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Nine facts you probably did not know about Abe Lincoln

14 Nov 15
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1. Lincoln is enshrined in the Wrestling Hall of Fame.

The Great Emancipator wasn’t quite WWE material, but thanks to his long limbs he was a good wrestler as a young man. Reportedly he was defeated only once in approx 300 matches, Abe reportedly talked a little smack in the ring. Lincoln’s wrestling earned him an “Outstanding American” honor in the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

2. Lincoln created the Secret Service hours before his death.
On April 14, 1865, Lincoln signed legislation creating the U.S. Secret Service, the same evening that he was shot at Ford’s Theatre. The original mission of the law enforcement agency was to combat widespread currency counterfeiting. It was not until 1901, after the killing of two other presidents, that the Secret Service was formally assigned to protect the commander-in-chief.

3. Grave robbers attempted to steal Lincoln’s corpse.
Secret Service did come to Lincoln’s protection, but only in death. In 1876 a gang of Chicago counterfeiters attempted to snatch Lincoln’s body from his tomb, which was protected by just a single padlock, in Oak Ridge Cemetery in Springfield, Illinois. Their scheme was to hold the corpse for a ransom of $200,000 and obtain the release of the gang’s best counterfeiter from prison. Secret Service agents, however, infiltrated the gang and were lying in wait to disrupt the operation. Lincoln’s body was quickly moved to an unmarked grave and eventually encased in a steel cage and entombed under 10 feet of concrete.

4. John Wilkes Booth’s brother saved the life of Lincoln’s son.
A few months before John Wilkes Booth assassinated Lincoln, the president’s oldest son, Robert Todd Lincoln, stood on a train platform in Jersey City, New Jersey. A throng of passengers began to press the young man backwards, and he fell into the open space between the platform and a moving train. Suddenly, a hand reached out and pulled the president’s son to safety by the coat collar. Robert Todd Lincoln immediately recognized his rescuer: famous actor Edwin Booth, brother of John Wilkes. (In another eerie coincidence, on the day of Edwin Booth’s funeral—June 9, 1893—Ford’s Theatre collapsed, killing 22 people.)

5. Lincoln is the only president to have obtained a patent.
Benjamin Franklin isn’t the only American political leader who demonstrated an inventive mind. After being aboard a steamboat that ran aground on low shoals and had to unload its cargo, Lincoln, who loved tinkering with machines, designed a method for keeping vessels afloat when traversing shallow waters through the use of empty metal air chambers attached to their sides. For his design, Lincoln obtained Patent No. 6,469 in 1849.

6. Lincoln personally test-fired rifles outside the White House.
Lincoln was a hands-on commander-in-chief who, given his passion for gadgetry, was keenly interested in the artillery used by his Union troops during the Civil War. Lincoln attended artillery and cannon tests and met at the White House with inventors demonstrating military prototypes. Although there was a standing order against firing weapons in the District of Columbia, Lincoln even test-fired muskets and repeating rifles on the grassy expanses around the White House, now known as the Ellipse and the National Mall.

7. Lincoln came under enemy fire on a Civil War battlefield.
When Confederate troops attacked Washington, D.C., in July 1864, Lincoln visited the front lines at Fort Stevens on two days of the battle, which the Union ultimately won. At one point the gunfire came dangerously close to the president. Legend has it that Colonel Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., a future Supreme Court justice, barked, “Get down, you fool!” Lincoln ducked down from the fort’s parapet and left the battlefield unharmed.

8. Poisoned milk killed Lincoln’s mother.
When Abraham was 9 years old in 1818, his mother, Nancy, died of a mysterious “milk sickness” that swept across southern Indiana. It was later learned that the strange disease was due to drinking tainted milk from a cow that had ingested poisonous white snakeroot.

9. Lincoln never slept in the Lincoln Bedroom.
When he occupied the White House, the 16th president used the current Lincoln Bedroom as his personal office. It was there that he met with Cabinet members and signed documents, including the Emancipation Proclamation.

What would Abe Lincoln think about our times?

19 Mar 15
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Abe Lincoln was a forward thinker and pragmatists. He knew the benefit of appropriate laws and regulation. Abe was a supporter of a thriving economy. The US and the world more generally have been through tough times recently with a recession aka the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) arguably caused by the repeal of good legislation leaving a regulatory gap that allowed the GFC to occur. The fact that mortgages sold by someone (with a financial interest to sell them and no consequence if they were repaid), that was never going to need them to be paid back resulted in many mortgages being sold that could not be repaid in hindsight does not seem surprising. This goes to show that bad regulation in one country followed by ignorance in financial investment banks throughout the world can have disastrous results. I think that if Abe Lincoln were around in these times he would be campaigning for laws to stop this type of thing happening again!

Laws should not be there to hinder business. It has been shown in Australia that mortgage brokers can be regulated efficiently so as to protect the borrower without impacting business negatively. In fact due to the trust of the consumer in Australia more consumers than ever are using a mortgage broker.

I suspect that Abe would want us to learn from the GFC and ensure that these types of regulatory gaps are not found in other areas of the economy, because business, and the rest of society need regulation to protect them from themselves or the bad apples amongst us. That is not to say that regulation cannot go too far, obviously it can and thus regulation must be carefully crafted. Often it seems that politicians throughout the world are basing their choices on what they think will look good in a 20 second media ‘headline’ rather than thinking what is best in reality. The media has something to answer here but often the media is just giving the reader/listener/viewer what they want and it is up to all of us better understand the issues and dismiss the one liner slogans and headlines.


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