In 1840, Lincoln became engaged to Mary Todd , who was from a wealthy slave-holding family in Lexington , Kentucky.  They met in Springfield , Illinois, in December 1839  and were engaged the following December.  A wedding set for January 1, 1841, was canceled when the two broke off their engagement at Lincoln's initiative.   They later met again at a party and married on November 4, 1842, in the Springfield mansion of Mary's married sister.  While preparing for the nuptials and feeling anxiety again, Lincoln, when asked where he was going, replied, "To hell, I suppose."  In 1844, the couple bought a house in Springfield near Lincoln's law office. Mary Todd Lincoln kept house, often with the help of a relative or hired servant girl. 
Abraham Lincoln, a self-taught lawyer, legislator and vocal opponent of slavery, was elected 16th president of the United States in November 1860, shortly before the outbreak of the Civil War. Lincoln proved to be a shrewd military strategist and a savvy leader: His Emancipation Proclamation paved the way for slavery’s abolition, while his Gettysburg Address stands as one of the most famous pieces of oratory in American history. In April 1865, with the Union on the brink of victory, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilkes Booth; his untimely death made him a martyr to the cause of liberty, and he is widely regarded as one of the greatest presidents in . history.
Lincoln believed that secession had challenged the fundamental premises of democracy. “For my own part, I consider the central idea pervading this struggle is the necessity that is upon us, of proving that popular government is not an absurdity. We must settle this question now, whether in a free government the minority have the right to break up the government whenever they choose. If we fail it will go far to prove the incapability of the people to govern themselves.” 14 Historian Michael Burlingame wrote: “In the fourteen weeks following the bombardment of Sumter, Lincoln acted firmly to meet the emergency. The challenge was daunting, for as he himself put it, the war ‘began on very unequal terms between the parties. The insurgents had been preparing for it more than thirty years, while the government had taken no steps to resist them.'” 15 Lincoln needed to rally and unify northern public opinion. His opinions about the Constitution, secession and his own presidential powers were articulated in his special Message to Congress on July 4, 1864: