Abraham Lincoln: Domestic Affairs

Abraham Lincoln: Domestic Affairs

Abraham Lincoln's presidential campaign victory lit the fuse that would explode into the Civil War. Between the time of his election in November and his inauguration in March of 1861, seven states from the lower South seceded from the Union. Delegates from these states met in Montgomery, Alabama, and formed the Confederate States of America. They drafted and passed a constitution that was similar to the U.S. Constitution, except in four areas. The Confederate constitution supported states' sovereignty, guaranteed the perpetual existence of slavery in the states and territories, prohibited Congress from enacting a protective tariff and giving government aid to internal improvements, and limited the presidential term to six-years.

Passing over the most radical Southern secessionists, the convention named Jefferson Davis as president of the new nation. Davis was a Mississippi slaveowner and U.S. senator who had been the secretary of war in the Pierce administration. Alexander Stephens, a moderate Georgia Whig who had become a Democrat, was named vice president. Davis's inaugural address emphasized secession as a peaceful move that rested upon the consent of the governed to alter or abolish forms of government that were destructive to their freedoms and interests.

Philosophical Differences

The Southern position assumed that the United States was a compact of Southern states. In this perspective, each state individually had agreed to allow the national government to act as its agent without ever relinquishing fundamental sovereignty. Any state at any time could withdraw from the compact with the other states. Most Northerners saw the Union as something permanent, a perpetual Union, as a "more perfect Union" than the one operating under the Articles of Confederation.

Lincoln denied that the states had ever possessed independent sovereignty as colonies and territories. He claimed that the states had accepted unconditionally the sovereignty of the national government with the ratification of the Constitution. To those Southerners who claimed the right of revolution to justify secession—just like the founding fathers had revolted against England—Lincoln answered with a legalistic distinction rooted in common sense. The right of revolution, he argued, is not a legal right but a moral right that depends upon the suppression of liberties and freedoms in order for it to be justified. What rights, freedoms, or liberties were being trampled underfoot by his election? The South still enjoyed all the constitutional freedoms they had always enjoyed. To exercise revolution with no moral cause to justify it is "simply a wicked exercise of physical power." Most Northerners agreed with Lincoln that secession amounted to an unconstitutional act of treason.

Response to Secession

Lincoln passed the time between the Montgomery convention and his inauguration in public silence while sending private messages to Congress and key military officers. He tried to reiterate his campaign promise that he would take no actions as President to impair or limit slavery in those states where it existed. In demonstrating his intent, the President even supported a thirteenth amendment then passed by Congress that would guarantee slavery in the existing slave states.

However, Lincoln drew the line at supporting a package of compromises sponsored by Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky, known as the Crittenden Compromise. This proposal included a series of constitutional amendments to guarantee slavery in the states. Furthermore, the compromise sought to prohibit Congress from abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia and deny Congress the power to interfere with the interstate slave trade. Crittenden's legislation also empowered Congress to compensate slaveholders who lost runaway slaves to the North and protected slavery south of latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes in all territories "now held or hereafter acquired." Lincoln understood that to accept the amendments would be to overturn the Republican platform, and he instructed party leaders to make no concessions whatsoever on the slavery expansion issue. The compromise was defeated in the Republican-controlled Congress. Lincoln also rejected overtures from a "Peace Convention" held in Washington, under the auspices of former president John Tyler, giving its delegates no encouragement.

Hoping to show his peaceful intentions, Lincoln prepared his inaugural address with an eye to keeping the upper South from joining the secessionists. His speech, delivered on March 4, 1861, was firm but conciliatory. He reaffirmed his promise not "to interfere with slavery" where it existed, and he assured the Confederate states that he would not "assail" (violently attack) them for their actions at Montgomery. On the other hand, Lincoln made it clear that he would "hold, occupy, and possess the property, and places belonging to the government . . ." He pleaded with the Southerners: "We must not be enemies." He reminded them that no state could leave the Union "upon its own mere motion" and pledged to enforce the laws, "In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not mine, is the momentous issue of civil war."The very next day, the new President received a dispatch from Major Robert Anderson, commander of the federal installation at Fort Sumter, on an island in Charleston harbor. Anderson notified the President that the fort would have to be resupplied or evacuated. In a master stroke that allowed him to attempt to supply the fort without engaging Confederate forces, Lincoln sent unarmed supply ships to Fort Sumter—giving advance notice of their peaceful intentions. This shifted the decision as to who would fire the first shot from Lincoln to Jefferson Davis. The Confederate president did not blink. He ordered General Pierre G. T. Beauregard to compel Sumter's surrender before the supply ships could arrive. At 4:30 in the morning on April 12, 1861, Confederate guns fired on Fort Sumter. After a thirty-three-hour attack and exchange of fire, Major Anderson surrendered the fort and the Civil War had begun.

