Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Now He Belongs to The Ages

Lincoln' boyhood cabin
Abraham Lincoln 1864
"Now He Belongs to The Ages"

February 12, 2009 will the 200th anniversary of Abraham Lincolns birth. Every American should pause and reflect back on our 16th President and his remarkable accomplishments.

Lincoln is forever remembered for his preserving the Union and leading the country through a bloody and costly Civil War. Ending the scourge of slavery was the result of his perseverance and earned Lincoln immortality. Less known is Lincolns other great accomplishments. Following the example of his political hero, Henry Clay, Lincoln pressed through several acts in the first two years of his presidency that had the effect in the words of Thomas Barnett of "front loading the Union's overall postwar recovery...and eventually a contiguous United States."

In the mode of Clay, Lincoln sought to open the west with the Homestead Act, that made thousands of square miles of land available to new homesteaders. He also granted federal support for the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad, that linked the nation by knitting the coasts together with a ribbon of steel that spawned hundreds of towns and intersections of commerce. After the war, these two accomplishment set the stage for the next 35 years of explosive development that resulted in the United States becoming a true nation, poised to become a future world power on the doorstep of the 20th Century. Lincoln also created a national currency, giving us the "greenback" dollar, that replaced the thousands of bank notes that had been used prior to 1862.
A short but important review of Lincoln's much overlooked domestic policies can be found in chapter three of Thomas P M Barnett's Great Powers: America and the World After Bush.
Hopefully, this brief post will give pause to encourage reflection on the greatness of Lincoln.

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