Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12, 1809, to Thomas Lincoln and Nancy Hanks, two uneducated farmers, in a one-room log cabin on the 348-acre (1.4 km2) Sinking Spring Farm, in southeast Hardin County, Kentucky (now part of LaRue County), making him the first president born outside the original Thirteen Colonies. Lincoln's ancestor Samuel Lincoln had arrived in Hingham, Massachusetts from England in the 17th century, but his descendants had gradually moved west, from Pennsylvania to Virginia and then westward to the frontier.
For some time, Thomas Lincoln, Abraham's father, had been a respected citizen of the Kentucky backcountry. He had purchased the Sinking Spring Farm in December 1808 for $200 cash ($2,689.00 today) and assumption of a debt. The family belonged to a Hardshell Baptist church, although Abraham himself never joined their church, or any other church for that matter.
In 1816, the Lincoln family became impoverished, losing their land through court action, and was forced to make a new start in Perry County, Indiana. Lincoln later noted that this move was "partly on account of slavery," and partly because of difficulties with land deeds in Kentucky.
When Lincoln was nine, his mother, then 34 years old, died of milk sickness. Soon afterwards, his father remarried to Sarah Bush Johnston. Lincoln and his stepmother were close; he called her "Mother" for the rest of his life, but he was increasingly distant from his father.
In 1830, after more economic and land-title difficulties in Indiana, the family settled on public land in Macon County, Illinois. The following winter was desolate and especially brutal, and the family considered moving back to Indiana. The following year, when his father relocated the family to a new homestead in Coles County, Illinois, 22-year-old Lincoln struck out on his own, canoeing down the Sangamon River to the village of New Salem in Sangamon County. Later that year, hired by New Salem businessman Denton Offutt and accompanied by friends, he took goods from New Salem to New Orleans via flatboat on the Sangamon, Illinois and Mississippi rivers.
Lincoln's formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling, but he was largely self-educated and an avid reader. He was also a talented local wrestler and skilled with an axe. Lincoln avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like killing animals, even for food. At 6 foot 4 inches (1.93 m), he was unusually tall, as well as strong.
Lincoln began his political career in 1832, at age 23, with an unsuccessful campaign for the Illinois General Assembly, as a member of the Whig Party. The centerpiece of his platform was the undertaking of navigational improvements on the Sangamon River.
In 1834, he won election to the state legislature, and, after coming across the Commentaries on the Laws of England, began to teach himself law. Admitted to the bar in 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, that same year and began to practice law with John T. Stuart. With a reputation as a formidable adversary during cross-examinations and in his closing arguments, Lincoln became an able and successful lawyer. In 1841 Lincoln entered the law practice with William Herndon, a fellow Whig.
He served four successive terms in the Illinois House of Representatives as a representative from Sangamon County, and became a leader of the Illinois Whig party. In 1837, he made his first protest against slavery in the Illinois House, stating that the institution was "founded on both injustice and bad policy."
So both men left home at age of 22. Abe at 25 won his first election becoming a representative in Illinois. At 28 he became a lawyer, and spoke against slavery.
"Opportunity is missed by most people
because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work."
-Thomas Alva Edison