In his entire life, Abe was only able to go to school for a total of one year. This lack of education only made him hungry for more knowledge. His mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, influenced him in his quest for learning. Although she was completely uneducated and could not read or write, she encouraged her children to study by themselves. His beloved mother died when he was nine years old, The family was greatly saddened, and for a while lived almost in squalor. Two years later, however, Thomas Lincoln remarried. Abe's stepmother was also instrumental in encouraging him to read. He even travelled to neighbouring farms and counties to borrow books. He was often found reading next to a pile of logs that he should have been splitting.
When he was older, Abe noticed that people loved to listen to stories. He began telling tall tales in the general store where he worked. Customers came and stayed when they knew he was there, just to hear him talk. The family moved once again, this time to Illinois. He began working in a store in the new capital of Springfield. His powers of speech soon helped him enter a new arena, that of politics and law. In 1834 he was elected into the House of Representatives and began studying to become a lawyer.
In 1839, he met his future wife Mary Todd. Coincidentally, she had been born in
Kentucky and her family had recently moved to Illinois. They had a long and unstable courtship, because Abe was indecisive about marrying. They finally exchanged their vows in Mary's home in November 1842. Abraham Lincoln began a long road to become the sixteenth president of the United States. He practiced law all across the state for the next few years, travelling far on horseback to different counties. I n 1847 he was elected into Congress, but his opinions did not ensure him a long stay there. He was vehemently against slavery and took stands on other controversial issues. He was not elected for a second term, so he returned to his law practice.
A few years later, slavery became a stronger issue, and more people were willing to abolish it. Lincoln joined the Republicans, a new political party that was opposed to slavery. The Republicans nominated him for the U.S. Senate in 1858, and in his acceptance speech, he stated:
"A house divided against itself cannot stand... This government cannot endure, permanently half-slave and half-free... I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect the house to fall but I do expect it will cease to be divided. "
Abraham Lincoln's oratorical powers brought him to the attention of the nation. He challenged the Democratic nominee to the Senate to a series of debates. Using the simple language that he used to communicate with people all his life, he defeated (разрушил) Douglas in the debates but lost to him in the election.
Nominated by the Republican Party in 1860 as its candidate for the Presidency of the United States, Lincoln won by a small margin. But with his election, the country began the process of "dividing against itself." South Carolina had seceded from the Union before he was even inaugurated. Other states followed to form the Confederate States of America. The North and South were divided, and the Civil War began. The war was not only over the abolition of slavery, but also the rights of individual states to make their own choices on other issues.
The bloody Battle of Gettysburg in Pennsylvania was the largest battle ever fought on American soil. On November 19, 1863, at a ceremony to establish Gettysburg as a national monument, Lincoln delivered what was to become one of the finest orations in American history, the Gettysburg Address. Yet just after he delivered it, there was polite applause, and reactions varied from indifference to disappointment. Edward Everett, ex-governor of Massachusetts, was the main speaker, and his speech had lasted for almost two hours. On his trip back to Washington, Lincoln himself said of his speech: "It was a flat failure. I am distressed about it. I ought to have prepared it with more care." But Edward Everett assured Lincoln saying: "I would be glad if I could flatter myself that I came near to the central idea of the occasion in two hours as you did in two minutes."
Lincoln was elected to a second term in 1864. The South surrendered, and the Civil War ended on April 9, 1865. The difficult task of national reconstruction and reconciliation lay ahead, but Lincoln would not be the person to lead the country through this difficult period.
On April 14, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln attended a play at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. A few minutes past ten o'clock, an actor who disagreed with Lincoln's political opinions stepped into the Presidential box and shot the President. He died the following morning.
"The father of his country"
George Washington, born on February 22, 1732 in Virginia, was a natural leader, instrumental in creating a united nation out of a conglomeration of struggling colonies and territories. The first president of the United States of America is affectionately honoured as "the father of his country."
Shortly after his twenty-second birthday, Washington served in the army of King George III of England and was put in command of a troop of soldiers. The French were settling on British soil and turning the local Indians against the British colonists. Later, in the war against the French and Indians, Washington commanded large troops of soldiers and showed courage that inspired all his soldiers.
At this time, King George III of England dominated the thirteen colonies along the east coast and much of the surrounding territories. Colonists began to want their freedom, and live with a set of rules based on democracy, not under the rule of a faraway king. The Boston Tea Party of 1773, a colonial rebellion (восстание) against taxes, helped to spark the American Revolution. Washington led and encouraged his inexperienced armies against the British forces for eight years until the colonies won their independence.
Laws for the new country were written into the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The laws called for a President, and here again George Washington was considered the natural choice. He agreed to serve his country as the first President. George Washington moved from Mount Vernon, his family home south of Alexandria, Virginia, to New York City, then the capital of the United States. The trip took a week by horse and carriage. All along the way, people waited eagerly to glimpse (проблеск) the Revolutionary War general and their first President.
Washington was a reluctant