April 15, 1861: Following the Confederate shelling of Ft. Sumter, S.C., President Abraham Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to join the Union Army. 92,000 did, and the Civil War — the most devastating war in American history — was on. Lincoln quickly adapted to the role of commander-in-chief, assuming vast powers, many of which weren't granted to him by the Constitution. Supreme Court rulings declared Lincoln's wartime conduct unconstitutional. He ignored them, saying his priority was to preserve the Union.
April 15, 1861: Needing cash during the Civil War, President Lincoln signed the Revenue Act, imposing the first federal income tax. Lincoln asked for the first federal income tax — a 3 percent surcharge on income — because he recognized that Americans needed to pay for their wars.
April 15, 1865: President Abraham Lincoln died of an assassin's bullet. He was the 16th president, serving between 1861 and 1865. Lincoln — the first of four presidents to be assassinated — had been shot the night before while attending a play at Washington's Ford's Theatre. He was succeeded by Vice President Andrew Johnson.
April 15, 1986: President Ronald Reagan ordered Operation El Dorado Canyon, which limited air strikes against Libya and the government of Moammar Gadhafi.
Quote of the day
"We cannot escape history...the fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation." — Abraham Lincoln
More from West Wing Reports...
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- After Ferguson: Stop deferring to the cops
- Ferguson riots were terrible — but this racist reaction was worse
- The hilarious hypocrisy of Republicans complaining about the imperial presidency
- Don't argue about politics this Thanksgiving. Just don't.
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- In Ferguson, Michael Brown lost his life — and America's police lost the benefit of the doubt
- How to survive a spaceship disaster
- Is it now OK to have sex with animals?
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
Subscribe to the Week