Citizenship, Education, Free Society

Debate – Lincoln’s “investments”

(c) 2012 Earl L. Haehl Permission is given to use this article in whole as long as credit is given. Book rights are reserved.

The debate coach watched the Debate while I, knowing that it would upset me—as in the past—refrained. I did catch a brief answer by the President speaking about government involvement in which he praised Lincoln for establishing the National Academy of Science, subsidizing the transcontinental railroad and establishing Land Grant Colleges.

OBAMA: But as Abraham Lincoln understood, there are also some things we do better together. So, in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln said, let’s help to finance the Transcontinental Railroad, let’s start the National Academy of Sciences, let’s start land grant colleges, because we want to give these gateways of opportunity for all Americans, because if all Americans are getting opportunity, we’re all going to be better off.
The Academy (National Academy of Sciences) was chartered by Congress in 1863. Lincoln signed the charter on March 3 and the Academy was organized on April 22 of that year. (Note here that Earth Day was proclaimed on April 22, 1970.) The NAS in a private organization that holds a charter—much like the Boy Scouts—but does not receive federal funds.

The transcontinental railroad had no greater lobbyist than Abraham Lincoln who had drawn a line on a map with Grenville Dodge in 1858 to mark the route. (The War Department had surveyed four possible routes and recommended one from New Orleans to Los Angeles. The State Department had made the Gadsden Purchase in 1853 to facilitate this route which would have been built in far less time. Lincoln and Dodge drew a line on a map.) Lincoln had also purchased land in Council Bluffs, Iowa, as an investment. The Pacific Railroad Acts of 1862 and 1864 established a funding mechanism of 30 year bonds and extensive land grants.

They federal government “owned” millions of acres from the Louisiana Purchase aka “Bonaparte’s Big Flip.” These lands were, in 1862, surplus and therefore expendable. The companies sold much of the land to acquire capital. The railroads were required to reimburse the government for the bonds and there was some default. The bonds and land grants paid about two-thirds of the costs and it was still necessary to raise private investment. (Note: Brigham Young was a serious investor of Union Pacific.)

Lincoln did have a setback in that his Illinois-Central railroad was not chosen, but rather Congress created the Union Pacific and Central Pacific.

One of the ideas that gave rise to the use of land grants was the Morrill Act. The Illinois Legislature had passed a resolution trying to get federal assistance for states to promote agricultural and mechanical education. Sen Lyman Trumbull recruited Rep Justin Smith Morrill to introduce the act which was vetoed by James Buchanan. In 1861 the act was re-introduced with the addition of training in military tactics. Added to the fact that this act and the Homestead Act were necessary to passage of the Transcontinental Railroad Act of 1862, Lincoln signed the Morrill Act.

The funding mechanism is that the States would sell the lands and use the funds to finance the schools. Again, like the National Academy of Sciences, no expenditure was made of federal funds.


Technology advances?

(c) 2012  Earl L Haehl – Permission is granted to redistribute this in whole as long as credit is given.  Book rights are reserved.


“Technology has advanced and other lies” could be the title of a popular book if someone who writes popular books were to use it. They cannot, however, without my permission as publishing this copyrights the form.

In 1964 I got a Royal typewriter with a cloth ribbon. I banged on it through college and law school though I did final draft on an electric that used a carbon ribbon and an erase ribbon. In 1982 my son used the manual to practice on for typing. The last time I saw it, it was in my mother’s house and I did not want to bother finding ribbons.

In 78 or 79 the state began using computers and standalone word processors for clerical tasks. Shortly after that my wife obtained a KayPro with monitor and printer for a couple thou for her business and she used WordStar. Do not knock it—we were using the same program at work by 1984. In 1985 I borrowed her computer for the weekend to rewrite a pile of job descriptions and we decided I should get my own. Those computers, along with standalone processors have gone the way of 45 rpm records.

And from 1990 when I transferred to an outlying agency, I went through four or five software systems and four computers until I retired at the end of 1998. They had numbers like 286, 386 and 486. I traded a couple used rifles for my own 486 with Windows 311 at home which put me ahead of where I was and that died in 2002. I bought the AMD 6 and upgraded to Office 98II. The processor died in 2005 and I obtained the the laptop I am using now with whatever Windows system they had at the time and a 256mb and 540mb ram sticks. In 2010 we upgraded to 1gb and 540mb ram and Ubuntu—I am now running 12.04. Of late it has been getting cranky and last week it stopped loading videos. So yesterday they shipped a refurbished Lenovo with 4gig and XP(which I will have to replace).

The demise of the standalone word processors tells it all. They could not import data and their data was not compatible with PCs. Now, if I were to visit a library in Milan and could get the librarian to allow me to, I could read an eighth century Latin Vulgate Bible because I managed to learn Latin. If said Bible were on a 7½ disk, I could not recover it and would have to find someone who had a reader and could print out the copy—I much prefer the idea of going to Milan and haggling.

The used rifles I traded were WWI surplus. They still function and will as long as they are maintained.

On 1 July 2012 my Studmuffin EnergyStar washing machine died. It was a house brand, built by Chinese people for another brand name who sold units sold by the company that just closed a bunch of stores. Evidently, as my repair person of a quarter century or more said, the front loading washers require a special soap or they seize up. I am doing research now.

The other thing I noticed pursuant to this adventure is that the commercial gas dryers in the laundromat I used were there when I was in law school.  I graduated in 1972.  But they are not EnergyStar.