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        Abraham Lincoln Takes a National Role

        As a young man, Lincoln’s personable demeanor and service in the 1832 Black Hawk War increased his profile enough to get him elected to a seat in the state legislature in 1834, where he became an influential voice in the state senate as a member of the Whig Party and a moderate critic of the practice of slavery. Lincoln moved to Springfield, Illinois in 1837, where he began to practice law. After he left the legislature in 1841, he met and courted Mary Todd, the future Mrs. Lincoln. These events mark the beginning of Lincoln's ascension into the national spotlight that would eventually lead him to the oval office. This primary source set includes documents that chronicle Lincoln's rise to national prominence.

        http://www.loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/lincoln/

        Autobiographical Notes: May-June 1860

        This Library of Congress primary source document is a short autobiographical piece written by Abraham Lincoln shortly after he was nominated for president around May 1860. It is sometimes assumed that this statement, the most extensive account Lincoln ever gave of his life, was written expressly for the use of campaign biographer and Chicago Press & Tribune editor John L. Scripps. But Scripps was only one of the recipients of the text of this autobiography. John G. Nicolay, writing to Jesse W. Weik on February 13, 1895, explained: "The autobiography beginning on page 638, Vol. I of the Lincoln Complete Works was written by Mr. Lincoln within a week or two after his first nomination."

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        Inauguration of Mr. Lincoln: March 4, 1861

        This Library of Congress primary source photograph shows participants and crowd at the first inauguration of President Abraham Lincoln, at the U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C. Lincoln is standing under the wood canopy, at the front, midway between the left and center posts. His face is in shadow but the white shirt front is visible.

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        Chicago Wide-Awake Republican Club to Abraham Lincoln

        This primary source image is Abraham Lincoln's certificate of honorary membership to the Chicago chapter of the Wide-Awake Club, a Republican marching club formed in 1860. The certificates says: "This certifies that Mr. Abraham Lincoln has been duly elected an Honorary Member of the Republican Wide-Awake Clubof Chicago. It is signed by the chapter's president and secretary.

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        A Membership Certificate for the Wide-Awake Club

        This Library of Congress primary source print is a membership certificate for the Wide-Awake Club, a Republican marching club formed in February or March 1860 and active throughout the North during the election campaign. The club was dedicated to the preservation of the Union and the non-extension of slavery. The certificate has a central vignette showing crowds and troops before the U. S. Capitol. Some of the troops march in long parade lines, others fire cannons into the air toward the Capitol.

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        For President, Abraham Lincoln. For Vice President, Hannibal Hamlin

        This Library of Congress primary source print shows a large campaign banner for Republican presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln and running mate Hannibal Hamlin. Lincoln's first name is given here as "Abram." The banner consists of a thirty-three star American flag pattern printed on cloth. In one corner, a bust portrait of Lincoln, without beard, encircled by stars, appears on a blue field.

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        Diagram of the Federal Government and American Union, 1862

        This Library of Congress primary resource is a print showing the outline of 42 states and Indian Territory, a Civil War battle scene, and Liberty holding a U.S. flag and sword riding on the back of an eagle. It also depicts Lincoln and his cabinet (the secretaries linked to images of the Army, Navy, Treasury, Interior, P.O. Dept., and State Department), representing the "Executive" branch, the Senate and the House of Representatives representing the "Legislative" branch, and the Supreme Court representing the "Judicial" branch of the federal government. There are also cameo portraits of "The seven builders and leading spirits of the revolution."

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        Abraham Lincoln to Mary S. Owens: August 16, 1837

        This Library of Congress primary resource is a letter from Abraham Lincoln, written to Mary S. Owens in 1837. Lincoln had enthusiastically agreed to marry Owens in 1836, after meeting her just once, three years earlier. When Lincoln was reunited with Owens, he told a friend he was “not all pleased” with her homely physical appearance. This letter reflects their rocky relationship. Much to Lincoln’s embarrassment, Mary detected his true sentiments and eventually rejected Lincoln’s dutiful repeated proposal of marriage.

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        Abraham Lincoln's Student Sum Book: 1824-1826

        Abraham Lincoln claimed in his autobiography that all of his formal schooling did not amount to one year. The pioneer schools of Indiana probably did not have access to a math textbook. Lincoln, however, managed to acquire a few sheets of paper that he sewed together to form a small math notebook. The Library of Congress acquired two pages, one leaf shown here. This primary resource is considered the earliest extant Lincoln manuscript.

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        Abraham Lincoln, 1865

        This Library of Congress primary source is a poster of Abraham Lincoln was created after his death. It includes scenes which document and celebrate his life.

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        Political Map of the United States

        This Library of Congress primary resource is Reynold's political map of the United States, designed to exhibit the comparative area of the free and slave states and the territory open to slavery or freedom by the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. It was created in 1856.

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        Teacher's Guide: Abraham Lincoln Takes a National Role

        This Library of Congress teacher's guide provides historical background information about Abraham Lincoln, as well as suggestions for how to use these primary sources in the classroom. The guide also provides links to additional resources.

