Feb 12, 1809 , Abraham Lincoln is born in Hodgenville, Kentucky. Lincoln, one of America's most admired presidents, grew up a member of a poor family in Kentucky and Indiana. He attended school for only one year, but thereafter read on his own in a continual effort to improve his mind. As an adult, he lived in Illinois and performed a variety of jobs including stints as a postmaster, surveyor and shopkeeper, before entering politics. He served in the Illinois legislature from 1834 to 1836, and then became an attorney. In 1842, Lincoln married Mary Todd; together, the pair raised four sons. Lincoln returned to politics during the 1850s, a time when the nation's long-standing division over slavery was flaring up, particularly in new territories being added to the Union. As leader of the new Republican Party, Lincoln was considered politically moderate, even on the issue of slavery. He advocated the restriction of slavery to the states in which it already existed and described the practice in a letter as a minor issue as late as 1854. In an 1858 senatorial race, as secessionist sentiment brewed among the southern states, he warned, a house divided against itself cannot stand. He did not win the Senate seat but earned national recognition as a strong political force. Lincoln's inspiring oratory soothed a populace anxious about southern states' secessionist threats and boosted his popularity. As a presidential candidate in the election of 1860, Lincoln tried to reassure slaveholding interests that although he favored abolition, he had no intention of ending the practice in states where it already existed and prioritized saving the Union over freeing slaves. When he won the presidency by approximately 400,000 popular votes and carried the Electoral College, he was in effect handed a ticking time bomb. His concessions to slaveholders failed to prevent South Carolina from leading other states in an exodus from the Union that began shortly after his election. By February 1, 1861,Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas had also seceded. Soon after, the Civil War began. As the war progressed, Lincoln moved closer to committing himself and the nation to the abolitionist movement and, in 1863, finally signed theEmancipation Proclamation. The document freed slaves in the Confederate states, but did not address the legality of slavery in Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska or Arkansas.