Some 155 years ago, on April 15, 1865, the 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, succumbed to a single gunshot wound to the back of his head. The assassin, an established actor, supposedly met his fate 11 days later.
Abraham Lincoln led this nation through its greatest moral, constitutional, and political crisis. Despite significant setbacks on the battlefield – a battleground soaked and stained with the blood of young men from the North and the South – Lincoln managed to hold the Union together.
Lincoln orchestrated the end to slavery through Presidential Proclamation and Executive Order, commonly known as the Emancipation Proclamation. Although issued on September 2, 1862, the proclamation became effective on January 1, 1863. He also encouraged the Border States to abolish slavery, and he promoted the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which outlawed slavery across the nation.
Every student, at one time or another, had the memorize Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. This short speech, only about 300 words, became the historic catalyst – a stirring call – for nationalism, democracy, and liberty.
Lincoln sought to reconcile the war-torn nation. He had planned to exonerate those who had taken up arms against the Union. Unfortunately, just days after Appomattox, John Wilkes Booth made Lincoln a martyred hero. As such, Lincoln’s vision for an amicable reconciliation was supplanted by the ruthlessness and unscrupulousness of Reconstruction.
John Di Genio