Abraham Lincoln Primary Sources

Proclamations, Speeches, and Letters

Abraham Lincoln was one of the great thinkers of American history.  Use this collection of primary sources to expand your understanding and appreciation of his legacy.

On Union

Lincoln's First InauguralFirst Inaugural Address

Lincoln's first inaugural address, delivered March 4, 1861, came after seven states had already seceded from the Union. Read the speech »

A House Divided"A House Divided Against Itself Cannot Stand"

Accepting the Illinois Republican nomination for Senate in 1858, Lincoln predicted a time of trouble. Read the speech »

Thanksgiving in CampThanksgiving Proclamation

Abraham Lincoln was the first president in American history to declare a regular day of Thanksgiving. Read the proclamation »

On Slavery

The Emancipation ProclamationThe Emancipation Proclamation

The Emancipation Proclamation, issued January 1, 1863, decreed that all slaves living in rebellious states would be "forever free." Read the proclamation »

"I Would Save The Union""I Would Save The Union"

Lincoln began his campaign for emancipation with adroit political maneuvering, as demonstrated by this editorial. Read the editorial »

Cooper UnionThe Cooper Union Address

Lincoln wowed New York City with this bold argument against the expansion of slavery. Read the address »

On War

The Gettysburg AddressThe Gettysburg Address

The Gettysburg Address, delivered months after the battle, is considered to be one of the great speeches of world history. Read the address »

Lincoln's Second InauguralSecond Inaugural Address

Lincoln's second inaugural address offers a poetic reflection on the morality of the Civil War. Read the address »

Ulysses S. Grant at Cold HarborUlysses S. Grant on Meeting the President »

Lincoln hoped he had found a fighter in General Ulysses S. Grant. Read the account »

William T. ShermanGeneral Sherman's Christmas Telegram to Abraham Lincoln

Sherman presented Lincoln with a tremendous Christmas gift at the end of 1864. Read the telegram »

On Politics

The Object of GovernmentThe Object of Government »

This rarely seen fragment from Lincoln's personal notes reveals his governing philosophy. Read the notes »

War ElephantsLincoln and the King of Siam »

Lincoln politely turns down an offer of war elephants. Read the exchange »

Lincoln Letter"This Administration Will Not Be Re-elected" »

Despairing over his prospects for re-election, Lincoln formulates a new plan.  See the letter »

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