From Bull Run to Appomattox

Few people expected the war between the Confederacy and the Union to last as long as it did, four and a half years; to incur so much bloodshed, over six hundred thousand deaths; to involve so many soldiers, nearly 3 million men; or to be so total an effort on both sides. It was the bloodiest war in American history. Lincoln thought at first that calm heads among the Southern slaveholders would soon prevail; Southerners thought that the North would move to a negotiated peace at the first sight of blood. The North did not seriously take the South's willingness to fight almost to the death for its ideals; the South had no idea that Lincoln would show the iron will to endure almost any cost in order to preserve the Union.

The American Civil War that followed Fort Sumter's surrender involved fundamental strategies on both sides that altered little over time. For the Union, Lincoln adopted the so-called "Anaconda strategy" first proposed by old "Fuss and Feathers," General-in-Chief Winfield Scott. Mirroring the tactics of the anaconda, a South American snake that suffocates and kills its prey through constriction, the strategy required the encirclement of the Confederacy by securing the border states. Additionally, Scott proposed mounting a massive naval blockade, severing the South in two by taking the Mississippi River from Memphis to New Orleans, and pushing relentlessly upon the Virginia front while protecting Washington, D.C., from Confederate attack. Within a year, Lincoln modified the plan to include invasion of the South. The Confederacy, on the other hand, felt that its best hope lay in fighting a defensive war by using offensive tactics to make the Northern armies suffer severely for each inch of ground won in battle. In time, the North's will to fight would be sapped, and foreign powers—such as England—would come to the aid of the Confederacy with weapons, loans, and military support.

For Lincoln, Union victory required him successfully to address an array of specific and interrelated issues:

  1. Finding the right generals who could press the North's advantages in men and resources by engaging the enemy and winning battles;
  2. Raising a citizen's army of volunteers willing to be trained and to die for the Union;
  3. Marshalling the American economy to meet the tremendous war needs;
  4. Dealing with dissent on the home front without destroying the democratic freedoms upon which the nation was founded;
  5. Preventing foreign recognition of the Confederacy;
  6. Conducting the war in a way that would enable a just peace to be achieved; and
  7. Dealing with the problem of slavery in a war that slavery had caused, in a nation in which most whites were antiblack.

Given the complexities of these issues, it is clear that navigating the Civil War was the greatest challenge ever faced by an American President.

Finding the Right Generals

Lincoln appointed and replaced his generals at a pace that most observers considered unwise. In his mind, however, he wanted commanders who could win battles, pursue defeated armies, and engage the enemy no matter the cost in lives or materials. He was impatient with all the training and preparations for battle because he believed that the South was inadequately prepared to accept substantial casualties and that the Union's superior numbers gave it a distinct advantage. Lincoln cared little whether the officers were Democrats or Republicans as long as they could manage men and were politically acceptable. He knew that he would have to make political appointments in order to win support for the war in Congress, and he did so with dispatch and a refusal to be bothered by the criticism of so-called professional soldiers. Lincoln responded to such complaints by saying that everyone would just have to learn on the job.

His dismissal of George B. McClellan after that general had defeated the Confederate icon General Robert E. Lee at the Battle of Antietam in Maryland took nearly everyone by surprise. Lincoln had wanted McClellan to pursue and destroy Lee's retreating army at Antietam; he wanted the same thing of General George C. Meade at Gettysburg. In Lincoln's mind, both of these Union victories failed because they allowed the Confederates to escape intact to fight another day. Lincoln finally found his ideal general in Ulysses S. Grant, the western commander who captured Vicksburg in July 1863. Transferred to the eastern front, Grant fought Lee in a series of battles that pressed his advantage in numbers and tenacity. In these engagements, Grant never retreated nor resisted the opportunity to kill enemy soldiers. His protégé, General William Sherman, who had served with him in the western theater, also won Lincoln's admiration by taking the war home to the Southern people on his march through the South, capturing Atlanta and laying waste to the Southern countryside. For Lincoln, the war might have ended months earlier if Grant or Sherman had been in command at Gettysburg or Antietam. In Lincoln's opinion, every soldier killed in battle, and every sacked Southern home or burned field of crops, shortened the war and saved lives.

