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cheers. america is at a reckoning. for more than 250 years, we battled racial injustice and political division. in times of crisis we look to the past for examples of both leadership. lincoln of course is the most admired american president. if there is anyone who lived and breathe and walked the basic ideas around which america is built, it was abraham lincoln.
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>> politicians recognized the power his name still has. >> that vision of a lincoln of a generous and inclusive america driven this country for more than 200 years >> president lincoln understood the heartbreak of this country, he understood the cost and the sacrifice. >> if my name ever goes down to history, it would be for this act and my whole soul is in it. my whole soul is in it. >> generations of black people named their children lincoln because lincoln freed the slaves. >> a lot more complicated than that. >> a lot of people thinking lincoln was an opponent of slavery from the day he was born. that's not true. >> the great way to put down the rebellions is to yank them out
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in the enemies. >> the senate slavery loomed over america for centuries. it was not of emancipation. >> the narrative made it possible to think of lincoln in a simplestic way. the reality is great politicians are both. >> part of the challenge is to recapture him of all that limestone for which he was cast and see him as a person. >> lincoln had experiences and most people evolve as they have more experiences and it is not a extracriticism to say he levellt
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would be a criticism to say he was a man who never changed his mind or learned anything. >> we can change overtime. lincoln was evolutionary. in 1809, america is a country in its infancy. the nation toils to pay off the revolutionary war debt and make a name for themselves in the world's stage. despite the legal end to the slave trade in 1808, the man for american made cotton and enslaved men and women who
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fought at booms. the new country's growth is not into twine of slavery, it is entirely dependant on it. >> it is absolutely crucial for understanding what went on in the country. that before the 1860s. most of the first presidents were all from the south. they slave power and control the country. at lincoln's birth, we are still in the final weeks of the thomas jefferson presidency. we are really in the founding era of the united states. >> you have this louisiana of purchase. there is the whole question of expansion of the nation and how it was going to expand and where slavery would exist. this is the moment where abraham lincoln was born.
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>> he arrived on february 12th, 1 1849, in kentucky. >> as much as story writers and image makers romanticize lincoln's life, he never did. everybody was born thinking lincoln was really poor. he spent his first few year in a cab cabin that had a dirt floor. there were wild animals. just think of what the nights were like. >> in 1816 when lincoln was 7-years-old, his father, thomas runs trouble with the land title and loses his farm and moved
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into the free territory of indiana. >> there were not a lot of people in southwest indiana when li lincoln first arrived in. they had to carve their existence out of the wilderness out of their own two hands. they would have had a tremendous amount of responsibility, chop wood, farm. it was very rough lincoln and his sister. they had to rely on each other for so much at such an early age. his mother, nancy hanks, she was a beautiful woman. lincoln believes that his mother is his angel. for just as the family begins to settle into their new home, tragedy strikes. in a period of drought in the
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frontier, cattle would eat something called snake root so that's a poison, that gets into the milk, lincoln's mother dr drinks milk that's disease and she gets sick and she dies. young abraham helps his father nails his mother into the coffin that would take him away from her the rest of his life. >> we know his surviving parent is nurturing and that the damage is done by the other parent's death is largely offset. thomas lincoln does not fit that description. there is little time to grieve
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on the frontier. nine-year-old abraham and his 11-year-old sister, sarah, are too young to take on their mother's responsibilities and winter is just around the corner. thomas lincoln needs a woman around the house. you can't do computer dating in this period and he has to go court and picks up and heads to civilization and leave these two children to fend for themselves. it was a risk that thomas had to under taken was not the first to under take. >> they were reduced to animal existence. their hair were uncut and unwashed and clothes were peeling away. every second living in this environment. it is something that would merit a prosecution and jail time today to remarkable survival
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story. >> lincoln had to find a way to be self-reliant. he had to find a sense of courage and confident of who he was because of life and death. the greatest leaders cast a long shadow of our history. history is more than a monument. it is never so black and white. ♪ lincoln, the story continues tomorrow night at 10:00. now with more complete long hair care. elvive dream lengths from l'oreal paris. you're worth it.
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after months fending for themselves in the brutal wilderness and spring, hopes arrive. thomas lincoln returns to the family with a new wife. sarah bush johnson. >> with the arrival of their step stepmother, everything changes. she brought pots and pans and furniture and she brought books with her. a bible. those books changed his life. his stepmother saw something in him that his father preferred to ignore.
