Lincoln @ The History Channel
February 12, 1809:
– Abraham Lincoln is born in a log cabin on a farm in backwoods Hardin County, Kentucky. He and his family move to Indiana in 1816.
October 5, 1817:
– His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, dies from an affliction known then as “milk sickness.” She is one of several close relations who will die while he is young.
July 4, 1826:
– Thomas Jefferson dies. Lincoln felt “much more affectionate” toward Jefferson, comments author Matthew Pinsker in this program, than he did toward his own father, Thomas Lincoln, whose world—“backward, primitive, crude”—he wished to escape, says author Michael Burlingame.
– Lincoln, age 22, first sees the frontier village of New Salem, Illinois, on the Sangamon River. Settling here in July, he quickly makes a positive impression on the community.
– Lincoln possibly contracts syphilis from a prostitute, according to a statement made later by an associate.
– He runs for the first time for Illinois legislature, as a member of the Whig Party, but finishes eighth in a field of 13.
– He’s elected for the first time to the state legislature and begins studying law.
August 25, 1835:
– Ann Rutledge, his sweetheart, dies after a brief illness. He falls into a suicidal depression; his friends help him through it.
August 1, 1836:
– He’s re-elected to the legislature. He’ll serve a total of four terms in the body, and will gain a reputation as a tough, shrewd, partisan deal-maker.
April 15, 1837:
– He moves permanently to Springfield, Illinois, the state capital, where he will serve in the legislature and practice law. Upon arrival in Springfield he meets Joshua Speed, with whom he will share a bed for the next four years
– Lincoln writes a poem about suicide.
– He attends soirees at a fashionable Springfield home and meets Mary Todd with whom he becomes engaged in December, 1840. Almost immediately he develops cold feet and breaks off the commitment. Mary concludes he’s in love with a woman named Matilda Edwards. Lincoln plunges into another deep depression.
– Lincoln recuperates at the Speed family home in Farmington, Kentucky.
November 4, 1842:
– Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd, reunited, are married in Springfield. They will have four sons together, but their marriage will suffer through many tensions.
– Lincoln rides the Illinois judicial circuit as a lawyer, handling all kinds of legal matters. He becomes one of Springfield’s most prominent citizens.
August 3, 1846:
– At age 37, he’s elected to the U.S. House of Representatives as a Whig, and will serve a single two-year
term, during which time he will be a leader of his party’s attack on Democratic President James Polk and the motives behind the Mexican War.
– After leaving the House in 1848, Lincoln withdraws from public life for five long years. During this period, as well, his young son, Eddie, dies, in February of 1850.
– America quarrels bitterly about slavery. The Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854 re-ignites Lincoln’s political ambitions, but in 1855 he fails to gain a coveted seat in the U.S. Senate. In 1856 he will become a member of the new Republican Party. In 1858 he’ll lose again in a Senate race, but will make a mark with his debating rigor.
February 27, 1860:
– Lincoln’s anti-slavery speech at Cooper Union in New York City turns him into a national figure.
November 6, 1860:
– Abraham Lincoln is elected 16th President of the United States.
April 12, 1861:
– Confederates bombard Fort Sumter in South Carolina. Lincoln has reached the “profound decision,”
says author Michael Burlingame, that war must ensue, the union must be preserved and slavery must be destroyed.
July 21, 1861:
– The Battle of Bull Run, a disaster for the Federals. “Lincoln made it his business to go out into the field,” comments author Harold Holzer, to connect with soldiers and “feel their pain.” During the Course of the War – “I’m the loneliest man in the world,” says Lincoln to a visiting clergyman. “Lincoln had nobody that he could really talk to,” says author Michael Burlingame.
February 20, 1862:
– The Lincolns’ son Willie, age 11, dies at the White House after a sudden illness. Mary Lincln also begins conducting séances in the White House during this period.
September 17, 1862:
– Climax of the immensely bloody Battle of Antietam.
January 1, 1863:
– Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation takes effect.
May 1-4, 1863:
– The Battle of Chancellorsville, a triumph for the Confederates. In its aftermath, says author Michael Burlingame, Lincoln “said he felt like hanging himself.”
July 1-3, 1863:
– The Battle of Gettysburg, a major victory for the Federals. During this same period, Federal troops are triumphant in the Battle of Vicksburg.
November 19, 1863:
– Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address.
– The Battle of the Wilderness reaches its climax. The battle, comments author Jay Winik in this program, “almost” killed the president because of his anguish over its immense cost in lives. “I just think,” says author Doug Wilson in this program, “that the legend and the biographies haven’t told us about the amount of emotional turmoil that Lincoln went through...”
November 8, 1864:
– Lincoln is re-elected president.
March 4, 1865:
– He delivers his Second Inaugural Address.
April 9, 1865:
– Robert E. Lee surrenders to Ulysses S. Grant.
April 11, 1865:
– The president gives a speech calling for voting rights for blacks. It’s his last public address.
April 14, 1865:
– Lincoln is shot at close-range by John Wilkes Booth at Ford’s Theatre, and dies the next morning, April 15.
Lincoln @ The History Channel
Airs Monday, January 16th 2006 at 8-11pm ET/PT.
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