America in the 1850s

Abraham Lincoln Appears on the Scene

When did Abraham Lincoln appear on the political scene?

Born in Kentucky in 1809, Lincoln had moved to Indiana and then Illinois. A person of great ambition, he slowly worked his way up the ladder of life in the American West, becoming a store owner, a captain of militia, and eventually a successful attorney. His marriage to Mary Todd, who came from a prominent Kentucky family, undoubtedly assisted his rise, but some of the stories about the young Lincoln are true. He was honest to a fault and a friend for life.

Lincoln had served a term in the U.S. House of Representatives during the Mexican War, but he really rose to prominence as an astute, middle-of-the-road member of the new Republican Party. In 1858, he challenged Stephen A. Douglas, the author of the Kansas-Nebraska Act, for the open U.S. Senate seat from Illinois.


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