Prior to his presidency, Lincoln had his only military experience when he served briefly in the Illinois militia during the Black Hawk War of 1832. That year he also began his political career with a failed campaign for a seat in the Illinois General Assembly; he was elected to the Assembly in 1834. After four terms in the state legislature—during which time he also established a successful law practice—he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1846. His one term in the House preceded several years of semi-retirement from politics, from which he emerged to make two unsuccessful bids for a seat in the U.S. Senate in 1855 and 1858.
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