Raising a Citizen's Army

The Civil War was fought on both sides by citizen-soldiers who volunteered for stints of between ninety days and the duration of the war. A great many of them reenlisted after their time expired, receiving bonuses and privileges. In March 1863, the Union passed a conscription law to require military service, but even then nearly two-thirds of the new soldiers were volunteers. Lincoln delegated the responsibilities of feeding, equipping, and transporting the Union forces to Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton, a former Democrat from Ohio. Stanton worked closely with the individual states, which initially equipped and supplied their vastly expanded militia units. By 1863, the War Department operated as an effective and massive government agency that linked the farms that supplied the food and the industries that supplied the armaments to the battlefield with remarkable efficiency.

President Lincoln took a personally active role in the war, visiting soldier camps in the D.C. area. He also frequently intervened to grant presidential pardons to deserters and young soldiers who were about to be executed for various crimes while in the army. In Lincoln's public messages, he also demonstrated gratitude for the great service to the Union offered by his soldiers in blue. Most of the volunteers greatly respected "Mr. Lincoln," as he was called by them.

Not all Northern citizens, however, eagerly volunteered for war. And as the carnage mounted, the numbers declined. Lincoln accepted conscription as a necessary measure which he hoped would spur more volunteers who could avoid the draft by serving for shorter terms. Almost immediately, so-called Peace Democrats attacked the law as "aristocracy legislation" because it allowed a draftee to hire a substitute for $300. About 25 percent of the men drafted from 1863 to 1865 had hired substitutes, another 45 percent were exempted for health reasons, and another 25 percent simply dodged the draft. As a result, only about 7 percent of all men drafted actually served. The protests spilled over into several American cities, where recent immigrants accused draft agents of calling up more poor working men and recent immigrants than anyone else. A bloody riot broke out in New York City on July 13, 1863, in which 105 people, many of them innocent African Americans, lost their lives. Lincoln rushed five units of the U.S. Army from the battlefield at Gettysburg to end the fighting.

Marshalling the American Economy

Lincoln appointed several efficient cabinet members responsible for leading and preparing the American economy for war. His first secretary of war, Simon Cameron, the party boss of Pennsylvania, had thrown his support to Lincoln at the Republican convention in return for a cabinet appointment. But he was a corrupt and inefficient ally, who once described an honest politician as "a man who, when he's bought, stays bought." In 1862, Lincoln replaced him with Edwin M. Stanton, who restored honesty and efficiency to the department.

At the U.S. Treasury, Lincoln named Salmon P. Chase of Ohio, a leading abolitionist who constantly criticized Lincoln for his less-than-radical stand on emancipation. Despite their differences, Chase proved to be a remarkably apt director of the nation's finances. Among his most innovative and long-lasting programs was his use of the Legal Tender Act of 1862 to issue fiat currency, called "greenbacks," which were not backed by specie (gold or silver), to help finance the war. These paper dollars carried with them no promise to pay with gold in the future. They were valued instead as "legal tender" notes, meaning that everyone was required to accept them at face value in the settlement of debts. But the majority of the Union's war expenses was financed by taxes, loans, or the sale of government bonds.

Chase supervised the first income tax (3 percent on incomes over $800) in the nation's history as well as the national banking system, which was established by Congress and signed into law by Lincoln in 1863. This law resurrected the central banking system destroyed by Andrew Jackson in the 1830s. It authorized the chartering of national banks, which could issue bank notes as loans to customers for up to 90 percent of the value of the U.S. bonds held by each bank. This provision created an instant demand for government bonds as many private banks and state banks were forced to become national banks and bought bonds in order to issue bank notes to their borrowers. In time, these bank notes became an important form of currency in the nation, circulating with greenbacks, paper checks drawn on deposits, and gold-backed certificates as the principal medium of exchange.

