Happy Birthday Abraham Lincoln

U.S. #77 – The first mourning stamp was issued nearly a year after Lincoln was shot.

Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin near Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809.

Accustomed to hard work, Lincoln was always large and strong for his age. He received little formal education, but read whatever books he could borrow from his neighbors. When Abe was seven, the Lincoln family moved to Spencer County, Indiana, and then to Illinois when he was 21. Lincoln’s first experience with slavery came at the age of 22, while he was working as a deck hand on a Mississippi River flat boat. He witnessed slaves being beaten, chained, and mistreated on that journey. It was then that he formed his opinions about the institution that, over 30 years later, would lead to the Civil War.

U.S. #122 – Unpopular at the time, the Pictorials are some of the most beloved classic-era stamps today.

By 1847, Lincoln had been both a prominent lawyer in the Illinois Circuit Courts, and a four-term member of the Illinois legislature. He felt that it was time to make the jump into national politics, and ran for an open U.S. Congressional seat. Lincoln was elected, and on December 6, 1847, he began what would be an uneventful term. When his term was up, Lincoln returned home to Illinois to practice law again. By the mid-1850s, Abraham Lincoln was one of the leading lawyers in his state.

U.S. #137 – 1870-71 Lincoln Bank Note stamp.

A bill introduced by Stephen Douglas in 1854 led Abraham Lincoln back into national politics. The 1820 Missouri Compromise outlawed the spread of slavery in the United States north of Missouri’s southern border. Douglas’ proposal called for the establishment of the Kansas and Nebraska territories. It further stated that the settlers of the territories could decide for themselves whether to permit slavery or outlaw it. Although Lincoln felt that abolishing slavery would be dangerous to the American economy, he felt that over time slavery would die off. By extending slavery, the Kansas-Nebraska Act strengthened the institution that Lincoln despised so much.

U.S. #254 – From the first series of U.S. postage stamps printed by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing.

In the years following the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Lincoln acted feverishly in opposition to the legislation. He made several speeches against the act and even challenged Douglas to a series of debates. As a result, Lincoln was chosen to run against Douglas in the Senatorial election of 1858. Although Lincoln lost the election, the debates and speeches made him a well-known national politician, and an able Republican Presidential candidate in 1860.

By the time Abraham Lincoln was sworn in as President on March 4, 1861, seven states had seceded from the Union and formed the Confederate States of America. Four more states would soon follow. President Lincoln chose not to force the states to rejoin the Union – until Confederate artillery fired on Fort Sumter, in Charleston Harbor. This single act started a conflict that would last four long years.

U.S. #315 – Click the image to read the neat story behind this rare Lincoln imperforate.

By the following summer, President Lincoln felt it was necessary to change the policy toward slavery once and for all. He drafted the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves in the rebelling states. However, because the law only applied to rebel states, it could not be enforced by Federal troops. So, in actuality, it didn’t free any slaves at the time. It did shift public opinion in favor of the war effort by making it more of a moral struggle than a political one. It also paved the way for the Thirteenth Amendment, which ended slavery in the entire United States.

U.S. #367-69 – The Lincoln Memorial Issue, produced for his 100th birthday.

By the time Abraham Lincoln took the oath of office for the second time, the war was nearly over. On April 9, 1865, Confederate General Robert E. Lee surrendered to Union General Ulysses S. Grant at the Appomattox Court House in Virginia. President Lincoln ordered Grant to issue generous terms of surrender.

The United States had barely begun the difficult task of Reconstruction when Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth while attending a play at Ford’s theater on April 14th, 1865. President Lincoln died early the following morning without ever regaining consciousness. Vice-President Andrew Johnson assumed the office of President the next day.

We have lots more Lincoln stamps and coins. Click here to view them. And click here to view our ultimate Lincoln collection, which includes mint stamps, uncirculated coins, and a great album filled with little known facts and stories.

