After a brief scene depicting the circumstances of Lincoln's birth in 1809, we find him at the age of twenty-two, "the ugliest and smartest man in New Salem, Ill." and a clerk in D. Offut's general store. In the spring of 1834, Abe is courting Ann Rutledge when she dies abruptly of fever, causing him great suffering. After three years of fighting in the Indian war as Captain of Volunteers, Abe begins his law practice. At a ball given by former governor Edwards, the awkward lawyer meets Mary Todd and later, despite misgivings, marries her. His reputation as a debater wins him the Republican nomination to the presidency, and he is elected. John Brown and the Abolitionists capture the armory at Harper's Ferry, and John Wilkes Booth, a fanatic exhorter, cries out for volunteers to avenge the act; thus the Civil War is launched. Following hostilities at Fort Sumter and Bull Run, Washington itself is threatened. Lincoln makes a personal visit to a battlefield and comes upon a court-martial in progress; he asks the defendant to explain his actions, pardons him, and orders him back to his regiment. The signing of the Emancipation Proclamation intensifies the struggle, and Lincoln is encouraged by Congress to end the war. Lincoln selects Grant to lead Union forces. While conferring with Stanton, the President receives word of Sheridan's defeat; he tells Stanton of his vision of a ship with white sails before each victory. ... The last of the Confederate forces under Lee are defeated, and the war is over. On the night of 14 Apr 1865, Lincoln speaks from a box at Ford's Theatre, and just after the play has begun, he is shot by John Wilkes Booth; the resulting uproar gives way to the sobbing of an unseen multitude, and a voice calls out: "Now he belongs to the ages."