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54 Abraham Lincoln

When historians are asked to choose the greatest Presidents in the history
of the United States, one of the names most frequently mentioned is
Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln was President during the greatest ordeal that
ever faced the United States-the Civil War.
Abraham Lincoln was born in 1809 in the state of Kentucky, but when he
was a child, the family moved to the state of Indiana. Abraham's parents,
Thomas and Nancy Lincoln, were farmers who were very poor, and they
received only a few years of education. When Abraham was only nine
years old, his mother became ill and died. About one year later, Abraham's
father remarried.
As a young man, Abraham continued to work on the family farm, and he
also worked as a laborer. During this time, the Lincolns moved to the state
of Illinois. Abraham became known to the local people as an excellent
athlete and story-teller. He educated himself by reading many books, most
of which he borrowed from neighbours.
Lincoln was interested in politics, and when he was in his mid-20s, he was
elected to the Illinois state legislature. During this time, Lincoln also
studied law, and soon became known as an excellent lawyer. People called
Lincoln "Honest Abe" because of his personal integrity. In 1842, Lincoln
married a woman named Mary Todd.
During the 1850s, Lincoln became strongly opposed the expansion of
slavery into the western parts of the United States. Lincoln held several
famous debates against a supporter of slavery named Stephen Douglas.
In 1860, Lincoln was a candidate in the election for President of the United
States. During this election, the issue of slavery and its expansion was
very prominent. Lincoln won, but soon after, several of the southern states
decided to secede from the United States, and form their own country. A
few months later, fighting started between those southern states and the
federal government, which was supported by the northern states.
Lincoln managed the Civil War with skill and determination. Gradually the
North began to win the war. In 1863, Lincoln made the "Emancipation
Proclamation," which freed the slaves. Later that year, Lincoln gave his
most famous speech, the Gettysburg Address. The Civil War had brought
terrible suffering to many Americans, and people were very bitter after the
war. But Lincoln wanted the country to become united again, and he urged
people to forgive. However, in April of 1865, only months after the war
ended, Lincoln was shot and killed by an assassin. Many people, even
Lincoln's critics, mourned his death.
In the generations that have passed since Lincoln's death, he has
continued to be viewed as a great President. Some historians have
criticized Lincoln for not being more strongly opposed to slavery, but
others have defended him, saying that Lincoln's approach to the issue was
realistic and humane. But nearly all historians agree that Lincoln was an
honest and brave leader during the most difficult period in American
history.

How the First World War Started


During the summer of 1914, many people in Europe felt very optimistic
about the future. Modern technology was improving people's lives. Political
freedom was gradually increasing in many countries. New artistic styles
and scientific discoveries were being made. But later that summer, a
terrible war began.
In the early twentieth century, the various countries of Europe competed
with each other in an attempt to be the most powerful country on the
continent. In each country, many of the political leaders wanted to control
more land, more people, and more resources.
The First World War began when the archduke of Austria-Hungary was
assassinated. Austria-Hungary wanted to punish the assassin, who was
from the small country of Serbia. This led to a serious dispute, and soon
other countries were involved. Within a few weeks, a war had begun. On
one side were Germany and Austria-Hungary, and on the other side were
Russia, France, and Britain.
The people in these countries at first welcomed the news of a war. Many
people were intensely patriotic, and supported the war effort without
thinking carefully about the reasons for the war. Some people thought that
war would bring adventure and glory to their lives, and they cheered
enthusiastically in the streets.
After the war started, it soon became clear that it was a terrible disaster. In
the western part of Europe, the opposing sides fought many bloody
battles. Soldiers on both sides lived in filthy trenches that had been dug
out of the ground. Sometimes, hundreds of thousands of men were killed
in battles that lasted only a few days. In most cases, these battles did not
result in large gains or losses of territory.
The war continued for more than four years. When the war was finally
over, millions of people had been killed. Many people realized that their
eagerness to fight against other countries had led them into a great
disaster. This disaster did not end when the war ended in 1918. During the
next thirty years, there would be many violent revolutions in Europe, and a
second major war that would be even worse than the first.
Today, people in most European countries no longer view other nations as
enemies. They have no interest in fighting wars with their neighbours.
Instead, they are interested in trading with the other countries, and in
visiting those countries as tourists. The lessons of the twentieth century
have reminded people that wars can have terrible consequences.

