Without a doubt, Abraham Lincoln is one of America’s most cherished presidents whose achievements marked some of the greatest turning points in the nation’s history. Everyone knows of his role in the Civil War which led to the signing of the 13th Amendment. But did you know that he was the first to make Thanksgiving a national holiday? Or that he approved of the shift from gold to printed money? Well, all this and more is true, as you’ll find out in this list below.
1. The Yosemite Grant Led to the Creation of National Parks in the United States
On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Grant Act, originally called the Senate Bill 203, which granted federal lands over to California including the Yosemite Valley and the Mariposa Tree Gove. As stated in the act, these lands were to be held for public use, resort, recreation and leasing to other entities, to name a few. It also paved the way for President Ulysses S. Grant’s signed legislation which made Yellowstone as the first National Park, and the subsequent state and national parks that came after.
2. Thanksgiving as a Federal Holiday
Most people associate Thanksgiving with Black Friday sales, football games and hearty meals, not “Honest Abe.” But they should, as he was the one who made it a federal holiday in the first place. In October 1863, Lincoln made a proclamation which declared that the last Thursday in November to be a national holiday, as “a day of thanksgiving and praise.” The idea quickly took hold, and by the 1930s, Thanksgiving was already associated with the beginning of the holiday season and shopping sprees.
3. The Legal Tender Act of 1862
It was Abraham Lincoln who helped the American government transition from gold and silver reserves to printed paper money. Initially called “greenbacks” due to the color of ink on the reverse side of the notes, they were deemed as “legal tender in payment of all debts, public and private.” Naturally, many people were wary of this shift, especially so-called financial experts and bankers who expected it to fail furiously. But they were all proven wrong as federal bank notes quickly became the standard currency in America, with $500 million greenbacks being printed during Lincoln’s presidency.
4. The Morrill Land-Grant Act of 1862
Abraham Lincoln was not the first to pass the Morrill Land-Grant Act. It was first legislated in Congress in 1859, though President James Buchanan completely rejected the idea. But three years later, Lincoln breathed new life into the act by signing it into law on July 2, 1862. With this, 30,000 acres of federal territory was assigned to a state for every representative that state had in Congress, as well as its two Senators. Many states took advantage of this act, and used the lands to build educational institutions, such as the Iowa State University and Cornell University.
5. The Revenue Act of 1862
The Revenue Act of 1862 was preceded by the failed attempt just one year prior. This act was meant to be a source of revenue for the federal government, but poor planning and coordination prevented it from taking off smoothly. The revised act tackled the issues associated with the first one, including replacing the previous 3% tax on incomes over $800, with a more progressive tax system and a lowered threshold of $600. They also hired three detectives who pursued tax evaders. And this was pretty much the beginning of the much loved branch of the federal government, the Internal Revenue Service.
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