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abraham hates farm work. he wants to read. his father hits him when he reads. >> his relationship with his father was very, very complicated. he resented his father who was not literate. to move beyond his father's life. as lincoln gets older, his father grows more intolerant of his quest for education. lincoln's father needed money so he rented his son out for labor. any money you made had to go to the father and that was the law
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of the land and custom. he was in his own mind the slave to his father. so unconsciously i think lincoln identified with a slave holder and that led him to early on hate and loathe and despice slavery. >> they're just fundamental problems with this. these people are not compel to work in the same way enslaved people are. their status is not inheritable. at 19-years-old lincoln accepts a job transporting goods to new orleans where he gets his first taste of life beyond the prairie. >> it is enchanted and
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mysterious. daunting for a young man who has never seen the city. we were told the thing that intrigued him the most were the trade box option. people were crying as they were taken away and money changing hands for human bodies. whether he took a life's vow slavery to end it in that moment we could not imagine. he saw slavery a different way than he did in indiana. he's seeing the csales of slave for the first time. lincoln returns home determined to make a better life for
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himself. his plan and his beloved sister sarah, dies. this tragedy solidify the somber association lincoln will have for his childhood for the rest of his life. >> we can't exaggerate the sense of loneliness during his childhood. >> he moves away from his family and does not really look back.
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it is a place where the central road, cabins and taverns and a store and a mill. it is a place of an economic opportunity. lincoln in his 20s was establishing himself and trying to figure out who he is.
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he tries his hand at many different things. lincoln invests in a local grocery which fails and leaves him saddle with debt. he works odd jobs in order to pay it off and eventually becomes postmaster. >> guess what came into the mail? newspapers. after a while all of the subscribers began noticing that they were receiving their newspaper s refolded and clearl read proeviously. their village postmaster was so hungry for news that he was reading the paper before they call for them. >> as postmaster, lincoln is a public figure. he becomes quite popular and
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known around salem for his good story and humor. >> he used wits and comedy to connect with people. >> he had a lot of fun with the feedback that he's not a good looking guy. i like stories where he's making fun of himself. there was this one where he was riding a long and there is a woman riding away and stops him. she aimed a rifle at him. madame, why did you point a gun at me? i resolve that if i met a man that was uglier than i am, i would choose him. he looks at her, madame, if i am uglier than you then fire away. this is a guy who had see the
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ambition always. he realizes men like him. he runs for office. >> in 1834, the american political system dominated by two major parties. the democrats support state rights and the wig believes a strong federal government. lincoln wins a seat on the state legislature as as whip. what he does really reflects the investment to improve people's lives. >> this was why he was a wig early on. he saw the utility of things like road and railroad and improving the economy of small towns in the west.
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in the state legislature, lincoln faces what is quickly becoming the biggest issue of the day. slavery. the missouri compromise of 1820 dictated that maine would be admitted as a free state and missouri a slave state. controversial ruling set off a bit of a national debate over the extent which slavery should be limited and expanded and protected or abolished. >> the state of legislature was taken down by the abolition movement. it was passed by anover majority, 7-6.
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one of those sixth were lincoln. people thought radicals and the abolitionist and they don't know how to get things done. >> you can be anti-slavery. lincoln was no abolitionist. lincoln was a modern antislavery advocate. what it means he was a person that said slavery was wrong but didn't believe it was important to actively end slavery immediately. >> the institution of slavery founded on justice and bad policy. >> his evolving antislavery position was fine where it was in the south but should not be
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expanded into the west. he believed the founding father intended for slavery to die a natural death. they are not allowed to expand the institution to die a natural death. that's why you don't see the word slavery in the constitution. >> he talked about slavery should not be allowed to expand because of constitutional prohibition on that. he talked about the idea that slave iry was harmful to free white northerners. >> free white folk workers could not compete. rather it is wanting to secure territory where white men who would not slave holders would not have to compete against slave holders. he was willing for there to be
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gradually e mancipation. >> it does not quit with the image of the great emancipator we have. >> you are not going to find the fact that he promoted coloni colonico colonization. the white population does not want a new large of the population of the free blacks. the fact that by this time most black people were born in the united states. slaves were african-americans. he had some deep seeded police that black people could not and should not be citizens.
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early 1830s lincoln makes a name for himself. wounded by the loss of the women he loves. he struggles with romantic relationships. h remained a matter of controversy among historians for years.