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  1. Lincoln was was underappreciated in his own time, but has been recognized in history as a truly great President. It has been said that because of his background, his looks, and his manner of speaking, he couldn’t be elected in modern times. But people forget that he was barely elected in his own time. In the election of 1960, he won the Presidency with 180 electoral votes out of 303 (59%) but only 39.8% of the popular vote. Virtually all of his votes came in the northern and western states, because he wasn’t even on the ballot in the southern states.

    1. Lincoln received the most popular votes among the four candidates that ran in 1860 (Lincoln, Douglas, John C. Breckenridge, and John Bell). The Democrats had split into two parties with the northern wing nominating Douglas while the southern one put up Breckenridge of Kentucky. Bell from Tennessee was the nominee of a rump remnant of the old Whig Party that called themselves the Constitutional Union Party. In addition, while it was true that probably not a single slave was freed on January 1, 1863 when the Emancipation Proclamation went into effect in only those portions of the nation still under Confederate control, as Union forces went on to take over more and more of that territory it did serve to liberate slaves in it.

    2. In the long time I have followed this running chronicle, I have never observed slanted reporting. BUT, here you chose to omit that Lincoln left national politics to fight in the Mexican/American War. Seems he did not oppose mistreatment of Mexicans like he did the Negro. AND to say Lincoln did not chose to challenge the Confederacy ignores the fact that he sent a relief ship to Fort Sumter knowing it would cause open warfare. He was warned.

  2. I presented this “day in history” information to others in my stamp club meeting this month and advised that they could sign up to receive them on line. It is a nice educational tool to have when discussing stamps with potential young philatelic collectors. The more interesting you can make a subject, the more likely they will get involved as a collector, in my opinion. Thanks Mystic for taking the time to promote stamp collecting.

  3. It has always seemed to me that the basic Lincoln has been overlooked because of the struggle to end slavery. If there would be one word that described the essential Lincoln it would be unity, unity of that young nation. As the summary states Lincoln worked on flatboats on the Mississippi and there he saw the necessary unity from North to the city of New Orleans for the American economy. Lincoln was in Washington at a time when we were digesting the fruits of manifest destiny and the Mexican War the nation extending from the Atlantic to the Pacific. That Lincoln was a Union, unity man should be foundation of his policies. Disunity was not in Lincoln’s dictionary. Dr. James J. Cooke, Prof. Emeritus of History (U. of Miss.)

  4. Correction: Lee did not surrender at THE Appomattox Court House. He surrendered at the McLean House located in Appomatox Court House village.

    1. We most certainly have a man of strength/courage — with all he has accomplished which includes saving us from another great depression and a complete collapse of the worldwide economic system (with no help at all from the GOP) — history will place Obama next to Abe, FDR, Washington, Adams and Jefferson as one the greatest Presidents ever. With Hillary next up, America just gets better and better.

  5. Happy Birthday Abe! Being an avid coin collector (over 65 yrs now!) and “all things” Lincoln fan, I greatly appreciate and treasure this Lincoln tribute. In just a few words, (as always) you have captured the essence of Lincoln’s life on this auspicious day. And your invitation to click on to view your vast inventory of stamp and coin selections was memorable. Thanks Mystic! And many happy returns to you, Abe!

  6. Thank you Mystic for the history, and thank you President Lincoln for being leader needed at that time to preserve the union. Visiting the Lincoln Memorial in DC is a must for all. I stood there and imagined having a conversation with this great man from humble beginnings.

  7. Oops, make that 1860. If Lincoln had run for President in 1960, he would have been 151 years old! Another note about Lincoln’s electoral successes. In 1864, Lincoln was elected with 212 electoral votes out of 233, but only 55% of the popular vote. I say “only”, because his opponent, ex-general George McClellan ran on the platform of the Democratic Party that called for a negotiated settlement with the Confederate states which would have meant that the Union would have remained divided. Of course, in 1864, the seceded states of the South did not vote, so again all of Lincoln’s votes came from the loyal Union states of the North and West. Several Presidential candidates since then received more that 55% of the popular vote. If Lincoln had lived to serve out his second term, he would have faced huge post-war problems, but Reconstruction would have been very different as would have been the subsequent history of the United States. But that gets into the realm of speculation.

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