Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) is one of the most famous Americans in history and one of the country’s most revered presidents. Schoolchildren can recite the life story of Lincoln, the “Westerner” who educated himself and became a self made man, rising from lawyer to leader of the new Republican Party before becoming the 16th President of the United States. Lincoln successfully navigated the Union through the Civil War but didn’t live to witness his own accomplishment, becoming the first president assassinated when he was killed at Ford’s Theater by John Wilkes Booth.
As impressive as his presidency was, one of his most lasting legacies was his writing. In addition to masterful writing for everything from orders to his generals and condolences to the aggrieved Mrs. Bixby, his Second Inaugural Address and Gettysburg Address are considered masterpieces that rate among the greatest writings in American history. Perhaps Lincoln’s most impressive feat is that he was able to convey so much with so few words; after famous orator Edward Everett spoke for hours at Gettysburg, Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address only took a few minutes.
In the generation after the Civil War, Lincoln became an American deity and one of the most written about men in history. Understandably, all of his writings and papers were intently scoured and collected, and they’ve been preserved in seven volumes of Papers and Writings.