Honest–and generous–Abe

October 2nd, 2012

Here is an interesting new fact about Abraham Lincoln that has recently been uncovered by the Irish historian Christine Kinealy: the nation’s sixteenth president was one of the 15,000 people worldwide to donate money to Ireland to aid the country during the Great Irish Famine. The famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852, was in part caused by a potato blight, leading to approximately a million people dying from starvation. Another million Irish emigrated from their homeland–with many immigrating to the United States–causing the country’s population to decline by nearly a quarter.

Irish Central reports:

Kinealy, a Professor at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey, was rustling through the list of donations and was taken aback when she saw the name of the legendary president who donated $10 or $500 in today’s financial climate.

“This was back in 1847 when Lincoln was only a newly elected politician to the House of Representatives. It was an insubstantial sum from an unimportant figure at the time but it is retrospectively very interesting,” the Trinity College graduate stated.

The 2009 winner of the Will Herberg Award for Excellence in Teaching asserts that this donation was not out of character for Lincoln, who had a lifelong rapport with the Irish.

“I suppose Lincoln always had a great affinity for the Irish and their plight. He knew and recited Robert Emmet’s speech from the dock and his favourite ballad was Lady Dufferin’s poem ‘The Lament of the Irish Emigrant’ set to music.”

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