9 Great Achievements of Abraham Lincoln
For close to one and half centuries now, Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) has continuously appeared in surveys and in books as one of the three greatest US Presidents of all time (if not the best of all time). In order to find out why Abraham Lincoln was so great, popular and revered by virtually all Americans, as well as the world in general, it is absolutely crucial that we explore who he was and what he stood for. The following are nine examples of his greatest achievements:
Became the 16th President of the United States
Coming from the humblest of beginnings, the Kentucky-born Abraham Lincoln (also known as Abe Lincoln) grew up with very little to go around. He fought all odds to gain a decent education. As a matter of fact, Lincoln was a self-educated man. The family barely had anything to make ends meet. But Abraham Lincoln, a man who lost his mother at the age of 8, was determined to leave his mark on the earth.
He independently tutored himself to read and write better. He had no law school training or apprenticeship, but he was still able to gain admission into Illinois bar in 1836. His first taste with public office came after he voted into Illinois legislature in 1834. Gradually and steadily, Abraham Lincoln strolled his way into the hearts of America by giving great speeches and working extremely hard for the downtrodden in the society.
After a lengthy career as a legislator and practicing lawyer, Lincoln contested and won the 1860 presidential election. He defeated Stephen A. Douglas by around 500,000 votes. Abraham Lincoln was sworn into office on March 1, 1861 as the 16th president of the United States of America. As a result of his out-of-this-world heroics in the heat of the American Civil War, Lincoln won a second term in 1864.
Issued the Emancipation Proclamation of 1863
What could be more divine than abolishing the trade, subjugation and mistreatment of another race? Absolutely nothing! On January 1, 1863, Abraham took a bold decision to end the barbaric practice of slavery. By so doing, he set free all slaves in the United States. This act of his was captured in the Emancipation Proclamation he famously issued in 1863. This was no mere feat of accomplishment, and it will always rank up there with the Declaration of Independence the Founding Fathers of America issued in 1776.
What the Proclamation did was to enable African American fighters join the profound objective of securing freedom and liberty for every single American, regardless of demographic factors. The Emancipation Proclamation resonates with the very ideals that the Founding Fathers of America believed in.
About a couple of years after Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, the Thirteenth Amendment of the U.S. constitution was ratified by the needed number of states on 6 December 1865. Prior to its ratification, the Amendment had successfully been passed by the Senate (on April 8, 1864) and the House (on January 31, 1865).
Achievements in the Agricultural Sector
The U.S. Department of Agriculture owes its birth to Abraham Lincoln. The exact date of the department’s establishment is May 15, 1862. President Lincoln picked a Commissioner to head the department- a department that he patriotically termed as the ‘people’s department’. Such was the importance of agriculture to American economy during the mid-19th century. The department’s mandate was to steer the federal government’s effort in promoting economically sustainable agricultural activities all throughout the country- a mandate that the department still patriotically carries out to this day.
Secured Victory for the Union
Abraham Lincoln’s brave handling of the American Civil War definitely came at the expense of his life, as well as the lives of 600,000 Americans. However, had it not been for him, the situation would have been much worse. Perhaps the America that we know of today would not have existed in its current shape or form. Perhaps, had Abraham Lincoln not been around to keep the nation together, the entire American continent might have regressed economically, socially and technologically.
Abe Lincoln’s actions and leadership were nothing short of absolute brilliance during the Civil War. And the ideals that he fought for, even at the expense of his life, were divine. Ultimately, his sacrifices culminated in General Robert E. Lee’s (the commander of the Confederate forces) surrender on April 9, 1865. By defeating the Confederate States, Abraham helped preserve a Union that would go on to be a beacon of democracy across the world.
Rolled Out Plans for Reconstruction
The American Civil War of four years undoubtedly took a massive toll on every facet of the American society. Families were separated; lives were lost; the economy took a nosedive; technological progress was halted; and above all, the people were in a state of despondency. Abraham Lincoln was fully aware of all these—the inevitable ills of wars. Hence, he started making provisions and arrangements for the reconstruction of America. He instituted some of these plans even while the war was raging on. Plans were made on how to bring the Southerners into the federal government. He feared that imposing harsh punishments on the vanquished Southerners could alienate them even further. His ultimate goal was to reunite the country. He sought to ensure that wounds and broken spirits from the war were healed as quickly as possible.
Contrary to what some radical Republicans wanted, Lincoln stuck to the path of rebuilding and reintegrating former foes back into the federal government. He knew that the nation had to forgive first and foremost before any reconstruction can be made. Therefore, in 1863, President Lincoln issued another magnificent proclamation- the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction.
It was in this spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness that the two fighting sides finally came together and reunited to form a bolder and better United States of America.
Helped Poor Americans Get Access to Lands
Lincoln signed the Homestead Acts of 1862 that enabled the extremely poor in American society obtain lands. All they had to do was dwell on the parcel of federal-granted lands for five or more years. The applicants to the program had to be 21 years or older. Historians believe that this kind social welfare gesture was instituted because of Abe Lincoln’s personal experiences with being have-not himself. Sometime in his childhood, Lincoln personally witnessed his family lose several acres of their land due to legal disputes. His family was then forced to relocate from Kentucky to Indiana in order to secure better land rights (or property rights). Indiana was by then one of the “free” states in America that had relatively more liberal laws.
Therefore, it is likely that while Abe Lincoln signed the Homestead Act of 1862, his vision was to make sure that families in America never suffered the kind of experiences he had as a child.
Signed the Revenue Act of 1862
Most Americans have a mixed sort of feelings about taxes today. The debate always bothers on whether a tax is progressive or not. Should more taxes be levied on the rich in order to redistribute it to the have-nots in the society? Or should the rich in the society be given tax breaks so that they can reinvest those gains back into the society?
One thing is for sure, a nation can never do away with taxes. Guess what? Abraham Lincoln’s tax policy was so progressive for his era that tax experts to this day continue to be dazzled by it. What Lincoln did was that he got the Revenue Act of 1862 passed. Armed with this act, Abe Lincoln was able to create a tax office called the Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue. This is the same office that we now call the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Then, he tasked this office to coordinate tax collection across the nation. Within a very short period of time Americans were then sorted out into different categories depending on their incomes. This allowed for greater equity as opposed to the tax schemes that existed before Lincoln came into office.
Reformed the Banking Sector
Another very crucial act that came to life during Abe Lincoln’s presidency was the National Banking Act of 1863. Federal officials and the government in general had always known how important banks were to the American economy. However, very few presidents, since the birth of the nation, ever embarked on instituting reforms in the banking system. That was not the case with President Abraham Lincoln.
Amidst all the chaos during the American Civil War, Lincoln was determined to establish strong pillars within the nation’s financial sector. Out of this initiative also came a national currency.
Furthermore, with adequate reforms in the banking sector, the banks were more able and willing to give out credit facilities to fund infrastructural projects across the country.
Signed the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act
The numerous universities and colleges littered across present-day America certainly owe Abraham Lincoln a lot of gratitude. It all had to do with the Morrill Land-Grant Colleges Act that Abraham Lincoln signed on July 2, 1862. The Act was to encourage existing and new colleges to go into three main areas- engineering, agriculture and military education. Had it not been for the stimulus package that came with the Morrill Land-Grant Act, many of America’s fine institutions of higher learning would not have been around.