Retired Chief Deputy Director, Illinois State Archives
President Abraham Lincoln left several huge legacies which have been passed down to the latest generation of Americans. Too often, however, we simply remember him as the one who issued the Emancipation Proclamation. That action finally led to the freeing of all the slaves when the 13th Amendment was passed at the insistence of Lincoln.
But his administration gave us several other important gifts, which we still enjoy today. The Morrill Act gave federal lands to the states so that they might create land grant colleges or universities – one in each state. The National Bank Act improved our banking. The Pacific Highway Act brought about a transcontinental railroad. The Homestead Act opened up the great West for settlement to those without large financial means. The Secret Service was established to combat counterfeiting, later expanded to cover other duties, such as guarding the President. And under Lincoln, the words “In God We Trust” were placed on our coinage. As president, Abraham Lincoln, both publicly and privately – called upon God to save this nation wracked by a terrible civil war.