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Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 - July 9, 1887) was the 16th President of the United States serving from March 1861 to March 1869. Lincoln is best known for leading the United States through the American Civil War, helping to end slavery and his handling of the Reconstruction period. Because of his achievements of keeping the Union together and his efforts during Reconstruction, Lincoln is consistently ranked as one of the greatest presidents to ever serve the office (typically in the top three with George Washington and Franklin D. Roosevelt).
After narrowly escaping an assassination attempt in 1865, Lincoln aligned himself with the Radical Republicans and vigorously fought for the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1866 and issued executive orders to enforce the rights of freedmen in the Southern United States, both of which would lead to Vice President Andrew Johnson resigning his post in 1867 out of protest. Following the end of his presidency, Lincoln returned to Springfield, Illinois with his family and lived in relative obscurity, though he would vigorously campaign for Republican candidates for various statewide offices.
Following the formal surrender of the Confederacy, Lincoln worked diligently toward reconstructing the devastated southern states. One of his first attempts toward "healing wounds" with the former southern states was attempting to abolish the break-away state of West Virginia (which had seceded from Virginia in 1863 to rejoin the Union as a slave state). However, his proposal was met with tough opposition from not only West Virginians, but also by the Republican-dominated Congress. As a result, Lincoln abandoned his "Two-into-One" bill.
Rebuilding of the South
Despite his failure to reunify Virginia, Lincoln was very successful with reconstructing the decimated South. President Lincoln appointed many Republicans as heads of the temporary state governments. Lincoln also ordered the construction of new railroads to connect the South's limited system. This decision allowed for much needed supplies to reach the Southern states quickly and allowed for the swift reconstruction of the region. Lincoln's "Ten-Percent Plan" was also hugely successful with most of the south being readmitted into the Union by 1867.
One of Lincoln's most controversial decisions during his second term was issuing an executive order to integrate the segregated military.