LECTURE: “Abraham Lincoln and paying for the war” by Gary Augustine

Saturday, February 16, 2019 | 11:42 AM

What: The Western PA Civil War Roundtable Monthly meeting

Date: 02.20.19

Time: 7:30pm-9pm

Where: Osborne Elementary School (1414 Beaver St, Sewickley, PA 15143)

Title: LECTURE: “Abraham Lincoln and paying for the war” by Gary Augustine


Wars are expensive.  Lincoln’s call for 75,000 soldiers on April 15, 1861 created a gigantic problem for his administration.  How would they pay for the war?  The federal purse was empty and Lincoln had no congressional appropriation to pay for the troops and their equipment, ships, wagons, horses, and cannon.  In 1860, total annual federal expenditures for the entire government was $78 million, of which $29 million was allocated for defense spending.  On April 15, many (including Lincoln) believed the war would be short.  Therefore, their estimate of how much money would be needed was badly flawed.  The Battle of Bull Run on July 21, 1861, shattered that mistaken belief.

Spending now soared.  The war would soon cost the U.S. government over a billion dollars annually.  For comparison, the Federal government would be spending an amount every three weeks that was equivalent to all the money spent in 1860.  To meet the urgent needs and raise money, the Lincoln administration had several options: raise taxes, borrow the money, print money, mine more gold and silver, and sell government land.  What choices were made?  How was the money raised?  Join us as our own Gary Augustine explains how the Lincoln administration not only funded the war, but radically changed two key relationships: that between the federal government and the people, and that between the federal government and the state governments.  Lincoln’s choices made the pre-Civil War decentralized federal government forever centralized and supreme.

Gary Augustine, of course, is one of our roundtable’s founding members, served for 16 years as our president and is the most knowledgeable expert on the Civil War in our group.  Our traditional leadoff hitter, Gary can always be counted on to deliver an interesting and insightful talk every time he takes the podium.  Sounds like the perfect antidote to the cabin fever that surely must be afflicting everyone by now!

To learn more about the Western Pennsylvania Civil War Roundtable check out our website at http://www.wpacwrt.org/ or follow us on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/wpacwrt/