Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President and the first Republican.  His Term of Office began on March 4, 1861 and ended on April 15, 1865.  His rise to power is one the enduring stories of our American history.  He was born February 12, 1809 into poverty in a one room log cabin in Sinking Springs Farm, Kentucky.

Lincoln lacked formal schooling but he was an avid reader and educated himself.  Family, neighbors, and schoolmates recalled that his reading included the King James Bible, Shakespeare, Aesop’s Fables, John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress, Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, and The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin.  An accomplished and respected politician and lawyer, he ran for a US Senate seat against Stephen Douglas in 1858.  Although he lost, he won a national reputation for a series of inspiring debates.  Two years later, he defeated Douglas to become the first Republican President.

The Civil War against the Confederate States of America began on April 12, 1861, so Lincoln’s Presidency was shaped by the war.  He vowed to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.  His greatest achievements included the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863, which freed the slaves, and the Gettysburg Address, commemorating those who died in the Civil War. This is depicted in the movie, Lincoln in 2012.  An American biographical historical drama film directed and produced by Steven Spielberg, starring Daniel Day-Lewis as United States President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln won reelection in 1864, but on April 14, 1865, just five days after victory in the War, he was shot while attending a play in Washington, D. C.  That same night, while Lincoln’s son Tad is watching Aladdin and the Wonderful Lamp at Grover’s Theatre, the manager suddenly stopped the play to announce that the President has been shot. The next morning, April 15th,  Lincoln died at the Petersen House; and Secretary of War Edwin Stanton declares, “Now he belongs to the ages”.  Abraham Lincoln’s last words:  “We will visit the Holy Land, and see those places hallowed by the footsteps of the Savior. There is no city on earth I so much desire to see as Jerusalem.”

Five things you may not know about President Lincoln:

1) He was an accomplished wrestler as a young man.  This earned him an “Outstanding American” Honor from the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.
2) Lincoln created the Secret Service hours before his assassination; however, it was not until 1901 and the killing of 2 other Presidents that the Secret Service was formally assigned to protect the Commander-in-Chief.
3)  Lincoln is the only US President to obtain a patent. He designed a method for keeping vessels afloat when traversing shallow waters through the use of empty metal chambers attached to their sides.  (Patent No. 6,469 in 1849).
4) John Wilkes Booth’s brother, Edwin, saved the life of Lincoln’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln by pulling his coat collar so that Todd would not fall from a train platform.
5) Lincoln never slept in the White House’s Lincoln Bedroom.  He used it for his office.


William McKinley


William McKinley was the 25th President and one of the most accessible men ever to hold the office of President. His Term of Office was from March 4, 1897, to September 14, 1901. He was noted for his unfailing courtesy and common sense approach to problem-solving, and his sympathetic manner won him many friends. Therefore, it was ironic that this well-like gentleman should become the third President in history to be assassinated.

He was born on January 29, 1843, in Niles, Ohio. McKinley attended Allegheny College for a short time but left because of illness. After serving gallantly in the Union Army during the Civil War, he studied law in New York and Ohio and was admitted to the Ohio bar. Settling in Canton, he established a successful
law practice and became active in Republican Party Politics. He served 14 years as a US Congressman and two terms as Governor of Ohio before running for President in 1896.

After the Presidential election, foreign policy became the nation’s chief preoccupation. Following the mysterious destruction of the battleship Maine in Havana harbor, McKinley delivered a half-hearted war message to Congress, which promptly declared war on Spain. During his presidency, McKinley led the nation to victory in the Spanish-American War, raised protective tariffs to promote American industry,
and kept the nation on the gold standard in a rejection of the expansionary monetary policy of free silver. McKinley won the second election by an even larger margin than the first. On September 6, 1901, six months into his second term, William McKinley was shot on the grounds of the Pan-American
Exposition at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, New York. He was shaking hands with the public when anarchist Leon Czolgosz shot him twice in the abdomen. He died eight days later, on September 14th, and was buried in Ohio amidst widespread mourning.

Three things you may not know about President McKinley:

1) His face is on the $500 bill.
2) He had a parrot named “Washington Post.”
3) On July 7, 1898, President William McKinley signed a bill that annexed the Hawaiian Islands, making them part of the United States.