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
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- What is Molly? Everything you need to know about the party drug
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The constant struggle of running a family farm in 21st century America
- How to stop misogynists from terrorizing the world of gamers
- Everything you've heard about millennials is wrong
Subscribe to the Week