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Lincoln on Federal Lands

Lincoln signed the Homestead Act which authorized the transfer of federal acreages to private parties who settled the land and put it to productive use. Over time, 420,000 square miles of territory were transferred to 1,600,000 claimants. Lincoln believed in federal-private partnerships that increased the productivity of federal lands.


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Lincoln on Federalism

“A general government shall do all those things which pertain to it, and all the local governments shall do precisely as they please in respect to those matters which exclusively concern them. I understand that this government of the United States, under which we live, is based upon this principle; and I am misunderstood if it is supposed that I have any war to make upon that principle.”

Speech at Columbus, September 16, 1859


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Lincoln on Freedom

“Let us readopt the Declaration of Independence, and with it the practices and policy which harmonize with it. Let all Americans – let all lovers of liberty everywhere join in the great and good work. If we do this, we shall not only save the Union, but we shall have so saved it as to make and keep it forever worthy of the saving.”

Speech at Peoria, October 16, 1854

“Many free countries have lost their liberties, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, may it be my proudest plume that I never deserted her.”

Speech at Springfield, December 26, 1839


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Lincoln on Informed Policy Positions

“I deem it just to the country, to myself, to you, that I should see everything, hear everything, and have every light that can possibly be brought within my reach, to aid me before I shall speak officially, in order that when I do speak, I may have the best means of taking true and correct grounds.”

Attributed, The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, 1861, by Arthur Lapsley


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Lincoln on International Trade

“The United States, I think ought… to be (liberal) to international trade and commerce.”

Message to Congress, December 8, 1863

“It appears to me that the national debt renders a modification of the existing tariff indispensable; I shall be pleased to see it adjusted with due reference to the protection of our home industries. The particulars, it seems to me, must and should be left to the untrammeled discretion of Congress.”

Memorandum, July 1, 1848


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Lincoln on Limited Government

“The legitimate object of government is to do for a community of people whatever they need to have done, but cannot do at all, or cannot so well do for themselves, in their separate and individual capacities. In all that the people can individually do as well for themselves, government ought not to interfere.”

Notes, July 1, 1854


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