Abraham Lincoln (1809 – 1865) was the 16th President of the United States, serving from 1861 until his assassination in 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and political crisis. Reared in a poor family on the western frontier, Lincoln was a self-educated lawyer in Illinois, state legislator during the 1830s, and a one-term member of the Congress during the 1840s. Lincoln's attitude toward slavery was complicated. He once wrote, "My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery." And yet he issued the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and helped push through Congress the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which permanently outlawed slavery. Six days after the surrender of Confederate commanding general Robert E. Lee, Lincoln was assassinated by John Wilkes Booth, a noted actor and Confederate sympathizer.