Upon his election to the presidency, Abraham Lincoln inherited a country in crisis. Even before the Confederacy’s secession, the United States Treasury had run out of money. The government had no authority to raise taxes, no federal bank, no currency. But amid unprecedented troubles Lincoln saw opportunity—the chance to legislate in the centralizing spirit of the “more perfect union” that had first drawn him to politics. With Lincoln at the helm, the United States would now govern “for” its people: it would enact laws, establish a currency, raise armies, underwrite transportation and higher education, assist farmers, and impose taxes for them. Lincoln believed this agenda would foster the economic opportunity he had always sought for upwardly striving Americans, and which he would seek in particular for enslaved Black Americans.
Roger Lowenstein reveals the largely untold story of how Lincoln used the urgency of the Civil War to transform a union of states into a nation. Through a financial lens, he explores how this second American revolution, led by Lincoln, his cabinet, and a Congress studded with towering statesmen, changed the direction of the country and established a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. (Hardback, 448 pages)
Come see the American Civil War Museum’s Greenback America exhibit at our Tredegar site n Richmond to learn more about how the U.S. generated money to pay for the war, shaping the future of United States currency.
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