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        Lincoln's Literary Experiments: April 1894

        This Library of Congress primary source document is about the writing of Abraham Lincoln. It was originally published in The Century, a popular quarterly magazine at the time, in April 1894. The piece includes a poem that Lincoln wrote about his childhood home, as well as bits of lectures and speeches.

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        The Address of the Hon. Abraham Lincoln, Delivered at Cooper Institute

        This Library of Congress primary source document is a typed address that Abraham Lincoln delivered at Cooper Institute in February of 1860. The speech addresses the policy of the Framers of the Constitution and the principles of the Republican party.

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        Poem, My Childhood Home I see Again, 1846

        This Library of Congress primary resource is a poem by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln told a friend that he wrote these lines "under the following circumstances. In the fall of 1844, thinking I might aid some to carry the State of Indiana for Mr. Clay, I went into the neighborhood in that State in which I was raised, where my mother and only sister were buried, and from which I had been absent about fifteen years. That part of the country is, within itself, as unpoetical as any spot of the earth; but still, seeing it and its objects and inhabitants aroused feelings in me which were certainly poetry; though whether my expression of those feelings is poetry is quite another question."

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        Abraham Lincoln to Norman B. Judd, February 9, 1860

        This Library of Congress primary source is a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to Norman B. Judd, an Indiana representative, in February 1860. With the national Republican nominating convention approaching, Lincoln feared political retribution over his carefully composed letter to George W. Dole, Gurdon S. Hubbard and W. H. Brown, dated December 14, 1859. It concerned his relationship with Judd, who was the center of an intra-party Republican dispute.

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        Abraham Lincoln to Schuyler Colfax: July 6, 1859

        This Library of Congress primary source is a letter that Abraham Lincoln wrote to Schuyler Colfax, an Indiana representative, in July 1859. In the letter, Lincoln expresses his disappointment that he had been unable to meet with Colfax to discuss politics. He writes about politics in the letter, but says he wishes they could have talked more in person.

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        Lyman Trumbull to Abraham Lincoln, August 24, 1858

        This Library of Congress primary source is a letter that Lyman Trumbull, the other Illinois senator, wrote to Abraham Lincoln to show his support after a debate against Stephen A. Douglas at Ottawa. In the letter Trumbull writes of his disdain for Douglas, referring to him as a "little pettifogger."

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        Stephen A. Douglas to Abraham Lincoln, July 30, 1858

        This Library of Congress primary source document is a letter that Stephen A. Douglas wrote in response to Abraham Lincoln prior to a series of seven debates. The letter mentions the seven locations at which the debates would be held, as well as the order in which the debaters would present.

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        Abraham Lincoln to Stephen A. Douglas, July 29, 1858

        This Library of Congress primary source letter was written by Abraham Lincoln to Stephen Douglas before a famous series of senatorial debates. Though he made much of the inconvenience that such a program would cause him, Douglas agreed on July 24 to a series of seven debates with Lincoln, at Ottawa, Freeport, Jonesboro, Charleston, Galesburg, Quincy and Alton, Illinois. The dates and the conditions of the debates were to be decided later.

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        Abraham Lincoln to Stephen A. Douglas: July 24, 1858

        This Library of Congress primary source letter was written by Abraham Lincoln to Stephen Douglas before a famous series of senatorial debates. For over a month after his nomination for the United States Senate on June 16, 1858, Lincoln was content to follow Senator Douglas on the latter's speaking tour, frequently answering his speeches after their conclusion or the next day. Because Democrats seldom stayed to listen to him, and because of Douglas's inclination to attack his Republican Senatorial colleague Lyman Trumbull rather than Lincoln, Lincoln and his manager Norman Judd concluded to challenge Douglas to a series of joint debates. The challenge is contained in this note, which is a copy Judd made of the original in Lincoln's hand.

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        Fragment on the "Legitimate Object of Government"

        This Library of Congress primary source document is a short piece written in the 1840s by Abraham about the "legitimate object of government." Lincoln wrote that the main purpose of the government was to do whatever the people in a community "needed to have done" which they could no do independently. The circumstances surrounding the origins of the document are unknown.

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        Notes for Lecture on Law

        This Library of Congress primary source is a set of notes Lincoln used for a lecture on practicing law in 1860. Lincoln wrote that the "leading rule for the lawyer, as for the man of every other calling, is diligence." He also emphasized the importance of setting fees and being honest.

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        Draft of Speech on Popular Sovereignty

        This Library of Congress primary document is a draft of a speech about popular sovereignty by Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln mentions that for the most part, the people of Kansas are against slavery and that policies should reflect this majority opinion.

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        Draft Resolutions for Illinois General Assembly

        This Library of Congress primary document is the Draft Resolutions for the Illinois General Assembly concerning the repeal of the Kansas-Nebraska Act from January 1855. The main purpose of these resolutions was to prevent the then-territories of Kansas and Nebraska from joining the Union as slave states.

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        Abraham Lincoln to Mary Todd Lincoln: March 4, 1860

        This Library of Congress primary resource is a letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, in 1860 while he on speech-making tour. In the letter he mentions that he heard his two young sons, Willie and Taddy, had become very ill right after he left to go on tour. He sends well-wishes and love to his family.

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