10 Major Accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln


Abraham Lincoln is a very popular president among critics as well as the general public. In Surveys of scholars conducted since 1940, he has consistently ranked among the top 3, most often at #1. Of all the presidential ranking polls conducted since 1948, Lincoln has been rated at the very top in the majority of polls. We look at why he is so popular by studying his 10 major accomplishments.


#1 Lincoln is the only President of the United States to hold a patent

On two occasions, the boat on which Lincoln was travelling got stuck up on obstructions. This prompted Lincoln to think about how to lift vessels over river obstructions and shoals. He thought of a system which could be inflated when necessary to help a stuck ship over obstacles. Lincoln’s invention, when activated, would inflate the air chambers at the bottom of the vessel, thus raising it above the water surface. Patent 6469 was awarded to Abraham Lincoln on May 22, 1849.

Patent Model of Abraham Lincoln's invention
Patent Model of Abraham Lincoln’s invention


#2 He became the sixteenth President of the United States

On November 6, 1860, Lincoln was elected the 16th president of the United States. Although, he won only two of 996 counties in all the Southern states, he received around 500,000 more votes than his nearest rival, the Democrat Stephen A. Douglas. Lincoln served as President from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865.

Abraham Lincoln Image
Abraham Lincoln President of US (1861-1865)


#3 He signed the first of the Homestead Acts, allowing poor people to obtain land

The Homestead Act of 1862 was passed in Lincoln’s presidency. It gave the applicant ownership of land at little or no cost. Anyone who had never taken up arms against the U.S. government (including freed slaves and women), was 21 years or older, or the head of a family, could file an application to claim a federal land grant. The occupant had to reside on the land for five years, and show evidence of having made improvements.

Homestead Certificate
Homestead Certificate


#4 He established the United States Department of Agriculture

On May 15, 1862, Abraham Lincoln established the independent Department of Agriculture. It was to be headed by a Commissioner without Cabinet status and Lincoln called it the ‘people’s department’. To date the USDA remains responsible for developing and executing federal government policy on farming, agriculture, forestry, and food.


#5 He signed the Morrill Land-Grant Act which led to creation of numerous universities

On July 2, 1862, the Morrill Land-Grant Act was signed into legislation by Abraham Lincoln. The Act allowed for the creation of land-grant colleges on the condition that the proposed institutions would teach military tactics as well as engineering and agriculture. The Act led to the creation of numerous universities and colleges which went on to become some of the best in US.

Justin Smith Morrill
Justin Smith Morrill who introduced the Bill


#6 Lincoln is behind the progressive nature of income tax in US

On July 1, 1862, Lincoln signed the Revenue Act of 1862. It established the Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue which became the IRS later. It also introduced a system where taxpayers were separated into multiple categories according to their incomes and taxed accordingly. This progressive nature of income tax remains to this day.

IRS in Washington DC
The Internal Revenue Service Building in Washington DC


#7 Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which led to abolishing slavery in US

On January 1, 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation which started the procedure for freeing the slaves in America. The proclamation, which was issued during the American Civil War, allowed black soldiers to fight for the Union against the Confederacy. It was also a precursor of the Thirteenth Amendment, which made slavery and indentured servitude illegal in the United States. Lincoln couldn’t see the enactment of the Amendment in December 1865, as he was assassinated in April.

A depiction of the First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter
A depiction of the First Reading of the Emancipation Proclamation of President Lincoln by Francis Bicknell Carpenter


#8 Lincoln established the US National Banking System

In 1863, the National Banking Act was signed into law by Abraham Lincoln. It created the United States National Banking System providing a strong financial network to the country. It also established a national currency. The legacy of the Act is its impact on the national banking system as it stands today and its support of a uniform U.S. banking policy. Apart from banks, Lincoln helped the economy flourish through canals, railroads, factories etc.

A greenback note
A greenback note issued by the U.S. during the Civil War


#9 He led the Union to victory in the American Civil War

Lincoln had to face extraordinary pressures during the Civil War: huge casualties on the battlefield, generals who were not ready to fight, opposition in North from groups like the Copperheads or Peace Democrats and assassination threats. Despite all this, Lincoln continued the fight to preserve the Union. Confederate general Robert E Lee surrendered on April 9, 1865. Six days later Lincoln was assassinated.

The Peacemakers on the River Queen
The Peacemakers on the River Queen, March 1865. Sherman, Grant, Lincoln, and Porter pictured discussing plans for the last weeks of the Civil War


#10 He lay the stepping stone for Reconstruction

Even during the war, Lincoln planned Reconstruction. He worked on how to reintegrate the conquered Southern States. He led the moderates regarding Reconstruction policy against the radical Republicans and planned a course of action that would reunite the nation rather than alienate the South. In 1863, Lincoln issued the Proclamation of Amnesty and Reconstruction to announce his intention to reunite the once-united states. When Lee surrendered, a general asked him on how to treat the defeated Confederates and Lincoln replied, “”Let ’em up easy.”

80 thoughts on “10 Major Accomplishments of Abraham Lincoln”

Leave a Comment