Obama pays tribute to Abraham Lincoln on 200th birthday
US President Barack Obama on Thursday praised the nation's 16th president Abraham Lincoln for his legacy of holding together the United States through a bloody Civil War and abolishing slavery, dpa reported.
"For what Lincoln never forgot, not even in the midst of civil war, was that despite all that divided us - north and south, black and white - we were, at heart, one nation and one people, sharing a bond as Americans that could not break," Obama said.
The United States on Thursday marked Lincoln's 200th birthday with ceremonies at the US Capitol in Washington and at historical sites across the country, including his presidential library in Springfield, Illinois and the Gettysburg battlefield in Pennsylvania, where one of the key battles of the Civil War was fought and where Lincoln gave one of his most famous speeches.
Obama will travel to Springfield later for festivities at the Old State Capitol where Lincoln served as a state legislator - and where Obama served as a state senator in recent years, in a newer building.
Lincoln's path would take him out of rural poverty in his birthplace in Kentucky to the Illinois state legislature and later to a brief stint in the US Congress before being elected president in 1860.
As he took office, the southern states ceded from the union, but Lincoln managed to ultimately keep the country together in the face of the bitter divide over slavery - at the cost of more than half a million lives. He would free the slaves in the South with the Emancipation Proclamation.
Lincoln was assassinated during his second presidential term in 1865 just days after the war ended. A bitter southern supporter shot Lincoln in the head while he was attending a play at Ford's Theatre in Washington.
Obama has said he is a great admirer of Lincoln and has been compared to the 16th president for his rise from moderate circumstances and obscurity to fame, his great height and his Illinois background.