Chase also worked closely with the nation's bankers, merchants, and industrialists to find ways to sell bonds to the larger public. Assisted by Philadelphia financier Jay Cook, Secretary Chase used patriotic appeals to sell war bonds in amounts as small at $50. Cook sold over $400 million in bonds, earning a fortune for himself in commissions. By the end of the war, the U.S. had borrowed $2.6 billion, the first case in American history of mass financing for defense and war.

Dissent on the Home Front

Opposition to Lincoln's program and policies by Peace Democrats escalated into full-fledged counterwar measures by 1862. Most of these opponents were old-line Democrats who resented the centralizing laws and measures supported by the Republican majority in Congress. They especially opposed the national banking system, the newly passed protective tariffs, the draft, martial law, and any talk of emancipating slaves. Winning several congressional seats in 1862, Peace Democrats became more vocal and their critics began referring to them as "Copperheads." The term apparently came from the practice of some Midwestern, hard-money Democrats who wore copper pennies around their necks in protest of legal tender greenbacks. Others claim that the term was a derogatory comparison of Peace Democrats to the copperhead snake.

When the war began, Lincoln decreed by executive order that all people who discouraged enlistment in the army or otherwise engaged in disloyal practices would be subject to martial law. This presidential action suspended the writ of habeas corpus (which prevents the government from holding citizens without trial). Between fifteen thousand and twenty thousand citizens, mostly from the border states, were arrested on suspicion of disloyal acts.

The most notorious Copperhead, Clement Vallandigham, a former Ohio congressman, was arrested by the military commander of Ohio in May 1863 for advocating—in his campaign for governor—a negotiated peace and antiwar demonstrations. A military court convicted him of treason and sentenced him to confinement for the duration of the war. Lincoln banished him behind Confederate lines to keep him from becoming a martyr. (By 1864, Vallandigham was back in the North, drafting the peace platform of the Democratic Party.) The incident raised serious questions about the violation of Vallandigham's First Amendment rights—freedom of speech—and the legitimacy of having military courts in areas like Ohio, in which civilian courts functioned. (After the war, in Ex Parte Milligan, the Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional military trials of civilians during wartime in areas where civil courts are open and functioning.)

Conducting the War

Foremost in Lincoln's mind in 1861 was how to keep the upper South from joining the Confederacy. After the fall of Fort Sumter, however, what with the secession of four more states (Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas), Lincoln turned his attention to military victory above all else. On the field of war, he wanted battle victories, but he did not otherwise want to do anything that might lessen Union sympathies in the South. This produced serious conflicting interests for the President. For example, Lincoln never recognized the legitimacy of the Confederacy and refused to officially negotiate with any of its representatives, yet he agreed to treat all captured prisoners as members of a sovereign nation rather than as traitors to be executed or imprisoned. Until 1863, when African American soldiers began enlisting in Union ranks, Lincoln and Davis supported a prisoner exchange policy that kept few prisoners in long-term prison camps.

With the enlistment of blacks in the U.S. Army, the Confederates announced that they would either execute captured black soldiers or return them to slavery. Lincoln stopped the execution threat by threatening in turn to execute one Confederate prisoner for every black soldier killed. The Confederacy unofficially abandoned the execution policy but refused to back down on returning the black soldiers to slavery. As a result, very few prisoners were exchanged after the summer of 1863.

With the fall of Vicksburg and New Orleans, Lincoln confronted the issue of how to "reconstruct" the defeated states. Should Confederate leaders and soldiers be punished for treason, deprived of their property, imprisoned, or exiled abroad? What about the average Confederate soldier? Should they be given the vote? On what terms should the Confederate states be allowed back into the Union? What powers would the Union have over the defeated states? And what about the former slaves?Initially, Lincoln hoped to offer an olive branch to the defeated states by suggesting a no-revenge policy toward the Confederacy. When his forgiving tone enraged Radical Republicans, Lincoln backed off. On the issue of slavery, he first talked about colonization as the best solution, and he funded projects in Central America and Haiti, both of which never got off the ground. Concerned about the election of 1864, Lincoln hoped to appeal to border state Democrats with his Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction, which he issued in December 1863. According to its terms, Lincoln offered a presidential pardon to all Southern whites (with the exception of government officials and high-ranking military offices) who swore an oath of allegiance to the United States and accepted the abolition of slavery. Additionally, if the number of white males swearing allegiance to the Union equaled 10 percent of the voters in 1860, that group could form a new state government.

