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Personal tragedy heaped on top of professional frustration...
Abraham Lincoln’s political career seemed over. After serving as a militia captain in Illinois during the 1832 Black Hawk War, he climbed the ladder of Illinois politics during the 1830s and 1840s and eventually served a single term in the US House of Representatives from 1847-1849. When his term ended, however, Lincoln — a shy but ambitious man — returned to Illinois without much of an idea of what to do other than returning to his legal practice. To make matters worse, Lincoln’s marriage was frequently a source of frustration, and in February 1850, his beloved son Edward died of a respiratory illness at the age of four. Less than a year later, his father, Thomas Lincoln, passed away. Lincoln’s relationship with his father had been strained and distant for many years, and he did not attend the funeral. With Thomas Lincoln’s death, Abraham was the only surviving member of his immediate family. His mother had died in 1818 (when Lincoln was nine years old), and his sister had died in childbirth a decade later. With personal tragedy heaped on top of professional frustration, Lincoln sank into one of his occasional bouts of depression.
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