A Few Facts About Abraham Lincoln
Who Was Abraham Lincoln?
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States of America. He was born in 1809 in the Kentucky frontier town of Hogdenville. He was also the first U.S. president to be assassinated. This occurred on April 14, 1865, as he attended a play, called Our American Cousins with his wife and a few friends.
He is considered one of our most important presidents, as he is generally regarded as a primary force in holding the nation together, after it entered a four year Civil War that was particularly violent and bloody.
Today, Abraham is immortalized on the face of Mount Rushmore in South Dakota and also with the Lincoln Memorial in the nation's capital. He was also recently cast as a vampire hunter in a popular movie, even though there is no historical evidence to back this up.
About That Hat
The stove pipe hat was worn by many men in the mid 1800s. Also known as a top hat, "topper," high hat, chimney pot hat, or cylinder hat, this stately fashion piece reached its most extreme shape during the 1840s and 1850s. During this era the hat was known for its narrow brim and over-extended height. When Abraham Lincoln wore his "topper," he most likely towered to a height of seven feet.
Early top hats were often made from beaver fur, but as time rolled on and beavers became scarce, hat makers switched to silk and began lessening the height and widening the brim of the hat. Not only did Lincoln wear his hat as a symbol of elegance, but he would also place important letters and documents inside it for safe transport.
Lincoln and the Indians
Abraham Lincoln was born on the frontier in a day when there still was armed conflict between the Indians and the newly-arrived settlers. One of the more important events in Lincoln's young life was learning about the death of his grandfather at the hands of some local indians who were probably Shawnee.
Also named Abraham Lincoln, his grandfather was killed at a frontier cabin in Nelson County, Kentucky, located near Springfield. Even though the killing occurred 23 years before Lincoln was born, the event was significant to Lincoln, being named after his grandfather by his father, who witnessed the killing.
Lincoln's Military Service
"If he (General Lewis Cass) saw any live, fighting Indians, it was more than I did, but I had a good many bloody struggles with the mosquitoes," said Abraham Lincoln in 1848, reminiscing on his participation in Black Hawk's War
Abraham Lincoln's only stint in the military came for three months in 1832, when he briefly served as a volunteer with the Illinois Militia. During the war, Lincoln rose from private to captain. Although the unit saw no military action, Lincoln was seen by his men as a very capable leader. He also received a sizable land grant for his service, as was the custom of the day.
Water In the Rain
The Santee Sioux Uprising
Abraham Lincoln reacted harshly to the Santee Sioux Uprising that occurred briefly in the fall of 1861. Indeed, it was a bloody conflict that took the lives of nearly 500 settlers and many more Dakota (Sioux Indians). Originally, over 300 of the Santee Sioux were sentenced to be hung.
In December of 1862, Lincoln commuted the number to 38, saying, “I could not afford to hang men for votes”. At the time, this move was very unpopular, especially in the Minnesota territory, where the uprising took place. Still, the mass hanging that occurred on Boxing Day, December 26, 1862, stands as the largest mass execution in U.S. History.
Abraham Lincoln and the New Mexico Indians
During Lincoln's time as President, Indian conflict in the West increased, even while the U.S. was pre-occupied with a much larger armed confrontation in the East. The western strife forced the Union to dispatch much needed military units to the West. In the Civil War years, the territory of New Mexico was the scene of much of the conflict.
Most Indian affairs, here, were directly dealt with by the military, such as the forced removal of the Mescalero Apaches and Navajos to new lands in the Southwest. However, there is one place that Lincoln did intervene with much benefit to the indigenous population.
This occurred in 1863,when the Pueblo Indians, who had for ages lived near the Rio Grande river, were granted sovereignty by the 16th president with a simple gift of a cane. In total, 19 different Pueblo community were recognized as "peaceful" and in return each group received a full-sized cane, signed by Lincoln, to honor this commitment. These canes are still in existence today, serving as solid reminders of the special relationship between these various, Indian groups and the US government.
Lincoln's Law Degree
“When you have got an elephant by the hind legs and he is trying to run away, it’s best to let him run.” – Abraham Lincoln
If Abraham Lincoln was alive today, he would certainly be debarred and most likely be arrested for practicing law without a license. Fortunately, back in Illinois in the early 1800s, you did not need a law degree to practice law. All that was necessary, was to "obtain a certificate procured from the court of an Illinois county certifying to the applicant's good moral character."
Lincoln accomplished this in 1836 by appearing before the Illinois Supreme Court in Springfield and allowing the justices to pass judgement on his character. And so began Lincoln's law career.
Abraham Lincoln the Wrestler
Lincoln's Political Start
"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself." Abraham Lincoln
Before Lincoln entered politics, he was among other things an accomplished wrestler. Around the frontier, the 6'4" railsplitter had become a very formidable grappler, losing only one match in 300 attempts. Furthermore, the notoriety he gained from his athletic contests gave him name recognition, when he first ran for a seat in the Illinois legislature.
Today, Abe Lincoln's wrestling prowess is recognized by the WWE and the National Wrestling Hall of Fame in Oklahoma, where he is an honorary member.
One Year of Compulsory Education
“No matter how much cats fight, there always seem to be plenty of kittens.” – Abraham Lincoln
Abraham Lincoln made in all the way to the White House with just one year of compulsory education. This may seem strange by today's standards, but Honest Abe was born on the frontier in a different age and era. Nonetheless, Mr. Lincoln was a veracious reader from a young age, an important accomplishment, which very much aided his political success.