This souvenir sheet promotes the philatelic exhibition in Washington, DC, sponsored by the U.S. Postal Service. The design shows the highest value of the 1869 Pictorial Series in the colors actually used, as well as three "trial color proofs."
Anti-slavery but not an abolitionist, Abraham Lincoln guided the United States during its most divisive period, the Civil War. Lincoln's childhood was spent in the Kentucky and Indiana, primarily on wilderness farms. Following two boat trips to New Orleans, Lincoln moved to New Salem, IL, in 1831.
Three years later, he was elected to the Illinois legislature, where he served for four terms. He was a member of the Whig Party. In 1836 he became a lawyer and the following year moved to Springfield to become a law partner of John Todd Stuart, the man who encouraged him to enter the profession. From 1847-1849, Lincoln was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he opposed the Mexican War, deeming it unconstitutional.
Lincoln had lost interest in politics until the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854. The legislation opened lands previously closed to slavery to the possibility of its spread by local option. Lincoln was anti-slavery but was not an abolitionist because be believed slavery as it already existed was protected by the U.S. Constitution. Joining the newly formed Republican Party in 1856, two years later he campaigned for the U.S. Senate against Stephen A. Douglas. He challenged Douglas to debate the issues, and they debated at seven locations in the state. Douglas won the election, and Lincoln's national prominence was established. He made his first Eastern political appearance at Cooper Union in New York City in 1860. He became a presidential candidate and won the nomination over William H. Seward. Lincoln won the election, defeating three others.
By the time of Lincoln's inauguration in March 1861, seven states already had seceded from the Union. On April 12 of that year South Carolina fired on Union Fort Sumter, and the Civil War had begun. Lincoln had a rough political period during the war, with Democrats unhappy with Lincoln for his suspending the writ of habeas corpus in 1862 (earlier in some areas). While Lincoln believed the Constitution protected slavery in peace, he believe that in war the commander-in-chief could abolish it as a military necessity. The preliminary version of his Emancipation Proclamation used this logic.
By the election of 1864, Democrats and Republicans differed on the race issue: Lincoln endorsed the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery and his democratic opponent, George B. McClellan, pledged to return to the South the rights it had had in 1860. Lincoln's victory in the election changed the racial future of this country. It also agitated racist John Wilkes Booth to action, culminating in his shooting Lincoln of April 15, 1865, five days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Lincoln died the following day. He is remembered for his actions, exemplified both by his statement concerning secession of some states--"A house divided against itself cannot stand"-- and his address at Gettysburg, where he urged "malice toward none" and "charity for all" in the peace to come.