In the Government Heights neighborhood on Tucson’s southeast side are President Street and Lincoln Street, both named in 1928 by Evo DeConcini, a real estate developer and one of Tucson’s most prominent citizens.
DeConcini went on to serve in the Arizona Supreme Court and as the state’s attorney general. The federal courthouse in downtown Tucson is named for him.
Both streets honor U.S. President Abraham Lincoln, who was born in 1809 in a one-room cabin in Kentucky. The family relocated to Indiana in 1816, and Lincoln’s mother died two years later. His father wed Sarah Johnston in 1819 and in 1830, the family moved to Illinois.
In 1832, Lincoln served for a few months as captain of a company of volunteers in the Black Hawk War, but never saw any action.
He later joked that the only blood he lost in defense of his country was to mosquitoes.
From 1834 to 1842, he was a member of the Illinois Legislature as a member of the Whig Party. Meanwhile, he carried on his law studies and was admitted to the bar in 1836. In 1837, he moved to Springfield, Illinois, where he later practiced law with his partner, William H. Herndon.
In 1842, he married Mary Todd, who had attended fine schools and spoke French fluently, but had an explosive temper that led to many arguments. The couple had four boys together.
From 1847 to 1849, Lincoln served in the U.S House of Representatives and tried, without success, to abolish the slave trade in the District of Columbia. He then returned to practicing law in Springfield.
Lincoln’s strong opposition to the expansion of slavery into the territories caused him to leave the Whig Party and join the new Republican Party in 1856.
Two years later, while running for the U.S. Senate for the state of Illinois, he and his rival, Democrat Stephen Douglas, had seven debates about the morality of slavery and whether it should be allowed to spread into the territories.
Illinois was a free state, but it had allowed slavery until the 1840s, which may have influenced Douglas’ victory.
The two faced each other again in 1860, this time for the presidency, and Lincoln prevailed.
On Dec. 20, 1860, South Carolina became the first of 11 states to secede from the Union. Early the next year, Lincoln offered command of Union forces to Col. Robert E. Lee, but he refused, as his loyalty lay with his home state of Virginia.
On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter at Charleston harbor, signaling the beginning of the U.S. Civil War. During the four-year conflict, the North had a huge advantage over the South, having twice the population and the majority of the nation’s industry.
But the South had the majority of the country’s best military leaders and the advantage of primarily fighting on familiar ground.
On Jan. 1, 1863, Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation went into effect, freeing the slaves in the Confederacy but maintaining slavery in the Union slave states such as Kentucky and Maryland.
In Lincoln’s home state, the Illinois State Legislature issued a resolution of opposition on Jan. 7, 1863, but with little effect.
In 1864, Lincoln promoted Ulysses S. Grant to command all Union armies. Under Grant’s direction, the Union Army defeated the Confederates, and Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. Although the war had officially ended, some Confederates fought on. Brig. Gen. Stand Watie, a Cherokee Indian, was the last Confederate general in the field to surrender, doing so on June 23, 1865.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth, an actor and Confederate sympathizer, shot Lincoln in the back of the head while the president was at Ford’s Theatre watching a show. Lincoln died the following morning.
Note: Greenlee County, in eastern Arizona, which was cut from Graham County, was originally proposed as Lincoln County by Republicans of the Arizona Territorial Legislature.
After a heated battle, Democrats won out, and it was named Greenlee County in honor of Mason “Mace” Greenlee, the first known prospector in that area.