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Abraham Lincoln: Interesting credit and money facts about the 16th president

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President’s Day weekend is just around the corner.  Before the holiday weekend starts, things are going to get a little geeky here on Taking a break for the normal information about consumer credit scores, scams, deals and identity theft, we are going to dig in to a bit of presidential history.

As my fellow credit nerds may know: President Abraham Lincoln had interesting ties to credit, loans and debts. Here are some fun credit and money facts about Abraham Lincoln in honor of President’s Day:

  • Abraham Lincoln was the first of four presidents who worked as a credit reporting correspondent for Dun & Bradstreet. Before the information age, credit reporting was conducted by sending agents to investigate a business or a business owner in person. Abraham Lincoln was well known for sending back detailed and humorous reports. "Of one of them, he described a grocer in his home town of
    Springfield, Illinois as possessing a rat hole in his shop that ‘would bear
    looking into.’"
  • Abraham Lincoln’s portrait appears on both the penny and the five dollar bill. The 16th president has been on the penny since 1909 and the five dollar bill since 1928. Lincoln was also on the hundred dollar bill between 1869 and 1880.
  • Abraham Lincoln often served as a consumer advocate. In one case, an impoverished old woman was being charged $200 to obtain a $400 pension. Lincoln sued the pension company and won. In another case he defended a mentally ill woman against mortgage fraudsters.
  • Abraham Lincoln was a supporter of a national banking system to provide affordable credit to help build American industry.
  • Abraham Lincoln once turned down a loan request for $80. Calling his step-brother "idle" Lincoln writes: "You are now in need of some money; and what I propose
    is, that you shall go to work, "tooth and nail," for somebody who will
    give you money for it." Lincoln also offers to match every dollar his step-brother earns on his own as a way to get him out of debt: "Now, if you will do this, you will be
    soon out of debt, and, what is better, you will have a habit that will
    keep you from getting in debt again. But, if I should now clear you out
    of debt, next year you would be just as deep in as ever." Click here to read the full text of this fascinating letter from Abraham Lincoln.

Happy President’s Day! I hope that these credit and debt lessons from President Abraham Lincoln give you something to think about this weekend. Share your feedback about this presidential history lesson or other interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln in the comments section below.

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