Abraham Lincoln exhibited the American Dream of rising from humble beginnings to achieve great heights. He became the sixteenth president of the United States of America at the age of 56. He was also known to lead the country through its moral, constitutional, and political crisis during the American Civil War. However, they praised him for abolishing slavery and preserving the Union.
What made Abraham Lincoln one of the significant people in American History? Find out the policies he approved, which shaped and directed the United States of America during his administration.
Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854
Before Abraham’s presidency, President James Buchanan signed the Kansas-Nebraska Act of 1854, leaving these territories to freely decide whether or not permit slavery in their respective states to refrain further dispute. After its ratification, the Congress started heated debates. Pro-slavery legislators carried an election, but it abstained by anti-slavery legislators because of its integrity.
Abraham expressed his condemnation against slavery and even sparked the famous debate between Stephen A. Douglas and Abraham Lincoln as U.S. Senator; however, Stephen A. Douglas prevailed.
Abraham Lincoln ran for the presidency. He was endorsed by both Whig and some anti-slavery democrats, emerging the Republican party. Immediately after Abraham Lincoln’s victory, various delegates organized another government called the Confederate States of America, electing Jefferson Davis as the first president.
Following his victory, many pro-slavery states such as South Carolina seceded from the Union. They refuse to enforce the Fugitive Slave Acts. This action ensured the American Civil War when the Confederate Army open fire on Fort Sumter, the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina, on April 12, 1861.
Proclamation of American Civil War
On April 15, 1861, President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the American Civil War due to insurgents’ existence.
Then, on April 19, 1861, the Proclamation of Blockade Against Southern Ports was made. The Union Navy enforced naval blockade in the state of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas.
Suspension of Writ of Habeas Corpus
Immediately after declaring war, the suspension of Writ of Habeas Corpus was made by Abraham Lincoln to stifle the insurgency of the Confederate Army and deter sympathizers from aiding the enemy and obstructing the defense made by the government.
Because of Abraham Lincoln’s fear of other southern states such as Missouri, Kentucky, Delaware and Maryland might secede and join the Confederacy, he declared the abolition of slavery within the Confederate States on September 22, 1862.
As his strategy to weaken the Confederacy, slaves were encouraged to run away from their landlords. It shattered the workforce of the Confederate Army. The runaway slaves joined the Union.
The impact of the Emancipation Proclamation became a positive role in the Civil War. It bolsters the moral purpose of the Union Army in preserving the seceding states and becoming victorious to liberate the slaves and the oppressed.
After four bloody years of battle, Robert E. Lee, the most massive Confederate Army leader, surrendered to Ulysses Grant on April 9, 1865, at Appomattox, Virginia, and marked the end of the Civil War.
FISCAL AND MONETARY POLICIES DURING LINCOLN ADMINISTRATION
Revenue Act of 1861
William Pitt Fessenden of Maine was the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. In an attempt to address the government’s dilemma to fund the war, the Revenue Act of 1861’s objective is to bill taxed imports and impost three percent income taxes over $800. Abraham Lincoln signed it on August 5, 1861.
As the administration strived to finance the ongoing war, the House of Representatives passed the Morrill Tariff, which led to the development of numerous universities. This law taxed imports to the United States. It increased domestic industries and provided high wages to industrial workers.
Legal Tender Act
The United States Congress passed the Legal Tender Act on February 25, 1862. This act authorized the use of paper notes and ended the policy of using metals such as gold and silver in financial transactions. It also allowed the government to finance the Civil War since gold and silver reserves depleted.
These paper notes also called the “greenbacks” because of the green dye used in the printing process. Because of this act, it became the foundation in starting the permanent currency after the Civil War.
Through the government’s effort to promote the West’s settlement and development, President Abraham Lincoln signed the Homestead Law on May 20, 1862.
It opened opportunities for African Americans to obtain properties. It grants 65 hectares of public land to anyone who can pay a small fee and agree to improve it. Many citizens, freed slaves, and immigrants took the opportunity to move West. About 109 million hectares distributed through this law.
National Banking Act
The Congress authored the National Banking Act to resolve various financial crisis during the American Civil War. Designed as the foundation of creating a national banking system, it also helped establish a national currency.
FEDERAL AND INFRASTRUCTURAL POLICIES
Establishment of Department of Agriculture
Abraham Lincoln signed the establishment of the Department of Agriculture on May 15, 1862. Abraham’s family background was farming and rural living in the frontier. Transforming agriculture as one of the nation’s interest, a Commissioner headed the Department of Agriculture.
Pacific Railway Act of 1862
On July 1, 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Pacific Railway Act into law, allowing Federal subsidies in land for construction of the transcontinental railroad across the United States. It authorized the Union Pacific and Central Pacific, two railroad companies, to construct the railroad on public lands for the right of way.
Declaration of Thanksgiving Holiday
In his speech on October 3, 1863, to express his gratitude for the Union Army victory, Abraham Lincoln formally declared Thanksgiving Holiday celebrated on November 26, 1863.
Establishing of United States Secret Service
Ironically, before the eve of his assassination on April 14, 1865, Abraham Lincoln signed the legislation creating the United States Secret Service. The initial duty envisioned by Lincoln was to prevent illegal production and circulation of counterfeit banknotes. After the assassination, the Congress realized the need to add the president’s protection to be performed by the Secret Service.
Abraham Lincoln did not live to see the fruit of his vision because he was assassinated by Confederate sympathizer John Wilke Booth on April 14, 1865, and died at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865. His administration is far from perfect but very strategic. He strived to achieve his goal during his term successfully. Today, his contributions are still honored and respected. His leadership served as an inspiration to many.