Born in a one-room log cabin? Check. Became a successful lawyer despite receiving little formal education? Check. Engaged in remarkable debates with political archrival Stephen A. Douglas? Check. As president, refused to allow Southern states to secede from the nation? Check.
It's all there in this familiar but engrossing new biography about Abraham Lincoln. Author John C. Waugh, a former Christian Science Monitor journalist, focuses on the professional career and the political accomplishments -- and failures -- of the Illinois lawyer who became one of the nation's greatest presidents.
Mr. Waugh recounts the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858, when the two Illinois politicians campaigned against each other for the same U.S. Senate seat. Douglas won the race but Lincoln's performance against "the Little Giant" thrust him into the national spotlight and eventually led to his election as the 16th president.
Although Lincoln often said he did not consider blacks to be the equal of whites, he abhorred slavery and felt that all men should live free.
He first went on the record against slavery in a resolution that he and another House member jointly introduced in the Illinois legislature in 1837.
Slavery would remain the nation's biggest political hot potato until the Civil War.
Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation in the second year of his presidency, in the midst of the war.
Almost immediately after his election in 1860, and much to Lincoln's surprise, seven slave states started passing secession ordinances and organized a confederate government.
On April 12, 1861, the rebels fired on Fort Sumter in Charleston, S.C., and the fighting started.