On March 4th, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as the United States’ 16th President.
Lincoln’s inauguration followed a fierce campaign against the Southern Democrat candidate John Breckinridge and his triumph in the Presidential election on November 6th, 1860. Lincoln was victorious with 180 Electoral College votes against Breckinridge’s 70.
The 1860 election was surrounded by heated debate over the issue of slavery. The governments of numerous Southern states argued the vital role which slavery played in their economy, whereas Northern states condemned it on a moral level. The election of Lincoln – a staunch abolitionist – released decades of tension and friction between North and Southern states as seven slave-holding states seceded from the union between the day of the election and his inauguration.
This was the beginning of the American Civil War – a brutal conflict which saw as many as 1,000,000 deaths, including ~80,000 slaves. By the end of 1861, the 7 seceded Southern states grew to 11, forming the Confederacy. Nevertheless, the Union forces proved successful as by the spring of 1865 the Confederate government had collapsed.
As many people know, Abraham Lincoln’s Presidency ended prematurely. On April 14th 1865, following his reelection, Lincoln was fatally shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford Theatre. Booth was strongly opposed to the abolition of Slavery and in an effort to destablise the United States government, he became involved in a plot to assassinate the President, Vice President and the Secretary of State. Interestingly, Booth believed there was still hope for the Confederacy at this point, despite the surrender of General Lee (Commander of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia) 5 days prior.
Lincoln passed away the next morning – April 15th – from the injury sustained the night before.
Read more about Abraham Lincoln’s assassination on April 14th, 1865