The story of Anne Frank


War, persecution, and economic depression affect not only adults, but also
old people, children, babies, the sick and the handicapped. Since history is
written mostly about politicians, soldiers, intellectuals and criminals, we
don't read very often about how events affect ordinary people. Now and
then a special book will shed light on what it was like to live in the midst of
terrible events. Such a book is "The Diary of Anne Frank." Anne Frank was
born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, in 1929. Her father Otto Frank was a
businessman who moved the family to the Netherlands in 1934. In
Amsterdam, Otto started a company selling pectin to make jams and
jellies. Later he began a second company that sold herbs for seasoning
meat.
Otto Frank had decided to leave Germany because of the policies and
personality of the new German Chancellor Adolph Hitler. Hitler had a
personal hatred not only for Jewish people but also for everything Jewish.
He felt that one way to strengthen Germany and solve its problems was to
kill or drive out all the Jews. Hitler also felt that other groups, such as
blacks, gypsies, the handicapped, homosexuals and the chronically
unemployed should be eliminated. Then only strong healthy "true
Germans" would be left.
Since Hitler had a plan to solve Germany's economic problems, he
received a lot of popular support. Very few Germans realized that he was
mentally and emotionally unbalanced and would kill anyone who got in his
way.
The Frank family was Jewish, and they felt that they would be safe in the
Netherlands. However, in May 1940, Germany invaded the Netherlands
and soon took over the government. In 1941, laws were passed to keep
Jews separate from other Dutch citizens. The following year, Dutch Jews
began to be shipped to concentration camps in Germany and Poland. Just
before this began, Anne Frank, Otto's younger daughter, received a diary
for her 13th birthday. Less than a month later, the whole family went into
hiding.
Otto Frank had made friends with the Dutch people who worked with him
in his business operations. Now these friends were ready to help him, even
though hiding Jews from the authorities was treated as a serious crime.
Behind Otto Frank's business offices, there was another house that was not
visible from the street. Here the Franks moved many of their things. Only a
few trusted people knew they were living there. The Franks moved into
these small rooms on July 6, 1942, and they lived there with another
Jewish family, the Van Pels, until the police captured them on August 4,
1944. So, for more than two years, the two families never went outside. All
their food and supplies had to be brought to them.
During this period, Anne Frank told her diary all her thoughts and fears.
Like any teenage girl, she hoped that good things would happen to her,
that she would become a writer or a movie star. She complained that her

parents treated her like a child. She insisted that she was grown up.
She also talked about how difficult it was to live in a small area with seven
other people and not be able to go outside. She wrote about the war and
hoped that the Netherlands would soon be liberated from the Germans.
Anne sometimes envied her older sister, Margot, who was so much more
mature, and who never got into trouble. She and Margot wrote letters to
each other to pass the time. Anne even had a romance with Peter van
Pels, who was seventeen.
Then all their fears came true. All the eight Jews hiding in the house were
arrested and eventually sent to the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
Although the war was ending, it did not end soon enough for the Frank
family. Only Otto Frank survived the war.
One of their helpers, Miep Gies, saved Anne's diary and kept it. After the
war, Otto Frank decided to publish it. Since 1947 more than 20 million
copies have been sold in 55 languages. Anne's diary shows the terrible
cost of hatred, persecution and war better than any history book.

Alexander Graham Bell


The Victorian period was a time of many new inventions. Earlier
discoveries, such as the steam engine, the screw propeller, the power of
electricity, and the possibility of sending messages along a wire, were now
applied to everyday life. Inventors such as Thomas Edison and Nicholas
Tesla explored new methods for harnessing electric power. Some of the
greatest discoveries were made by Alexander Graham Bell.
Bell was born in Scotland in 1847. Both his father and grandfather taught
speech methods and worked with deaf and dumb children. Alexander was
also interested in this work, especially as his mother was almost deaf.
Alexander's two brothers died of tuberculosis, and he himself contracted
the disease, so his parents decided to leave Scotland for a drier, healthier
climate. They moved to Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and lived in a roomy,
comfortable house overlooking the Grand River. Today, the Bell Homestead
is an historical museum that attracts visitors from all over the world.
At that time, Canada did not have a lot of business opportunities, so
Alexander found a job teaching speech in Boston, U.S.A. But he returned to
Brantford every summer. In Boston, Bell married one of his deaf students.
His father-in-law suggested that there were good business opportunities in
inventing communication devices. Bell soon developed a method for
sending more than one telegraph message at the same time. While
working on improving the telegraph, Bell and his assistant, Thomas
Watson, found a way to send the human voice over wires. On August 10,
1876, Bell sent the first telephone message over wires strung between
Brantford and Paris, Ontario - eight miles away. The telephone caused an
international sensation, with government leaders asking to have one. But
Bell didn't stop there. He worked on the recording properties of wax
cylinders and other approaches to flat phonograph records. He also
developed the photophone, which later led to the development of the
motion picture sound track.
Bell worked on these inventions at his laboratory in Washington, D.C., but
he didn't like the hot humid summer weather there. So Bell began looking
for a new place to spend his summers. He decided to build a summer
home in Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia. The Island reminded Bell of his
native Scotland.
Now he had space during the summer to do experiments outside. He soon
began to experiment with flying machines. Bell designed and tested huge
kites, hoping to come up with a frame for a flying machine. Along with
some enthusiastic friends, Bell also experimented with airplanes. On
February 23, 1909, one of these planes flew through the air for half a mile.
This was the first airplane flight in the British Empire. The Alexander
Graham Bell Museum at Baddeck, Nova Scotia, displays many of these
inventions.