Radical Republicans in Congress countered with their own Reconstruction proposal in the Wade-Davis bill in July 1864. According to its provisions, a majority of a state's white voters were required to take an oath of loyalty and to guarantee black equality. Then loyal state voters could elect delegates to a constitutional convention as the first step in the readmission process. Lincoln pocket vetoed the bill, and then invited Southerners to rejoin the Union under either plan, knowing that they would select his proposal without doubt.

When Louisiana whites took advantage of Lincoln's proclamation in 1864, they adopted a state constitution that abolished slavery and provided a school system for whites and blacks alike. But the document did not provide for suffrage for educated blacks or Union veterans, despite a personal plea from Lincoln, though it did empower the legislature to enfranchise blacks. The reconstructed Louisiana state legislature then passed labor laws aimed at putting the formerly enslaved back on the plantations as low-paid wage laborers with limited freedom of travel and no political or civil rights. Angry Republican congressmen, understanding these new laws to be a reincarnation of the old slave codes, refused to admit Louisiana's representatives and senators to Congress—or those from Arkansas and Tennessee, which had also organized under Lincoln's "10 percent plan." Nor did these Republicans allow the counting of the electoral votes from these three states in 1864 election.

Following Union military successes and his reelection in the fall of 1864, Lincoln apparently had second thoughts about his Reconstruction plans. Two days after General Lee's surrender at the village of Appomattox Courthouse, Lincoln promised that a new policy would be forthcoming. The President intended to include voting rights for some blacks—probably for those owning property and who were literate-and stronger measures, including an army of occupation, to protect their civil rights. Unfortunately, three days after this statement, John Wilkes Booth shot Lincoln dead at Ford's Theater in Washington, D.C.

The Problem of Slavery during the War

There can be no question but that Lincoln hated slavery, that he believed that it mocked and contradicted the Declaration of Independence, and that it was the one issue that threatened the survival of the Union. It is also clear, however, that as a politician, Lincoln had always compromised on the slavery issue. For example, as a congressman, he identified with the Free-Soil, nonexpansionist antislavery forces rather than those abolitionists opposed to slavery as a moral evil with which no compromise could be tolerated. In the Lincoln-Douglas debates, Lincoln denounced racial equality in politics and society. As a presidential candidate, Lincoln promised to uphold the institution where it was constitutionally protected in Southern states, and he supported the voluntary colonization of blacks to Africa.

Once he became President, Lincoln attempted to act consistently with his campaign positions, with the Constitution, and with the wishes of his Republican constituency. His purpose, he said again and again, was to save the Union—not to free the slaves. At first, Lincoln announced his commitment to not interfere with slavery. He did this in order to keep four slave states—Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri—in the Union, and to obey the Constitution, which did not empower the federal government to abolish slavery. And he hoped to win the support of Northern Democrats by not using the war to kill slavery as an institution. Nevertheless, events began to push Lincoln in the direction of emancipation within a few months after the fall of Fort Sumter. Almost immediately, Lincoln found himself besieged by prominent Republican senators—especially Charles Sumner of Massachusetts and Ben Wade of Ohio—insisting that he use the President's war power as commander in chief to free the slaves immediately.

Lincoln tried to meet these demands without losing the border slave states by proposing a gradual emancipation program in which the federal government would pay loyal slavemasters in the border states for the voluntary emancipation of their slaves. The border states refused to accept the plan, however, and Lincoln came away from the discussions convinced that few slavemasters would ever voluntarily abandon slavery.

Emancipation Proclamation

Additionally, once the war started, thousands of slaves began to run to Union lines. Thousands of other slaves began to exhibit insubordinate and even rebellious behavior on their home plantations, especially as more and more Southern white males went away to war. Northern free blacks urged Lincoln to act decisively to encourage slave rebellions. They called for the President to issue an emancipation proclamation. Also, it seemed almost certain that an act of emancipation would make it difficult for England or France to officially recognize the Confederacy in view of the antislavery sentiments among their home populations—especially in England.

