George Washington rejecting a suggestion to stand for election a third time he established a political custom which persisted till 1933. George Washington was considered a national hero. He was a veteran of the French and Indian Wars and a fierce fighter for America’s freedom. Under his command the American forces won the war against Great Britain during the American Revolution. As a result, the British government recognized the independence of the United States. Since that time the 13 American colonies become free and independent states.

One of the best loved and respected of America’s presidents was Abraham Lincoln. He served from 1861 to 1865 and although he had little experience in politics he proved to be great President. He named Americans ‘a nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal’. His two priorities were to keep the United States one country and to put an end to slavery. He earned the respect of many people during the Civil War which broke out in 1861.

The pro-slave South wanted to secede from the Union and become an independent nation. Lincoln believed that ‘a house divided against itself cannot stand’ and strongly supported the unity of the United States. In 1863 he issued the Emancipation Proclamation which granted freedom to all slaves. In April 1865 the South surrendered. The war brought an end to slavery which was completely abolished by the 13th Amendment to the Constitution.

Abraham Lincoln was the first US President to be assassinated. He was shot by the actor John Wilkes Booth who was unhappy that the South had lost the war.

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