Before he became president, Abraham Lincoln was a congressman from the state of Illinois. Before that, he was a lawyer and a state representative. He ran for Senator in 1858 but lost to Stephen Douglas despite winning the popular vote.
According to Abraham Lincoln Online, Lincoln's first term in public office began in 1834 when he won election to the Illinois House of Representatives. He was 25 years old. He served in the Illinois House four times before being elected to the United States House of Representatives in 1846. Before beginning his political career, the self-educated Lincoln worked as a clerk and a manual laborer until joining the Illinois Militia in 1832.