Abraham Lincoln

34 Abraham Lincoln pic1
(1809 – 1865)

“The land, the earth, God gave to man for his home, sustenance and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society or unfriendly government, any more than the air or water if as much ……an individual or company or enterprise requiring land should hold no more than is required for their home and sustenance, and never more than they have in actual use in the prudent management of their legitimate business, and this much should not be permitted when it creates an exclusive monopoly.”

“I respect the man who properly named these villains, land sharks.  They are like the wretched ghouls who follow a ship and fatten on its offal.”

“The idle talk of foolish men, that is so common now, will find its way against it, with whatever force it may possess, and as strongly promoted and carried on as it can be by land monopolists, grasping landlords and the titled and untitled, senseless enemies of mankind everywhere.”

Almost all historians judge Lincoln as the greatest President in American history because of the way he exercised leadership during the American Civil War and because of the impact of that leadership on the moral and political character of the nation. Geoists would love to count him as one of our own but, despite the lofty quotations above, Abe was just too distracted by monumental circumstances to have had the time and the head space to really see the cat.

Was his life conceived in the heavens or by a Hollywood epic screen writer? Born dirt-poor in a one-room log cabin as the son of a Kentucky frontiersman, Lincoln had to struggle for both living and for learning. His formal education consisted of about 18 months of schooling from unofficial teachers but he made extraordinary efforts to attain knowledge while working on a farm, splitting rails for fences, and working on a variety of lowly jobs around New Salem, Illinois.

He served for a time as a soldier in the Black Hawk War, taught himself law, and held a seat in the Illinois state legislature as a Whig politician in the 1830s and 1840s. From state politics, he moved to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1847, where he bravely voiced his opposition to the U.S. war with Mexico. In the mid-1850s, Lincoln left the Whig Party to join the new Republican Party. His marvelous debating style made him a contender for – and the ultimate winner of – the 1860 presidential election, when his opposition to slavery ultimately prompted the southern states to secede. The resulting war lasted for more than four years with 5 million men fighting each other and with a staggering loss of over 600,000 dead. Midway through the war, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, which freed all slaves within the Confederacy and changed the war from a battle to preserve the Union into a battle for freedom.

While the key values of Lincoln’s politics could be summarised as civil and political liberty, many aspects of his economic policies are decidedly not geoist. Although Lincoln is said to have had little to do with the economic legislation of his Republican Congress, during his time in office the Congress passed legislation which included heavy new income taxes, excises, high tariffs and the sponsoring of transcontinental railroads subsidised by massive land giveaways. Undoubtedly many other initiatives were beneficial, such as free higher education throughout the United States through the Land Grant College system so that members of the working classes could obtain a liberal, practical education. It’s just that, in general, the means were so short-sighted.

But Lincoln deserves our respect for his great humanity. He rejected much of what organized religion had to offer – indeed, he ridiculed mainstream religion from an early age, yet held strong spiritual beliefs. And how about this? He avoided hunting and fishing because he did not like killing animals even for food.

In an age of ubiquitous racism, Lincoln held strong anti-slavery sentiments from boyhood, and began making public pronouncements from 1837. Unfortunately, as the Law of Rent was to demonstrate shortly after the civil war, free men without equal access to land ain’t free. But Abe surely meant well – as the black reformer Frederick Douglass observed, Lincoln was “The first great man that I talked with in the United States freely who in no single instance reminded me of the difference between himself and myself, of the difference of color.”

Further, the peacemaker in Lincoln was determined to find a course that would reunite the nation as soon as possible and not permanently alienate the Southerners, and throughout the war Lincoln urged speedy elections under generous terms in areas behind Union lines, which was followed up by a postwar policy of magnanimous reconciliation.

The rest is history – Lincoln’s tragic assassination, monumental national mourning, and a legacy that employs armies of historians to this day. Lincoln obviously had the right motives (we seem to have a surplus of such souls) and this is what qualifies him for this bio as an aspiring geoist who might have been ready for full membership with a little guidance. We urge you, Abe, to reapply upon your next incarnation.