12 Feb 1809—15 April 1865Abraham Lincoln was the first Republican President of the USA, serving from 1861 until his death in 1865. His time in office was almost entirely taken up with the Civil War which he undertook against those Southern slave states which desired to secede from the Union. In 1862, by an act of martial law, Lincoln abolished slavery in all states over which the armies of the North had established jurisdiction. He insisted on a complete surrender of the South. Victory finally came on the 9th April 1865, but five days later he was shot in a Washington theatre by a fanatical actor, J.W. Booth, and died the next morning.
Lincoln was the son of a migratory Kentucky farmer. At the age 21, with only one year's formal education, he began working as a labourer in Illinois. This was followed by a partnership in a store in New Salem where he also worked as a postmaster. Lincoln worked as a lawyer in Springfield until his election to Congress as a Whig (1847-51). He was also a local leader in the newly formed Republican Party. Universally liked for his oratory, shrewdness, kindliness, humour, fortitude and devotion to his ideals, he was at times melancholy. In 1842 he married Mary Todd who died in 1882.