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Lincoln Quiz

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected to his first term as President. What immediate impact did this have on his professional life?

The election changed Lincoln's occupation from a self-employed Illinois lawyer to president-elect, soon to occupy the nation's highest public office. Accustomed to freely choosing his whereabouts and schedule -- he tried cases across Illinois and the Midwest -- he would soon find himself mostly confined to Washington and the White House once the Civil War began.

Lincoln also left behind his law partner, William H. Herndon, who officially retained their partnership until Lincoln's death. The day before Lincoln left Springfield, Illinois, for the White House he told Herndon, "Give our clients to understand that the election of a President makes no change in the firm of Lincoln and Herndon. If I live I'm coming back some time, and then we'll go right on practicing law as if nothing had ever happened."

Lincoln had no previous experience in running a large business or governing a state, so he came to his position with untested executive abilities. However, his colleagues at the Illinois bar believed they already recognized his great gifts. Said Abram Bergen, a lawyer who knew Lincoln from the Eighth Judicial Circuit in Illinois, "Many believed and some still believe he was small and weak when he was elected, and that he suddenly grew. These had never met and measured his gigantic intellectual height and strength. His friends among the Illinois lawyers never doubted his capability."

As a Presidential nominee, Lincoln's political power attracted eager office seekers, who flocked to Springfield begging for favors. His privacy vanished and he abandoned his law office for the larger Governor's Reception Room at the statehouse, where he received a flood of callers.

Among them were highly-placed politicians who lobbied Lincoln for their favorite Cabinet nominee. Lincoln's father had been a cabinetmaker, and now Lincoln was one of another sort. The task dominated Lincoln's life following his nomination and reached a critical point at his election. Newspapers of the time were given to spreading wildly contradictory reports about those supposedly chosen by Lincoln.

Lincoln's election also intensified the wrath of his enemies, who could not tolerate his anti-slavery position. One month later the first slave state left the Union, to be followed by several more before Lincoln could reach Washington.

In 1864, Lincoln's future assassin, John Wilkes Booth, wrote a letter revealing his own bitterness and Confederate sympathies: "I have ever held the South was right. The very nomination of Abraham Lincoln, four years ago, spoke plainly war -- war upon Southern rights and institutions. His election proved it."

Other Quizzes:

  • What happened when filmmaker Ken Burns covered the Lincoln assassination?
  • What event on May 26, 1854, re-awakened Lincoln's interest in politics?
  • By what route was Lincoln's body returned to his hometown?
  • Which speech did Lincoln say would "wear as well as--perhaps better than--any thing I have produced"?
  • Which Lincoln relative died on January 17, 1851?
  • How did Lincoln spend Christmas week as President and President-elect?
  • Which friend of Lincoln was killed on October 21, 1861?
  • Which two things would Lincoln not want you to know?
  • How did Lincoln bring fame to Beardstown, Illinois?
  • How did Lincoln spend the Fourth of July?
  • What was Lincoln's postal job like?
  • What happened the morning of February 11, 1861?
  • What happened behind the scenes with Lincoln's First Inaugural Address?

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