Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth President of the United States, had many nicknames.

As a young man, Lincoln and a friend borrowed money to buy a store. After only a few months, the store went out of business. Then Lincoln’s friend died. Lincoln worked long and hard to pay back all the money himself. He finally did. This helped earn him the nickname “Honest Abe.”

Another of Lincoln’s nicknames was “the Railsplitter.” This nickname recalled the days when, as a young man, Lincoln had split logs to make fence rails.

Lincoln became President in 1861. Soon, war began between the Northern and Southern (or Confederate) states. One reason for the war was slavery. The South had black slaves and wanted to keep them. Many people in the North wanted slavery stopped.

During the war, President Lincoln issued a law freeing all black people living under Confederate control. Because of this action, Lincoln gained the nickname “The Great Emancipator”, meaning “one who sets people free from slavery.”

The law did not really free any slaves. Because of the war, there was no way to force people in the South to set their slaves free. But after the war was over, the law of the land was changed. A new law put an end to slavery in all parts of the nation.

Unfortunately, Lincoln did not live to see this new law passed. On the night of April 14, 1865, he was shot while at the theater. He died the next morning.

Illinois, where Lincoln lived for a long time and where he is buried, was the first state to make his birthday a holiday. Most of the states that celebrate Lincoln’s birthday do so on February 12. This is the date on which he was born, in 1809, in a log cabin in Kentucky.

A few states celebrate Lincoln’s birthday on the first Monday in February. Other states combine Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays. In these states, the celebration-called President’s Day-is held on the third Monday in February.

reprinted from Holiday’s and Birthdays.