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Happy Birthday Mr. Lincoln!
Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States was born on February 12, 1809 in a one-room log cabin on the Sinking Spring Farm in Hardin County. He was the second child of Nancy and Thomas Lincoln. In 1830, his family moved to Macon County, Illinois.
Lincoln had two love interests before meeting his future wife Mary Todd. His first, Ann Rutledge died of typhoid fever in 1835. He next courted Mary Owens of Kentucky but did not marry her. He met Mary Todd in December 1839 in Springfield, Missouri and they married on November 4, 1842. The Lincolns had four children, Robert Todd born in 1843, Edward Baker in 1846, “Willie" born on December 21, 1850 and Thomas "Tad" who was born on April 4, 1853. Only Robert lived into adulthood.
In 1832, at age 23, Lincoln and a partner bought a small general store on credit in New Salem, Illinois. Later, he was a captain in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk war and served as New Salem's postmaster and county surveyor. He was largely formally uneducated. He decided to become a lawyer and began teaching himself law by reading Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England and other law books. Of his learning method, Lincoln stated: "I studied with nobody". He was admitted to the bar in 1836. He served four terms in the Illinois House and in 1846 was elected to the Unites States House of Representatives where he served one term. On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States, beating Democrat Stephen A. Douglas, John C. Breckinridge of the Southern Democrats and John Bell of the new Constitutional Union Party. He was the first president from the Republican Party. He had other first as well; he was the first President to have a beard and the first President to be assassinated. He was also the tallest President at 6’4”.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth was getting his mail at Ford’s Theatre when he heard that President and Mrs. Lincoln would be attending that night to see the play “Our American Cousin.” He spearheaded a conspiracy to take down the U.S. Government by killing the top 3 officials, Lincoln, VP Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. They had planned a kidnapping but decided to kill the three instead. Lincoln’s box that night was guarded by a policeman, John Frederick Parker. At intermission, Parker left with Lincoln’s footman and coachman and went to a nearby saloon for a drink. Booth entered the box and shot Lincoln in the back of the head. He was attended to by Dr. Charles Seale and Dr. Charles Taft. His condition was too grave to go far, so he was carried across the street to William Petersen’s boarding house where he died the next morning.
Lincoln’s likeness was placed on the fourth issue fifty-cent note of fractional currency. The notes were issued from July 1869 to December 1869. A total of 19,152,000 notes were printed and due to counterfeiting, the issue was changed to the Stanton issue. Only one type of note was printed, the Fr. 1374. Charles Burt engraved the Lincoln vignette. It was printed in sheets of 12 on paper watermarked USUSUSUSUS with a 40mm red seal. At times brown or orange seal notes come up for sale, but these are not true ink color variations, but oxidation of the red ink. For a time, another variety was thought to exist, the Fr. 1375 w/o the watermark, but all Lincoln notes bear the watermark so this number has been delisted. A number of courtesy autographed notes exist, but no specimen or proofs of the series exist. The only known sheet of 12 was owned by F.C.C. Boyd and was sold as lot 1007 in part 3 of the John J. Ford sale in March, 2004 where it brought a price w/o buyer’s premium of $39,000.