Many people in Illinois thought that they would like to see such a man in the state legislature helping to make their laws. They elected him; and as he was too poor at that time to pay so much horse-hire, he walked from New Salem, a distance of over a hundred miles, to Vandalia, which was then the capital of the state. Lincoln was elected to the legislature many times; later, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, and made that place his home for the rest of his life. The next time the people elected him to office, they sent him to Congress to help make laws, not for his state only, but for the whole country. He had got a long way up since the time when he worked with John Hanks fencing the cornfield round his father's cabin; but he was going higher still,—he was going to the top. "ABRAHAM LINCOLN, THE RAIL CANDIDATE FOR THE PRESIDENCY IN 1860. TWO RAILS FROM A LOT OF 3000 MADE IN 1830 BY JOHN HANKS AND ABE LINCOLN."
In the spring of 1860 a great convention, or meeting, was held in one of the towns of Illinois. Lincoln was present at that convention. The object of the people who had gathered there was to choose a candidate that they would like to see elected President of the United States. A number of speeches had been made, when a member of the convention rose and said that a person asked the privilege of making the meeting a present. It was voted to receive it. Then John Hanks and one of his neighbors brought in two old fence-rails and a banner with these words painted on it:—The rails were received with cheer after cheer, and Lincoln was chosen candidate. About a week after that a much greater meeting was held in Chicago, and he was chosen there in the same way. The next November Abraham Lincoln, "the Illinois rail-splitter," was elected President of the United States. He had reached the top. There he was to die.
In less than six weeks after Lincoln actually became President, in the spring of 1861, a terrible war broke out between the North and the South. The people of South Carolina fired the first gun in that war. They, together with a great part of the people of ten other southern states, resolved to leave the Union. They set up an independent government called the Confederate States of America, and made Jefferson Davis its president. The main reason why so many of the people of the South wished to withdraw from the United States was that little by little the North and the South had become like two different countries. At the time of the Revolution, when we broke away from the rule of England, every one of the states held negro slaves; but in the course of eighty years a great change had taken place. The negroes at the North had become free, but those of the South still remained slaves. Now this difference in the way of doing work made it impossible for the North and the South to agree about many things. They had come to be like two boys in a boat who want to go in opposite directions. One pulls one way with his oars, the other pulls another way, and so the boat does not get ahead. At the South most of the people thought that slavery was right, and that it helped the whole country; at the North the greater part of the people were convinced that it was wrong, and that it did harm to the whole country. But this was not all. The people who held slaves at the South wanted to add to the number. They hoped to get more of the new country west of the Mississippi River for slave states, so that there might always be at least as many slave states in the Union as there were free states. But Abraham Lincoln like most of the people at the North believed that slavery did no good to any one. He and his party were fully determined that no slaves whatever should be taken into the territories west of the Mississippi River, and that every new state which should be added should be entirely free. For this reason it happened that when Lincoln became President most of the slave states resolved to leave the Union, and, if necessary, to make war rather than be compelled to stay in it.
The North had the most men and the most money to fight with, but the people of the South had the advantage of being able to stay at home and fight on their own ground. The war lasted four years (1861-1865). Many terrible battles were fought; thousands of brave men were killed on both sides. During the war President Lincoln gave the slaves their freedom in all the states which were fighting against the Union, and those in the other slave states got their freedom later. After a time General Grant obtained the command of all the armies of the North, and General Lee became the chief defender of the South. The last battles were fought around Richmond, Virginia, between these two great generals. When the Southern soldiers saw that it was useless to attempt to fight longer, they laid down their arms, and peace was made—a peace honorable to both sides.
The success of the North in the war preserved the Union, and as all negro laborers were now free, there was no longer any dispute about slavery. The North and the South could shake hands and be friends, for both were now ready to pull in the same direction. The saddest thing at the close of the war was the murder of President Lincoln by a madman named Booth. Not only the people of the North but many of those at the South shed tears at his death, because they felt that they had an equal place in his great heart. He loved both, as a true American must ever love his whole country.
Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, became President of the United States in 1861. He was elected by a party in the North that was determined that slaves should not be taken into free states or territories, and that no more slave states should be made. On this account most of the slave-holding states of the South resolved to withdraw from the Union. A great war followed, and President Lincoln gave the slaves their freedom. The North succeeded in the war, and the Union was made stronger than ever, because the North and the South could no longer have any dispute over slavery. Both sides now shook hands and became friends.
Directions: Answer the following multiple choice questions. Also, answer the following questions on a sheet of paper: