to bring the rebellious states back into the Union without losing the tenuous support of residents from the states between the North and South. In 1861, Lincoln was displeased that General John C. Frémont, commander of the Western Department, issued an edict that emancipated enslaved people in Missouri, a border state that remained in the Union. Concerned that such a maneuver would push border state officials and citizens to re-align with the CSA, Lincoln nullified the action. The following year, the president wrote New-York Tribune editor Horace Greeley that his “paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. […] I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men every where could be free.” Yet just a few months later, Lincoln saw fit to combine his personal wish with his official duty to preserve the nation and win the war. On January 1, 1863, he issued an Emancipation Proclamation that freed the enslaved populace of southern states. Some captives had already escaped from plantations, but Lincoln hoped his gambit would reduce the Confederate labor force and disrupt the CSA economy on a larger scale. After Lincoln issued this executive order, Union forces routinely liberated enslaved African Americans as they advanced through the CSA. Lincoln used his position as wartime commander-in-chief of the armed forces to justify the emancipation of enslaved people in the rebellious South, but did not see the legal authority for the president to abolish slavery throughout the entire country. To achieve that goal, he pressed Congress to pass a constitutional amendment. The Senate approved the measure in April 1864, followed by the House of Representatives in January 1865. The Thirteenth Amendment to abolish chattel slavery throughout the U.S. was ratified the following December, eight months after Lincoln's assassination.

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