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he was shy then it was said that he was quite awkward with women. and so he engaged to a guy that left town and said i will send for you. so she's a safe bet for him to maybe flirt a little bit but he's not expected to commit. but, she fell for him and he for her. >> there is as theory that she was his great love. but, she gets sick and an epidemic of fever and she dies. >> after the tragic death of lincoln's mother and sister, losing anne was a devastating blow. he exhibits the first sign of what would be a lifelong battle of depression. >> there were reports that
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razors had to be taken from him. that he had to be watched after anne died. he stayed at her grave site in inclement weather. >> people were worried that he was losing his mind. he throws himself back into his profession and since he's determined to become a lawmaker it is a good idea to learn the law. >> lincoln borrows law books and reads them and masters them. >> he had virtually no formal schooling. so this is somebody that's self-taught. it is amazing that he's able to read law books and make himself into a lawyer. >> he was able to transform himself, he was getting far away from the world of his father as
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he could. >> lincoln accepts a job from a law firm and moved to the bustling state capitol. he arrives there at 28 years old and he had 28 years left to live until the day. he establishes his life in this environment that's going to change him and which he's going to change. lincoln was a lawyer. he got to be a prominent one. he had some big corporate client including the railroads. his heart was in politics. this is when he starts severing as a stump speaker all over the region.
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a stronger federal government, controlled over the economy. abraham lincoln does become one of the rising stars of the whig party. but, he writes to an old friend in se lem that there is quite a lot of bustling about and i am quite as lonely as i have been anywhere else in my life. >> springfield because it is a state's capitol, a lot of young women are sent there to meet promising legislatures. >> it was said that he was never more comfortable than on the stump than never uncomfortable than in a parlor. until a party in 1940 when a shy lawyer charmed one particular lady. >> mary todd was the daughter of
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a kentucky banker who was a slave holder. she's privileged. >> mary is by all accounts quite beautiful and charming. >> she was said to be attractive. mary can charm a bishop out of his valves. >> she fell into lively conversations. and that was where she met mr. lincoln. >> the attraction is immediate. it is true that opposites attract then it is manifested in this meeting. he was petite, 5 feet and lincoln being 6'4". traditional southern bells and a woman who has grown up being taken care of by enslaved
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people. >> lincoln's uneducated and does not remember the frontier. like lincoln she loses her mother at an early age. her father remarries quickly and she had a difficult relationship with her stepfather. >> she worships her father but he's distance and that exacerbates desire of acceptance and love and growing family. not all men appreciated that but she was willing to find one who did appreciate it. >> lincoln and mary connected deeply over the shared loss of
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their mothers and poetry and literature and most of all, politics. >> she had strong political feelings. she was zrdescribed as a violen wig. mary sees the potential of lincoln. >> she fell in love in the winter of 1840 and they were engaged. except, that lirncoln still hasa commitment problem. i don't think lincoln was quite ready. on what is called a fatal first of january of 1841, abraham lincoln, leaves mary at the alter. he sends a message that she's not worthy and mary would be miserable. she went away brokenhearted and plunged into despair. >> i think it was a little bit
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ofo overwhelmed of the most dazzling bells in springfield was chasing him around time. >> the death of anne rutledge, a lesson he learned unconsciously that you can't trust women, they'll abandon you. they avoided one another for well over a year. >> however, in the fall of 1842, they find their way back to each other and began to court again. >> i think they both found that they were missing one another. they got back together and then they do get married. his wedding takes place on a one day's notice which was unusual for somebody of a member of the
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todd family. within nine months, robert lincoln was born. somehow he was being shotgun to the alter. i don't find evidence of that. certainly their marital and happiness particularly in those first few years is quite profound. >> as the lincoln family grows, so do their political aspiration s. she gets to work dpgrooming him for congress.
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1842, mary gives birth to lincoln's second son, eddie. she cares for the two young boys while lincoln travels and builds his political contacts. even though they kept him away, when he goes out to practice laws on the circuit, he stays the weekend. he visits newspaper offices in
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surrounding towns. >> while lincoln's ambitious, a my is even more ambitious. her ambitious is for him. mary recognizes that lincoln was a die a diamond. mary found it hard that in her beautiful parlor that she built she would come in and find him on the floor with his jacket off and when someone would ring the bell, he would go and get it without putting on his jacket and waiting for a servant. he tried to listen to mary to treaties about forms and etiquette. he found something he can laugh at as much as obey. mary again was very estute
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politically and kept on pushing and pushing. >> mary pushed him to run for congress in 1846 and he won. lincoln was elected to congress. mary did not sit at home with her family which was the custom. mary says we are going to washington. in december of 1847, with his wife and two children, 37-year-old abraham lincoln arrives to the nation's capitol for the first time. they moved to a wig boarding house. >> it was not as luxurious as it is today for members of congress. the lincolns lived four people in a room that was pretty crowded and cramp. mary did not get along with everybody else in a boarding
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house. her social circuit was limited and her time with lincoln was not what she hoped. she got quite exhausted and left and went back to lexington, kentucky, her hometown where her father lived. of course lincoln is lonely. they never quite figured out the way of balance.
