Lincoln’s railroad ties

By From page A5 | August 25, 2014


A story has been told about Abraham Lincoln and railroad ties. During Lincoln’s presidency, America’s transcontinental railroad was under construction with Lincoln’s support.

The transcontinental railroad was expensive both in labor and material. Each mile of track required 100 tons of rails, about 2,500 railroad ties, and about three tons of spikes and fish plates to join the rails together.

The new railroad crossed the Midwest where trees for ties were scarce. Ties could be produced in other parts of America or they could be imported from Europe. The European railroad ties were actually cheaper than those produced in America.

When Lincoln was asked his opinion about which ties to purchase, here was his reasoning: If ties were purchased from Europe, America would own the ties but Europeans would own our currency. But if we bought ties in America, we would own the ties and Americans would own the money. It was decided then to buy from Americans.

Isn’t it strange that today we import so many products from around the world that could be purchased from American producers at a slightly higher price? Red tape regulations have driven American productivity into foreign countries. Consequently, the things we buy send American money to foreign lands. These countries, such as China, now hold so much of our currency that they could destroy our economy if they chose to.

Is our joint chiefs of staff aware of how vulnerable America is to an attack on our currency? President Reagan defeated the Soviet Union by exploiting their currency vulnerability. Will America be defeated the same way?

Abraham Lincoln used common sense when he urged us to buy locally. Why has common sense become uncommon now?


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