Issue Date: February 9, 2009
City: Springfield, IL
Lincoln was a humble politician, one who had faith in “the worth and fundamental goodness of plain people...those who he grew up with...who helped him get a start in life...”
Abraham Lincoln began his political career at the age of 23. He ran as the Whig Party’s candidate for the Illinois General Assembly. Although he lost that campaign, Lincoln was elected to the Illinois state legislature in 1834 and served four consecutive terms.
Lincoln first lashed out on the “injustice and bad policy” of slavery in 1837. Following a brief respite from politics, Lincoln returned in response to the debate over allowing slavery in new U.S. territories. He and his followers broke from the Whig Party and formed the new Republican party. Lincoln accepted the party’s nomination for the Illinois senate in 1858. His stirring acceptance speech included the philosophy that “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” a phrase that rallied northern Republicans.
A series of debates between Lincoln and rival Stephen Douglas focused on the slavery issue. Lincoln lost that election but gained national attention. In 1860, he was the Republican nominee for President. Lincoln defeated three other candidates, including Stephen Douglas, to become the sixteenth President of the United States.