What Would Lincoln Think About the Economic Stimulus?

From CNSNews.com:

Lincoln, meanwhile, wasn’t afraid to side with those who wanted to experiment with the economy.

For instance he threw his support behind the “greenback” movement – those who wanted a paper currency rather than gold.

Douglas Wilson, co-director of the Lincoln Studies Center at Knox College, in Galesburg, Ill., one of the nation’s foremost Lincoln scholars, explained that in Lincoln’s day, there was “a big split” in the way Americans looked at the monetary system and the nation’s economy.

It was a split that even separated Lincoln from his own Secretary of the Navy, Gideon Welles.

“Gideon Welles was what was called a ‘hard money man.’ He believed very, very strongly, and lots of people did, that paper money was worthless,” Wilson said. “The only thing that really mattered was hard money – and you can’t really expand the base of the economy by printing money. It just seemed to him, hopeless.”

The “Greenback” became the national paper currency largely because of Lincoln’s support.

“Lincoln was willing to go in a direction that suggests that the government could go and get involved in the economy,” Wilson said, though he added that in Lincoln’s case, government involvement “wasn’t for national investment, it was for national preservation.”

“He thought, I’ve got to have guns, I’ve got to have uniforms, I’ve got to have ships, and I’ve got to have artillery. If I can’t pay for it with hard money, I’ll pay for it whatever way I can find,” Wilson said.

Wilson sees something of a parallel between Lincoln’s era and today.