Lincoln also took on the bankers and that brave bold step may also have cost him his life.
During the Civil War (from 1861-1865), President Lincoln needed money to finance the War for the North. The Bankers were going to charge him 24% to 36% interest. Lincoln was horrified and greatly distressed, and he would not think of plunging his beloved country into a debt that the country would find impossible to pay back.
So Lincoln advised Congress to pass a law authorizing the printing of full legal tender Treasury notes to pay for the War effort. Lincoln recognized the great benefits of this issue. At one point he wrote: “… (we) gave the people of this Republic the greatest blessing they have ever had – their own paper money to pay their own debts…”
The Treasury notes were printed with green ink on the back, so the people called them “Greenbacks”. Lincoln had printed 400 million dollars worth of Greenbacks (the exact amount being $449,338,902), money that he delegated to be created, a debt-free and interest-free money to finance the War. It served as legal tender for all debts, public and private. He printed it, paid it to the soldiers, to the U.S. Civil Service empoyees, and bought supplies for the war.
Lincoln was assassinated shortly after the war and Congress revoked the Greenback Law and enacted, in its place, the National Banking Act. The national banks were to be privately owned and the national bank notes they issued were to be interest-bearing. The Act also provided that the Greenbacks should be retired from circulation as soon as they came back to the Treasury in payment of taxes.