About Born February 12, 1809 I was the 16th President of the United States. I led the United States through its Civil War--its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. In doing so I preserved the Union, abolished slavery, strengthened the national government and modernized the economy. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, I was a self-educated lawyer in Illinois, a Whig Party leader, state legislator during the 1830s, and one-term member of the Congress during the 1840s. I promoted rapid modernization of the economy through banks, canals, railroads and tariffs to encourage the building of factories. I opposed the war with Mexico in 1846.