Abraham Lincoln's Little-Known Contributions to Latin America

Abraham Lincoln

As we mark his birthday with holiday sales and used-car specials, let’s remember that the U.S.' extraordinary 16th president supported the struggle for freedom and democracy both north and south of the border.

MORE: These Elementary Students Made Sure Mexican-American History Was Included in Their Textbooks

More than 200 towns and 600 schools are named after Abraham Lincoln in the United States, but he is widely honored throughout Latin America and the Caribbean as well. Lincoln has been honored with postage stamps in Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras, Nicaragua, Suriname and Venezuela. There are statues of Lincoln in four major Mexican cities: Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua, City, Tijuana and Mexico City.

We spoke with Historian Michael Hogan, author of "Abraham Lincoln and Mexico: A History of Courage, Intrigue, and Unlikely Friendships" about his little-known popularity and contributions across our southern border.

Is it fair to say that Lincoln is revered in Latin America? 

Yes, particularly in Mexico. Benito Juarez, the nation's most admired leader, is often called "the Abraham Lincoln of Mexico," because he, too, was born from a very poor family, raised himself up by his bootstraps, and became a lawyer and ultimately the presient of his country. As president, Lincoln supported the Mexican people against the French, who invaded Mexico in 1863, during the American Civil War.  

Were Mexicans sympathetic to the union cause during the Civil War?

Yes, Mexico had outlawed slavery in 1829, and Mexicans knew that any territory taken by the Confederates would become slave states, as Texas already was.

PLUS: Texas Finally Acknowledges Rangers Killed Hundreds of Latinos

Did the president have a vision of future relations with Mexico?

Lincoln really loved the Mexican people and he saw the future as us being united and allied — in cultural ways, but also in business. He supported the growth of the railroads in Mexico, and he anticipated that we would be much more united than we are.