Accordingly, Lincoln announced to his cabinet on July 22, 1862, that he would issue an Emancipation Proclamation in his capacity as commander in chief of the armed forces in time of war. The Proclamation would free all slaves in areas still in rebellion, and henceforth it would be a Union objective to destroy slavery within the Confederate South. His cabinet persuaded Lincoln to wait until a Union victory, lest it appear to the world like an act of desperation. When General McClellan stopped Robert E. Lee's advance into Maryland at Antietam Creek in September 1862, Lincoln announced his preliminary proclamation. The President warned that if the rebellion did not end by January 1, 1863, he would issue his presidential order of emancipation and move to destroy slavery in the rebel states once and for all.

Just prior to his July announcement to his cabinet, Lincoln had signed the Second Confiscation Act passed by Congress, which provided for the seizure and liberation of all slaves held by people who supported the rebellion. This bill, however, exempted loyal slaveowners in the Confederacy. The Emancipation Proclamation, however, made no such exceptions. In the final Proclamation, Lincoln left out occupied Tennessee and certain occupied parts of Louisiana and Virginia as well as the loyal slave states. The document declared, with the exception of those areas, that all slaves in the rebellious states were hereafter "forever free." It also asserted that black men would now be enlisted in the Union army as regular soldiers (the U.S. Navy had accepted black sailors from the beginning of the war).

In a single stroke of his pen, Lincoln issued the most revolutionary measure ever to come from an American President up to that time. And he had never been more eloquent than in his message to Congress in December of 1862, after the upsurge of Democratic strength in the congressional election, in which he linked emancipation to saving the Union: "In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth."By the end of the war, over 180,000 black soldiers served in the Union Army, winning distinction on the field of battle. Most of these soldiers were former slaves (150,000) who flocked to Union lines, often bringing their families with them. This flood of formerly enslaved people amounted to one of the greatest folk movements in American history, and it also created a massive refugee crisis. Lincoln met the problem by establishing a refugee system that put most able-bodied women and children refugees to work for wages on abandoned and captured farms and plantations supervised by the government. Often, these refugee farms and plantations were protected by a home guard of black solders—the husbands, brothers, sons, and fathers of the formerly enslaved workers. This was especially the case in the Mississippi River Valley from New Orleans to Memphis.

The President was worried that his wartime proclamation might be nullified (voided) by the courts after the war on the grounds that any confiscation of "property" required due process of law, and that such a policy could only be adopted by a law passed by Congress. Thus, Lincoln used his reelection victory in 1864 to promote a constitutional amendment that would end slavery everywhere in the nation. The Republican platform of 1864 had endorsed the Thirteenth Amendment—which the U.S. Senate had passed in April, and Lincoln used all the powers of his office, including patronage, to push it through the House, which adopted the amendment on January 31, 1865. Lincoln would not live, however, to see it become part of the Constitution after its ratification in December 1865.

Homestead Act of 1862

Legislation granting public lands to small farmers had been among the campaign promises of the 1860 Republican platform, and Lincoln supported early passage of the Homestead Act, which he signed into law on May 20, 1862. The bill stipulated that any adult citizen (or person intending to become a citizen) who headed a family could obtain a grant of 160 acres of public land by paying a small registration fee and living on the land for five years. The settler could own the land in six months by paying $1.25 an acre. By the end of the Civil War, fifteen thousand homestead claims were filed, and many more followed in the postwar era. Designed originally as a means of allowing the poor to have their own farms, the law benefited few people. This was because to take advantage of the nearly free homestead lands, families had to find the initial resources to travel west, to clear the land, and to sustain themselves—all before they could harvest crops for markets. Most of the land originally went to poor Midwestern and Eastern farmers, who then sold their properties after five years to land speculators allied with the railroad interests. Nevertheless, the law established the basic framework for the development of western territories.

Morrill Land Grant Act of 1862

Lincoln also signed into law and supported the legislation sponsored by Justin Smith Morrill, senator from Vermont, transferring giant allocations of federal lands to the states to be sold for the support of agricultural and mechanical arts colleges. The amount of land granted each state was proportional to its representation in Congress—thirty thousand acres for each senator and representative. In total, under the original act, some seventeen million acres were given to the states. The bill demonstrated Lincoln's commitment to make the federal government an important force in higher education, one that would insure its democratization. Military science was also to be included in the curricula of these so-called land-grant colleges. Later, these schools in the Midwest and South were to become the great state university systems.