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and how could it expand or not expand. >> lincoln had been against the expansion of slavery but while in congress he makes his first attempt to eradicate right on his doorsteps. >> washington was very much a slave city. >> if you look outside the windows on the upper floor of the house, chambers, you can see a slave pen below where women were kept in cages. >> lincoln comes off with a plan for for the abolitionism of slavery. kind of a moderate plan. slave holders would be paid for
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the fair market value of slaves. ironically he stopped by fellow wigs. introduced his own let's get rid of slavery in the district of columbia bill, and he mocked lincoln's bill on the floor. he said that the provision in lincoln's bill, which would require the slaveholders in washington to approve the emancipation of their slaves was ridiculous, and it was kind of ridiculous. both bills failed. >> lincoln clearly understood that slavery was wrong, you know, but at that time history called for action, risks and the historical record doesn't really show lincoln as somebody who was really taking too many risks. >> as his uneventful term in congress comes to an end, abraham lincoln scrambles for his next political play.
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>> by previous political contract, the agreement was lincoln would serve one term and another whig would be nominated at home in 1848 to succeed him, and so he spends time campaigning for zachary taylor for president. >> he was a war hero who had no political background, no political interest, no political stance. he was a slave holder from louisiana, but he was regarded as a whig candidate who could win. >> lincoln abandoned his principles to support taylor for the nomination. >> he said, well, he's not an ideal anti-slavery candidate, but he's a lot better than the democrats. >> and on election day, zachary taylor wins and abraham lincoln says i want to be commissioner of the land office. i will be supervising federal land, and he thought taylor owed it to him because he had supported taylor, and he had campaigned for taylor. >> upon his winning, he was waiting for the big appointment,
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but zachary taylor had to inform him that they were very sorry, they couldn't secure him the lucrative post he hoped to get. >> taylor nominates a guy who was technically a whig but had never done any work to get taylor elected. lincoln is totally humiliated. >> so in 1849 after a short and undistinguished term in congress, lincoln heads back to springfield. he believes his political career is over. most reliable network. we designed our 5g to make the things you do every day better. with 5g nationwide, millions of people can now work, listen, and stream in verizon 5g quality. and in parts of many cities where people can use massive capacity, we have ultra wideband, the fastest 5g in the world. this is the 5g that's built for you. this is 5g built right. only from verizon.
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in 1849, abraham lincoln returns to springfield with little to show for his one term in congress. his political aspirations are crushed. >> so this is a rough time for lincoln. he's just 40 years old. it should be the peak of his political career, but he comes home with no imminent political prospects and with a legal career that has foundered because he hasn't paid attention to it. so not only does he not have political prospects, he doesn't have very many income prospects. he's a very lucky man that his wife's father is wealthy. >> mary was pretty disappointed. she wanted to be a president's
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wife, and it was a tremendous strain on their marriage. if there's a mid-life crisis in a marriage as well as in a professional life, this is the moment when things are most testing. there was a lot of yelling and screaming coming from the lincoln home. mary chased him out of the house holding a log from the fireplace throwing things. she had quite a temper, and lincoln just walked out of such situations. she got even angrier. >> the anger she feels at her father for having tuned her out, then gets placed on lincoln. >> as the lincolns wrestle with resentment and disappointment, they're dealt another devastating blow. in december 1849 their 3-year-old son, eddie, contracts tuberculosis. >> it was 52 long days.
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watching every single moment of his fading. and then eddie, their beloved younger son, died in february of 1850. >> the lincolns go into very deep protracted mourning. >> lincoln was distraught. he says that if he had $0.20 he would never get over mourning this one. mary lincoln was so distraught she wouldn't even eat. >> she had talked about doing herself in, but the way this which many couples dealt with losing a child was by having
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another child, so their beloved willie was born in december of that year. >> but eddie's death continues to deepen the divide in the lincoln household. lincoln hides from his grief by burying himself in work. >> and he becomes reasonably successful again, but almost all the lawyers found a way to come home weekends to spell their wives and see their kids. abraham lincoln didn't. he stayed out on the legal circuit far from home, and mary is on her own. it's hard for her. she does the cooking. she does the sewing. she does the disciplining. mary is embittered at what's happened to lincoln politically. >> and so now he has a very troubled marriage, and he feels like a failure. >> at 45 years old, lincoln is firmly set on a path to obscurity. his political career has stalled.
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his marriage is crumbling, and if not for a contentious bill being drafted in congress, abraham lincoln might never have been heard from again. hello, and welcome to our viewers here in the united states and all around the world. i'm michael holmes. thanks for your company. coming up here on "cnn newsroom," debris dropping from the sky. a boeing 777 experiences engine failure. the dramatic images, the harrowing stories coming up. despite the bitter cold easing in texas, access to cleanwater still very much a problem as anger mountains over what many say was a crisis just waiting to happen. and protests in myanmar turned deadly again. still crowds filled the streets for three weeks running.


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